Yuan Fu Vegetarian Restaurant in Rockville, Maryland, in the Washington D.C. metro area, is a pure vegan restaurant. And now, it’s my favorite place to eat on the Rockville Pike. This was my first time going there, but I wish I could eat there once a week and explore the big menu. Because Yuan Fu is two hours from my home, and for the purposes of this post, we ordered dishes heavy on the vegan meats. But there are plenty of whole foods on the menu, including non-fat steamed dishes with brown rice. Yuan Fu is a casual place, very Mom-and-Pop, which I like. The service was good, to the point where the waiter took my cousin’s young Thai coconut back to the kitchen to saw it open for her so she could eat the spoon meat out of it. As per their menu, “All of the vegan meats and seafood at Yuan Fu Vegetarian are made from vegetable products. For example, beef and pork are made of gluten; the chicken is made from soybean protein, the duck is made of layers of tofu skin; fish is made of soybean protein and seaweed; shrimp and squid are made of Japanese style white yam. We serve nut products in our restaurant and do not use any MSG or dairy products in our cooking. If you have any food allergies, please alert our staff members when ordering.” We started our meal with an appetizer of deep-fried Crispy Black Mushrooms, which everyone liked. They were kind of rich and chewy with an undertone flavor of Chinese BBQ. My cousin Scott ordered the Roast Duck appetizer which was a bit fatty and did indeed taste like Chinese Roast Duck. It was a generous portion, and If we lived nearby, I would have taken the leftovers home to make a vegetable stir-fry with. Scott also ordered the Pan-Fried Dumplings appetizer and they were good, and thankfully stuffed with shredded greens. Munam ordered the Hot Sour Soup and said she liked it, but I did not try it myself. Based on a Yelp recommendation, we got the Sesame Chicken with Broccoli, and it was almost polished off, mostly by the men at our table. I ordered the Peking Duck and again, we all liked it. I can’t resist those paper-thin pancakes painted with hoisin sauce, and wrapped around “duck” and shredded scallions. This is a dish my Mom and Dad used to make when I was a kid, so the Peking Duck at Yuan Fu really brought me back. It was a bit less fatty than the dish of my childhood, which is fine with me. The one dish nobody was very fond of was the Crispy Orange Beef–it wasn’t terrible, it just wasn’t especially good either. Oh, if only we’d had room to try the Kung Pao Chicken or Crispy Noodles, the Sizzling Rice Soup or the Eight Treasure Steamed Taro Roots Paste Pudding, darn. If you’re not familiar with the Rockville Pike, it’s got everything you could think of. Two places I like off the Pike are Meixin Chinese supermarket, and Pangea Vegan Store. In conclusion, I’ll go back to Yuan Fu Vegetarian when I can, and try different dishes (with more vegetables, ha ha). I think the owners and staff of Yuan Fu Vegetarian are Super Heroes in their own quiet way. To work so hard to give the public a humane dining option at a reasonable price is in fact, super heroic. To have the flavors and textures of classic Chinese-American restaurant food, without the torture and murder of innocent beings is pretty damn Wonderful. Thank you, Yuan Fu! ADORABLE ART ABOVE BY CHRIS MURRAY.
Postscript: I’ve been back to Yuan Fu since this post, and discovered that my favorite dish there is the Kung Pao Chicken (the one without the mushrooms). Second favorite is the Sizzling Rice Soup. I also have to give a nod to the Crispy Pan Fried Noodles with lots of vegetables.
The dining room. Crispy Black Mushrooms appetizer. Roast Duck appetizer. Pan Fried Dumplings have greens inside. Sesame “Chicken” with Broccoli Peking Duck came with pancakes, hoisin and shredded spring onions, and we ordered two extra pancakes. My cousin’s fresh coconut water.
Crispy Pan Fried Noodles on left are very good, with lots of fresh vegetables. My favorite dish is on the right–Kung Pao Chicken with no mushrooms.
Sizzling Rice Soup is sort of addictive.