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Eating Vegetarian in Shenzhen

 2017-01-12    ThomasIronmonk    Food    Shenzhen    2210  


To say Shenzhen has an eclectic dining table is something of an understatement. The principle migrant town of the world’s most populous country has lured all manner and class of go-getter. And they have brought with them their culinary customs. Be it Manchurian dumplings, Sichuan hot pot, Hunan tofu, Xi’an cold noodles, Guilin rice noodles or Cantonese dim sum, whatever ye seek, ye shall find.

But while this plethora of gastronomic choice provokes any foodie worth their chopsticks to begin salivating into their teacup, the prospect of tender Peking duck or lip-tingling spicy diced chicken isn’t everyone’s, well, cup of tea. Indeed for those of us who’ve supplanted an omnivorous existence for that of a herbivore’s, South China can seem a daunting place to dine.

While Shenzhen’s backstreets might afford the eager eater all manner of mammal, lizard, fish and insect, this city of bewildering choice caters for the vegetarians and vegans among us too. In fact, a thriving Buddhist community, an increasingly health-conscious middle class, and a ballooning expat dining scene make meat-free Shenzhen a pleasure, not a problem. All you need to know is where best to go.


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Old Luohu marks ground zero in Shenzhen’s embryonic development in the 1980s with the city’s first malls, skyscrapers, and factories. It might look a bit weatherworn these days but remains the best place to experience veggie friendly restaurants.


Behind the iconic turquoise Diwang Daxia tower on Bao’an South Road, a nascent Buddhist community has established a spattering of shops selling prayer flags, effigies of the Buddha, incense and (this being China) restaurants. For our money, the best herbivore eateries in the neighborhood are Comfortable Life (悦意生活健康素食苑) and Dengpin Vegetarian Restaurant (登品素食府) located on the second and third floors of Junting Mingyuan building.

If you fancy a bit of sojourn, the Wutong Mountain Art Town (梧桐艺术小镇) at the mouth of the tranquil hiking spot to the east of Luohu has a plethora of family-friendly Buddhist restaurants, typically on the ground floor of village houses with outdoor seating. These restaurants serve up dishes at random until you are as content as portly as the laughing Buddha, though remember not to waste anything as this can offend the faithful.

Meanwhile, just across the Lo Wu border crossing from Hong Kong, near Guomao metro station, an émigré community of Indian traders have established several quality restaurants: Bollywood Café, Spice Circle and Taj all dish up plenty of fine, meat-free South Asian delicacies.    


Centred around the Central Business District, Futian might feel too corporate to cater for alternative lifestyles, but there are a spattering of veggie friendly joints here as well. Of note, Jin Hai Ge (金海阁素食馆) on Guiyan Road, just south of the Science Museum metro station, is Shenzhen’s earliest vegetarian restaurant and one of the few that permits the consumption of alcohol. Meanwhile, on the other side of the district, near Xiangmihu metro station in the holiday resort of the same name, Windlucky Restaurant (云来居素食馆) dishes up exotic mushroom dishes and sumptuous tofu delicacies from Yunnan in a fine-dining setting evocative of a Chinese pastoral ideal.  


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Out West, the long district of Nanshan reaches from the trendy OCT Loft near Futian along a peninsula arriving at Shekou Port from where ferries depart for Hong Kong and Macau. The first Western-style veggie restaurant T Commune can be found in the ultra hip Loft area while misleadingly, one of Nanshan’s finest local veggie joints carries the name of its neighbor district. Futian Lin Fullness Restaurant (福田林素食馆) on the second floor of a department store on Guimiao Road is a tad hard to find but worth the effort, with fine service and a plethora of healthy vegan dishes to choose from.

Vegans and vegetarians might also be advised to head to Seaworld, a Western hub and bar street with a wide-ranging choice of international cuisine including more great South Asian restaurants like Little India and Bombay Indian Cuisine which offer some great vegetarian alternatives.   

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