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Oct 31, 2009 01:39 PM

Vegetarian Chinese eats?

Can anyone suggest a good Chinese restaurant in the downtown area...or West island, where we could find a decent selection of vegetarian options? i.e. looking for more than just veggie chow mein and Buddah's delight...

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  1. VIllage de Szechuan on Decarie in NDG does anything on their menu in vegetarian options if you ask. Pretty delish!

    1. Yuan, on the corner of Sherbrooke and St Denis, is what I think of when I think of vegetarian Chinese. They serve a wide range of tea also.

      4 Replies
      1. re: dmarg

        Unfortunately, the last time I went to Yuan, I had a very lackluster experience. Personally, I would not recommend it. Long story short, I found the food not fresh, presentation severely lacking, and in the end, ladling mountains of sauce on 'mock meat' simply does not cut it for me.

        The last good veg Chinese meal I had was at Kam Fung, where thankfully my father was present to order off the non-English menu (my Cantonese stinks). There is a set vegetarian menu for four that came to about $40 that was really quite delicious. Deep fried tofu, mountains of bok choy with oyster mushrooms. Yes, please.

        1. re: blehfu

          About Yuan: I went there about three years ago, in 2008, and found it pretty mediocre, an oily, salty mess. But I went back again last week, to check out their new premises -- same building, new entrance on St-Denis -- and found that it was pretty good! Not perfect -- the dumplings were a little overcooked, for example -- but pretty good fake meat, crisp vegetables, and WAY less greasy than the last time I went. I would go back.

          1. re: blehfu

            I went to Yuan a couple of times last year for lunch and never had a problem with the food. I seem to recall the food was nicely presented in a 'bento box' and there were some original items on the menu.

            If you're willing to do Thai instead of Chinese, ChuChai on St-Denis is excellent and 100% vegetarian.

            The challenge with non-veg Asian restaurants for most vegetarians is that they use fish sauce, shrimp paste, oyster sauce etc in their cooking. If that doesn't bother you, there are quite a few soup'n'noodle type places in the blocks west of Guy street around Ste-Catherine and deMaisonneuve that have solid vegetarian options.

            1. re: mindfultable

              Actually some of the dishes at ChuChai seem more Chinese than Thai. Am thinking especially of a special we once ordered there, a sliced, soy sauce-marinated "duck breast" -- superbly rendered, with crispy "skin" and subcutaneous "fat" -- served on a bed of stir-fried Chinese broccoli. Not surprising, I guess, as the resto's owners are Chinese.

        2. Mon Nan in Chinatown, but make sure it's the upstairs one. Steamed veg dumplings to die for.

          6 Replies
          1. re: lovescone

            For Cantonese style--Beijing in Chinatown has an excellent selection of veggie choices, and the food is great! Try the szechuan style eggplant and the mushroom with "japanese style tofu" dishes...and their veggie chowmein, is the best. Don't go for the general tao tofu, though--not pretty.

            For something a little more intense, but also great--try Cuisine Szechuan on Guy, just south of Sherbrooke--they have 2 fabuous eggplant dishes, the most incredible spicy green beans (be sure to specify no porc, though) and something akin to general tao but far superior, called hot spicy tofu with peanuts. The latter is also on their lunch specials menu--a really good deal for midday. Also try their fiery hot pot--tofu flower and mixed veggies floating in the pepperiest bath of deliousness .

            Also in the concordia getto--on St. Mathew, above St. Catherine--Restaurant du Bonheur--the former "Manchuria" is very good. They also make an fabulous garlicky eggplant dish--served whole steamed with fresh black bean sauce, and their general tao tofu is actually good. They also make a veggie dumpling which sometimes has eggs and zucchini--pretty tasty.

            I hope you like eggplant, as I just realized that I went a little heavy on the eggplant dish recommendations, but even if you don't these joints have true veggie variety.

            1. re: chililala

              Those green beans at cusine szechuan are good because of the pork but.....They had a really good dish when I was there a few times ago but I dont remember the name. It was basically hard tofu and celeri. I was reluctant when a friend ordered it but it was really good, so much so when he ordered it the waitress promised it would be very tasty. Perfect with rice.

              1. re: humbert

                Can't say I've tasted the porc version, but really truly, it is good without. Like the best I've ever had, like green-beans-as-crack-good.

              2. re: chililala

                Couple more veggie recs at Cuisine Schechuan: Dan Dan noodles (spicy broth with noodles and peanuts), bok choy and mushroom combo plate, and if you eat fish the twice-cooked fish is spectacular.

                At Beijing I had a tofu dish that was quite good but I can't remember what it was called. Deep fried with a sauce on the side.

                1. re: chililala

                  When you order these dishes do you specify that you want them vegetarian i.e. made with vegetable stock and using no animal based condiments?

                  1. re: chililala

                    Sounds delicious...and yes, any and all eggplant recs are most welcome :) Thanks everyone for the great suggestions.

                2. Maison du Nord on St. Mathieu downtown has a few good vegetarian options, namely the "Vegetables in Scallion Oil" with handmade noodles. The awesomeness of this dish cannot even be described: currently my favorite Chinese dish, period. It's flavored with extremely bold, but simple flavors, spicy (not shezuan spicy), sour and salty, but the combination is perfect. I dream of the cabbage in this soup.

                  Oddly, the odd time you might find a single small piece of pork in the middle of your soup bowl, but the dish is 95% of the time vegetarian. You can always just ask them not to sneak any pork into your vegetarian dish. Really though, it is more than worth it to get this dish. Plus, all the good food on the menu costs $6-9 dollars.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: whiskeytits

                    I agree about the awesomeness of the Noodles in scallion oil, and I'll add that I love the crystal noodle dish with seitan, which is an appetiser on the menu, but large enough for a hungry boy's lunch.

                    But I would be careful to call the dishes vegetarian. Meat-free would be a better description. There's no guarantee that these dishes have never come in contact with any animal products.

                    1. re: SnackHappy

                      Yeah, if there's one thing about Maison du Nord, it's that there are no guarantees. The dishes are consistent flavor-wise, but their construction varies with who make it.

                      But I have asked about the noodles in scallion oil specifically and apparently the "sauce" itself is just literally scallions, oil and salt. They bring the oil to just under its smoke point and then douse the noodles in it. Beyond that, unless there is actually pork in your bowl, you should be safe.

                      1. re: whiskeytits

                        Hmm, I tried this for lunch today and there was quite a bit of actual meat in it - so it's probably best to explicitly ask them not to put meat in it. Unless I somehow accidentally ordered the wrong dish...

                        It was really good, though.