Best Vegetarian Dishes in Non-Vegetarian SGV Chinese?
Since SGV has such a large variety of regional and Asian-food trend options, I thought this sort of picky question might actually be answerable by the CH SGV specialists (you know who you are - I've been lurking on this board for 6-7 years and reading your posts).
The situation is we are going to Chinese with someone who does not eat meat but loves good vegetable dishes and shrimp, but that rules out so many of the best veg dishes because of the everpresent pesky pork bits, brown sauce components etc
Looking for Arcadiaor thereabouts, not dumplings (pork everywhere, anyhow), nothing too far out on the regional specialities. I would just as soon go to Gourmet Vegetarian on Valley but the other diners would hate me and I would regret not having at least one of those pork bit flavored dishes. Also, this would be 5pm and we cannot wait in line for a long time.
Gourmet Vegetarian Restaurant
140 W Valley Blvd, San Gabriel, CA 91776
While it's a bit outdated, you might want to take a look at this thread
Some of this will depend on how strict the person is - chicken base and other animal products are common, and asking for it without only goes so far. That said, because Buddhist vegetarian places tend to not use the "5 pungent spices", you sometimes do get better vegetarian food at non-vegetarian restaurants.
In Arcadia itself, but definitely both towards flour-food, Din Tai Fung and 101 Noodle Express both have some good options, not all of which are dumplings. Also some decent options in Temple City. The former also has pretty good labeling of veg items, and a separate vegetarian menu, which is rare; of course, even at 5, you might have to wait a little, but they're pretty efficient.
Also in Arcadia is Bean Sprouts, which is completely vegetarian, though they serve some dishes with egg. The food is mild flavored, but I think some of the dishes are pretty good. The food is a little different style from the rest of the Buddhist vegetarian Chinese places, modern Taiwanese style dishes, and a smaller menu.
If you can venture out a bit further, and like spicy food, Hunan Chili King on Valley or Hunan Seafood in Rosemead both have some excellent vegetable dishes. For something a little more delicate and mild flavored, i think Shanghai Yu Yuan on Valley is still doing pretty good stuff, and there's also Shanghai Xiao Chi (Wok and Noodle). Some folks don't like Shanghai food, but it does tend to have some good vegetable and vegetarian options.
I know you're asking for the best dishes, and that's the right approach; if you narrow in on a place, let us know, and hopefully someone can make more specific suggestions.
Din Tai Fung Restaurant
1108 S Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA 91007
103 E Huntington Dr, Arcadia, CA 91006
101 Noodle Express
1408 E Valley Blvd, Alhambra, CA 91801
Hunan Seafood Restaurant
8772 E Valley Blvd, Rosemead, CA 91770
We were able to sort it out at Tasty Kitchen. I don't really know if the chow fun had chicken base or not, and the picky diner didn't know to ask. Otherwise, the usual suspects, bean with XO, walnut shrimp and a good beef dish made with filet mignon and mushrooms, with a lot of coarse ground black pepper. This dish was more like European food, old school, but really well made without a heavy reduction and no corn starch or traditional brown braising flavor or 5 spice. Mild MSG headache a few hours afterwards. Thanks for Shanghai suggestions, I really enjoy the genre.
1324 W Artesia Blvd, Gardena, CA 90248
If you are concerned about it, you can always order dishes to be prepared with less salt, less oil, and no MSG. That is true for most Chinese restaurants. Next time, your friend might want to consider salt & pepper shrimp. I don't know if it's on the menu, but they should be able to make it.
Chang's Garden is very accommodating to vegetarians which is why my mom (a vegetarian) likes taking groups of vegetarians and omnivores there. They make a string bean roll that is always gobbled up by the veggie and meat eaters alike when we go there.
627 W Duarte Rd, Arcadia, CA 91007