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Good Taste: Shangri-La Vegetarian Restaurant
May 15, 2006 by Howard Blas

2026 Irving Street, San Francisco, Tel: (415) 731-2548, Open: Mon-Sun 11:30am-9pm, Kosher.

After a long day of cable car rides, walks along Fisherman’s Wharf and a hike up Lombard Street, we were delighted to discover another Chinatown, San Francisco’s Sunset neighborhood. The Shangri-La Vegetarian Restaurant has been serving its vegan dishes in this part of town, where most signs are in Chinese, since 1978.

The fare here includes typical vegetarian Chinese dishes (all manner of chow main, Mu Shu, eggplant with hot sauce and more), and faux non-veggie offerings like Mongolian beef, shrimp with spicy sauce and sweet and sour spare ribs. The lunch special, served until 3pm is a bargain at $5.40 for soup, egg roll, rice and a choice of nine entrées, including spicy eggplant, assorted bean curd options (curried, spicy, twice-cooked), gluten with black-bean sauce, and almond or cashew gluten.

We arrived late so we opted for the family dinner ($9.95 per person), a fresh, colorful, abundant display of dishes that includes sweet and sour pork (of the tofu variety), beautifully presented in half pineapple; vegetable chicken with cashews; the Shangri-La special low-carb plate with tofu and mixed vegetables; and Mu-Shu with Chinese pancake. The menu also includes 12 à la carte appetizers ($2-$4), 11 different soups (up to $7), and a host of entrées (under $10). Try the shark’s fin vegetable plate, for example, for a different kind of kosher experience.

For their efforts at true-to-a-point ethnicity, Shangri-La proudly displays certificates for Best Vegan 2001, Best Lunch 2003 and the all-around tribal First Place-Best Chinese/Best Jewish 2005. The menu assures diners that all the offerings are “Chinese traditional herb food for beautifying, toning, nourishing, promoting youth and vitality.” A tall but tasty order.
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