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  • In my world of assessment, vegetarian restaurants have two kinds of dishes: veggie dishes and meat subsitute dishes. If you want a very successul vegetarian restaurant, you'll ideally be able to excel at both, drawing in the dedicated vegetarian crowd and the determined carnivores like myself alike. Vegetarian Lifestyle on Fengxian Rd.. almost gets it all right, but in the end, i found myself enjoying the meat substitute dishes far more than the dedicated vegetable dishes, which probably proves...something? Probably that I'm really and truly a carnivore...

    We ordered: 

    Vegetarian Beijing roast duck - This dish was just...ok. The veggies and dipping suace were fine, but the duck substitute was just deep-fried batter and soy product and was pretty oily, with little taste beyond deep fat fryer taste. 3/5 

    Vegetarian Chinese cured sausage - A standout of the meal. Appearance and taste were very close to the real thing...essentially indistinguishable. Dipping sauce of chili oil was good, mouthfeel was good. I believe it was made from soy product, but whatever it was, it did the trick. 5/5

    Deep-fried lotus root - Was more batter and oil. I had half of one and couldn't finish it, it was so oily. My girlfriend enjoyed them more, but she sandwiched them between napkins first to soak up the oil. WHen she finished, the napkin was almost transluscent. That's a pass from me. It's a shame, because they look good in the pictures.  1/5

    Vegetarian black pepper beef - Another standpoint. I'd come back just for this dish. The 'beef' was made out of soy product and mushrooms I think, and the mouthfeel was chewy, toothy and very satisfying. The black pepper sauce was well seasoned and the overall impression was of eating a very tender piece of beef, complete with some muscle fibers (mushrooms I think). This is the kind of dish to convince a meat-lover to enjoy a vegetarian restaurant. Portion size was a bit small for the price, considering there was no actual beef in there. 

    Green pea puree with coconut puree - An odd combination that neither of us felt worked that well. I felt like I could kind of tell what they were going for here, but it wasn't quite working. Maybe peas and coconut just aren't meant to be. As a cool,  slightly sweet dish, it also wasn't really what I felt myself craving at any point during the meal, but maybe it should have been intended as dessert? 2/5

    Stir-fried rice with matsukake mushroom - Yum. If you like matsukake mushrooms (and don't mind paying for 'em!) then this one will definitely trip your trigger. The earthiness of the mushrooms and the heavy black pepper flavoring worked well together, and I was a big fan, but I expect this wouldn't be for everyone. For me though, 5/5

    So overall, felt like the meat substitute dishes really brought it (except for the Beijing duck) and pure veg dishes were lacking (except for the rice). Final check for two was 321 CNY, which is fine, but high-ish considering meat should usually have the highest cost to the restaurant. I'd come back and order what I know to be good, but feel like I'd be gambling as I branch out into the rest of the menu. Final verdict, a weak 4 stars (like 3.6 or something). 

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SmartReviews is SmartShanghai’s crack squad of amateur reviewers, eating their way around the city and writing about it. They have been chosen from a large pool of applicants and given a set of strict guidelines to follow to make sure their reviews are honest, informed and fair to both potential customers and the restaurants themselves.