Using the directions provided by Happy Cow was excellent for the first visit. Happy Cow notes that it's down a little alley that says 'Las Vegas KTV Club,' off to one side of Songshan Lv. We were lucky to get the last free table on a busy night, and we were quickly seated and my bag was bike chained to my chair. I know that makes it sound like a dodgy restaurant but it's really not.
We started with some genma cha, and then began ordering things. First was the veggies wrapped in beancurd skin (definitely one of my favourite things). We also ordered a 'Thai style' noodle soup, as well as a mushroom dish with nuts that looked like it might be similar to Utopia's houtou mushrooms, some dumplings, and a dish intriguingly listed in english as 'chao amaranth veggies' (this is not what it said in Chinese on the menu).
Aside from the beancurd skin dish, everything else was kind of bland. The amaranth veggies grew on me but was not especially flavoursome; the mushroom dish was okay but nothing exciting; and the dumplings were bland and chewy. The beancurd skin though was very excellent.
The presentation was good and the service was fine, though, and we saw the potential there so we gave it a second try.
We tried a different sort of tofu wrapped veggies; some cha noodles, a soy fish dish, and some crab meat, because C had been so taken by the crab at Godly and we wanted to compare.
The fish came out last and I regretted it, because it was the best. The mock-fishy-flesh was tender and delicious and I lamented that I was too full to fit it all into my belly, though I tried my best. Look at that little fishy shape! Full points for presentation and deliciousness.
The tofu skin was good, as were the noodles. The noodles had that graininess that indicates it's been dry fried with some curry powder, which is my favourite. (who am I kidding - all noodles are my favourites, but especially the ones that remind me of home) We tried to compare and contrast the crab meat with Godly's, but to be honest it was hard. This one was definitely more gingery than the Godly's one, and I think I liked it a little better, but I'd have to sit down with them both and compare them side by side, a hardship I hope to put myself through one day.
I ordered some xiao long bao, but inexplicably this came to us as a takeaway at the end of the meal. Sadly here is where my Mandarin failed me, as apparently I don't understand the word for takeaway? I was too full to try to eat it in the restaurant anyway, so I took it away with me, then completely failed to eat it later. Xiao long bao doesn't heat up very well even if you try to steam it with the hotel kettle, who knew? So I cannot tell you how their xiao long bao is. Damn it.
Some of the waitstaff speak a little English, and most of the menu items are in English and Chinese (and there are some pictures in the menu). But take a Chinese speaker with you if you want to do more than point at the menu items. (One who understands '带走' when they hear it? I don't even know who I am.) Little step up to get into the restaurant, widely spaced tables for Shanghai. Accepts credit card, does not accept tips.
Vegetarian Lifestyle - Luwan
77 Songshan Road
Get there on line one on the Metro, South Huangpi Road Station [黄陂南路]