7 Chinese Vegetable Dishes in the San Gabriel Valley

String beans from Tasty Garden | Photo by Clarissa Wei

Generally speaking, though Chinese cuisine is heavy on pork and carbs, there will always be at least one vegetable dish on the dinner table. After all, balance is at the heart of Chinese food philosophy.

When my mother would cook meals for the whole family, she'd follow a regular menu of assorted meats, rice, a soup and at least a couple of vegetable dishes. Sometimes when she was pressed for time, the soup was omitted or we'd have less meat dishes. But never would we have an evening without some sort of leafy green.

The Chinese are masters at cooking veggies. Eat through this list and you'll see why:

Garlic Green Beans at Tasty Garden
Green beans are simple enough, but Tasty Garden deep fries them and mixes them in an addictive mixture of garlic and pork. The texture of the beans are remarkably crisp; just spoon them over a bowl of rice. 1212 S Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA 91007.


Chayote Vine Salad (Dragon Whiskers) at Cafe Fusion
Dragon whiskers are the young shoots of the chayote plant, extremely common in China and Taiwan and gaining popularity in Los Angeles. It's an exotic-looking plant with curled up vine leaves. Cafe Fusion offers a wonderful version, lightly poached and seasoned with garlic and sesame oil. 510 E Live Oak Ave, Arcadia, CA 91006

Monk's Delight at Nature Pagoda
Monk's Delight, or Buddha's Delight, features a plethora of vegetables cooked in a clay pot. At Nature Pagoda, they do a combination of green and red bell peppers, broccoli, tofu, wood ear mushrooms and carrots. It's a colorful dish held together by a cornstarch slurry and makes for a complete meal over rice. 312 W Valley Blvd, San Gabriel, CA 91776

Water spinach | Clarissa Wei

Water Spinach at Din Tai Fung
In Chinese, water spinach is kong xin cai, or hollow heart vegetable. The hollow stem makes this vegetable ideal for stir-frying; it retains flavor well. A lot of restaurants have this as an appetizer. You can find it at international dumpling powerhouse Din Tai Fung. It's a welcome relief to all the dough and meat that you'd eat otherwise. Din Tai Fung flavors it with chunks of garlic. 177 Caruso Ave., Glendale, CA 91210

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Wood Ear Mushrooms at Lu's Garden
At home, I like to re-hydrate wood ear mushrooms and marinate them in a mixture of vinegar and chili. It has a cooling effect and I like the slight crunch of the fungus. A lot of Chinese restaurants serve this dish as a complimentary appetizer. At Lu's Garden, it's served as a topping to porridge. 534 E Valley Blvd., San Gabriel, CA 91776

Lotus Root with Snow Peas at Happy Family
Lotus root is a starchy vegetable that has a texture akin to taro. Folklore dictates that it has medicinal properties and is great for hot days because of its cooling properties. Happy Family sautés the lotus with a bit of snow peas. 500 N Atlantic Blvd., Ste 171, Monterey Park, CA 91754

Chengdu Taste Eggplant | Photo by The Minty

Sichuan Eggplant at Chengdu Taste
Eggplant done Sichuan-style is so lovely and meaty that you're barely aware that you're eating a vegetable. Chengdu Taste cooks it so that the purple vegetable is soft and soaks up the addictive slurry of garlic, chili and pork. Fresh peppers and scallions are added on for depth and color. 828 W Valley Blvd, Alhambra, CA 91803

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