Yuan Fu Chinese Vegetarian Restaurant

By: Shelli Block Staff Writer

Upon entering Yuan Fu, a vegetarian restaurant, I am overcome with heartwarming smells of home cooked Chinese food. Located at 798 Rockville Pike across from Ritchie Center, Yuan Fu is a small package that makes a big statement. Their food is vegan (dairy free) and they use fresh ingredients such as soy protein, gluten, fresh vegetables and fruits, fresh made tofu and Japanese yams. They don’t use M.S.G. (monosodium glutamate), a common food additive.
Owner and chef Mary Thai does a fair share of the cooking, in between mingling with customers and adding new dishes to the menu.

“My customers love the chef specials the best,” Thai said, pointing to the “Chefs Specials” section of the menu. “ Their favorites are sesame chicken, Kung Pao chicken, minced vegetable nest topped with crispy pine nuts, and peking duck.”

I’m seated at a booth in the middle of the restaurant and am taken aback by nose tingling odors that resemble chicken, shrimp, duck and sticky rice. I can’t wait to eat! I look at the menu and order wonton soup, pineapple chicken and spring rolls. The wonton soup is light, full bodied and warming. The spring rolls are packed with vegetables and seasonings new to my palate. The pineapple chicken is the piece dé resistance. “Chicken,” pineapple, snow pea pods, lychee nuts and red peppers are covered with a silky white sauce in half a pineapple. Two cherries adorn the handle of the pineapple. A small bowl of piping-hot brown rice sits next to my pot of decaf green tea.

I scoop some rice onto my plate and top it with the ingredients in the pineapple. I savor each bite, from the chicken (which is made from soy protein) to the fresh pineapple chunks and the sweet lychee nuts which top off the meal. My meal concludes with a steamed peach bun, which is a light, fluffy white bun with a hint of peach flavor in the middle.

Yuan Fu’s prices range from $6.95 to $12.95 for main courses and $1.75 to $5.95 for appetizers and sides. Yuan Fu is open Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. They can be reached at 301-762-5937.