February 2019 Update:
If you ever stop by Dragon Mart in Dubai – that’s where you want to have lunch / dinner. I haven’t been ever since, but would totally come back!
Have you ever heard about a vegetarian Chinese restaurant? No? Me neither. Well, living in Dubai I can only highlight one more time – nothing is impossible. As soon as I heard about Old Wood Village at Dragon Mart 2 in Dubai I couldn’t wait to drive all the way out there to try their vegan options!
Once you get to Dragon Mart 2 (it took me around 40 minutes by car from Mall of the Emirates) you can find the vegetarian Chinese restaurant with plenty of vegan options on the ground floor nearby Chili’s. I visited on a night during the week and since the entire mall seemed really quiet, so was the restaurant. The staff was super friendly and had me pick a table wherever I liked to (they’ve got outdoor seating as well). The decor was traditionally Chinese and esthetic; in fact the restaurant doesn’t really fit the ambience of the mall at all. However, everyone knows that being vegan it’s quite rare that you’ve got so many choices on the menu that you are totally overwhelmed. But that’s exactly what happened at the Old Wood Village.
Almost everything is prepared without dairy and eggs and as a result vegan – in the end I ordered way too many dishes because I wanted to try everything (which of course I physically couldn’t!). To be honest at one point the waitress said, “Maybe I should bring these dishes first and if you’d like to try more afterwards you can order more.” – which I appreciated a lot after everything had been brought to my table!
Here’s my order: Pineapple Meat, Veggie Shashlik, Mar Po Tofu, Fried Lotus Root Pancake, Veggie Dumplings and the Steamed Stuffed Buns. To justify myself: I expected the portions to be a little smaller. So what did I like most and why?
My favorite dish was the Pineapple Meat; I always like the taste of sweet and sour meat and vegetables and this was exactly what I had been seeking for in weeks. Fake meat with a few veggies and pineapple in a sweet and sour sauce. Second were the Veggie Dumplings: the green ones were filled with spinach and the yellow ones with carrot and ginger, my favorite. They were well cooked and obviously freshly prepared. My third out of six dishes are the Fried Lotus Root Pancakes; I don’t remember ever having lotus root at all and was surprised when these pancakes tasted much like regular potato and were really similar to German potato fritter.
The Veggie Shashlik was crispy and spicy, but just not my favorite. While I was already more than full by the time I tried the Mar Po Tofu and Steamed Stuffed Buns I was almost a little relieved that I didn’t like these dishes too much, because otherwise I would have probably overeaten massively. The Tofu was served in big chunks filled with something crispy, which I couldn’t identify, in a sweet and sour sauce with peas. Even though the sauce was tasty the tofu itself wasn’t that flavorsome at all. The Steamed Stuffed Buns weren’t special either – a lot of dough covering mushrooms and onions.
Old Wood Village has more vegan options that I could count on two hands and I could have ever imagined a Chinese restaurant could possibly have (so many fake meat options). The staff was super friendly and accommodating and helped me pick a good variety of (not so spicy) dishes. Most of what I tried was delicious, just a little bit oily overall, and the prices are normal as well. If you live as a vegan in Dubai I can recommend you plan a trip to International City to stop by here – in case you are only here on vacation, don’t waste your time driving so far and check out my vegan options in the city center or simply order for delivery! However two dishes per person are more than enough to be satisfied 😉
Old Wood Village
Dragon Mart 2, International City
Opening hours: Sat – Wed 11AM to 11PM, Thu – Fri 11AM to 12PM