Pei Wei

We’ve been ordering takeout from Pei Wei (all vegetarian entrées are less than $8) since arriving in town—in fact, the first time we dialed in such an order was during a period of camping out in an empty house awaiting furniture from Ohio, and more importantly, the delivery of a refrigerator. While I always feel better about supporting local independent businesses (please, please, please share your recommendations if you have any local favorites for Asian fare), Pei Wei, a national chain connected to the more upscale P.F. Chang’s, does a couple of things that many other Asian takeout joints don’t. First, they offer brown rice as an alternative to white rice to go with your meal. Vegetarians and other health-minded diners will appreciate the extra fiber and nutrients that such a choice entails. And second, they mark the vegetarian choices clearly on the menu (with a feather—I like the implication that these choices are lighter), so there’s no doubt that what you’re eating is free of hard-to-detect carnivorous ingredients such as chicken stock or oyster sauce. Call it wishful thinking, but I have long suspected that a few items on the Pei Wei menu that aren’t marked with a feather might be vegetarian, too. So I e-mailed the corporate office and grilled them on each and every item. Turns out that most items are accurately marked, but their Pad Thai, when ordered with the veggies and tofu option, is actually vegetarian, too. In addition to that bit of good news, since eggs apparently don’t count as vegetarian on the menu, chances are that a good number of the items marked “vegetarian” are actually vegan. The bad news? That clean-tasting Asian Coconut Curry that I love has shrimp paste in it. I had to ask…