Ji Xiang Cao - Lucky Zen & Veg Restaurant

  • Vegan Vegan
    ( 27 reviews )

2F, 428 Madang Rd, Luwan (at He Fei Rd), Shanghai, China, 200031

吉祥草素食, at 中國上海市盧灣區馬當路428號二樓, focuses on Chinese home-style cooking that is healthier and lighter with few mock meats. Try the tofu with green gravy. Also sells books, sweets, and antique reproductions. Non-smoking. Map: http://plus.google.com/114907097556794531296 Open Tue-Sun 10:00am-9:30pm.

Categories: Vegan, Chinese, Take-out

27 Reviews

First Review by flamekat

An authentic Chinese restaurant - and vegan! - Edit

This was definitely an experience! Going in at a little door with a neon sign above somewhere in Shanghai, I didn't know WHAT to expect. But it turned out to be a great surprise! This place is fun, weird, cosy, comfortable. All in one really, and clean!
Ordering via an ipad (never tried that before) we tried different dishes from the "menu", and all was nice. But there was one dish in particular that we loved! It is some kind of white root in a sauce that I wanted to take with me home...

Pros: Big menu , Nice setting

Cons: No english-speaking staff, A bit pricy , Not organic

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Tranquil setting - Edit

We went here yesterday as we were close by & what a delight it was. The place is nicely decorated with books everywhere, we were shown to a window seat. You order via an iPad so it's easy especially if like me you don't speak any Chinese. We ordered quick as it was nearly 2pm, we had mixed veg in yellow curry which was lovely, I'm used to this type of curry back in my home town of Manchester where we have it over chips & boiled rice! We also had what I think was lotus root, with tofu & cashews in a sticky sauce, it was amazing apart from the celery which is the devil's veg! Another place I'm looking forward to returning to.

Pros: Delicious, Good size portions, Reasonable.

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wow!! - Edit

Such a nice place! The interior and quiet atmosphere was a joy! And the food! I ordered a bunch of dishes from the iPad menu and everything was super delicious!! Hope to come back soon

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Juuuuuuuusssssst right! - Edit

If Goldilocks was looking for the perfect fit, she would have found it here. Everything my parents and I ordered on our jaunt here was the perfect amount and flavor. Mama bear, papa bear, and baby bear left full and happy! Even papa bear, with his extreme loathing of mushrooms ate all four of the mushroom dishes all up!

The plating was superb and the flavor of everything was spot-on. The favorite dishes were the peppery mushroom hot plate and the butternut squash and fungi soup. The jiaozi was also a big hit. They don't seem to use any TVP and very little oil. As my parents are salt, sugar, oil free in the states, they really liked the break from the normal vegan fare of oily TVP in sugary sauces. When leaving, we didn't have that bottom-heavy feeling that comes from the extremely oily usual vegan fare found all around China.

The restaurant locale is easy to get to, the ambiance (like a cafe and bookstore rolled into one) was lovely, and best of all it was CLEAN! This is a Buddhist establishment so there is no alcohol and they do not use garlic or onions. The staff speak little English and there are no English explanations or titles on the menu, but there are pictures on the iPad they place on the table to order. The only real negative is that once the place gets crowded, it's a bit loud.

Pros: Plentiful dishes, Lovey plating , Clean

Cons: Second floor walk-up (not handicap friendly), Lack of English explanations, Noisy

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If more places where like this, we'd be more veggie-eaters in this world - Edit

There's so many bland Chinese restaurants. Places you forget. You like their food, but the setting, the atmosphere and the whole experience is not something to be remembered.

This place is something else. This is a proper eating experience, where the food matches the wooden interior design, the chef smiles to you, the staff treats you like you actually make them happy that you visit, and the food... Oh god. It's great.

After the staff pour you some tea, you order via tablets, which is easier than expected, considering everything is in Chinese. My girlfriend and I just looked at the pictures, clicked and added to the basket like its Amazon. Great stuff.

The food begins arriving immediately. Our clay pot tofu was sizzling hot, melting in our mouths. Nothing too spicy but definitely spicy. The spring rolls where crisp and more roll than stuffing, an intersting but very delicious choice. The dumplings where tender, not salty, not overstuffed but instead handmade small pockets of delicious quinoia-spinach-heaven which was great mixed with the soy-vinegar, which served as a condiment.
I strongly suggest you go for some rice and perhaps a dish or two more. I wanted to try it all but got too full to quickly.

If you must visit only one place in Shanghai for veggie food, pick this one. Private rooms are also possible - and they looked very cosy.

This is a high-midrange place and we got enough food for two people for 200 RMB, drinks included. Oh, the drinks? Delicious hot ginger-tea. Go for it.

Pros: Atmosphere, Great food, Felt like a top-of-the-line kinda place

Cons: Can be tricky to find without a map

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delicious - Edit

Was brought here by a friend, and we shared a beautiful meal! Everything we got was flavored delicately, and we enjoyed ever bite.

They have an ipad menu, that has some English in the ingredients list, but not for the names of the dishes. But every item has a photo (except a few "camera shy" items at the bottom) so it's nice to have a clear idea of what you're getting

Pros: ipad menu with pictures, a bit of English, DELICIOUS

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One of our Favorites - Edit

This restaurant is fast becoming one of our favorites! The food is great and not excessively oily. The wait staff are quite nice and you can usually find someone who speaks some English if you need a little help in that department.

The menu is in both English and Chinese. And as the description already notes, the prices are moderate for Shanghai. They've been in business for over 10 years and have a great reputation. So good, in fact that you may have to wait 30 minutes or so for a table on a busy night if you haven't booked a table (you'll need Chinese language skills for that .... or a native speaker to help).

One word of caution: they will be closed from Nov 1-30, 2015 (or so) for remodeling. You'll want to check with them to make sure they are open in early-mid December.

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Wonderful food - Edit

I came here alone, and I'm not sure that this is a restaurant where you're supposed to do that. Everyone else was in groups, and it wasn't furnished to be especially welcoming to solo eaters. Not to worry though, it was still a wonderful dinner.

I ordered three dishes, and be warned that for one person, that is a lot of food. It was very tasty vegan Chinese food with there being nothing Western, and few to no fake meats on the menu. I was proudly able to force it all down though. And for just ¥60, I was leaving stuffed. Great value for money.

The staff were plentiful and very friendly, although I did not encounter one that spoke English. And the English on the menu is... confusing to say the least. All of the items are pictured. Which is lucky because going on just the English in the menu, you wouldn't have a clue what you're getting. All in all though, it was a great experience. I'll be back here again just as soon as I make some friends.

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So incredible, so delicious. - Edit

Quite likely this was the most delicious meal I have had in China during our six weeks here. Incredible selection, amazing food. And completely animal free!

Pros: vegan, delicious , affordable

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Vegetarian restaurant of choice in the area - Edit

If you find yourself in Xintiandi, this is the vegetarian restaurant of choice in the area.

This restaurant is always packed and you should expect to wait at least 15 minutes if you go at dinner time. During your wait you can browse books in their book shop (if you can read chinese that is) and sit down if you're lucky enough to catch one of the few available seats.

The food is very average in my opinion, but not overly expensive if you compare it to the general price level in Xintiandi, which is also the reason for it's popularity.

Pros: Nice atmosphere, Relatively inexpensive for Xintiandi

Cons: Waiting times, Average food

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My favorite place in Shanghai. - Edit

Food is fantastic, so much choice and creativity. Absolutely tasty. Plus design is very nice - authentic temple-like but at the same time modern. Eating in this restaurant is an experience!

Pros: Food is awesome, Choice, Decoration

Cons: Sometimes long waiting time

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Top quality - Edit

This is an upmarket, high-quality, and very popular vegan place. The food is really creative and absolutely delicious. I went a few times and had tofu skin with pine nuts, a mushroom and broccoli dish, these scrumptious glacé sweet potato ball things, and bean vermicelli. It was all superb. The price is a bit higher than some other places (eg one time I paid 95 rmb for two dishes plus tea, the other time I paid 83 rmb for two dishes.) But it's absolutely worth it. The restaurant itself has a pleasant and stylish atmosphere.

Pros: Creative and delectable cuisine

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Lucky Zen, Lucky Us =) - Edit

We found this place via recommendation by our friend Kim.

Pricing is good.

Because pricing is good, you do not have very very high expectations of the food. Which I think the price fits the value perfectly. In other words, very ethical charging, I feel.

One dish left with me a deep impression... for I am a nut lover. Its veggie with roasted walnut. I like the walnut roasted because it brings the flavor out of it.

Been here 3 times. Love it.

There is also a little shop downstairs. Love the milk-tea sachets & the vegetarian cakes (I have been using them as gifts to friends).

Thank you, Lucky Zen! =)

Pros: Affordable price, Interesting "zen-like" environment

Cons: Loooooong Q, Dark toilet, No spot lights over some area

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Our favorite vegetarian place in Shanghai! - Edit

My boyfriend and me (both vegans) spent two months in Shanghai and, fortunately, tried the Lucky Zen very early and came back at least twice a week. The food is different from most other vegetarian places in Shanghai, I really liked it that a lot of dishes are not very oily and that they don't use a lot of mock meat.
The staff was very friendly and one of the waiters spoke a little English, even though my boyfriend speaks some Mandarin - and it's not necessary as the menu is very detailed, explained flavors and all. We also really enjoyed the "zen-like" atmosphere, we always felt very good after our visit (and no stomach problems...you probably now what I mean...).

However, the main reason why I'm writing this menu: You HAVE TO TRY the "Fried Shiitake Mushroom Stems" and the "Shepherd's Purse Dumplings" (there are two kinds, this one is much much better)! Two things I really miss here in Germany as I can't even get proper ingredients to make it at home!
And be a little bit adventurous, some of the rather unusual dishes are very good. I won't recommend certain ones as I've been there with a lot of different people and it of course really depends on personal taste which ones you like.

Pros: excellent food, good value, nice vibe

Cons: sometimes crowded

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OK but not fantastic - Edit

Arrived at 18:30, waited for 15 minutes or so to get a seat. I was dining alone and had four courses. First some chinese sourkraut balls in very hot soup. This was ok, although the balls were almost tasteless. The soup had some good kick in it. Secondly I had some tomatosoup with gluten "mock meat". This tasted totally terrible and I only had a couple of spoons of this. Then I had some dumlping which were ok but not even in the vicinity of what Din Tai Fung can offer. A bit bland and unimaginative. The greenes which I had as fourth were ok. Friendly and fast service, no-one spoke English but menu was in English.

Pros: Friendly staff, Nice Atmosphere, Large Portions

Cons: Tasted a bit bland, Narrow selection of beverages

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Best restaurant ever - Edit

I went to shanghai this summer and i tried some of the vegeterian restaurants I found on this website. This is really the best I ever had in shanghai but also the best I ever tried (including other countries). They have JiCai dumplings that are just wonderful, but also amazing meals of mushrooms that are unbelievable. You also have the asparagus and bamboo meal, noodles with sesame sauce, taro and potatoes with orange flavored sauce and this amazing salad of liu's new shoots. As I lived just nearby (5 minutes by foot), it was my almost-every-day restaurant.

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lucky to have found it - Edit

Ji Xiang Cao is a beautiful restaurant serving very tasty Chinese vegetarian food and they do not realy too heavily on tofu or mock meat like is customary in other restaurants here, so kudos for that.
The most amazing dish for me is their sichuan style spicy noodle dish, individual portions that are superb and came only just in time as I was looking for noodles without the ubiquitous minced meat in the sauce. :)
also, for someone who does NOT like mushrooms, they have a dish with crisply fried mushrooms that I really enjoy, to my great surprise - leave it to the Chinese to find a way to make anything palatable.

Pros: very nice food, beautiful decor

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Not the best in town, but good anyway - Edit

We ate here a few times and always enjoyed it. The staff don't speak any English but go out of their way to help navigate through the menu, which is refreshingly different to what most of the others dish up. The ambience is lovely, very cosy, quiet and minimal. They do use MSG however, so make sure you learn how to ask them not to add it (this is actually where we mastered how to say 'No Msg' in Chinese - the friendly waitor tested us on it every time we went.) I don't necessarily agree that the food is not oily either - it does really depend on what you order. We got a dish one time that was about 80% oil... if they had a more extensive tea menu the oil wouldn't be such an issue I guess. The fruit teas are just hot water with random objects floating in them without any taste so probably best avoided, especially considering the high price. And we sometimes find it hard to actually get a lot of vegetables on our plates for all the tofus, noodles, dumplings, etc. Despite all of this, Lucky Zen is still definitely a worthy dining experience in Shanghai.

Pros: lovely ambience, interesting menu

Cons: they do use MSG, more veges would be nice

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Best veggie restaurant in town - Edit

We've been to quite a couple of vegetarian restaurants in Shanghai and this one is by far the best. They have a large menu that offers a wide variety of dishes; it was also the first time that I'd ever seen brown rice on the menu in China. Best thing is that every single item has a picture, plus a description of the main ingredients and how it would taste. They also seemed to be very light on mock meats (actually I don't recall seeing any) and the food was not swimming in grease like in most other places... and on top of that, everything was delicious!

Place was very clean with a Zen decor and easy to find. Staff was polite and friendly, food was great. Contrary to some other reviews, it wasn't busy at all when we went so no wait whatsoever. Highly recommended!

Pros: healthy yummy food, extensive menu with pics, clean quiet setting

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Best restaurant in town! - Edit

This is by far my favorite veggie place in Shanghai. Everything that I have ever ordered tastes amazing (even the mashed potatoes with blueberry sauce are delicious!), the food is not soaked in oil, sugar or MSG like most other vegetarian places. The atmosphere is lovely and quiet. The only downside is that you have to wait a long time if you don't make a reservation.

Pros: excellent Chinese food, very friendly staff, great value

Cons: long wait , opening times are limited

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Nice Atmosphere & Good Food - Edit

I went here on one of my first days in town and I really enjoyed it. The food is nice and the atmosphere is too. The restaurant is upstairs and has a very intimate vibe.

The wait staff was very nice and patient with my limited Chinese and the menu has photos so you can see what you are ordering.

I had the dumplings which were really good.

Finally, if you are going for the first time look hard for the sign to enter the restaurant as it can be hard to see especially at night.

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Good Place! - Edit

After going here a couple of more times, I am upgrading my review. Excellent food, has English menu, staff doesn't speak much English. This is also one of the few places where you can get brown rice. 3 entrees, rice, juice for two was 140 RMB. This place gets crowded: we arrived 6:30 Tuesday and had to wait 1/2 hour to be seated. Closed Mondays. Near Xintiandi (Line 10) subway station.
Updated from previous review on Friday May 20, 2011

Pros: Excellent food

Cons: long wait

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great food - Edit

A must! but get there before 2pm or you won't get served food. The best you can hope for is a pot of tea until 5pm. zen atmosphere, but the twanging zither can get annoying after a while...

Pros: quality food, nice people, nice surroundings

Cons: opening hours

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Great Food - Edit

We had the best Vegetarian dishes in this restaurant, while visiting China.
Absolute worth visiting!

Pros: Excellent food, Good admosphere, Variety

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I love this restaurant - Edit

Relaxing atmosphere, on metro line 1, get off subway at South Huangpi Road, 1 stop after People's Square. Its a 15-20 minute walk down Madang Ave. from exit 3 of South Huangpi Rd. station, just follow the numbers.

As for the food, try the fennel(often sold out) and cabbage pancake or d'oeuvres, also mock pork for a spicy hot dish, tofu stew with mushroom and osmanthus bulbs. Whatever you can not eat, they will prepare for you to take it home. I highly recommend Lucky Zen, no smoking, and soft piano music background, free tea, and a collection of books to browse. Closed from 3-5pm in afternoons, but they will let you sit and wait and drink tea until serving starts at 5pm. Tell them joe, American nationality, but living in South Korea sent you. Enjoy!

Pros: no smoking, 2 staff speak English, fine setting

Cons: closed from 3-5pm, 1 or 2 dishes have egg

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Chilled atmosphere - Edit

Enjoyed our dinner here. Large variety of choices. English menu with pictures. There was also another menu in Chinese with cheaper prices. The food was delicious and quite large portions (especially the dumplings). Would definately recommend to take non-vegetarians here as the chilled atmosphere and delicious food made it a very pleasant experience. A little expensive but not compared with western prices.

Pros: healthy cuisine, large portions, clean, chilled atmosphere

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Calm and delicious food - Edit

We discovered Lucky Zen & Veg when our usual favorite (Vegetarian Lifestyle) gave us a coupon for a free noodle dish. We've gone back semi-regularly ever since for the delicious, healthy food and serene setting. The restaurant is outfitted in neutral, earthy shades with lots of wood and taupe fabric. The tables are spaced generously apart which keeps things calm and quiet. All very zen, as it's English name suggests. I think that this restaurant might deserve two carrots for the price rating, however. I must have made a mistake when I submitted the info.

We went here again last night and had a large meal for two, which came to 111 yuan. We had the spring rolls (good, but not amazing), the tofu hearts with green sauce which is unexpectedly wonderful (and adorable), the evergreen parcels (a cold dish that is tasty and unique), wontons (good, but the same filling as the evergreen parcels), and a spicy vegetable vermicelli dish. Everything is well-prepared and service is professional, yet unobtrusive. Other dishes to try are the seaweed rolls and "Turkestan food" (mock kebabs). The menu is very large and it always takes us a long time to choose. The English menu is very descriptive and even describes the flavors of various dishes as "salty and bland" or "spicy and sweet".

No alcohol is served but there are many teas and juices to choose from as well as soy milk. The staff speaks some English, but if you don't speak Mandarin, you will be better off just pointing at what you want.

They have an attached tea shop and also sell books, vegan cookies and snacks, and other goods. The location is not the most convenient, but we've never had trouble getting a cab and the distance to the Xintiandi is walkable if you're wearing decent shoes.

Come here when your mom is visiting and you actually want to hear each other talk or when you want a low-key dining experience with fresh, nutritious food. Reservations are accepted, but we've never had a problem getting a table; however, we usually come on week nights. Highly recommended.

Pros: excellent, healthy food, quiet!, great atmosphere

Cons: kind of out of the way

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wanderer 22 Feb 2013 - I tried to go to this restaurant tonight (Saturday) but couldn't get in without a reservation. :(  

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