Sunday, April 11, 2010

Shanghai - Zao Zi Shu Vegetarian Restaurant (枣子树)

I've always raved about the food at this restaurant but didnt have a chance to come back here since the start of my blog. This is still the only vegetarian place that made me crave for its food since I came back to Singapore. Went with my colleagues when I was working as an Intern then and I've brought many people to this place since. Started in 2001, this restaurant has since developed from the 3 restaurants in Shanghai itself, to another 2 outlets to other provinces via the franchising model.
The name "Zao Zi Shu" (枣子树) has a simliar pronounciation to "Zao Chi Su" (早吃素) which is in fact encouraging people to start the vegetarian diet. Glad that I managed to come back here as I was on company budget.

The exterior of the restaurant

I've always liked it that the USP is selling the vegetarian notion as a "lifestyle". In addition, this was the only place I visited that does not take in reservations (unless you have more than 10 pax) and you would have to queue if the place is full. I went to the "Huai Hai" (淮海) outlet and perhaps due to its strategic location, it is always fully occupied even on a weekday.

Veg Sausage (长相思) CNY 18

I was so glad to be able to sample when I was in zhuhai. Tastes chewy as usual and superb with the special chili sauce. It is basically made with soy protein and konnyaku.

Beancurd Roll

It is common in most Shanghai menus to offer something called "冷菜" and "热菜" meaning Cold and Warm dishes. I didn't quite understand initially but was later told by my colleagues that cold dishes are similar to our starters or appetitzers that usually they go with beer. Sometimes the cold dishes are also uncooked. As for this place, what I reckon is the dishes can be served cold hence they are placed under the cold category. 4 of us ladies finished a total of 2 cold dishes and 5 hot dishes that night. This special dish is done using beancurd sheets wrapped with assorted mushrooms, fungus and carrots. Pretty chewy and wasn't too saltish.

Black Pepper Steak

I believe the mock meat can be brought from most vegetarian suppliers, stir fried with black pepper sauce and capcicums. Tastes similar to those that we can find in SG. Im pretty surprised that my ex-colls who are non-vegetarians love it. Wasn't too saltish and we didn't have any rice.

Honey stewed Pork Ribs

This is also one of my favourite dish. The Pork Rib is made of mock meat wrapped with lotus roots. It is chewy and once you bite into it, the lotus roots has a crunchy sticky taste.

Bamboo Shoots with Spinach (芦笋菠菜)

My coll ordered this dish. Doesn't look appealing but it does tastes well. The bamboo shoots were really fresh. It is definitely a healthier dish than any of the above as this is steamed and then served with the spinach gravy. Crunchy and healthy. Suitable for non-mock eaters.

Chili Fish (辣子鱼)

I was craving for spicy dishes but this wasn't spicy enough, but appealing. A pity I didn't realise that this picture doesn't show the "fish". Anyway, the fish is made of beancurd sheets and seaweed (the usual ones you can find in SG), and served with a uniquely not too spicy chili sauce. The sauce is made of fermented beans, crushed tofu, chili, capcicums and perhaps other unknown ingredients which I was not able to make out. A good gravy to go with rice and definitely not spicy.

Seafood Tofu

After all the saltish and flavourful dishes above, this tofu dish does tastes a little too bland. Nothing special as it is served with mock seafood (made from konnyaku), ginko nuts and capicums. Non-fried and a healthy option.

I do not recall the prices of each dish but we paid less than RMB 200 for 4 of us. All in all this is a place that is worth going if you do visit Shanghai as you would like the style and food they are selling. I love this place so much that I emailed them to request for a franchise in SG, sadly however, they didn't reply me. Definitely can be compared to our top veg restaurants like Ling Zhi and Grand Court in SG. If you do have any interest in this biz, do let me know, perhaps we can work something out... In addition, the menu changes every month, hence you do not get bored of the dishes here!


Shanghai Outlets:

1. Huaihai Store 淮海店:

上海市卢湾区嵩山路77号(上海皇宫内)1F.No.77 Songshan Rd. Shanghai (Nearest MTR: Huangpi Nan Road)

2. Gubei Store 古北店:

长宁区黄金城道848号(古北新区内) No.848 Huangjincheng Rd.Shanghai

3. Jiangning Store 江宁店:

静安区奉贤路258号(美琪戏院旁) No.258 Fengxian Rd.Shanghai

Company Website:


justicenequality said...

TQ for this writeup, I intend to go there for the Shanghai World Expo in Sept.
At least I have one option for look for my Vegetarian food.

Shaheen said...

My goodness. Lookign at all these dishes sure fooled me in thinking that they were meat based, but i am so surprised to learn that they are all suitable for vegetarians. What a wonderful place. Thank you for sharing. I will keep it in mind should I ever venture in that direction.