Shanghai: World Cuisine for Vegans

Posted on by Ashley Fruno

After spending several months in a relatively small town in China, I found myself definitely craving international foods. I longed for falafel, Indian curry, even a veggie burger. I love to cook, but in my tiny kitchen in Quanzhou, it sometimes seemed overwhelming to prepare big meals. I counted down the days until my long weekend in Shanghai. This historically international city was so appealing to my stomach that I could hardly contain myself.

The first day in Shanghai I went to Kush, a vegetarian café that serves, among many other things, veggie-burger wraps (the bun option is not vegan). Along with the burger, I enjoyed the raw gazpacho and olive oil potato salad, and my stomach was content. It was a great meal that was served artistically, and the employees were all knowledgeable about which menu items were vegan. My food tour had begun, and I was looking for a lot more than a veggie burger!

Lentil Burger Wrap at Kush, Shanghai

Lentil burger wrap at Kush

Dill Fava Bean Potato Salad at Kush, Shanghai

Dill, fava bean and potato salad at Kush

There were two places that I knew I wanted to try: Greek Taverna and Haya’s Mediterranean Cuisine. I was pleasantly surprised by both. Greek Taverna served awesome vegetarian dolmas (grape leaves stuffed with rice and herbs), and Haya’s had Israeli falafel that was out of this world. It also had a small bakery inside with an abundance of vegan breads.

Stuffed Grape Leaves, Greek Taverna

Stuffed grape leaves at Greek Taverna

Falafel Sandwich-Haya’s Mediterranean Cuisine

Falafel sandwich at Haya’s Mediterranean Cuisine

I went on this trip almost exclusively to sample international foods, so my next stop was a no-brainer. Since perhaps my favorite cuisine in the world is Indian, while in Shanghai, I visited quite a few different Indian establishments to find the very best one. It must have been fate that on my last day I found it: Punjabi Restaurant. It had a buffet with quite a few vegetarian options, but my favorite Indian dishes are rare, so I ordered off the menu. Aloo gobi (potatoes and cauliflower), dal palak (lentils and spinach), roti bread, and basmati rice made my last evening in Shanghai the best! The wait staff was quite nice and accommodating and made sure that I got the vegan meal I requested.

My trip to Shanghai proved to be worth every one of the eight hours that I spent on a train to get there—and the eight more for the ride back. I ate three meals a day and even carried some falafel back home on the train with me. In addition to the international cuisine, there is also an abundance of Chinese vegetarian fare in the city. I am looking forward to returning to Shanghai one day again, just for the food!

Posted by Edwina Baier