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Ditch the meat at these Buford Highway spots

If you crave meat, there’s plenty to be found on Buford Highway, from messy, juicy chorizo tortas to Malaysian-style chicken served with chicken stock rice and soy sauce.

Options become scanter along metro Atlanta’s international culinary strip if what you’re looking for doesn’t have fins or feet. Most restaurants have at least one or two vegetarian dishes, but you’ll be hard pressed to find menus with large veggie sections or eateries that go out of their way to accommodate herbivores.

Here are some Bu-Hi spots to check out if you’re feeling more broccoli than beef:

The spicy chili soup at Harmony Vegetarian is a thick, flavorful broth dotted with bits of corn, carrots, pea pods, tofu and big chunks of imitation shrimp. CONTRIBUTED BY LIGAYA FIGUERAS / LFIGUERAS@AJC.COM (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Harmony Vegetarian (4897 Buford Highway, Chamblee. 770-457-7288, harmonyvegetarian.com). Any list of vegetarian food on Buford Highway would be incomplete without a mention of Harmony, tucked inside the Orient Center Shopping Plaza. The restaurant where you take your meat-eating friend who wants to feel like they’re still eating meat, Harmony has been catering to Chinese-loving vegetarians for more than two decades. Nearly every dish is made with some form of imitation meat, including “lamb” prepared with mushrooms, and wontons stuffed with “beef” made from soybean protein and gluten flour. Especially worth an order is the spicy chili soup, a thick, flavorful broth dotted with bits of corn, carrots, pea pods, tofu and big chunks of imitation shrimp. It’s not “close your eyes and you’ll think you’re eating actual shrimp” kind of shrimp, but it comes pretty darn close. 

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<<What to eat on Buford Highway:

Dish Korean Cuisine (5000 Buford Highway, Chamblee. 470-299-8886, dishkoreancuisine.com). Pretty much the last place you want to find yourself if you’re a vegetarian is a Korean barbecue restaurant, surrounded by mountains of bulgogi and galbi. Sure, you can make a meal out of the various banchan that are served on the side, but why relegate yourself to side dishes when you can get a full, satisfying main dish that employs many of the same flavors and ingredients used in traditional Korean barbecue, without the meat? Dish’s menu offers plenty of veggie-friendly options, and lots of dishes that can be made vegetarian upon request. Especially noteworthy is the hearty tofu and portobello steak: big bites of tofu and mushroom and slices of sauteed red bell pepper, onions and scallions arranged in an artful row and drizzled with a sweet, sticky house sauce. Also, check out the kimchi jigae, a spicy, peppery kimchi stew made with chopped scallions, onions and cabbage. Still not full? You always can pick at those banchan, including creamy Korean potato salad and cold broccoli. 

Mamak (5150 Buford Highway, Doraville. 678-395-3192, mamak-kitchen.com). The flavors of Malaysia are on full display in the dishes at Mamak, which also leans on Chinese and Indian influences for its ingredients. Much of the menu, including a selection of noodles, can be adjusted to accommodate vegetarians — just ask the waitstaff to sub in vegetables in place of meat or fish. Soups, in particular, are a safe bet, with most of the restaurant’s broths made with nonmeat stocks, including the fragrant curry laksa, which can be prepared with vegetable broth, coconut milk and vegetables taking the place of chicken or spare ribs. Sambal okra, one of the menu’s strongest dishes, uses a sambal sauce made with shrimp sauce, making it a no-go for vegetarians, but the garlic okra is a worthy replacement. 

The dry-fried eggplant at Yummy Spicy is a nice introduction to Sichuan cooking. CONTRIBUTED BY WENDELL BROCK (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Yummy Spicy (5164 Buford Highway, Doraville. 770-680-5605, yummyspicyga.com). A menu featuring a whole section devoted to vegetables is one to take note of — especially when the veggies are treated with as much care as they are at this Sichuan spot. The go-to is the excellent dry-fried eggplant — spears of eggplant flash-fried in a batter that uses a hurts-so-good Sichuan peppercorn seasoning. A word of caution: Just because it’s listed under the vegetarian heading doesn’t guarantee that it’s actually meat-free. Some dishes include meat sauces, or are topped with meat (mapo tofu, for instance), so ask before ordering.

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