A-dong: A Great Restaurant for Vegetarians


18c on the vegetarian menu, Credit: Varun Prasanna

A-Dong, a restaurant that has been open since 1989. For a restaurant to last that long and still thrive successfully is something in its own right, but to be able to cater to those who cannot or chose not to eat meat is another story. I have been going there for over 9 years, and I order the exact same dish each time. Just from reading the previous sentence, you would think I am the type of guy who never tries out new food and sticks with the exact order. I would like to say that is completely false, I am a person who struggles to eat the same meal twice in a span of time, so when I willingly choose to eat the same meal over and over again when I have so many other options, compounded with the fact that I do not go there quite often, I hope this can give a ¨taste¨ (pun terribly intended) of what my ¨background¨ in this department is (I am born and raised vegetarian).

A bit of a disclaimer before I continue on, a decent bit of what Iĺl review about is based on aesthetic, and since they do not have indoor dining available, I will have to use a bit of my experiences before Covid occurred. The restaurant is a bit of a ways east from the Gateway Market on MLK Jr. Parkway. The interior of the restaurant is a very clean and spacious setting with beautiful artwork adorning the walls along with orchids in many different colors and combinations along with a small bar room. The people who are taking your order and serving you the food is the family that runs the restaurant and they are extremely kind and welcoming and are willing to make adjustments (such as removing tofu or mushrooms if you do not want them) or change your order all with a smile on their face.

Everytime I order from them, no matter if it´s during Covid or before, I can always safely ask for the same thing and never be disappointed. So let’s get into the main dish I order: 18C on the vegetarian menu (There are 33 different vegetarian dishes on it). It’s A vegetable fried rice dish consisting of carrots, corn, tofu, mushrooms, broccoli, and peas. It’s a dish that tastes so simple, yet so filling. Some of my favorite parts of the meal is that it is served with their soy sauce (which I enjoy putting on the rice) and I also ask them directly for their ¨Chili Oil¨, which is a spicy sauce (if that’s the right word) in which chili flakes are marinated in oil for some time, giving a strong spicy flavor with a slight bitter taste. The flavors react together in such an indescribable way that is so tasty, such as when the soy sauce is slowly absorbed into the tofu and mushroom pieces, or when you get some burnt rice and it adds a layer of crispiness into your dish. I sometimes also order a mango bubble tea, which is an icy, sweet, creamy mango drink filled with boba and fruit gels. The boba really helps add a more chewy texture to the drink and the fruit jelly help put in a variety of flavors while complementing the main mango flavor. It is an amazing way to cool down after eating a very hot and spicy meal.

I hope this small review could give you a new idea on a restaurant you can order takeout from, and for my vegetarian readers, this is another restaurant we can add to our pretty small list of restaurants where we can eat and not make everyone else uncomfortable.