Tag: vegetarian

Hail seitan!

Friday, August 1st, 2008 | All Things, Eats

Vegan cuisine is gaining inroads into the city, and tonight B and I were doing our bit to support the cause.  I’ve sampled the “wheat meat” at places like Zen Palate and Wild Ginger on Broome and although I enjoy seitan’s chewy, dense texture on its own merits (the basis of dishes like Buddha’s Delight), I can’t say I’ve ever been less than aware that I wasn’t eating real meat.

Red Bamboo on West 4th bills itself as a “soul café” — a vegetarian restaurant with a mostly vegan menu, covering a scattershot array of cuisines: salmon teriyaki, Cajun fried shrimp, eggplant parmesan and Philly cheesesteak — all made of soy or gluten.  Rounding out the expected assortment of juices are a few wines and about a dozen beers, including several organic options.

Ginger “Beef” and Grilled Bourbon “Chicken”.  Not pictured: Carribean Jerk Spiced Seitan skewers.

All good, and exactly what we were craving. Incidentally, I added the quote marks; Red Bamboo assumes its diners already know that these dishes contain no actual chicken or beef. (Plus, “bef” and “loobster” are already trademarked by The Hungry Heifer…)

The desserts include non-dairy ice cream and cakes from Pennsylvania’s Vegan Treats bakery , like the tempting-sounding Brownie Bottom Cheesecake and Oreo Cookie Cheesecake. We didn’t sample the vegan sweets tonight, but lest you have any doubts that egg and butterless treats can still be delicious, the LES’s much-loved refined sugar and gluten-free vegan baker Babycakes will dispel them.

We followed up instead with a stop at the Grom on Bleecker, carrying our scoops of creamy Stracciatella gelato to a bench across the street in Father Demo Square where some industrious performer was banging out tunes on an upright piano he had rolled into the park. Crazy piano guy indeed! (His name is Colin Huggins and he also happens to be the Joffrey Ballet School‘s music director and the pianist for the American Ballet Theatre.)

New York is full of surprises.

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Stuff Korean people like

Thursday, March 6th, 2008 | All Things, Eats

For lunch at Marco Polo Noodle Shop this afternoon, I ordered the Buddha’s Delight. (Somehow, it seems we’ve become regulars at this restaurant on Baxter.) The version served here is very different from the dish at Amazing 66 — less a stew than a thrown together assortment of sliced vegetables and canned items over fresh noodles: bamboo shoots, baby corn and fried gluten, sometimes seen in Asian markets as “vegetarian duck,” “vegetarian chicken” or seitan.

Buddha’s Delight

SYB, of course, ordered his usual: Noodles with Peking Sauce. During the post-lunch chat with our waiter, it came up that this Northern Chinese dish is a favorite among Koreans for its similarity to “Ja Jyang Myeon.” That Korean dish derives its name from the phonetic translation of the Chinese “Zha Jiang Mian” (literally, “fried sauce noodles”). The Korean version of Peking Noodles is darker, pastier, more vinegary, and according to my friend, made with shredded zucchini.

In Korea, Ja Jang Myeon is traditionally eaten on “Black Day.” On April 14, one of a whole slew of love-related 14th day celebrations, those without significant others gather around bowls of comforting dark-sauced noodles to wallow in their singledom… which I suppose makes it the Korean equivalent of Ben & Jerry’s.

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Buddha’s delight

Thursday, February 21st, 2008 | All Things, Eats, Friends

Since that first visit in January, we’ve been averaging a trip to Amazing 66 on Mott Street every couple of weeks.  At the restaurant this Thursday afternoon, we had the serendipity to stumble upon the high-powered board meeting of new Asian American literary journal Kartika Review, i.e., our friends RL and SL. If there is any better way to conduct business than over a whole Peking duck, I do not know it.

We joined them and their fellow editor DW at a large round table, where their meal was already in progress.

Peking duck

Although the trio did generously offer to share with us some of their delicious-looking duck, I stayed strictly vegetarian with my #62 lunch special: Vermicelli with Buddha’s Delight.

As the name suggests, this dish is enjoyed traditionally by Buddhist monks, most of whom maintain vegetarian diets. (Buddhism’s Five Precepts prohibit killing, stealing, committing sexual misconduct, engaging in false speech and taking intoxicants, to avoid accumulating negative karma.)

Buddha’s delight

This slow-braised dish usually consists of a fairly long list of ingredients, cooked in a soy sauce-based liquid with other seasonings until tender. The specific items used vary greatly both in and outside Asia, and often carry some auspicious significance: black moss (fat choy) is a homonym for prosperity (as in “Gung Hay Fat Choy); ginkgo biloba nuts (bak ko) mimic silver ingots and therefore also bring good fortune; fried tofu and beancurd sticks (foo jook) represent blessings to the house; bamboo piths (jook tseng), wood ear fungus (ha mok yi) and mung-bean threads (fun see) symbolize long life.

No animals were harmed in the making of this delight.

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