We didn’t have much luck in Yangshuo with vegetarian restaurants, despite it’s a well-known tourist city. We decided to give the ordinary local restaurants a try. Our experiences were quite mixed. Since vegansim/vegetarianism is a quite new concept in China, most local people don’t fully understand it. In their opinion, a dish with a little meat as ingredient can be totally “vegetarian”. For instance, we had once told the waitress that we don’t eat meat, she still served us the dish with minced meat in it. After we complained, she took it back and after a while, she came back with a new dish. To our disappointment, it wasn’t remade, as they just took some effort to pick the minced meat out, but we could still found a trace here and there. We paid for it but didn’t really touch it. Sometimes we were extra lucky, they just happened to serve us the right way. This was a big chain restaurant which printed our requirement (no meat, no chicken granules, no MSG, not too spicy) on the receipt, we were somewhat relieved that our wish got to pass on to the chef.
The chain is called Ren Min Gong She, 人民公社, which means people’s commune. As you have probably guessed, the theme comes from 60s China, when the “red revolution movement” was at its peak. The decoration is heavily inspired by that time, the propaganda posters and slogans, the red and green colors, the benches and tables, the oil lamp, Chairman Mao statue, even our waitress was dressing in an over-sized green military jacket, with a green liberation army hat on, and blue skinny jeans, which to me is quite amusing combination, lol.
However, the food reflects nothing from that era, where food in general was scarce. The menu was just like any other restaurant here in Yangshou, featuring every kind of meat dishes as well as some vegetable sides. The vegetable side dishes here all tended to be strikingly similar, we found that out after we tried several restaurants. Here are a few that you can probably find everywhere.
The eggplant and green bean stir-fry. It was good but nothing special.
The braised tofu. It was totally not like the picture on the menu which were more or less like Ma Po tofu or something, well, at least it’s tofu and they didn’t put any meat in it so we didn’t complain.
Thousand Leaves Tofu, which was a bit more spongy than the other tofu, as it contains more starch than ordinary tofu. I wish they put a bit more extra vegetables in that dish as it was a bit boring.
Seasonal greens. We got the asparagus lettuce leaves. Asparagus lettuce’s best part is the roots, which are super fresh and crunchy. It was a shame it didn’t make a appearance in our stir-fry, but it’s some green vegetable so no complaint.
King oyster mushroom with leeks. It’s a spongy and chewy mushroom, we got to eat them a lot during our trip this time.
Last but not least, we tried one of their local drinks – the mung bean drink. You probably haven’t heard about it, but mung bean dessert is certainly no new comer in China. This mung bean drink was mildly sweet, and tasted quite nice, which reminded me a lot of the mung bean popsicle I used to buy when I was a kid. They are a bit rare nowadays since Western-style ice-creams and fruit-flavored Popsicles are more common.
Although this is not the best restaurant we’ve tried, we had more success getting our food right here, so for people who are frustrated with not getting their requirements meet, this is a nice non-vegetarian option that happens to serve a few dishes you can survive on during your vacation in Yangshuo. Not to mention you get a little glimpse of life in 60s’ China, non?