Looking for some vegan Chinese food that’s more than just rice and veggies? Look no further than Chia Shiang! Chia Shiang is a traditional Chinese restaurant that caters to both non-vegans and vegans by having two separate kitchens, one regular and one vegan. In addition to having a separate vegan kitchen, Chia Shiang also has five different kinds of vegan main proteins and a vegetarian menu that spans several pages.
The main vegan proteins are tofu, soybean skin rolls, sue gi, sue rou, and sue pao. Entrees include such items as sesame sue rou, sue pao chow fen, soy bean skin rolls with cashews, basil tofu hot pot, and of course, rice and veggies.
Tofu, the most familiar of the vegan proteins, is bean curd made from soy milk, which comes from soybeans. There are at least ten different tofu dishes, including Chinese barbeque tofu hot pot and Kung Pao tofu. Soybean skin rolls, sometimes called tofu skins, look like flattened pieces of tofu. They are actually the skin that forms when soy milk is boiled, which is collected and dried. The skin is often rolled and cut into smaller pieces. There are also about ten soybean skin roll dishes on the menu, including a soybean skin roll wrap that rivals a spring roll.
Sue gi is a wheat gluten-based veggie “chicken.” Sue pao is a soy-based veggie “beef.” And sue rou is a soy-based veggie “meat” ball. Each of these vegan proteins has a whole section of the menu dedicated to those dishes. In addition to those three vegan sections, there are sections for vegetarian appetizers, vegetarian main courses, vegetarian soups, and a smattering of veggie options throughout the regular menu. There are easily over 100 menu items that are vegan!
Yena Sanchez, a member of the Toledo Vegan Meetup and Adventures in Veganland, is a frequent customer who drives an hour and a half to get there. When asked why she would drive that far to go to a restaurant, she replied, “What other Chinese restaurant has four pages of vegetarian options with all of these different mock meats? It’s not your average Chinese restaurant where all a vegan can eat is veggies and tofu – there’s so much variety! And they have brown rice!”
Running a popular restaurant with a huge menu sometimes has a downside, however. Occasionally they run out of vegan soup or brown rice. And sometimes the waitstaff are a little impatient when taking your order and don’t always like to answer questions. For instance, some menu items are only in Chinese, and if you can’t read or speak the language, you aren’t able to order the items. If you try, you are often told, “It’s not for you.” However, the servers do try to be accommodating for special needs. For instance, you can order your food sans soy sauce and gluten if you follow a gluten-free diet.
Despite these few minor issues, the restaurant is definitely worth a try! After all, what other place in Ann Arbor, or almost anywhere for that matter, do vegans have over 100 options from which to choose!
Chia Shiang is located at 2016 Packard in Ann Arbor. They are open Tuesday through Saturday 11 am to 10 pm and Sunday noon to 10 pm. 734-741-0778