7 Asian-Owned Vegetarian Restaurants We Love

Cook and culture

Written by Samantha Dang, Jason Edano, and Katie Merikallio | Edited by Jessica Tishue & Carol Coutinho

March 31, 2021
Food is one of our most powerful tools for connection, fostering unity between people and cultures around the world. Sharing food enriches our lives and helps us understand each other, something especially important for Asian cultures in America right now. Without the influence from Asian cultures, imagine the spices, the flavors, the textures that food would miss out on. We can’t stomach this thought. That’s why we are sharing 7 Asian-owned Vegetarian Restaurants we absolutely love.

Right now, it’s especially important to celebrate Asian cultures and their wonderful contributions. It breaks our hearts to see the rise in anti-Asian attacks, fueled by misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, there was a nearly 150% increase in hate crimes towards Asian Americans in major U.S. cities. This especially affected Asian American businesses, which have been boycotted and vandalized more than those of any other demographic in 2020. Now more than ever, it’s crucial to support Asian-owned restaurants and show your appreciation for the incredible influence Asian cultures have on our food and its flavors. While you should support businesses that are local (and consider donating to Stop AAPI Hate), here are 7 of our favorite Asian-owned restaurants to get you started, specializing in healthy, sustainable, and plant-based food.

Nature Vegetarian Restaurant is located in Oakland California, and has been serving Vegetarian Chinese cuisine since 2012. Hui Lin opened the restaurant with her husband, Jian Wu Liu, with the goal of serving vegetarian food for health reasons. They serve the classic dishes you would expect to find at a Chinese restaurant in the U.S. like, veggie chow mein, veggie broccoli and beef, veggie spring rolls, and even veggie shark fin soup. They have fair prices, with their average entree costing somewhere between $9.00 to $16.00, with most of their entrees costing around $10.00. According to an article written by Momo Chang for the San Francisco Chronicle, The Chinese roots of plant-based meat, their customer base is mainly not Chinese, and because of their vegetarian menu, they often host meals for animal rights activists. Nature Vegetarian Restaurant is a great restaurant to check out in Oakland for anyone, and especially for those who like vegetarian food, Chinese food, or just a good cheap meal. They are currently open for take-out only due to COVID. 

2. Sushi San, Felton, CA

Sushi San is a Japanese restaurant located in Felton California, right next to Santa Cruz. They serve more traditional Japanese food, like sushi, nigiri, and sashimi, but they also have a large selection of vegetarian rolls. Other sushi restaurants seem to have limited vegetarian options usually consist of five or so rolls like cucumber rolls, and avocado rolls, but Sushi San has 15 vegetarian rolls, 7 of which are gluten free. They also have three special vegetarian rolls and a few vegetarian appetizers like agedashi tofu and broccoli oshitashi, which is a chilled steamed broccoli dish served with a soy based walnut sauce. Sushi San has a wide variety of vegetarian and non vegetarian rolls for anyone to enjoy, and it would be a great place to stop at if you are craving some Japanese food in the Santa Cruz area. They are currently open for take-out only due to COVID.
Sushi San, "Ocean Slug" 2021
Sushi San. “Sushi San’s Website Gallery.”

3. Shojin, Los Angeles, CA

A hidden gem buried deep within a downtown shopping mall, Shojin prides itself on its use of high-quality, organic and macrobiotic ingredients to craft delectable vegan Japanese dishes. Their goal and mission is to provide food that improves the health of their patron’s mind, body, and soul. Their unique and flavorful vegan sushi rolls—including their best-selling Shojin Dynamite Roll— are among the best available, and their Maitake tempura is a must order! This restaurant is perfect for date nights or if you are looking for a high-end dining experience. Shojin is currently offering takeout customer appreciation specials which is a great option if you are looking to treat yourself at home.
Shojin Organic & Natural. “Shojin Organic & Natural’s Facebook Page.”

4. Garden Fresh Vegan, Hacienda Heights, CA

This mom-and-pop owned business specializes in using organic and locally sourced ingredients to serve mouth-watering Vegan Asian dishes, with no preservatives or MSG. Garden Fresh Vegan has a wide variety of dishes including vegetable dumplings, spinach/buckwheat noodles, Korean kimchi pancakes, and crispy oyster mushrooms. This restaurant is the perfect one-stop spot if you are craving multiple delicious Asian cuisines. They are currently serving combination  lunch sets which are perfect if you want to try a variety of their full-flavored dishes!
Garden Fresh Vegan Restaurant. “Garden Fresh Vegan Restaurant’s EzOrderNow Menu Page.”

Thien Tam Vegetarian Restaurant is a woman-owned business that opened its doors in 2009 and has since been offering delectable plant-based traditional Vietnamese dishes. The owner and chef is a mother to 6 children and has spent years reimagining her favorite family recipes with a vegetarian twist. Their most popular dishes are their Bún bò Huế, Phở, Bánh Xèo, and Lemongrass chicken. Tucked away in the heart of San Gabriel Valley, this Vegan and Vegetarian restaurant has been a staple for the community for the past eleven years. If you are in need of some delicious and hearty comfort food this is the place to go!
Thien Tam Vegetarian Restaurant. “Thien Tam Vegetarian Restaurant’s Facebook Page.”

Bodhi Kosher Vegetarian Restaurant is a 100% vegan dim sum and Chinese food restaurant in New York City. Their mission is “to bring vegetarian food to everyone and… save animal lives.” Their menu—which also sports a wide variety of gluten-free options—provides both traditionally vegetarian dishes and updates to carnivorous classics with clever meat substitutes. With 57 options for dim sum, 27 options for appetizers and soups, and 81 options for main courses and noodles, there is truly something for everyone on their menu—not to mention drinks and desserts. They also have a nation-wide shipping offer on certain frozen foods, so even those not in the NYC area can have a taste of what Bodhi Kosher Vegetarian Restaurant has to offer.
Bodhi Kosher Vegetarian Restaurant. “Bodhi Kosher Vegetarian Restaurant’s Instagram Page.”

7. Hangawi Restaurant, New York City, NY

A vegan restaurant with a lot of buzz lately is Hangawi Restaurant, and for a good reason! Based in New York City, their Korean menu adapts traditional Korean food into vegetarian delicacies, combining the ideas of vegetarian temple cuisine and personal innovations to transform meat-based dishes. The vegan menu—developed out of a deep compassion for animals—changes with the seasons, connected to the Earth and what ingredients are currently growing. They’re dedicated to a philosophy of healthy eating, finding a balance of ingredients within vegetarian meals to make sure every dish is as nourishing as it is delicious. Hangawi is currently open for takeout or for indoor dining with a reservation, masks, and temperature checks.
HanGawi. “ HanGawi’s Website Gallery.”

 

This is the first article in a new 4-part series we are doing at Cook & Culture where we highlight some of our favorite Asian-owned eateries. We want to highlight the importance of Asian food and culture at a time where the Asian American community is hurting. We believe in the power of sharing a meal, and that exploring new cultures through food can help unify us. We encourage you to join us in supporting our Asian American community by checking out the restaurants we have listed in this article if you can, and visiting local Asian restaurants in your community.

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