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A vegetarian’s survival guide to Xi’an, China

Famous for its Peking duck, sweet and sour pork, and dumplings, delicious food items are an attraction in China. However, not much for vegetarians, who often consider stuffing their bags with vegetarian meal replacements before visiting the country. Here is a quick guide for authentic vegetarian, vegan and Indian options in Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, China.

Being a vegetarian in China is more alien than being an expatriate in a country where you don’t know the native language. And it gets stranger when you try to explain that by vegetarian you mean you don’t even eat fish or sometimes even egg.

Cuisine in Shaanxi is best known for its pork and mutton dishes and savoury flavours including garlic, onion and vinegar. Native cooking styles in northwest China make duck, lamb, chicken and beef the primary ingredients for dishes, however, cuisine in China is not just about meat.

Predominance of philosophical teachings of Buddhism and Taoism has promoted the vegetarian lifestyle in China and there are vegetarian options all over Xi’an; however, they come with their own unique challenges.

In most Chinese restaurants, vegetarian dishes are made with tofu, boiled vegetables and potatoes but because of the traditional cooking styles, even vegetarian dishes are fashioned to match the flavours and aesthetics of non-vegetarian items. Which is why most people doubt if what is being served is soyabean or meat.

However, here are some of the tried and tested vegetarian-friendly restaurants in Xi’an.

To start with, Delhi Darbar in Yanta District of Xi’an, very close to the famous Wild Goose Pagoda and Shaanxi Historical Museum in Xian, with Indian chefs and staff is not very fancy but serves delicious food. Amongst the vegan and vegetarian options, their kadhai paneer and kaali daal are not to be missed. With Bollywood songs playing in the background and authentic Indian food on your platter, the ambience makes you forget you are not in India.

In the same district inside Happy mall food court on Ci’en Road, Ganges Indian restaurant with modern setting and vibrant design elements is another place that takes the Indian culinary culture to China. With delicious food and affordable prices, the restaurant serves vegan, halal, vegetarian, Indian and Asian food options.

Talking about Indian restaurants, Red Fort Restaurant and Club on Silk road street in the Datang West Market is a chain of Indian cultural theme restaurants which provides authentic and wide range of delicious Indian cuisine in a magnificent ambience of the historic Indian fort and live Indian dance performances with an outdoor seating and free Wi-Fi facilities.

For a vegetarian Chinese meal, Three Sisters Dumplings in East Mutoushi of Beilin district serves both Chinese and Asian dishes, and not too far from there is Tianlong Baoyan Vegetarian on Ci’en West Road. Suitable for vegans and decorated with a strong Buddhist theme, most of their dishes are made with tofu, some of which imitate the taste and texture of meat dishes.

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