A peek at vegan food in Beijing

Recently I visited Beijing with the family. Due to the short time we stayed we didn’t venture out in search of veg restaurants, so we braved a couple of non-veg restaurants and asked for vegan food. And it wasn’t a problem at all when we communicated clearly! What we had was delicious, refined and eye-opening. So here are those that I especially loved, do look out for them if you visit Beijing.

Top picture – Steamed cake with raisins. Ovens aren’t used in Chinese cuisine, so cakes are usually steamed to a light, fluffy texture.


Pickled radish stir fried with vermicelli and chilli. My favourite, not only because I love anything sour and spicy, but this is not overly done on spiciness. Vermicelli is a transparent noodle made from green bean or sweet potato starch, the thinner type are made from rice.


This may look a little scary but it’s refreshingly cool and chewy – The noodle is made from Kudzu root, used in Chinese medicine to clear excess heat. Tossed in light vinegar, sesame oil and garnished with chilli and chives.


Chinese toon sprouts tossed with smoked tofu strips. The sprouts resembles the taste of onions, but has an uplifting quality and doesn’t cloud your breathe.


Deep fried yam rolls – the ends are dipped in white sesame which makes the first and last bite most interesting.


These look like pears but are not! The ‘stalk’ is a strip of dried sweet potato.


Surprise, surprise – it’s fresh red bean paste wrapped in sticky rice dough and deep fried.

Traditionally Chinese food does not use dairy, so those without animal ingredients are usually vegan. Just beware of hidden ingredients like lard, gravy and meat stocks. Three points for those wanting to travel there:

  •  Go to a restaurant that is clean, not some roadside stall or eatery. Not only it lessens your chances of an upset stomach, restaurants have well – trained staff too. We went to a place that specializes in roast duck because there weren’t any other places to eat, but still had our fill. The waitress looked puzzled to why we would not order any duck, but asked no questions.
  •  Communicate clearly – because some people classify shrimps or chicken stock as vegetarian. Best is to write a list and show it to them – no animal fat, meat stock, milk, eggs, seafood.
  •  Most restaurants provide wet tissue, you can use it to clean your utensils. And many use disposable chopsticks – so no worries about using anything with a faint fishy smell.

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