Shangri-La: Vegetarian Chinese Food in San Francisco
I enjoyed my first visit to Shangri-La, a vegetarian Chinese restaurant on Irving (between 21st and 22nd) in San Francisco. It's a small place, easy to miss, but obviously a popular dining destination, as the restaurant completely filled up as Anna of Anna's Cool Finds and I spent the shortest two hours dining there (we arrived early at 6pm).
Shangri-La has the largest selection of faux meats I've seen on a menu. Faux goose, duck, shrimp, chicken, beef, pork, even vegetarian tripe!
While I've never been huge on faux meats, I was very curious to try Shangri-La's selection as I read many good reviews of their faux meat products.
I was super excited to try the lemon chicken, a dish I still remember eating in my teens, a sticky, crunchy, deep-fried lemony thing (with chicken).
While nicely presented, I was disappointed that the dish did not correspond to my remembered dish. The server clearly pointed out that the "chicken" was sauteed, not deep fried. However, it was soft and glutinous and the lemon sauce was both cornstarchy and watery.
The Mongolian Beef ( I don't recall ever having the real thing) was excellent: spicy, nice texture (which Anna said was really close to the real thing, and I trust her) and the cabbage was delicious. After a couple of hours, it took on a more glutinous taste, but it was really good.
The lotus root with carrots and snow peas was absolutely fresh and delicious:
The star for me, however, was the chow mein. It had the most divine smokey flavor, had crisp, fresh vegetables, and was perfectly oiled, unlike so many chow meins that are overly greasy.
Next time, and I'm sure they'll be one, I'll order the faux shrimp, but otherwise stick to tofu and vegetable dishes. I think it's fair to say, I'm just not that into faux meat dishes. Certainly, the pricing is very reasonable and the service is extremely gracious. I would love to hear other peoples impressions of this restaurant in the comments.