Vegetarian Dim Sum House

Manhattan, New York City


Image for Cass Danger

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This place is amazing. All the food is really good and the dim sum is cheap. Their regular menu items are fairly pricey, but most of the dim sum is around $3 an item and you can fill up on 3 or 4 if you're pretty hungry. The treasure boxes (puffy fried, unidentified goodness, stuffed with some bean/soy meat mix) are definitely my favorite, followed by the fried turnip cakes. I also like the mock pork steamed buns and the spring rolls.

After eating the dim sum for several years, I finally adventured to the normal menu and got the wonton noodle soup. For $6, the "small" noodle soup was really substantial and filling. I also tried my friend's mixed vegetable soup, which was good if you want a really healthy, all-vegetable soup. It had a seasoned broth and huge chunks of broccoli, cabbage, bok choy, and Chinese broccoli - no tofu, noodles, or other items. This soup was $5 and smaller than my wonton soup.

I think my favorite trip here was on Chinese New Year a couple years ago. As expected, it was exceedingly busy. Fortunately, one friend was Cantonese and ordered us some traditional Chinese New Year foods that they had specially prepared that day.

Image for conde.kedar

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Update: My second time to this place I ordered some dishes that I heard were classics. We had the "mashed taro treasure box" which were great, savory, crispy things filled with taro and maybe some mockmeat. It was hard to tell.

The famous "treasure ball with assorted flavor" was basically a fried, dense potato dumpling. Unfortunately, it had limited flavor and was really heavy; I'm not sure why these things are lauded (maybe because they're like french fries).

The "red bean cake" was sweet with a gelatinous rice covering on the outside. The inside paste tasted akin to peanut butter; this would make a good dessert, as would the split pea sweet cakes (see my earlier review below).

The "sesame paste bun" comes steamed by default, though it may have been better fried. We got it steamed and it too had a peanut buttery-interior filling, but way too much fluffy white rice outer bun.

The "preserved Cantonese cabbage buns" had way too much outer rice covering, but the interior filling was unusual and good.

Lastly, the "Buddha's bean curd rolls" had good taste (fried tofu skin in a soy marinade), but they came floating in way too much sauce, which made the crispiness of the bean curd dissipate immediately. It would have been nice if they put the sauce on the side, so the bean curd could stay crispy.

In general, the proportions of outer covering and interior filling are off at Veg. Dim Sum House. There's always too little interior stuff and way too much exterior. This is annoying as it suggests a haphazard quality to the preparation of each dish.

The menu also needs a massive update, which descriptions of each dish. The current menu just lists the name of the dim sum, and then you have to take a risk to figure out what it's like in reality. At the very least, they need to indicate which dim sum are sweet and which are savory.

The service was okay, but not particularly friendly. This was also the case with the first time I visited. I'd come back here again, though, as it's unusual, relatively cheap, and pretty fun to share with friends. Also, the menu's large enough that you can pretty much get new stuff even after three or four visits.

Original review: I came here around 11 a.m. on a Saturday (during the Chinese New Year's Parade, no less) and didn't have trouble getting a table. That said, the place steadily filled up by noon.

The service was extremely curt and not very helpful, so I picked some dim sum options arbitrarily and hoped for the best.

The "sharkfin dumplings" were good (thinly sliced tvp inside a fried outer shell), as was the "rice flour with Chinese kale" (think a cross between celery and asparagus, wrapped in flat rice noodles, covered in soy sauce). I've since heard that I should have ordered the "treasure balls" and the "turnip cakes" as well.

I didn't enjoy the "roast mock pork buns" which seemed to be 90% fluffy bun and 10% mock pork.

Lastly, I ordered the "split pea sweet cakes," which were basically slabs of tofu or rice flour (I couldn't tell) embedded with split peas. The "cakes" had the consistency of jello. This made a great dessert by accident, though I didn't realize it was a dessert-style dish when I ordered it. It definitely went well with the free tea they give you.

While the dim sum prices are cheap and in the $3-5 range, the main menu prices were extremely high; most of the mockmeat dishes ranged from $16-20 per plate. I find this amazing, given that the restaurant is cash-only. I can't speak to the quality of these main menu dishes, but based on the look of the restaurant and the menu, I suspect they'd be similar to what you'd get at old-school vegetarian Chinese places like Golden Era and Lucky Creation in San Francisco or Bamboo Garden in Seattle.

Definitely come here with a couple of friends so you can order lots of dim sum and get to try a larger variety of dishes. It's way better than tapas.

Image for Lola

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The dim sum at Vegetarian Dim Sum House is one of the best deals in Manhattan. For $14/person (including tax and tip!), my three friends and I were able to each get a fresh fruit bubble tea, along with steamed "pork" buns, treasure balls, red bean cakes, faux shrimp dumplings, fried bananas, spring rolls, faux shark dumplings, half moon pockets and a few other items that I'm forgetting. Everything is vegan except for the mango pudding and the milk bubble teas.

The food was amazing. I've never had a more realistic faux shrimp. My favorite dishes were the "pork" buns, the red bean cakes and the fried bananas. There was so much food that the four of us could barely finish it. The only disappointment is that a few of the dim sum items were gone by the time that we arrived (at 8:30 PM) so make sure that you get there early!

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Super yummy! The turnip cakes kick butt and the mock pork buns are unbelievable.

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Great food at a great price. We enjoyed many great meals in NYC, but few could compare to the taste and value of the meals served here. Order wisely and you won't be let down.

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I have been going here for years, and I just love it! The food is delicious and inexpensive.
The spinach dumplings and the treasure balls are so good!
I also love the fried noodles with three kinds of mushrooms and the Buddhist Noodle Soup.
A Fabulous place!

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Delicious! Absolutely worth the winding trip around Chinatown.

The pork buns and shrimp rolls are delicious!

The sweet and pungent pork is amazing!

Every chicken dish I've had there tasted sort of like the skin of the chicken at KFC (which sort of sounds odd, but its a mixed blessing when you're a meat-lovin vegan)!

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It's addictive. Turnip cakes (fried or steamed!), Half Moon Pockets, Sesame Paste Buns (got them steamed, and they were uber rich) and Vegetarian Mock Roast Pork Buns. Also enjoy rice rolls with Kale. We go here once a week. Extremely inexpensive: you could eat to bursting on only dimsum for under $7 a person.

Stick to the tea and canned drinks. They do have fresh juices, with caveats. I once got the pineapple ice water, which was laughably enough, a few chunks of canned pineapple in a cup of ice water! Mango juice had too much fibrous pulp in it, making it unpleasant to drink.

The clientele is very mixed these days. You will see students, chinese families, and buddhist monks all chowing on dim sum. The food's gotten better and better! The last two times, we have had to wait for a table. This has never happened before. Despite the popularity, the food is still good. They are proving to be very consistent.

For those wondering, this place was highly recommended by Jeff Steingarten (food writer) in his book "It Must've Been Something I Ate" for having the world's best turnip cakes.

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Oh my, this place is soooo good. This was the top place to eat on my list when I visited NY last week and am I glad I went. Every city needs one of these.

The food was excellent, especially the Spinach Dumplings recommended by the waiter. I could live on these things. And the Treasure Balls, a complete treat. Everything the waiter recommended was excellent as was the service and the price. Plus, I was there alone and felt very welcomed and comfortable. I could have stayed all day!

Check this place out, you won't be sorry! Can't wait to visit NY again and eat here again.

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Many Chinese vegetarian restaurants have a similarly bland "Buddhist" style. But this one tastes like regular Chinese dim sum, without the meat. Plus the prices are very cheap.

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fabulous! such a treat for vegetarians to enjoy Dim Sum again without worrying about whether the waiter understood what you mean by "no meat!".
The Kale in rice flour is exotic. treasure balls, yes!
The entrees are also great: sesame "chicken" yum yum!
faux duck skin, etc. Also check out the affiliated Vegetarian Kitchen on Mott a couple blocks away.

Image for Dave Rolsky

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Wow, this place rocks. The dim sum are really wonderful, and they also have a full menu of entrees. The turnip cakes are the best I've ever had, and everything we tried there was delicious.

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Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, so good! It is wonderful to eat Dim Sum again. And its good. And its priced right (Five of us went for dinner and ate A LOT and it came to just $27.) And NYC Chinatown is so cool. Def, I recommend. I wanna go back!

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