Saturday, May 27, 2006

House of Vegetarian

Last night we went to House of Vegetarian at 68 Mott Street in Chinatown, Manhattan. HoV is one of the oldest vegan-friendly restaurants in NYC. We went with a few friends, including Isa from the PPK, who remembers coming here in the early nineties when there were few other options for New York vegans.

Cold Sesame Noodles
I love carbs. I love peanut sauce. Therefore, I loved the Cold Sesame Noodles- with the exception of one or two bites that were mysteriously bitter (the sesame?). I didn’t remember there being lettuce in it last time I had it but I though it provided a nice cold, crunchy contrast to the creamy, carby goodness.- Ev
I like Sesame Cold Noodles when they’re done well. These were not. They were basically spaghetti with a sauce that I’m pretty sure was just watered-down peanut butter. It tasted exactly what you’d expect spaghetti, peanut butter and lettuce to taste like. If that sounds good to you, by all means order this dish. If it sounds weird and not so good to you, then we have something in common and you should probably stear clear of this one. - Jim

Assorted Wheat Gluten
People often say that the Chinese food you get at American Chinese food places isn’t real Chinese food. Eating in Chinatown, sometimes I feel like I’ve caught a glimpse of what Chinese people actually eat, and I wonder if this dish is one of those glimpses, because it’s nothing like anything I’ve eaten anywhere else. If you’ve had wheat gluten before, you know that it can be a little slimey and a little rubbery. The Assorted Wheat Gluten at HoV is extra slimey and rubbery, but once you get used to it it’s really quite good. The four flavors are savory, sweet and sour, curry, and a sort of barbequed beef that also has a more firm texture. Despite the odd texture, I highly recommend this dish for the delicious flavors. My favorite is the curry, but they’re all good. - Jim
The beefy nibs were the firmest of the bunch and matched well with the deep gravy flavor of the sauce. Equally delicious were the savory gluten pieces . These were softer in consistency but still had enough chew to them. These two were my favorite because there was a good partnership between the gluten and the sauces. While still yummy, I thought the sweet and sour and the curry glutens were the softest and slimiest of the bunch so if it’s your first encounter with gluten these are the ones that may take some getting used to. - Ev

Sweet and Pungent Mock Pork
So I ordered the "Sweet and Pungent Mock Pork", and when the waitress handed it to me she said, “Sweet and Sour Mock Pork”, and there was nothing pungent about it. So I’m not sure if they brought me the wrong dish, or if "sweet and pungent" is synonymous for "sweet and sour" at HoV. Whatever it was, it was decent. The mock pork was heavily deep fried in a soft batter. The sauce was pretty standard American-Chinese sweet and sour sauce. Also in the dish were bits of red and green pepper, carrots and pineapple. If I had just gone vegan yesterday, I’d probably be ranting and raving about this dish. But I feel like I’ve had this dish many times at many veg restaurants and it always tastes pretty much the same. It’s good, but pretty familiar to someone who’s been vegan for a while. - Jim

Beef with Broccoli
Having already gorged myself on the gluten and noodles, my friend Eppy and I decided to split an order of Beef w/ Broccoli. Although the waitress specified garlic sauce, it was your basic brown sauce, only it wasn’t cornstarchy & goopy like some other chinese restaurants. I usually stay away from veggie beef dishes finding them too thick/salty/fried/gummy/etc. but I had sampled this before and new I’d like it. The veggie beef was very thin and flat, almost like steak-ums. It was seasoned just right and had a good chew to it. The broccoli was cooked perfectly and kept its own; it wasn’t gooped up with too much sauce. -Ev

The Bottom Line
HoV was serving vegan food before I even knew what veganism was. They deserve my respect and my gratitude, and they definitely have it. As for the food I ate on this visit, it was good but not great. I feel like I copped out by ordering a boring American-Chinese food standard. There are more exotic (and probably more traditional Chinese) dishes on the menu, and next time you see HoV on Veganfriendly, I’ll be reviewing one of them. - Jim
A decent, simple meal. HoV offers a wide variety of mock meat options and is a few notches higher in quality than your average local Chinese restaurant. The food tastes more fresh and less -word of the day- goopy. It helps to go with someone who has been there before to help you order because the mock meat dishes have such different tastes, textures and consistencies and come with varying amounts of veggies. We’ll do our best to recommend more dishes here. - Ev


Anonymous Isa said...

I had no idea you guys were so articulate. How come when you talk to me you only use 1 syllable words punctuated with lots of grunts and snorts? Are you afraid of showing your true abilities because I might exploit them?

Anyway, you know how I feel about HOV (hearts and cupcakes), I feel like you done them good with this review. I totally undestand where jimbles is coming from with the "if you went vegan yesterday" thing. You didn't mention the dumplings though, which I feel like are worth the trip to HOV alone. Also - I love you guys!

10:56 AM, May 29, 2006

Anonymous Aaron said...

We love the Mock Iron Steak. I wish they had descriptions on the menu, just having "Flying Happiness" doesn't help me figure out what to get and so I always order the same thing.

Maybe I'll offer to redo their menu in exchange for my weight in Hot Steak Kew.

1:42 PM, May 30, 2006

Anonymous karen said...

you got me with the line about steak-umms.

2:56 PM, May 31, 2006

Blogger jess (of Get Sconed!) said...

You've ruled out goopy - so I'm intrigued and relieved. How often do you guys eat out?

3:28 PM, May 31, 2006

Blogger veganfriendly said...

Too often! We would have another review from Saturday night but we forgot our camera.

3:37 PM, May 31, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...

okay, i don't know what you all are ate and i don't know who cooked it because we did NOT eat the same foods when i went to HoV! the most disgusting fare i have ever had! HANDS DOWN! now i will say that perhaps it was a little *too* authentic, perhaps i'm not used to that. slimey, goopy and horribly seasoned. i ordered the general tso's (trying to play it safe) and the buddha's rice. total = 16.80. i took, literally 3 bites of ea. and then asked for the check. WORST FOOD SINCE BECOMING VEGETARIAN!! (3 years)

10:34 PM, September 16, 2006

Anonymous Orion said...

We started out having an ok meal. The food was very roughly made, the steamed vegetable dumpling wasn't cooked completely. The shiitake mushroom with vermicelli was bland, and the stir fried string beans too salty and under cooked.

Ok, so you always take a risk every time you go to a new restaurant, but not only was the food of extremely poor quality, the workers had a very nasty attitude as well.

I found pieces of hair stuck on the place underneath our stir fried string beans' sauce, so it was OBVIOUSLY on the plate BEFORE we started eating the food. Not only did the workers denied that the hair came from the kitchen, they also blamed it on us!

What kind of an attitude is that to be treating your customers without respect?

NEVER AGAIN! Vegetarian Dim Sum at 24 Pell Street is much better, cheaper and MUCH MUCH MUCH FRIENDLIER!

11:45 AM, February 21, 2009


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