A Lotus Grows in Brooklyn


Veggie Havens in NYC
November 13, 2009, 10:58 am
Filed under: Bars/restaurants, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , ,

I recently had the pleasure of dining at two of New York’s best vegetarian restaurants in one week. Franchia, near 34th Street in Manhattan, and Red Bamboo, in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, have very different menus but the same underlying philosophy of feeding the soul with delicious, well-prepared herbivore meals.

Franchia is an upscale restaurant on Park Avenue inspired by the teahouses of Korea. The focus is on healthy cuisine that helps keep the spirit in balance. I went with a friend on a Tuesday evening and found it to indeed be a quiet, fulfilling retreat.

 

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tofu and roasted kabocha pumpkin

We started with the sweet corn cilantro pancakes, which were a hearty appetizer and a slightly surprising offering for an Asian restaurant. I had the tofu and roasted kabocha pumpkin in sesame soy sauce, which featured some of the best fried tofu I’ve ever had, and my friend had the spicy Malaysian ginger fried rice, which came wrapped in a packet of leaves, sealing in the unique flavor. I will certainly return for the desserts, which all sound spectacular. I’ve heard wonderful things in particular about the soy cheesecake, so that’s a must-try someday.

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spicy Malaysian ginger fried rice

Saturday, I went with a few friends to Red Bamboo Brooklyn. I have had at least two aborted attempts to go to the Red Bamboo in Greenwich Village, but it is always too packed and the wait for a table is too long. I have found out recently, though, that Vegetarian’s Paradise 2, just a couple doors down, shares owners and a kitchen with Red Bamboo, and so is a good backup option.

The Brooklyn edition of Red Bamboo was lovely, with wonderful ambiance that managed to be elegant, cozy, and hip. (Think warm red lighting, dramatic curtains, and exotic details.) The drinks were not stellar (the mango martini tasted like cheapo vodka), but the food was everything I’d hoped. Red Bamboo specializes in vegetarian Caribbean soul food, which means you can get dishes such as cajun fried shrimp (which I did not try, and I’m very curious about–shrimp seems like the last thing that would have a vegetarian version), grilled bourbon chicken, and BBQ ribs with mashed potatoes and gravy.

 

 

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mango chicken

The focus is on faux meats, so if you’re not the kind of veggie who’s into that, this might not be the place for you. I find restaurants like this to be comforting, though, especially for those of us who’ve more recently gone veg and sometimes like to hark back to dishes we used to enjoy in our omnivore days. I had the cuban sandwich, which is a mainstay for me at veggie restaurants, and it was delightful.

I would definitely recommend making the trek to Red Bamboo Brooklyn, which also gives you the opportunity of strolling around Fort Greene’s romantic, classic brownstone -lined streets. Must go back to try that “shrimp.”

Next up on my list of veggie restaurants to try: Counter and Dirt Candy. Plus, as always, my favorite: the V-Spot.

Franchia food photos by me. Photo of mango chicken at Red Bamboo photo by quirkyrocket ❤ on Flickr, used under Creative Commons license.

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2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

That food looks great! I wish we had a vegetarian restaurant in my town!!!

Comment by Trinity

I LOVE Red Bamboo. And for the record, the coconut shrimp is simply incredible. Definitely get it on the next go-round.

Have you tried Wild Ginger on Smith Street yet? Fabulous.

Comment by Deborah




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