When I passed Buddha Bodai in New York's Chinatown, I knew I had to go in. A fully vegan Chinese restaurant? How could I refuse?
It was a little bit early for dinner but I hadn't had lunch, I was hungry, and in any case I wasn't the first customer of the evening. Green tea arrived at my table without my needing to ask, along with a very long menu - knowing that everything was vegan, there was an awful lot of choice.
I went for dumplings to start, because I always love Chinese dumplings - and so many places in England don't have veggie dumplings. I chose to have them steamed rather than fried, though I briefly wondered if I could have asked for half and half.
The filling was a surprisingly moist mixture of chopped cabbage, carrot, celery, and some sort of 'fake meat' of which Chinese vegetarians seem to be so fond. They were absolutely delicious, and I finished all six easily, though I'm sure it would've been an adequate starter for two.
For the main course, after toying with all sorts of options, I decided to go with something I'd never seen (let alone sampled) before, and ordered the A Sam 'vegetarian fish', described on the menu simply as 'spicy'.
This was another gluten (I think) concoction, served in a very fruity, lightly spiced sauce. Some clever cooking had gone into making a crispy skin (very tasty) and an interesting, almost spaghetti-like texture to the main part. I have to confess it wasn't my favourite-ever dish, but that was more to do with my preferences (fruity sauces are not my favourite) than the quality of the cooking. In future I'll probably stick to vegetables and tofu instead of gluten 'meat', but the 'fish' presentation was something I'd never seen before so I had to try it.
I was a little disappointed that it didn't come with any rice, since they didn't do a single-person-sized portion of rice - the only rice on the menu was massive helpings of fried rice, which I could never have finished, since I didn't manage to eat all of my main anyway. (American portions always catch me off-guard!) The couple on the next table ordered a large mixed appetizer and then one main course to share, and I suspect that was about right.
I'd certainly go back again if I'm ever in New York, but I'd want to (a) visit with friends, to enable sharing, and (b) sample some dishes from the extensive dim sum selection.
|Address:||5 Mott St, New York, NY 10013|
|Date Visited:||14 August 2009|