Restaurant Review: Yuan Fu Vegetarian Restaurant
Yuan Fu Vegetarian Restaurant: A Special Treat for Visitors to the D.C. AreaPeople unfamiliar with all-vegetarian restaurants are likely to be happily surprised by Yuan Fu. What Chinese vegetarian restaurants promise, Yuan Fu achieves. Long-time vegetarians will feel at home on the very first visit—which won’t be your last, for Mary is a wonderful host who treats you as part of the family.Yuan Fu’s atmosphere is vibrant, with a photo series of fresh vegetables adorning the back wall, and Chinese art throughout. Long-time regulars will recall that the chef is the same one who graced the original Vegetable Garden, first located in the White Flint mall.A spicy, warm aroma fills the restaurant, which specializes in entirely vegetarian dishes. Soybean protein, tofu skin, or white yams feature in an array of Buddhist-inspired analogues to the regular Chinese fare. The menu has many healthful dishes that manage to be light in taste yet fully satisfying, including a section of steamed dishes. Small soups are available, but the soups-for-two, such as the hot-and-sour bowl, can also work as a satisfying main course for one.Warm starters include the pan-fried or steamed dumplings, spinach and sesame pancakes with mustard sauce, and the highly addictive crispy whole black mushrooms, caramelized morsels in a dark citrus sauce reminiscent of orange rind. A popular cold starter is the luxurious platter of five samplings including vegan tea-smoked goose.Main courses include the veggie duck hotpot with basil and ginger, General Tso or Kung Pao regulars, shiitake mushrooms and a white sauce, jade rolls, or noodles with shredded mushrooms and cabbage. Most dishes come with a choice of brown or white rice, and steamed broccoli decorates many of them.Everything stands out, so be prepared to spend some time just gazing at the menu and its photographs. Vegans have the joy of being able to order anything offered, and are likely to hear their guests making plans to come back and try something they missed.For dessert, there’s the standard Tofutti ice cream, but also choices not found anywhere else in the area: an array of sweetened lotus roots, or the more festive eight-treasure taro pudding.Although it’s compact and casual, most guests—even those connoisseurs who have dined in New York, San Francisco or Hong Kong—rate Yuan Fu with the best of Chinese vegetarian restaurants. The experience is aesthetically pleasing from start to finish, and served in the nicest atmosphere of any restaurant you’ll find.Yuan Fu Vegetarian RestaurantHours:Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to -10.30 p.m.Sunday to Thursday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.Price Range:Average dish $10 and under; a dinner for two may run $25-30.Cuisine:Chinese, VeganAddress:798 Rockville Pike in Rockville, Maryland, about five miles north of the Washington Beltway off route 355 near I-270. Easy to pass as it’s in a small shopping strip; look for the Wendy’s parking lot and turn in. Conveniently located approximately 0.5 miles southeast from the Rockville Metro Stop.Telephone:301.762.5937Features:Major credit cards accepted; free parking; eat in or carry out. Yuan Fu offers a smoke-free environment; drinks are juices and teas.