Bill Stranberg (more chengdu)|
It seems to be the bane of the vegetarian that the phrase “I don’t eat meat” is always erroneously interpreted as “I eat a little meat, just small pieces, no big pieces please.” Here’s the real hook of Vegetarian Lifestyles: This place is Vegan. They mean it too. There are a few don’ts though. Don’t look for it on the ground level. It’s on the fourth; don’t expect a large selection of food; and don’t, really don’t, order dishes that require an animal product at its core. This is important because Vegetarian Lifestyles recreates meat-based dishes. You can get Kung Pao Chicken here; it just ain’t chicken. Avoid the dishes that normally use animal fats for their flavoring. The vegetable fats just don’t absorb as much flavor.
Enough of the negative because despite the aforementioned, this place is awesome. The design is clean and reduced, the music is fitting and not too loud, the staff is accommodating, and the menu has pictures and is in Chinese, Japanese and English. We had the Sweet and Sour Soup, which was a bit disappointing. However, the other food was fantastic. The Deep-fried Beijing Duck, crisp and delicious. The shrimp’s texture in the Shelled Shrimp in Longjing Tea Sauce would fool anybody into thinking it was authentic. We even had a Chengdu-style hot pot which had a nice punch despite the lack of animal fats. Be wary of the price. Granted it’s worth your kuai; fresh food is expensive. If you come here wanting to leave both frugal and full, expect to pay about 40RMB a head.