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Best Vegetarian Restaurant 

Golden Lotus

In this humble corner spot triangulated between downtown Oakland and Chinatown, grilled lamb sizzles. Fish tastes of the sea. Pork teases, just this side of leathery but so smokily sweet you don't mind. Plump pink shrimp, tightly curled, crunch when bitten. The catch is that this shrimp isn't shrimp. And this pork isn't pork. Golden Lotus follows a time-honored Buddhist tradition of crafting analogue flesh out of fungus, soy protein, wheat gluten, vegetables, and nuts: stretched, folded, seasoned, shredded, deep-fried, and steamed. At Golden Lotus, you can have it ninety different ways. Most dishes here are Chinese, including standbys such as sweet-and-sours, potstickers, and wonton soups with dumplings like stout white flowers and strips of "fatty" "pork." These — along with claypots, curries, noodle dishes, dumplings, and more — will delight any non-flesh-eater who secretly (or not) misses the scent and savor of you-know-what.


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