Almost every Chinese restaurant has tofu, a versatile vegan food that can replace meat in virtually any dish, making any menu item potentially vegan, such as vegetarian chow mein, tofu chow mein, steamed rice, or fried rice with vegetables (specify that there are no eggs). Vegetarian Chinese food can be delicious, as long as you know how to order it. Read the menus carefully and don't hesitate to always ask your waiter about meatless dishes or meat sauce so that there are no surprises. I made a lot of mistakes and too many assumptions.
The good news is that there are a lot of vegan dishes you can order at a Chinese restaurant. You just have to know what to ask and what to pay attention to. Once you do, you can go out to eat Chinese food with all your friends and focus on having a good time and enjoying a delicious meal. Here are my tips for selecting the best vegetarian dishes from a Chinese restaurant menu.
While ordering vegetarian Chinese food may seem easy at first glance, it can be more complicated than you might expect. In fact, using the general term Chinese cuisine is a bit misleading, as each province brings its own unique flavors and unique foods. When you order food at a Chinese restaurant, you can't just assume that General Tso's Lo Mein of tofu or vegetables is vegan. Steamed vegetables, sautéed green beans, sauteed snow peas, fresh asparagus, mixed vegetables, sauteed broccoli, Chinese bean cottage cheese, tofu with black mushrooms and soy sprouts, Chinese eggplant, Sichuan tofu or seitan, General Tso tofu, Moo Shu vegetables, bittersweet tofu, orange tofu, kung pao tofu, kung pao tofu, vegetarian chow mein, Buddha's Delight.
While it's possible to eat a delicious meal at a Chinese restaurant, you may decide that you prefer to prepare your own Chinese food at home. These three ingredients are known as the “three earthly rewards” in Shandong cuisine and, when mixed in a stir-fry, form one of the oldest homemade dishes in Chinese gastronomic culture. Before I get into a list of normally vegetarian Chinese food to order, I want to start by saying that if you're not sure about something, ask. To get started, read How to Make Your Own Vegan Chinese Food at Home and, if you're gluten-free, see How to Make Great Vegan and Gluten-Free Chinese Food.