Asian restaurants tend to be pretty good for vegans. You can usually get a full meal of rice, vegetables, and tofu at the least. But sometimes there are shellfish or egg ingredients where you don’t expect. So what’s the vegan situation at Pei Wei?
Vegan options at Pei Wei:
- Side Salad
- Build Your Own Bowl
- Vegetable Medley
- Orange Slices
The “Build Your Own Bowl” option can be made vegan with 3 different “recipes”: Thai Dynamite, Sweet and Sour, or Honey-Seared (doesn’t contain honey). For the protein option, the vegan option is Spicy Tofu and Fresh Vegetables.
For more tips on how to order these items vegan, keep reading! I’ll also answer common questions like why Pei Wei’s spring rolls and fortune cookies are unfortunately not vegan!
Pei Wei Vegan Menu
Like many restaurants, Pei Wei is shy about proclaiming any of their dishes to be fully vegan. They emphasize that there is always a chance of cross-contamination, and different vegans have different definitions of veganism.
So when looking at Pei Wei’s menu, you’ll only see “Vegetarian” options shown, not vegan. But as a vegan with 13 years of dining experience, I went through Pei Wei’s allergen menu and other online resources to map out the options below.
The menu options below would be agreed to be vegan by the far majority of people.
This is a side I love getting at Asian restaurants. It’s just whole soybeans, in the pod, salted.
You squeeze the individual soybeans out of pod and into your mouth. Fun, delicious, simple, and healthy.
2. Side Salad
Pei Wei offers a simple side salad that is vegan. They offer at least these 3 vegan salad dressings, too:
- Sesame Ginger Vinaigrette
- Chili Paste
- Lime Vinaigrette
Or, if you want to get creative, the Sweet Chile Sauce which they typically offer as a dipping sauce for the spring rolls is actually vegan. (The spring rolls themselves are unfortunately not vegan, due to egg.)
3. Build Your Own Bowl
You can put together quite a few different vegan bowls at Pei Wei. You choose three components: A “Recipe,” a Protein, and a Greens or Grains option.
These same options are available in a bento box version, too, if you prefer.
The “Recipe” (Sauce + Veggies):
- Sweet & Sour: Contains pineapple, red bell peppers, carrots, snap peas, onions and fresh ginger, tossed in sweet and sour sauce.
- Thai Dynamite: Contains thai basil, carrots, snap peas, red bell peppers, and onions in sriracha chile soy sauce, with a slice of lime on top.
- Honey-Seared: This recipe does not contain honey, though it has a sweet flavor. Garlic sauce, red bell peppers, scallions, and crispy rice sticks.
Note: The Sesame recipe and Ginger Broccoli recipe contains shellfish. The Teriyaki recipe contains honey. Spicy General Tso’s contains dairy and shellfish.
- Five-Spice Tofu & Fresh Vegetables (Fried or Steamed)
- Five-Spice Tofu Only (Fried or Steamed)
The Greens or Grains:
- White Rice
- Brown Rice
- Cauliflower Rice
- Mixed Salad Greens
- Lettuce Cups
Note: The Dan Dan Noodles contains shellfish.
4. Vegetable Medley
This is just an extra side of vegetables! I see two options listed for the sauce—Thai Dynamite and Teriyaki—but the Teriyaki contains honey. So I’d go with the Thai Dynamite sauce. (Or ask if you can get the Sweet and Sour or Honey-Seared!)
5. Orange Slices
This is one of the side options when you put together a bento box. But you can probably get them with a bowl or whatever dish you’re ordering, if you ask.
Plenty of choices of what to drink as a vegan at Pei Wei!
- Diet Coke
- Coke Zero
- Diet Sprite
- Pitt Xtra
- Dr. Pepper
- Mandarin Orange Green Tea
- Chai Spice Black Tea
- Sweet Tea
Alcoholic Drinks: Pei Wei also offers some beers and other alcoholic drinks, at least at some locations. Based on the selection they have at your location, I’d recommend looking up the specific drink on Barnivore. It’s my go-to resource for vegan alcohol info.
But What About…
The following menu items might look vegan based on the name, but they’re actually not:
- The Vegetable Spring Rolls contain egg.
- The Fortune Cookies contain egg.
- The Mango California Roll contains egg and fish.
- The Fried Rice contains egg and shellfish.
- The Cauliflower Fried Rice contains egg and shellfish.
One more tip: If you see quinoa on the Pei Wei menu, don’t assume it’s vegan! As explained in an interview a few years ago, it’s stir-fried in their Kung Pao sauce, which contains shellfish and whey. You would need to special-order it plain for it to be vegan.
Is Pei Wei Pad Thai Vegan?
Pei Wei Pad Thai is not vegan. Like most Pad Thai, it contains eggs. So even if you order it without chicken, it is still not vegan.
Are the Noodles at Pei Wei Vegan?
The noodles at Pei Wei are vegan. You can build a vegan bowl or bento box with the noodles as your grain option. However, the Dan Dan Noodles option is not vegan, as it contains shellfish.
What Kind of Tofu Does Pei Wei Use?
Pei Wei uses firm, baked tofu. This was explained in their answer to the question of what kind of tofu is used in their Tofu and Fresh Vegetables dish:
“We serve a firm, baked tofu that is dipped in soy sauce, very different from the more traditional silken tofu (served only in our Hot & Sour soup). This baked tofu has a smooth texture and tastes like the sauce you choose to add to it.” (source)
Whole-Food Plant-Based Options
In my restaurant guides, I always like to include a section on the whole-food plant-based (WFPB) options. Restaurant food is often fried and processed heavily, so what are the whole, unprocessed vegan options at Pei Wei?
For a WFPB meal at Pei Wei, I’d start with these appetizers:
- Side Salad (ask if there’s a dressing without oil or sugar?)
Pei Wei has quite a few whole vegan foods you could eat in the main course, but making sure they’re prepared to be 100% WFPB is a more difficult matter.
One of the big barriers to eating WFPB at Pei Wei would be the sauces. I can almost guarantee all 3 vegan sauces contain sugar. You may want to bring something of your own to add flavor, like your own nutritional yeast.
The Spicy Tofu for the protein choice may be WFPB or close to it—we know it’s baked tofu, not fried—but there still may be some oil or sugar added somewhere in there.
Similarly, the veggies are probably stir-fried as a matter of course. Can you get plain steamed or boiled veggies? You could ask.
Just make sure to get your orange slices, in any case!
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