For some reason, our flightpath from Seoul to New York had us stop over in Beijing for a full 24 hours. So to kill some time, we took advantage of China's new 72-hour layover visa and explored the city for a day.
As we took the airport express train (25 yuan) to Dongzhimen Station, we were looking for vegan places near there and luckily found two! This is less of a comprehensive Beijing vegan guide - more of a "here are the two places we ate during our one day in Beijing" guide.
Victoria on a Beijing subway. Very comfortable!
The name of the first restaurant is unknown, as it was all in Chinese characters, except for the large letters "VEGETARIAN" in English. Perfect. If you head out of exit D of Dongzhimen Station, walk down Dongzhimen Inner Road for about 5-10 minutes and you will see the building pictured below on your left hand side.
The outside of "VEGETARIAN" restaurant
This place seemed fairly gourmet - you order the food of iPads that are given to you and the prices were relatively steep. It was slightly confusing that some dishes said "vegetarian beef", while others just said "ham". To be certain, we luckily found a local in the restaurant who was bilingual and could translate and ensure our dishes were vegan with the waiter.
We got three dishes at "VEGETARIAN": mapu tofu, "beef" with sticky rice, and yam with blueberry sauce. The yam dish was definitely the most intriguing of the three; we have never had those two flavours together! Our bill for the three dishes came out to 80 yuan ($15).
"Beef" and sticky rice, mapu tofu, and yam with bluberry sauce!
After walking around Beijing for the day, we finished our one-day tour at another restaurant near Dongzhimen Station called Baihe Vegetarian Cuisine. It is located very close to "VEGETARIAN" - walk down Dongzhimen Inner Road until you see "VEGETARIAN" on the left, but at this major intersection, turn right. Walk up and take your second left and about 200m down this street you'll find Baihe.
Outside of Baihe Vegetarian Restaurant in Beijing
The menu at Baihe was surprisingly similar to "VEGETARIAN", though no iPads (darn). There were a few interesting items on the menu, like "vegetarian pork intestines", "vegetarian rabbit", and "vegetarian eel" among others. As the prices here seemed a bit outlandish, we split the kung pao "chicken" between the two of us. It was a fairly good portion and the "chicken" was almost convincing. The dish was 48 yuan ($9).
Kung pao chickn from Baihe Vegetarian Restaurant
Overall, vegan Chinese food is not our favourite as we found most of it to be mock meats which are almost too similar to the real thing. But nonetheless, we had a fun time in Beijing, and if you're only spending a day like us - we recommend these two places because of their proximity to the Airport Express Line at Dongzhimen Station.
The area around Dongzhimen Station gets busy at night!