Lion Dance Cafe, the Singaporean vegan restaurant that began as a pop-up called S+M Vegan, will officially open its crowdfunded Oakland doors for business on September 12, its owners tell Eater SF, with a menu that includes new, never-before-served dishes like a tomato and roselle leaf sambal salad with grilled okra, as well as old favorites like their much-vaunted shaobing sandwich.
Co-owner Marie Chia tells Eater SF that sales will launch on September 10 via their website. Diners hungry for Lion Dance’s plant-based adaptations of the Singaporean food Chia grew up with will choose a 15-minute pickup slot to prevent crowding as a measure to protect against COVID-19, with pickups beginning at 5 p.m.
For their opening menu, expect some of their greatest pop-up hits like their Kung Pao mushrooms, General Tso’s fried vegetables, and vegan takes on laksa and char kway teow. There will also be new dishes, like that salad and “fresh tofu we make from Hodo soy milk,” Chia says, as well as a fried shallot dish.
Prices “will be pretty mid range,” Chia says, with desserts running between $5–6, “sides and salads in the $10–12 range and larger portions like our sandwiches or laksa in the $14–18 range,” Chia says. She knows that’s a bit more than the prices at their pop-ups, and hopes diners will understand that “between operating with higher rent/lower margins and all the pricey takeout packaging, we need to bump our prices up a little.”
For now, Chia says they’ll remain takeout only (no outdoor dining), but delivery will be available for diners within a five-mile radius via an Oakland-based operation called Vegan Transporter.
After its opening week, Lion Dance will open on Fridays and Saturdays, but the preorder plan is still in place, with online ordering launching two days before pickup dates. Expect “a more limited menu” the first week or so, Chia says, while they “work out the kinks and feel out the possibilities in our new kitchen.” Eventually, they plan on launching a Sunday brunch, as well, and will expand their days open to Thursdays “once we are confident enough in our kitchen systems and COVID safety protocols to start hiring.”