Being a vegetarian in Beijing is a tricky business. Dining out in the city can be a soul-crushing experience for those of us who aren’t meat-inclined.
For us vegetarians, eating out often entails awkwardly hoarding the contents of the sole plate of greens on the table, picking bits of pork out of the mapo doufu that was ordered by our well-meaning friends and silently ruing the day we decided to stop eating meat… Or maybe that’s just me.
I welcome any new addition to Beijing’s scant collection of vegetarian restaurants with open arms. So when I learned that Jindingxuan, the popular dim sum chain, had opened a vegetarian branch in the city’s CBD, I was very much intrigued.
As a vegetarian, I suffer from the worst kind of food-related FOMO (‘fear of missing out,’ for you textspeak newbs). But now that Jindingxuan has taken an unexpected leap into the world of vegetarian cuisine, I finally have the chance to indulge in all things dim sum without fretting about finding chunks of meat hidden in my steamed buns, or wondering whether there is chicken broth in my dumpling soup.
At first glance, there’s really nothing fancy about Jindingxuan. Unlike its ostentatious Andingmen counterpart, the vegetarian version is housed in the second story of a rather pedestrian building in Jianwai SOHO. Also unlike its more famous sister restaurant, it’s not open 24 hours. But as vegetarians, we’ll take what we can get.
Inside, Jindingxuan looks like an amalgamation of a contemporary American diner and a drab university cafeteria. But lackluster ambience aside, the menu is extensive and promising.
We sample the spicy Sichuan-style noodles with peanuts (RMB13), the sweet and custardy steamed Chinese yams with chrysanthemum (RMB16), the spinach sauteed in tart, vinegary sauce (RMB24), and the sweet and spongy braised tofu and mushrooms (RMB15). The portions are generous, the quality good and the prices surprisingly low – especially when compared with other vegetarian restaurants in Beijing.
While we can’t say that the veggie dumplings (RMB13) stand up to others we’ve sampled around the city, the dim sum on offer at Jindingxuan’s newest branch is more than enough to satiate our picky vegetarian palates. And walking away with a bill of less than RMB100 (for two!) means that we’ll likely keep coming back.
See a listing for Jindingxuan
Check out our guide on 'Beijing's Best Vegetarian & Veg-Friendly Restaurants'