3 Tips For Ordering At A Chinese Restaurant When You're Vegan

Chinese cuisine features lots of seafood and pork dishes, so it may not be the type of restaurant you would choose to visit as a vegan. Eating a vegan diet can reduce your options when it comes to eating out, but you can still enjoy Chinese food if you put your server's knowledge to the test before you order. Here are three tips for ordering at a Chinese restaurant when you're vegan:

Ask The Right Questions

Not everyone you meet will fully understand what veganism is. It's not enough to simply tell your server you're vegan, as some won't realise this means you avoid all animal derivatives. So, before ordering a dish that seems to be free of animal products, ask some specific questions to ensure you don't unwittingly eat something unsuitable. Here are a few examples of questions that are particularly relevant for Chinese cuisine:

  • Was any part of the dish cooked in fish or meat stock?
  • Does the dish contain egg?
  • What kind of fat is used for frying?

Order An Easily Adaptable Dish

There are a number of dishes that can be adapted to make them vegan-friendly, and most restaurants will be happy to make some simple changes to a dish for you. For example, egg fried rice dishes typically have the egg added at the end of cooking, so it's no additional work for a chef to leave this out. If the vegetable dumplings are fried in animal fat, asking for yours to be fried in vegetable fat is a reasonable request. You can also ask to order a simple dish that's not on the menu, such as a bowl of rice with stir-fried or steamed vegetables and tofu.

Look Out For Dishes That Are Accidently Vegan

Some restaurants will have dishes on their menu that just happen to be suitable for vegans. You'll have to scour the menu to find these dishes, but here are a few examples to look out for:

  • Kung Pao Tofu - This dish consists of seasonal vegetables and peanuts stir-fried in a spicy sauce that contains hoisin. Despite being associated with duck dishes, hoisin sauce is suitable for vegans and is made with a base of soy beans, sugar and red chillies.
  • Steamed Dumplings - These dumplings are made with a simple dough of flour, water and yeast. They are filled with cabbage, carrot and beansprouts and served with a soy dipping sauce.
  • Hot And Sour Vegetable Soup - This soup is a Sichuan staple and consists of a spicy broth that's slightly sour thanks to the use of vinegar. The soup can be ordered with tofu and contains earthy shitake mushrooms and satisfyingly crunchy bamboo shoots.

Restaurant kitchens are busy places, so avoid being a difficult diner by keeping requests simple, and express your gratitude when staff make an effort to accommodate you. You never know, if you show them how easy it is to cater to vegan customers, they may add a vegan section to their menu. For more advice, contact a business such as Han Palace.