Dear Mr. Gold:
My friends and I were thinking of going to Chinatown for a festive dinner. Can you recommend a place that has at least a few vegetarian dishes and is more like a restaurant than a cafeteria?
—Jennifer A., Hollywood
Your odds are probably better in Monterey Park, at a purely vegetarian restaurant like Happy Family. But if you need to stay in Chinatown, try a Shanghainese restaurant — there’s a long tradition of vegetarian cooking for monks in the region, and all of the restaurants seem to have at least a few dishes from the repertoire: not just the usual stir-fried vegetables, but also things like vegetarian ham and duck fashioned from mushrooms, gluten and tofu skin; soy beans with slippery mung bean sheets; braised kau fu, etc., as well as delicious “lion’s head” meatballs, fried pork ribs, braised fish tail and cold, wine-marinated chicken for the carnivores. I tend to frequent the San Gabriel restaurants Mei Long Village and Green Village, but in Chinatown at the moment, your best bet is probably Mandarin Chateau. 970 N. Broadway, No. 114, Chinatown, (213) 625-1195.