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Mar 4, 2009 07:40 AM

Vegetarian Dim Sum

Hello all, My wife and I tried Dim Sum at Shagri La in Belmont for the first time last week.. We really liked it and would like to branch out a bit and try one of the places in Chinatown. The problem is that she is a veggie only. Where would you go and what would you recommend ?

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  1. iirc there was a thread either here or on Yelp talking about this. i think most posters said that finding veg options was pretty difficult at the larger dim sum houses but at Windsor Dim Sum it was easier.

    1 Reply
    1. My advice to you would be not to bother. If you go to one of the dim sum palaces in Chinatown, there is just no way you will be able to get a clear answer as to what items are strictly vegetarian. Of all the Dim Sum I've eaten, I can think of only a couple of items which would qualify as vegetarian. At Emperor Garden, they have braised chinese broccoli in garlic sauce, and they have a sweet silken tofu dish which seems to have some honey in it, but no meat or milk or eggs.

      To my mind, the fun part of Dim Sum is trying a vast array of little bites, especially things you wouldn't normally order or see on a regular Chinese menu.

      If you have any serious food restrictions, such as being a vegetarian, food allergies to things like seafood, sensitivity to msg, etc., it's just not going to be worth while.

      2 Replies
      1. re: mwk

        Not to mention some places may fry in lard or use lard in some of the baked pastries, etc.. Some of the sauces contain oysters or fish. In fact I think the dark sauce they use on the chinese broccoli usually does.

        1. re: hargau

          The dark sauce is usually oyster sauce, or has oyster sauce as a component, so you are correct. Veggie items are not out of the question at dim sum, but harder to do when there is a language barrier.

      2. Is she strictly veggie, or does she eat fish? I am a fish-eating veg ("pescatarian") and I adore dim sum. The problem is, even most things that are seemingly harmless have some meat in them (e.g.turnip cake has pork!). To compound the problem, many of the servers (cart pushers) don't speak enough English to inform you well. My daughter and I have had the best luck at Chau Chow City....but again, that's because we do eat fish and many of their items are seafood w/o pork. I think they have a veggie dumpling there, but that's the only thing I can think of that is totally meatless. And, of course, as hargau wisely points out, there's no telling when oyster sauce or lard may be hiding. I assume if your wife is a vegetarian, though, she's encountered this dilemma at Asian eateries in the past and knows how to deal with it......

        7 Replies
        1. re: Science Chick

          Thanks to all who replied. It was what I expected.
          Science Chick--She does eat fish,maybe we will give Chau Chow City a shot

          1. re: ScoobieSnack

            Good luck....Just be vigilant with the cart mistresses about the fillings...they usually know when pork is lurking.

            1. re: ScoobieSnack

              if she eats seafood e.g. shrimp, then she's not "veggie" and you can go just about anywhere for dimsum -- try Windsor which is generally fresh although they don't do carts e.g. try the "spicy salted silver fish" (they look like french fries, but taste better) or the "deep fried chives dumpling" (shrimp)

              1. re: barleywino

                The thing I like about Chau Chow is that they seem to have more seafood options than most places I've been, so I get more choices! Regarding the "veg" thing....just because someone is not a vegan (i.e. no aminal products of any kind), doesn't mean they aren't a vegetarian. I eat fish seldom, but I do eat it. The rest of my diet is pretty close to I consider myself a vegetarian. Others I know have similar restrictions (or lack thereof).....There are grey shades.......

                1. re: Science Chick

                  thanks for clarifying! Since Chau Chow has carts, that may be more what the OP is looking for, too

                  1. re: Science Chick

                    See, to me "vegetarian" implies that one's not eating animals. I always kind of shake my head at self described vegetarians who talk about not eating "meat" but don't seem to feel that fish is meat. I do like the terms like pescatarian, ovo-lacto, etc. Easier to tell what soemone means.

                    1. re: jgg13

                      My screen name says it all in this regard. I don't go around telling people I'm a vegan...who sometimes eats dairy/eggs. I'm a just vegetarian. So in the same way, people who eat fish should not say they are vegetarian. Use the goofy pescatarian term, or say 'the only meat I eat is fish', but fish does=meat, so you can't be a vegetarian and eat it.

                      But on the topic of Dim Sum, I agree with what the yelpers were saying. Its practically impossible to eat it as a vegetarian without going with someone who can translate for you. And even then, there is not a lot that truly has no meat products in it. Better to order something off the menu in that case.

            2. Unfortunately, my best recommendation is: get on Fung Wah Bus, go to NY's Vegetarian Dim Sum House, eat there. As a fishatarian who doesn't eat shrimp, I've given up on dim sum. For a veggie Chinese treat, go to Qingdao Garden in Cambridge and just fill up on their leek or spinach dumplings. Little mouthfuls of goodness!

              1 Reply
              1. re: Bluebell

                yes while you're in NY, stop at New Green Bo for the pillowy softball-sized steamed vegetable buns which they make in the front window...have yet to find any as fluffy up here