Must-Try Vegan Asian Food in Oakland
It’s no surprise that Oakland’s food scene is off the hook. That is why we dine in Oakland almost every time we eat out, despite the 25-35 minute drive. As an urban melting pot, the prominence and variety of Asian restaurants in Oakland is also well established. And as the plant-based movement has become mainstream, finding vegan Asian food in Oakland is easier than ever before. But the combination of top-notch restaurant with menu options for everyone certainly isn’t guaranteed.
We especially love all types of Asian cuisine. My husband is an Eater enthusiast, so we generally read about the best restaurants there and then carefully scour each menu for vegan items. And so, to get from our pre-screening, to dining at the restaurant, to loving it…well, lets just say this is your carefully curated list of the best vegan Asian food in Oakland! These 6 restaurants are sure to impress vegans, vegan dabblers, and omnivores alike!
Lion Dance Cafe (Singaporean/Chinese)
This Singaporean/Chinese vegan spot in downtown Oakland may just be the best vegan restaurant around. Unique, flavorful, and addictive, there is simply no other place like Lion Dance Cafe. In fact, many dishes deserve a shout out:
- For starters, do not miss the perfectly fried oyster mushrooms with fresh herbs and spicy sambal
- The nuggets with sambal mayo are perfection…no wonder they made SF Chronicle’s Best Dishes of 2020!
- The rendang & nasi lemak was so uniquely delicious that I must include it’s description: jackfruit in slowly caramelized made-from-scratch spice paste served with fragrant coconut pandan rice, calamansi-ginger-crushed fresh Fresno chili sambal, fried shallots, roasted peanuts and cucumber
- The laska, a spicy coconut noodle soup with tofu puffs and yuba (tofu skins), is just as addictive and slurp-worthy as it sounds.
- The shaobing sandwich of fried eggplant and tofu skin may just be the favorite. The coconut turmeric brioche bun was off the hook, and the flavor and texture combinations with each layer parlay into pure magic.
In addition to winning numerous accolades (best sandwich in the Bay, SF Chronicle’s top 25 restaurants, and more), they are also proudly female/Asian/queer/immigrant owned.
Lion Dance Cafe is open Wednesday-Saturday for takeout only from 5-8:30 pm. They update their menu slightly each week and share it on Instagram as well as their site.
Huangcheng Noodle House (Chinese)
The Shangxi-style knife-cut noodles at Huangcheng Noodle House are definitely worth the hype! Tasty vegan options include the Chongqing Vegetarian Street Noodle Soup and Huangcheng Cold Noodles. Both PACKED with flavor. And while the plant-based choices are limited, they are definitely worth the visit.
The noodle house relocated from Chinatown to Swam Market during the pandemic after a massive fire in fall 2020. They have both indoor and outdoor seating.
Farmhouse Kitchen (Thai)
Farmhouse Kitchen is the closest thing you can find to a party in a restaurant (at both the Oakland and SF locations). With a festive vibe and over-the-top decor, it is the quintessential spot for a group dinner. On a related note, their birthday song performance is 👌🏼.
Not surprisingly, the food is also festively plated and overall delicious. For starters, the samosas are divine: the pastries have a subtle Thai spice that sets them apart from their more popular Indian counterpart, served with an addictive coconut curry dipping sauce. The beautiful vegan fresh rolls are served over a yummy peanut sauce that had us practically licking the plate.
For entrees, both of the “Thai street food” noodle dishes and all of the curries offer plant-based options. We enjoyed the flavorful, yet mild pad see you with vegan chicken (yes, that’s a protein option!). The green curry with eggplant, bell pepper, bamboo, and basil with tofu is devine, with an impressive heat (labeled medium but arguably spicier).
And finally, festive cocktails of course! Beverages are decked out with bling like tropical umbrellas and edible gold.
Teni East (Burmese)
This trendy little California-inspired Burmese spot on Broadway hits the mark on both ambiance and food. The vibe is modernly minimalist and totally date-night appropriate.
The menu offers an entire section of vegan (and gluten free) choices. The spicy noodles with mixed vegetables are not for the spice-averse…but addictively delicious, with an impressive depth of flavor and burst of fresh lime. The homemade chickpea tofu is the most unique and creative vegan dish on the menu. In the shape of fried tofu blocks, the dish is actually made from chickpeas instead of soy, so the texture is denser, almost crunchy on the outside, and rather tasty. In fact, if you dislike tofu, I encourage you to try it. Another highlight is the cauliflower and sweet corn, both of which are surprising ingredients to see on a Burmese menu.
Shandong Restaurant (Chinese)
We have been dreaming about these hand-pulled noodles for MONTHS since we had them. Obviously, it’s time for another visit.
This popular downtown Chinese restaurant makes homemade noodles and dumplings daily. Plus, the dinner menu boasts more than a dozen veggie choices. The sesame paste noodles are OUT OF THIS WORLD delicious: richly nutty, a balance of savory and sweet with the perfect injection of spice…I can taste them now as I write this. For kiddos, their simpler hand-pulled noodle dishes may be better. The Szechuan bean curd is also delicious, as are the greens (just confirm with your server if vegan, menu changes/varies).
Shandong is not a place you go for ambiance. In addition to the no frills atmosphere, it is unbelievably crowded (expect to wait) without AC. So don’t go in the peak of summer. BUT GO. You will thank me.
FOB Kitchen (Filipino) for Best Vegan Asian Food in Oakland
In an unassuming, odd-shaped building in the middle of a busy shopping center in bustling Temescal, this spot is a hidden gem! Casual but hip, FOB Kitchen has gorgeous cocktails and TASTY eats with so many plant-based choices.
To start, they offer veggie lumpia, which I had never had before since they always have pork! They are just what you would think Filipino egg rolls would taste like: crispy, hearty, and delicious. The eggplant salad (ensalota talong) is a unique and unexpectedly delightful starter, served cold with jicama, cilantro, sea bean, and tomato. We also ordered up a table full of noteworthy dishes to share: The tofu and shroom adobo in a coconut vinegar sauce is tangy and oh so satisfying. The kabocha squash in coconut milk is delicate and creamy. Fried Brussels sprouts are always a crowd-pleaser, and the glass noodles with veggies (pancit sotanghon) are surprisingly light.
Nature Vegetarian (Chinese)
This place definitely tops the list for best vegan Asian food in Oakland but it is so good that EVERYONE should check it out. The entire menu is plant-based and includes any Chinese dish you could possibly dream of, and then some, with dozens of choices on its 4-page menu. Omnivores may be shocked to believe some of their meat substitutes are not real, if you go that route in ordering (there are plenty of dishes without substitutes).
The wontons in the simple wonton soup may be the most impressive bite I have had there: delicate little pockets of savory noodle goodness that melt in your mouth.
The ambiance is a unassuming and a bit outdated. But that’s okay, because you are going for the food. In fact, with so many choices, consider going with a few friends so you can share and try more dishes.
I would love to hear from you once you try some of this amazing vegan Asian food in Oakland at these 6 restaurants!
And, please, tell me where I need to dine next! Feel free to comment below or send me a message.
For more restaurant reviews, check out:
- East Bay Vegan Food Not to Miss
- Can’t Miss Walnut Creek Vegan Dishes
- Best Vegan Food in Truckee (Lake Tahoe)