Vegan Chinese Food

Hey folks! All month long Im blogging about our cities noteworthy vegan-friendliness. Its my hope that, through the power of eating, Ill be able to break through that Ghostbusters-like gunk clogging up everybodys perception of vegan livin here. As weve seen so far this month, its really quite lovely and easy and delicious! With your help, fellow bloggers, maybe next year well see our city as an option on surveys about favorite vegan-friendly cities.

Today I want to talk about vegan Chinese choices. We basically have three:

I recommend our restaurants in the order listed above: Livingroom first, Chickel Little second, Chinese food last. In fact, I dont really recommend Chinese food at all, except for the fact that theyre open til 6am (seriously) and they have vegan (not vegetarian, vegan) eggrolls. Sadly, they failed their health inspection in July AND played host to a really confusing shooting in September. Aaaand the food is just so-so. I ordered the Buddhas Mushroom Lo Mein ($10) one very late night and found one ONE! – mushroom buried in the mass of noodles. ONE MUSHROOM!! WTF.

In this post Im going to focus on Livingroom since it is by far my favorite. But since Ive noticed that the city vegan scene is very divided on the issue you either love Livingroom and think Chickel Little is so-so, or you LOVE Chickel Little and think Livingroom is just okay Im gonna post Chickel Littles menu at the bottom for those who are interested.

Its not that I dont like Chickel Little, its just that I think Livingroom is consistently better. The service is kinder & more attentive at Livingroom, the prices are better (usually by a buck or more), the food is much, much faster, and its a totally vegan restaurant. There are also freebies at Livingroom: they dont charge you for rice or pots of good-quality tea (comes with the meal, all you have to do is ask). Each meal begins with a simple, complimentary cabbage salad with condiments. The restaurant is more spacious with tables instead of creaky old booths and the occasional table. If youre a regular theyll remember you and treat you like family often with even more little gifts of food and Mandarin lessons. Its just about the closest you can get to dining in someones home while still paying for the experience. 🙂

Chickel Little gets no points from me as far as service, speed, prices, and are concerned, but the food is tasty. I like the sesame tofu (not the sesame chicken, its a fried mess) and the mushroom soup. Oh, and one time I was sick and got the udon noodle tofu-vegetable soup and they were really generous with noodles and broth (not so much with tofu). It made me happy! City folks: Since a lot of out-of-towners are keeping up with the series, do be sure to defend your favorite in the comments and Ill add it to the post later!! Thanks!!

First, Livingrooms menu. These are pictures from the take-out menu, but the dinner menu is almost identical.

Looking over the menu, I realize Nate & I have tried a lot of dishes but we still have a ways to go. My old favorite used to be the lamb with string beans (Ive never actually had flesh of animal lamb) which was made of trumpet mushrooms. But the trumpet mushrooms became too expensive and they had to change the recipe. Now it is not my favorite. 🙁

Lately Ive loved the vegetable beef with orange peel. The crunchy beef pieces stay crispy amid a sea of sweet orange sauce. The orange peel itself is abundant but mild not bitter/pithy. Chicken with string beans is a long-time favorite & good as a lunch special. One of my guys favorites is the bean curd skin roll with pepper & bean sauce, but he always substitutes broccoli for the pepper because its better that way. The item I hear ordered most often is the fried crunchy chicken with spicy salt. Really, you cant go wrong with the House Special menu. And dont forget the lunch specials just $5.50 for a large entree with white or brown rice, two curry pockets (MMMMM) or a spring roll AND a bowl of soup! Its so. much. food.

We rarely dont like something, but I didnt enjoy the chicken with cashew nuts and Nate wasnt a big fan of the spare ribs dishes.

My old favorite:

All of the soups are out-of-this-world yummy and a great value, too. For $4.25 $5.50 you get a giant bowl that serves two people two bowls each! When my Chinese history professor from college joined me at lunch one day, she was most impressed with the Buddhists delight soup. It takes a lot of skill to make such a delicious broth, she said.

Its worth it to order the appetizer platter. I think its in the six dollar range for four curry pockets, two fried shrimp pieces, and two chicken on a stick. The chicken is the same thats served in the ever-popular fried crunchy chicken with spicy salt dish, just seasoned differently. The curry pockets have this totally mysterious creamy sweet curry center. Ive never tasted anything like them before. Ive noticed that kids seem to LOVE these.

the interesting wallpaper

a recent freebie, savory and scallion-y

Sadly, Livingroom is often mostly empty. I think its because theyre way out on Highway, about a twenty minute drive from downtown whereas Chickel Little is always busy because theyre in midtown. (Maybe thats why service is always so harried and slow?) Theyre great at accommodating large parties because they have so much room and flexible seating (tables and chairs). Let me know if youre ever in town and want to join me or if youre a local and want to get a cheap lunch!

I promised heres Chickel Littles menu 🙂