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Vegetarian Restaurants
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Where to Eat:

Foshan has thousands of restaurants featuring food from all parts of China and much of the World. It has extremely few dedicated Vegetarian Restaurants, and what their exists is usually related to a Buddhist Temple - because Chinese Buddhists are all vegetarians.

There is nothing definitive about this of course, as China is always the land of contradictions. However, a few basic facts before we list the few restaurants that have stood the test of time:
• Do not expects standards of vegetarian cooking to be Western, they are basically for Chinese Buddhists
• Some stock used may have a regular base, such as Chicken bouillon (Unusual, but happens)
• Chinese Buddhists do not eat onions, considering them unhealthy, whilst garlic is banned from all kitchens as being the reincarnation of the Devil!. However, they do eat a lot of fresh ginger root and coriander leaves.
• Vegan's should visit another country - apologies.

Vegetarian Food
Vegetarian food is always hard to find in China, but Foshan has several dedicated restaurants that serve good and varied vegetarian cuisine. I cannot guarantee this is vegan, and vegan's will experience a very hard time in China!

John's Bar, Martino's, Little India and the Rhine Cafe will all serve dedicated vegetarian dishes. The top hotels will also offer genuine vegetarian cuisine, of which I would only name: The Foshan Hotel (Crowne Plaza), Carris Anne Hotel, also called the Carrianne Hotel and formerly the Hua Qiao Hotel, Golden City Hotel, and the Fortuna Hotel at Le Cong. These are listed separately as they are ordinary restaurants which cater for vegetarians.

Otherwise for authentic vegetarian cuisine you options are limited, but are available. Before describing them I will give you a very useful tip: All Chinese Buddhists are vegetarian, so if a Buddhist temple has a restaurant associated with it, then this should only serve vegetarian food. Do not expect this to be vegan, but it is possible. Vegetarian restaurants, like their meat serving counterparts, do tend to come and go with frequency, so below are the ones I know stick around:

Vegetarian Restaurants

Buddhist Restaurant
This is located on Zumiao Road nearly opposite the Carris Anne Hotel. It is actually a secluded part of Renshou Buddhist Pagoda Temple, which itself was established in the 13th Century. The Pagoda is quite easy to spot, being a large red tower that overlooks the walls to the street. The restaurant is at the far end, and found by entering a doorway located furthest from the city centre (Bai Hua). Go in here and walk straight ahead, bearing left whenever you can. You will come to a nondescript concrete building that has a door set on the left corner. Go in here and up a flight of stairs. Marvel you are now in a quite exclusive and vegetarian restaurant! The staff do not speak English, but all the food is vegetarian (No meat whatsoever is sold here).

My good friend Neil likes this restaurant a lot, and I hope he will add a few lines about what to order in due course. The food is excellent vegetarian cuisine, and quite distinct from all similar establishments. It is definitely the top class restaurant of its kind in the city, and has been around for more than 10 years. Regardless of what staff may try and tell you, opening times are based on regular Chinese eating times, being: 12 midday until 2 pm; and 6 pm until 9.30 close.
Image: Renshou Pagoda - the Buddhist restaurant is just to the left of this as viewed from the road

The Place Up The Alleyway
This is actually a very good restaurant, and very traditional regards Buddhism. It is located just off Dai Fu't Lo (Lingnan Dong Lu) so get yourself to Foshan TV tower and on that side of the main road. You could actually walk this in 10 minutes, or catch a cab. You need to go North on this road, ie - the tower is on your right and you are headed away from it as it recedes behind you. You will come quite quickly in a cab to a set of traffic lights where all the traffic either goes left or right. Your taxi driver will want to do likewise.

Be forceful and make him go straight ahead! The road narrows considerably, and you need to stop at the first sideroad on your right - about 80 yards down this road. This is not a salubrious area, but quite safe all the same. Go down the sideroad about 30 yards and there will be a row of shops set back on your right mainly featuring an open fronted furniture seller. The entrance to the vegetarian restaurant is the last doorway. Head up the stairs and you are there. In 2010 they plan to take over the furniture showroom next door - and we will see what happens.
Image: Business Card of a good vegetarian restaurant - Click to Enlarge

Image: Business Card reverese of a good vegetarian restaurant showing map - Click to Enlarge

The food is excellent and pukka vegetarian, and the bill is small. Again Uncle Sam has been advising them on culinary arts, and they are developing a wider range of dishes, as evidenced each time I have been there. The owner is not a native Cantonese speaker, although her Cantonese speaking is now better than my own. The staff won't really have any worthwhile English skills. However she is a warm and friendly person, and whilst retaining her professional dignity, does like to stop and chat with customers. A very nice and genuine person. You will need a Chinese friend to help you order, unless you fancy pot luck? There are some photo's of dishes, and the main vegetables are on show outside the kitchen, so pointing and mining will work also.

Open: 11am to 2pm and 5pm to 9pm.
Tel: (Foshan 0757) 8303 1633
Mobile: 13318 333 889

4 other Foshan vegetarian restaurants have opened and closed within the last couple of years, although our information is that there is still one survivor located in Nanhai 'Gui Cheung' = near Jusco. Therefore our next listing is in Shunde Long Jiang Town

Shunde Long Jiang
To get there from Foshan you will either need to catch a green bus from the small bus station city (University) side of the main Foshan bus station, or get a cab (Y80 is a very reasonable fare. If you hail one of the infrequent green taxi's, then know this should be from Shunde and looking for a return fare, which can be a lot cheaper. Note: occasionally a green cab is from Guangzhou, and these are a very bad idea!

This restaurant has been open for more than 5-years, and is the brainchild of my Chinese 'Brother' Uncle Sam. It is located precisely next door to Long Jiang Buddhist Temple and Mountain, and is the purple building. The cuisine is excellent, and although I am not a veggie, they do serve some wonderful food here. Look for the curry (Potatoes, capsicums and broccoli), fish steak (Made from anything except fish, and pukka), and the knots of small mushrooms in an apparent bacon wrapper (Not bacon). There are still pictures of Caroline and myself on the walls, as we were honoured guests at their opening ceremony in February 2005.

Being proper Chinese Buddhist restaurants, none of these restaurants favour serving alcohol (but they will go and buy it and bring it to your table), nor smoking - although they make exceptions.

Recommended Restaurants that also sell Vegetarian Food

Mushroom Soup Restaurant
This eatery is not a vegetarian restaurant, and is located 5-minutes further away than Long Jiang. It serves the very best mushroom soup I have ever tasted! This dish has about 5 seasonally available fresh mushrooms in it of all shapes and sizes, which are added to what can best be described as a Russian Borsch soup base, with slivers of orange in it. It is so unique that once I have perfected the recipe at home, I will add this dish to our recipe section - simply stunning!

Now from experience, I do realise that many vegetarians do not like to eat mushrooms - the why escapes me as a carnivore, but it appears to be so. Believe me, if I would travel an hour to eat this soup, then you should also.

Location: Lah't Lao (Shunde, Lei Liu). It is the next small town on the green bus from Foshan to Long Jiang (Shunde Long-gong), and best you get off after crossing the river, going straight on at the first traffic lights, and stopping at the next set; which is quite a complicated road junction. You need to turn directly left here into the town proper, and will hit a small roundabout within a hundred yards or so. Go left here, and immediately left again. The restaurant is at the far end of this road, just before the major junction at the top of a very small rise. You need to order this soup in advance, so please get a Chinese friends help before setting off or you may be disappointed.

Au San's Restaurant, Gao gong
This is a late inclusion, because it is very off the beaten track, but does serve excellent vegetarian food as well as meat dishes. I love some of the vegetarian dishes here and soups, but what really makes it for me is that you can go out to their allotment and choose which vegetables you want to eat. They will cut and prepare them for you, and serve at table within a few minutes. Awesome!

The restaurant is located on the larger of two islands set in the middle of the Mighty Pearl River at a place called Jiu Jiang (Gao gong in Cantonese), which is technically part of Nanhai County. To find this restaurant is tricky, but give us a call for directions or see the google interactive map on our Home Page. You need to allow 1-hour travel by coach from Foshan, plus ferry crossing and walking a mile or so. It is worth it all believe me.

click here to skip the directions (Long)
Whilst a taxi will charge you Y80 (and probably get lost en route), the local buses cost Y5 and take you to the town. Go to any main bus stop on Foshan Avenue (Foshan Dai Do), and catch bus number 326 which runs every five minutes. If it is full, wait for the next one. This bus will be a modern white and yellow one, with the name 广洲  (Guangzhou) to 九江 (Jiu Jiang) on the front. Put 5 RMB in the slot upon entry and enjoy the ride. The destination is the new bus station in Gao gong. Get off here and you will see some weird looking small buses which are maroon and white. Get on bus Number 3 and put 2RMB in the slot. This goes to the riverside, and you will notice two islands on your right across the promenade. Get off this bus just before it leaves the riverside and re-enters the town. Ok - well, they will understand where you want to get off eventually and let you out. You are headed for Hoi Sow Doh island (Sow as in female pig - Cantonese - Hai Shao Doh in Mandarin). Cantonese works best in these parts by the way.

Go to the immediate ferry ramp and board the car ferry when it is in dock. Pay half RMB each if on foot, 2 RMB for a motorbike, and 10 RMB for a car. The taxi will refuse to go on the ferry if you came that way, and the island does not have any taxi service. You will arrive on the second island, and going up the ramp there is a large sign with a guy advertising Chinese rice wine. This is the restaurant you want to go to. Turn left immediately at the top of the ferry ramp, and walk a country-mile. Au San's restaurant is the very first one you will meet - and on your right, down some steps on the river side. If you get lost, their telephone number is: and they will collect you on their own motorcycles from the ferry upon request.

Welcome to very rural China, and an excellent meal set in an extremely ambient place.

Dishes of note: I always have the Chinese potatoes, which look a little like large brownish, gnarly, mangol wurzels - they are kept by the kitchen door. My version has pork strips in it, but Uncle Sam has them without meat - and they are very delicious indeed! - and uncommon even in China. This restaurant is a bit 'do-it-yourself', but new patrons will receive a very warm welcome and great smiles. Their eldest son (Who we named Simon) does speak a little English. For vegetables have a wander around the two vegetable patches and point st what you like the look of. Allotment to table = 5-minutes, and that is 'Fresh'!

Last week we had an excellent vegetarian dish which was composed of fingers of celery and 'Ba Choi' (Cabbagey leaves, 'cheung choi' also works well; ('Choi' is Cantonese for both Lettuce and Cabbage); done in a hot chilli sauce. But not too hot = excellent cuisine we will order again. Here you will need local help ordering, so come and join us one Sunday lunchtime, or email us for details and we will arrange it all for you.

Little India
Foshan also has an excellent Indian restaurant called 'Little India'. It is run by two real Indian guys (From Birmingham, England), and caters for all Indian, Sri Lankan, and Pakistani cuisine, whether on the menu or not. It is expensive, but the food is pukka and the meat halal. Both owners speak excellent English, and know international cuisine extremely well. Therefore if you know the name of the English Indian dish you want to order, simply ask them to make it. However, only the owners will do this for you, as the Chinese staff don't really understand Indian cuisine that is not on the menu. For instance, I changed the listed Roti's for Chapatti's, and added a Tarka Dhal without curry flavourings as a side dish. In UK we would say this is 'Bostin' tucker!

These people also understand what real vegetarian food is all about, although vegan's will always encounter problems in China. The owners are also top guys and pleased to stop and chat with you = very welcoming. I am pretty sure this place closes at midnight, but please check first.

This is the only place that sells authentic Indian Curry, and is a must do. To find this, stand on the street with your right towards the Foshan Hotel. Walk forwards 100 yards and go down the ramp which takes you into the centre of the traffic island. Head straight across, and if you got it right, then you will be on the same side of the street on the other side of this roundabout. Little India is located 20 yards away in front, and has a couple of miniature elephants outside the door, the windows are of arabian design, and the building is painted white.

Western Restaurants
There are only two real ones in Foshan: John's Bar and Martino's.

John's Bar
John's Bar has relocated to the patio of the Golden City Hotel, opposite and right a bit from the Foshan Hotel. You may need to navigate the weird traffic island pedestrian underpass thingymagig again. This place is great for authentic Western cuisine, although you may not find everything of your liking on the menu. However, their Mexican stuff is Top Hole. The draft beer is Tsingdao, and they have projector TV featuring football matches from UK (Soccer in American speaking, and F1)

Martino's
Martino's is run by my good friend Bill and his partner Peter. They are Canadian Chinese, returning to run this restaurant in Foshan. They also serve real draught beer in pint pots from Pearl River Brewery + a vast selection of Western bottled beers, stouts and cider. Bill will cook you anything to order, although his Shepherds Pie is a total winner for me. I usually eat this with a side salad and Poutine Quebecoise (British chips with gravy and cheese topping). He also delivers a mean curry, whilst also great beefburgers, real pizza, and a great Mexican wrap thingymagig (Not on the menu). There are several TV's scattered around the joint, making this an ideal location to chill from the Chinese streets outside. The staff speak good English and will stop to chat and pass the time of day, and have a laugh.

Both of these places are expensive already, and then add a 10% 'service charge'. However, they both serve genuine Western food and stay open until at least 2am - longer if there is a crowd in.

Alternatives:
There is also one other restaurant that befits this category called The Rhine Cafe. It is located on the road between Sunlight Apartments and Foshan's main cinema complex and is the place every rich Chinese boy takes his new girlfriend to impress her on the first or second date. They offer a special and separate steak menu, but some of the vegetarian dishes are very good

Salad
Cantonese people do not normally make salad dishes and naturally serve Cos and Iceberg lettuce cooked. Breaking them of this habit can be a long, dubious process, as they will consider you very weird. Putting a salad together is also a mammoth task outside of Western restaurants, as Cheese doesn't normally exist, and tomatoes are only served in fruit salad's, accompanied by very sweet salad cream instead of real cow's cream. We suggest you either make your own, or go to John's Bar or Martino's.

Summary
Being a Vegetarian in China is not easy, but finding a good restaurant makes it very worth while. If you encounter problems ordering vegetarian food, simply say "mow yuk" (Cantonese meaning 'no meat'), or indicate that you are a Buddhist in some way.

The Capital of Foshan Shunde County, Daliang; has several authentic vegetarian restaurants also, but is an hour's drive away. Nearby Guangzhou City has numerous Vegetarian restaurants also - but this is no use if you are living on a budget in Foshan City proper.

Please feel free to contact us with information about other established Vegetarian restaurants you like, any comments, or information not listed above you seek.
This information is as supplied by China Expats and our friends, as dated 17th November 2010, and/or other reliable sources. Please check this information yourself as it may alter without notice, and whilst we try our best to ensure it is correct, please do not hold us responsible for any errors - this is intended as a simple guide only
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