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Nov 5, 2009 10:53 AM

Chinatown for large group with vegitarian options

As a token Asian and resident foodie, I stupidly volunteered myself to lead a group of graduate students and a couple professors/physicians around Chinatown tomorrow. I didn't realize, however, that nearly 2/3 of them would be vegetarian or seafood free. As a hardcore carnivore, I've never had to approach Chinatown from a meatless point of view. Also, there's one gluten free girl, but she's prepared to have difficulties.
Also, the group is being horribly unhelpful by not giving me an exact number, but I need to plan for about 12-15.

I'm thinking a big family style meal in Jumbo or Peach Farm where I will choose lots of vegetarian options and hoard a large plate of spare ribs for myself.

Does anyone have any experience with vegetarian friendly Chinatown?


Peach Farm
4 Tyler St, Boston, MA 02111

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  1. I think it would be real tough. They love their oyster sauce and other sauces that make even the dishes you might think are safe unsafe.. There is always white rice!
    There used to be a veggie friendly place Buddah's Delight but its gone and never really got the best reviews anyway.

    1. So are you saying that most of them are vegans (no animal products of any kind) or vegetarians (no seafood but maybe eggs or cheese will be ok).
      I know Jumbo seafood made a vegan dish of sauteed pea shoots with bamboo shoots "fungus" that was delicious.
      We went to dinner there with a vegan and I'd stressed to the server that oyster sauce, fish sauce couldn't be used. Another dish would be buddha's delight.

      As for the gluten free gal, she needs to be careful of the soy the restaurant uses-most will contain wheat as a thickener. Maybe you can ask if she can read the labels before the make a dish for her.

      Not sure what else I can help you with but I am a chef that specialize in special diets, diabetic friendly, vegan, and gluten free. Good Luck!

      2 Replies
      1. re: Chocomom

        I don't think anyone is actually vegan, just a couple vegetarians, a girl who doesn't like seafood, a girl that only eats chicken, a couple that keep kosher and just eat vegetarian when they're out, etc. All different people so it results in ultimately a largely vegetarian meal.

        The gluten free girl tells me she probably won't come to dinner, but I did mention I would ask about the soy sauce if she did.

        Also, on a funny note regarding oyster sauce, I asked my dad advice about ordering some vegetarian dishes (that I don't order when I'm on my own) and he sent me a lovely list, but number three clearly says, "Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce." Just goes to show how foreign the idea of being a vegetarian is for my Chinese father.

        1. re: sox_foodie

          Being a true vegetarian isn't unheard of for the Chinese, as there are a number of Buddhist monks and then those who keep to a strict Buddhist diet (they even make vegetarian 'oyster' sauce). You can approach the restaurant and use the Cantonese term "so sik", which should signal that the food should be truly vegetarian. Not sure the restaurant can accommodate though, but at least there would be no mistake whether someone just wants a vegetable dish or a vegetarian dish.

      2. I find Pho Pasteur to be the best Chinatown bet for vegetarians and vegans, and gluten-free friends have been able to find plenty to eat there as well. They have a giant vegetarian section of the menu and everything I've had there has been pretty good. Not the tastiest or most interesting Chinatown option (and not Chinese food), but it might be your best bet with this group.

        Pho Pasteur Restaurant
        682 Washington St, Boston, MA 02111

        1. This will be no help with the spare ribs, but there is an all-vegan place above Pho Pasteur that is well-hidden but has served me a handful of really solid, tasty lunches since I've been doing Bittman's "Vegan til 6" method towards better eating: My Thai Vegan Cafe. They have a deeper menu that I have not explored, but have stuck to the 8 or 9 lunch specials, which get you tea, a bowl of quite delicious veggie-Tom Yum Gai, choice of spring roll or dumplings, and an entree (Mango Curry is my go-to, there is Pad Thai of course, and some less standard offerings). All for $7.50! All entrees are a choice of tofu, or veggie based chicken, beef or shrimp (i think..... or is it veggie pork? I always go tofu).

          the atmosphere is serene and it has great light, excellent views out into the bustling streetlife if you seated along one of the many windows, the ladies who work there are beyond sweet, and i've never seen more than 8 or 10 people there at lunch, though it could accommodate 50 at least. You definitely could stroll in at lunch with 15 and be almost guaranteed success (just don't be deterred from the ghetto-y stairway corridor that leads to the space)

          I just noticed the earlier mention of the defunct Buddha's Delight.... this is the same space, and leaps beyond that. And i'm kind of ashamed to admit this, but i even ate in this space pre-Buddha's Delight when it was called, I kid you not, "House of 2.99". Everything on the menu was priced at, well you know. This is better than that too :)

          1 Reply
          1. re: pierce

            I remember House of 2.99, and remember when they had to raise their price to 3.99 on some times and kind of had to change their name. I even dined at the Buddha's Delight that was pre-House of 2.99 (and then it re-converted to Buddha's Delight).

            Haven't been back since after all those reincarnations, but I would be curious if you think the place is actually better than Buddha's Delight.

          2. Hi all,

            Thanks for all the replies. I will definitely suggest the vegan cafe to my friend. I actually got saved by my mother and we went to Hei La Moon and took over two tables for 20 people total. We knew they would have plenty of space and would be able to easily fit everyone.

            We split the tables into largely vegetarian and a bit of everything tables. The restaurant was really great about meat free versions, but I don't think I could have done it with my Chinese skills. My mother explained really well, but they were very nice to the group.

            The meal was delicious and everyone seemed full and pleased with their meal.

            Hei La Moon
            88 Beach St, Boston, MA 02111