Lucky Creation is one-of-a-kind joint in Chinatown that serves vegetarian Cantonese food. The restaurant was started by a devout Chinese-Buddhist couple from Hong Kong. Sau Ling Lam Kwan, runs the front of the house while her husband, Lam Kwok Leung, heads up the food in the kitchen. The restaurant does wonders with seitan, which they hand make by mixing water and flour, then tediously kneading and rinsing the dough until all the wheat starch is gone. What’s left is a chewy wheat gluten that can be cooked and flavored different ways to mimic different meats. Their Chinese Appetizer Plate with “jellyfish” and “BBQ pork” showcases their magic with mock meat.
Sau Ling emphasizes the importance of making their own seitan. “As devout Buddhists, we eat like the monks do -- no meat,” she said. “That’s why it’s important we make our own seitan -- to ensure that there is no cross-contamination with meat products.”
Aside from being one of few restaurants that offer Buddhist cuisine, Lucky Creation also makes Chinese food accessible to vegetarians. For example, one important aspect of Chinese food is eating family-style. Lucky Creation recreates that experience with their Taro Fish, which is a 7-inch piece of fried taro shaped to look like whole fish, which you can serve to the table as if it were sea bass. Also, dim sum and being vegetarian usually doesn’t mix, but here you can get “shu mai” and “lo bak gow (daikon cake),” so on point it doesn’t make you miss meat at all.
Proprietor: Sau Ling Lam Kwan & Lam Kwok Leung
Year founded: 1988
Signature dishes: Taro Fish, Minced Bean Cake (spoon-shaped tofu), Chinese Appetizer Plate (a combination of Chinese “charcuterie”)
Address: 854 Washington Street
Hours: daily except Wednesdays, 11:00am-9pm
Phone: (415) 989-0818