Pei Wei Asian Kitchen is one of the pioneers of the fast-casual pan-Asian dining concept in the US, known for its open concept kitchen, fresh food, bold flavors, fast service, and affordable menu. In a world where we’re used to consuming packaged ready-to-eat foods, Pei Wei’s made-to-order concept in a fast-casual dine-in setting came like a breath of fresh air.
But, can vegans eat at Pei Wei? What options does the restaurant have for plant-eaters? Let’s dig into its Asian-inspired menu and find out all about Pei Wei vegan options.
|Fun Fact Did you know that Pei Wei was owned by the same parent company that owns P.F. Chang’s? It was originally a spin-off of P.F. Chang’s for the rising fast-casual restaurant market, but eventually became an independently operated restaurant chain in 2017. Both, however, were owned by the same group until they were sold to different companies in 2019.|
Does Pei Wei Have Vegan Options?
Knowing that Pei Wei was originally an offshoot of P.F. Chang’s can get your hopes high about Pei Wei’s menu as well. But, you may be saddened to know that Pei Wei’s vegan menu is not as interesting as that of P.F. Chang’s. You will, however, not be staying hungry or relying on just the salad and drink.
You may not find your favorite vegan-ized Asian dishes at Pei Wei, but you can prepare a decent meal using the available options.
What are the Vegan Options at Pei Wei?
Vegan options at Pei Wei include:
- Side Salad
- Build Your Own Bowl
- Vegan Sauces and Salad Dressings
While these are the standard vegan items on Pei Wei’s menu, the restaurant is offering another vegan item nationwide these days. It’s called Firecracker Tofu. It’s vegan but only available for a limited time, which is why I am not including it in the list.
This new vegan dish on Pei Wei’s menu features lightly battered tofu in sweet and spicy Firecracker sauce and comes topped with fresh green onions.
It’s important to note that just like its former parent restaurant P.F. Chang’s, Pei Wei doesn’t label of its dishes as vegan due to varying concepts of veganism and potential chances of cross-contamination in their facilities. However, an analysis of Pei Wei’s menu, with the help of the restaurant’s allergen menu, revealed that some of their foods do meet the vegan dietary guidelines.
This list of Pei Wei vegan options is prepared using the restaurant’s allergen menu and other credible online sources.
Please note that a restaurant’s menu may vary across various locations. Therefore, it’s best to always take a look at your local Pei Wei menu to see which of these options are available.
Keep reading to find out what each of these items contains if they need any modifications to meet your vegan dietary guidelines, and how to go about building your own vegan bowl at Pei Wei.
I will also be highlighting Pei Wei’s menu items that may appear to be vegan-friendly but actually contain non-vegan ingredients, along with answering some common questions people ask about the vegan status of Pei Wei menu items.
Pei Wei Vegan Options – A Detailed Breakdown
Even if you didn’t like soy in your pre-vegan days, it is likely that you have developed a taste for it now, as a vast majority of vegan foods are made with soy. In case you didn’t know already, Edamame are just whole soybeans and are a popular side at Asian restaurants. They are served whole, steamed and sprinkled with salt.
Edamame are typically vegan because they are just steamed beans. And it appears to be the same at Pei Wei, as the restaurant’s allergen menu doesn’t highlight the presence of any animal ingredients.
However, according to an online source, the restaurant’s representative told them that traditional edamame could be made vegetarian upon requesting fresh water for steaming, which indicates that they add some animal-derived ingredient to the water.
While I was unable to testify the information, I would recommend confirming with the server when ordering.
▪ Miso Side Salad
This was added to Pei Wei’s menu only a few years back, in 2018 (I am not sure, but it may not be available nationwide). It’s a healthy, nutritious, and delicious mix of salad greens, carrots, grape tomatoes, red bell peppers, and scallions and comes topped with the spicy, umami miso ginger dressing.
The dressing doesn’t seem to have any animal-derived ingredients, which means you can enjoy Pei Wei’s side salad as it is. However, if you happen to not like miso, you can switch the dressing with any other vegan salad dressing available at the restaurant (listed below).
▪ Build Your Own Bowl
Now that we’re done with the (somewhat) boring vegan options on Pei Wei’s menu, let’s talk about something that you would actually enjoy eating. Pei Wei allows you to build your own bowl, and fortunately, there are quite a few vegan-friendly options in all categories.
For those who do not know, Pei Wei bowl contains three components, and you have to choose one option from each category to get a customised entrée. The components or categories include Greens or Grains, Protein, and “Recipe”.
Below, I am going to list the vegan options available in each of them so you know what to add to your vegan bowl the next time you go to Pei Wei.
Vegan Greens or Grains at Pei Wei
These form the base of your bowl, and the vegan options available at Pei Wei for these include:
- Mixed Greens
- Lettuce Cups
- Cauliflower Rice
- Brown Rice
- White Rice
- Noodles, except Dan Dan Noodles
The best thing here is that there are both healthy and not-so-healthy options, so you have the liberty to choose according to your preference.
Vegan Protein Options at Pei Wei
There is only one vegan choice of protein available for the customised bowl at Pei Wei, and that is:
- Five-Spice Tofu & Fresh Vegetables – available in fried and steamed tofu options.
The vegetables include carrots, broccoli, and snap peas.
If you’re not a big fan of vegetables or do not want to overload your bowl with veggies, since they are also included in the Recipe, you can also ask for spiced tofu only.
Vegan Recipes at Pei Wei
The Recipe is basically a mix of vegetables tossed in a Pei Wei’s housemade sauce. Pei Wei offers the following PETA-approved vegan options for this final component of your bowl include:
- Thai Dynamite
This Pei Wei recipe includes carrots, onions, red bell peppers, snap peas, and Thai basil tossed in sriracha chile soy sauce and is served with a slice of lime.
- Sweet & Sour
This one’s for all those who love the combination of sweet and tangy flavors (not everyone’s cup of tea, I know). It includes carrots, onions, red bell peppers, snap peas, pineapple, and fresh ginger with scrumptious sweet and sour sauce that hits all the right notes and creates a party in the mouth.
Contrary to what the name says, this Pei Wei recipe doesn’t include honey (interesting). According to the restaurant, the word honey here refers to the sauce’s slightly sweet, honey-like flavor and not the actual honey.
It’s weird and strange, but good for us; we have one more vegan recipe option at Pei Wei.
Pei Wei’s Honey-Seared Recipe includes much fewer vegetables than the other two, but it’s no less delicious. It contains scallions, red bell pepper, and crispy rice sticks in a scrumptious garlic sauce.
This is essentially a side option for bento boxes. However, you may be able to get it separately too. Try asking them if you’re craving for something sweet to end your meal with.
▪ Vegan Sauces and Dressings at Pei Wei
When eating vegan at Pei Wei, you can top your salad and spice up your food with the following dressings and sauces:
- Lime Vinaigrette
- Sesame Ginger Vinaigrette
- Chili Paste
- Sweet Chile Sauce
- Thai Dynamite Sauce
- Dumpling Sauce
Pei Wei offers all the standard drinks that you expect. You can also get alcoholic beverages at some locations. Check your local Pei Wei menu if you’re interested in alcoholic drinks, and use the Barnivore online tool to find out if they are vegan-friendly or not.
Your standard, non-alcoholic vegan drinks options at Pei Wei include:
- Coke Zero
- Diet Coke
- Dr. Pepper
- Diet Sprite
- Minute Mint Lemonade
- Pitt Extra
- Sweet Tea
- Unsweetened Black Tea
- Chai Spice Black Tea
- Mandarin Orange Green Tea
Pei Wei Menu Items That May Look Vegan But Are Not
As promised in the beginning, here’s the list of Pei Wei’s menu items that may be mistaken as vegan-friendly, but they actually contain animal-derived ingredients and hence, are off-limits for vegans:
- Vegetable Spring Roll – contains egg
- Fried Rice – contains egg and shellfish
- Cauliflower Fried Rice (these are different from the Cauliflower Rice mentioned earlier) – contains egg and shellfish
- Mango California Roll– contains fish and egg
- Dan Dan Noodles – contain shellfish
- Ginger Broccoli Recipe – contain shellfish
- Sesame Recipe – contains shellfish
- Spicy General Tso’s Recipe – contains shellfish and dairy
- Teriyaki Recipe – contains honey
- Kung Pao Sauce – contains shellfish and whey
- Fortune Cookies – contain egg
Pei Wei Vegan Menu FAQs
▪ Are the noodles at Pei Wei vegan?
Yes. Fortunately, all the noodles, except the Dan Dan noodles, that are available at Pei Wei are vegan-friendly.
▪ Is Pei Wei Pad Thai vegan?
Pei Wei Pad Thai is not vegan. It contains egg.
▪ Does Pei Wei have any vegan dessert?
Pei Wei doesn’t have any dessert option. Even their fortune cookies are not suitable for vegans, as they contain egg. If you have a sweet tooth or just in the mood for something sweet after enjoying a vegan meal at Pei Wei, your only option is the orange slices.
Conclusion – Is Pei Wei Vegan Friendly?
It’s a little difficult to categorize Pei Wei as vegan-friendly or non-vegan-friendly. It lies somewhere in between. The restaurant doesn’t have very many vegan food options. However, the few ones that they do offer can make a good vegan meal.
For me, it’s not a place I detest going, but it’s not the place I would want to visit very often, especially when there are other better restaurant options. That being said, Pei Wei’s bowl is delicious and they also allow you to customize it, which is great. So, I wouldn’t mind going to Pei Wei anytime I feel like eating good rice or noodle bowl packed with Asian flavors.
Did you find this article helpful? Interested to learn about vegan options available at other Asian restaurants in the US? Check out my article Panda Express Vegan Options to find out what American-Chinese vegan food options this fast-casual Chinese restaurant offers.