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Jun 7, 2011 01:18 PM

Asking for vegetarian in Flushing Chinese Food Courts/restaurants

I'm a food writer for an independent weekly in Springfield, IL. But I'm out in NYC -- specifically Brooklyn -- frequently, visiting my daughter, son-in-law, and new grandson. Since I usually drive out, my visits are great opportunities to explore ethnic places in Queens. I'll eat anything, but my daughter and son-in-law are vegetarians (Thankfully not vegans). I particularly want to visit the food courts in Flushing's Chinese malls -- Golden Mall, Flushing Mall, etc. My kids are up for it as well, but want to make sure they don't get any meat. ? It's my understanding that many of the menus don't have English translations, and many staffers don't speak English, either. Is there a phrase in (presumably Mandarin) Chinese that they could use -- or any other strategy -- to ensure they only get non-meat dishes? We had a wonderful meal at Golden Palace last week, and I'm ready for more!

Golden Palace
14009 Cherry Ave, Queens, NY 11355

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  1. I've never had a problem getting dishes made without meat at Chengdu Heaven. Also, one of Xian Famous Food's big highlights is it's liang pi which is veg.

    2 Replies
    1. re: JFores

      Yeah, it's easy to get veg/vegan at Xi'an Foods and the stall to the left of it (with the cold veggie preps on display.

      But since you want to be sure, check out these handy phrase guides%3

      1. re: JFores

        yes, my veggie daughter always gets the liang pi and some vegetable dumplings at golden mall. Also, don't know how strict your daughter and SIL are, but if they don't mind a meat broth, the soup with the egg and greens from the hand-pulled noodle place is also good.

      2. I agree with the recs for Chengdu Heaven and Xian Famous. Both have several vegetarian options. There are pictures and pretty good descriptions of most dishes and there is usually someone who speaks enough English to understand "vegetarian" enough to say whether or not a beef stock is used.
        And other than eggs, I think most vegetarian Chinese dishes are also vegan.

        6 Replies
        1. re: el jefe

          I've had issues with the word vegetarian. I've had lots of luck repeating "no meat."

          1. re: JFores

            The only way to be assured of getting a vegan Chinese meal is at a vegetarian Chinese restaurant run by Buddhists.You can be assured that absolutely no animal or dairy products will be found there. Otherwise in regular Chinese restaurants vegetable dishes are prepared with chicken stock etc. In general, Chinese believe that vegetarians choose to do so for religious reasons, not health. So indeed the OP might be better asking for no meat instead.

            1. re: scoopG

              scoopG, any idea where one can find a good Buddhist Chinese meal in these parts?

              1. re: scoopG

                Yes, for the most part healthy eating and Chinese restaurants have a basic lack of compatibility. Ever try to find a dietetic boba drink? Indeed, I've been chastised on Chowhound for looking for chicken dumplings as if I should be satisfied with the regular pork ones.

                1. re: Chandavkl

                  l know this is an old thread, but l do hope that you've tried the sheng jian bao at Old Sichuan on Bayard: chicken filling, very juicy and yummy!

                  1. re: howdini

                    Thanks! The only chicken sheng jian bao I've ever encountered was in Concord, CA in the east SF Bay region.

            Also: Buddha Bodai
            4296 Main Street, NY 11355-4723
            (718) 939-1188

            Have not been to Happy but it seems to get more love on this board than Bodai. Have been to Bodai a few times. Food is ok. ‎

            Happy Buddha
            135-37 37th Ave, Queens, NY 11354

            Buddha Bodai
            42-96 Main St, Queens, NY 11355

            4 Replies
            1. re: mrsdebdav

              I've only been to the Manhattan branch of Buddha Bodai. Happy Buddha looks like it is worth a shot - I see they have one or two Malaysian influenced dishes. Let us know CitySpoonful!

              1. re: scoopG

                I am vegan nowdays... bodai blows away happy buddha, you have to order the pork at bodai and the dim sum

              2. re: mrsdebdav

                I've only been to Manhattan Bodai, but there is an eggplant and soft tofu dish (alas can't remember the name) that was out of this world when I went. And I love my meat, so it's harder for me to get on board with a veggie-only asian place.

                That said, your kids might have trouble finding something made without fish sauce (even many vegetarian dishes have it, so they might want to be careful since the cooks might not consider it meat).

                1. re: mrsdebdav

                  Happy Buddha is wonderful. I am not a vegan but have found many of their dishes to be satisfying for an avid meat eater. The hot and sour soup is at least as good as any hot and sour soup in a non-vegan restaurant. Another favorite of mine is the tofu with cedar sauce. I love most of the dim sum. The steamed "char siu" buns taste much like the real thing.

                  Happy Buddha
                  135-37 37th Ave, Queens, NY 11354