FOOD

Meatless Monday: Eggplant and dumplings at Ying's Teahouse

Anthony Dominic, Crave

It's no secret Clintonville is home to some of Columbus' best vegetarian and vegan cuisine, with favorites like Portia's Cafe, Pattycake Bakery and Whole World Natural Bakery & Restaurant. And it's time to add Ying's Teahouse & Yum-Yum to that list. Before grabbing takeout from Ying's last weekend, I'd been meaning to visit the Chinese eatery for the better part of a year, always driving by its High Street storefront but never committing. I'm not disappointed I waited. The restaurant recently underwent a change in management, which brought about a new menu of honest, veggie-forward dishes. Chinese-style potatoes, cucumber salad, scallion pastries and tiger-skin peppers caught my eye right away.

Start simple with an order of Tofu Rangoon ($3.50). No imitation crab here. The one-two punch of sweet cream cheese and crispy-crunchy wonton is simple and delicious, with a little soft tofu for added texture and protein. The Spring Rolls ($1.30) are also top notch, cracker-y on the outside, airy on the inside. Ying's Dumpling in Hot and Sour Soup ($8.45) is a must-order; just ask for the veggie dumplings stuffed with spinach and tofu, as the standard version is filled with pork. (Service at Ying's is friendly, and substitutions are welcome.) The dumplings are homemade, so expect a chewy, al-dente-like exterior. They can be ordered alone, but they're complemented by Ying's warming soup of cilantro, green onion and red pepper flakes.

The Eggplant with Garlic Sauce ($9.45) eats like dessert. Chopped eggplant is cooked until tender and fork-ready, then bathed in a delicate, not overpowering, brown sauce of slightly salty garlic and subtly sweet star anise, a southwestern Chinese spice reminiscent of black licorice.

Ying's new menu is still being finalized, but our server said physical copies for takeout and delivery will be available next week. Online ordering is also expected soon on the restaurant's new website.