Sunday, August 27, 2006

Kate's Joint

We recently went back to Kate's Joint, located at the corner of Avenue B and 4th street in Manhattan.

Unturkey Soup
I was so happy that this was the soup of the day. The broth was salty, thick, and comforting and had great bits of celery and veggies in it. The Unturkey was tasty too; having soaked up all the broth, it was tender and plump and really savory. This is my favorite soup at Kate’s, so whenever they have it you should order it. -Ev
This is a really satisfying soup. The broth isn’t too strong but also not too subtle. The veggies and Unturkey are tender and flavorful. -Jim

Ballpark Dawg
Kate’s offers a selection of vegan Hot Dogs in the “Dawg Pound” section of their menu. While the Dawgs themselves seem to be Not Dogs or Tofu Pups or some other store-bought variety (which I can’t hold against them because I’m sure it would be a pain in the ass for a restaurant to homemake their own vegan hot dogs), they spice them up with cool toppings. You can get them with barbeque sauce and onion rings, you can get a Chili Dawg, or you can get them with good old-fashioned mustard and kraut. I wasn’t starving on this trip to Kate’s, so I figured the inexpensive Ballpark (mustard and kraut) Dawg would be just right. Little did I know that it was a bargain. For about 6 bucks, I got a dawg on Kate's famous Focaccia bread with a mountain of sauerkraut plus mashed potatoes and gravy (you can also get it with French Fries). The Dawg wasn’t amazing (I wasn’t really expecting it to be), but it is relatively inexpensive, very filling, and it comes with really awesome mashed potatoes. -Jim

Tasting Plate
I didn’t know what I was in the mood for so I ordered the Tasting Plate. It had a little bit of everything- Jamaican “Beef” Patty, Salad, Grilled Veggies, Garlic Toast, and Hummus- so it was bound to hit on whatever un-nameable craving I was having. The Jamaican Patty was delicious. The crust was soft and flavorful and the filling of “beef” and veg was hearty without being just one flavor. It was the ultimate comfort food and was reaaaally yummy. Also yummy was the Salad; it had sliced Portobello mushrooms and a sweet, thick, warm maple dressing. The combination of warm and cool worked really well together as did all the different textures. This dish satisfied several cravings in one shot. The Grilled Veggies were typically tasty; I particularly liked the carrots because they were perfectly firm and really sweet. The Garlic Toast was delicious as usual- crunchy, carby, salty, & garlicky. The one disappointment of the night was the Hummus; it was really peppery and spicy. I don’t mind spicy as long as it enhances the flavor or contributes a little something extra to a dish but in this case the spice was all there was. I’m guessing it was just an off night because I’ve had the Hummus at Kate’s before and I’ve liked it. -Ev

The Bottom Line
I love Kate’s. I really do. It upsets me that we’ve reviewed them twice and my love for them hasn’t really come across in either review. Obviously I can’t be amazed by a store-bought vegan hot dog. But they really do have some amazing stuff at Kate’s. And when I say amazing I mean it in a greasy, southern-fried, one-in-the-morning craving kind of way. And the desserts are really good, too. Crap, we need to come back here again when I’m really hungry so I can give them an awesome review. -Jim
I love Kate’s too. The Un-turkey soup rules and, weird Hummus aside, the Tasting Plate is almost always perfect. Also, you should get the Garlic Fries. -Ev

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Madras Cafe

We recently visited one of our favorite restaurants, Madras Cafe at 79 2nd Avenue in Manhattan. Madras is an Indian restaurant which is totally vegetarian and almost totally vegan.

Masala Dosa
This was delectable. The potatoes were soft and spiced just enough and there were little bits of onion and cashew nestled in there with them. I liked the Dosa here too because it was just crisp enough to hold it’s shape but had almost a layered texture when you bit through. It’s hard to describe but there was a slight crunch to it and then it was very giving once it was in my mouth. The Lentil Sambar was very spicy (not too painful but pretty hot) and the Coconut Chutney worked beautifully with everything else to cool things down and add major creaminess. This dish was perfection and I could probably eat it everyday. O how I love my Dosas. -Ev
They do make a pretty good Dosa at Madras. It’s not the best Dosa I’ve ever had, but it’s good enough that this is a good place to come if you’re in the mood for Dosa. I suggest getting one to go and eating it for breakfast. Masala Dosa for breakfast is a wonderful thing. -Jim

Yogi Thali
Madras Café has only one vegan Thali, the rest are only vegetarian. This meal consisted of rice, Onion Pakora, bread, Mulligatawny Soup, TVP Curry, Saag, and Rice Pudding. The Mulligatawny Soup at Madras is probably my favorite Mulligatawny soup in NYC. Also, the dessert was delicious and I’ve never had anything like it anywhere else. But what made this dish awesome was not the quality of the individual foods in it (though they’re all very good), but the variety of it. I really like variety in my meals, and this dish has soup, appetizer, bread, rice, chunky Curry, saagy Saag (I can’t think of a good adjective to describe Saag) and dessert all mixed into one. It’s a little pricier than other items on the menu, but I think it’s worth it since it is a lot of food. -Jim
The Pakora was sublimely fried and very salty (I recommend dipping it in the soup). The TVP Curry was hearty without being too oily or stew-y and there was a nice balance of textures between the protein and vegs. The dessert was so delicious; the base texture was really soft and then it was great because you’d get nice bits of crunchy cashews and moist raisins. The other dishes were stellar as well but these were the three I picked at the most. -Ev

The Bottom Line
Madras is one of our staple restaurants; we can always count on getting good food there and friendly service. Sometimes the dishes take a while to reach your table, but be patient, the food is worth it. I also recommend you try the homemade Ginger Lemonade. It is chockfull of fresh ginger and very spicy and refreshing. The vegan mango lassi is also incredible but pretty filling so you may want to share with someone to save room for dinner. -Ev
Yeah, everything here is pretty filling, so make sure you’re hungry. I might be able to think of an Indian restaurant or two where the food is slightly better than Madras, but overall this is my favorite Indian restaurant because it’s not only delicious, but it’s almost all vegan (they specify which items are vegan on the menu) and the prices are reasonable and it’s in a fun neighborhood and it’s never too crowded and they have a wide variety of dishes from both Northern Indian and Southern Indian cuisine. Also, Atlas Café (which carries the largest stock of Vegan Treats in NYC) is just a few doors down in case you still have some room left over. -Jim

Thursday, August 10, 2006


Last week we went to ‘sNice with some folks from the PPK again. ‘sNice is located at 45 8th Avenue in Manhattan.

Israeli Couscous
I liked this dish. The couscous was fat and chewy. The veggies were cooked perfectly and had great flavor. This dish was really, really subtle (some would say bland but not me) and had a nice oil/lemon flavor. Sometimes it's nice to get a comfy, quiet dish. Or should I say "snice"? Har har. What? I shouldn't? Oh. OK. -Ev

Lentil Soup
I was feeling under-the-weather on Friday so I just got a soup. It was very sad, because going to ‘sNice and not getting a sandwich is like… um… going somewhere that has something really good and then not getting that really good thing. Anyway, it’s ok because the soup was just what I needed. It was rich and hearty. There were some chopped carrots and onions and stuff, but overall it wasn’t a very chunky soup. It was a thick, soupy soup almost like split pea, except it was lentil instead of split pea and it had a slightly spicy tomato base. I liked it and it was surprisingly filling. -Jim

Sesame Chicken Wrap with Thai Salad & Spicy Peanut Sauce
This was a dish I've always wanted to try but was too tempted by other things to get. Well, temptation lead me into its juicy, salty, loving arms this time around and I was happy it did. The chicken was firm, chewy, and cut into teeny pieces. The peanut sauce was thin but creamy and found its way in between the little spaces of the chicken so that every bite you got a good mouthful of it. I was glad that there was salad in the wrap because the chicken was really salty and the freshness of the veggies helped to balance things out. I was surprised how filling this was. I could only eat a little more than half of it. I was also surprised that my side salad had no dressing, but I was too smitten with my wrap to ask for some. I would definitely get this again. -Ev

Turtle Bar
Like I said, I wasn’t feeling well. But I guess I was feeling well enough for a dessert and a Soy Chai Latte. The Turtle Bar was interesting. It was dense and chocolaty with a caramel-flavored icing. The weird thing was that it wasn’t very sweet. The icing was, but the bar itself (while chocolaty) wasn’t that sweet. It wasn’t bad, though. It was just different. I think if they served this dessert on the original Japanese Iron Chef, the judges might say, “This is a very sophisticated dessert for adults” or something because that’s what they always say when desserts aren’t very sweet. On the other hand, I guess it could just be that my wicked summer cold was messing with my taste buds and I couldn’t detect the sweetness. -Jim

Vanilla Cupcake
And in this corner, the undefeated cupcake victor, ‘sNice! I wish I could paint a picture of the happiness these cupcakes bring. Although, I took a picture so you could probably surmise the happiness they'd bring. All that thick creamy icing that melts on your tongue. The cute little stars. The moist cakey heaven. God, I want one right now. How about this: next time I'll take a picture of me eating the cupcake so you can see how happy I am? But then again, pictures of people eating are rarely flattering. Pictures of me in general are rarely flattering. So I guess you'll just have to get your very own cupcake from ‘sNice and see for yourself how utterly wonderful they are.-Ev
I would just like to add here that Ev is very pretty and pictures of her, flattering or not, make me happy. Maybe I should take a picture of me looking at a picture of her eating a cupcake. -Jim

The Bottom Line
I was disappointed that I was sick and thus I couldn’t eat a lot of food, but I did learn that they have good soup at ‘sNice. I should note that I think ‘sNice has a soup-of-the-day kind of thing going on so I don’t know how often they actually serve the exact soup that I had. After dinner we met the owner outside. He was nice and Isa and Terry from the PPK talked to him about making vegan marshmallows. -Jim
I feel silly writing a bottom line because it’s apparent how much I enjoy going to ‘sNice. Instead I’ll use the space to shout out to Paula, and Eve, and Sarah, and Michelle, and the twin dudes, and our usual suspects. Thanks for a fun night full of eating and shoeless furry talk under the stars. Hugs to all. -Ev

Friday, August 04, 2006

Vegetarian Dim Sum House

Sorry about that folks. We’ve finally started settling into our new apartment. Let the reviews resume! We recently ate at the famous (amongst NYC vegetarians at least) Vegetarian Dim Sum House in Chinatown at 24 Pell Street in Manhattan.

Spinach Dumplings
So YUM! These had a chewier/gummier outside than most dumplings. Inside they were filled with seasoned mock shredded chicken and veggies. They tasted like a dry pot pie, that is to say, all the delicious flavor of a pot pie without the soupy stuff. -Ev
From the outside, these looked like they’d be similar to the veggie dumplings you can get at most Chinese places, but the filling was unique and tasty. -Jim

Buddha’s Bean Curd Rolls
The texture of these rolls might be a little bit odd to someone who’s never had them before. They were basically veggies wrapped in bean curd skin and soaked in a somewhat slimy sauce. If you can get past the sliminess, though, you will be rewarded with a delicious, super-savory experience. -Jim
These are a little awkward to eat but you just gotta shove ‘em in and chew, chew, chew. They were really tasty. -Ev

Treasure balls with Assorted Flavor
Often referred to (by us anyway) as Chinese knishes, these are flaky/crunchy on the outside and had soft and smooth taro goodness inside. I definitely recommend that a) you eat these and b) you eat these with hot mustard. -Ev
They’re also good with soy sauce. In fact, I discovered that they are good with soy sauce and spicy mustard at the same time. I think they’re called “Treasure Balls with Assorted Flavor” because sometimes they cook things into them, like little bits of mock ham or whatever. But even when they’re plain, they’re still good. -Jim

Mini Sticky Rice in Lotus Leaf
For those of you who have never had sticky rice in a lotus leaf, the general idea is that they take some fillings, surround them in sticky rice, and then wrap the rice in a lotus leaf and steam it. This was a miniaturized version of that and it was delicious. The fillings here were little bits of mock meat and veggies. The earthy flavor and moist, sticky texture of the rice was what really made this dish fantastic, though. I enjoy this dish with a good amount of soy sauce, but I am a salt addict so others may not need the soy here. -Jim
These ruled. The rice was definitely the best part because it was so thick and sticky and had the subtle flavor of the lotus leaf. I also liked how the filling didn’t overwhelm the rice. -Ev

Fried Turnip Cakes
One of my favorite dishes here! While the consistency was a little gummy, they had enough flavor to give the dish some weight, especially when combined with the rich sauce. Jim thought the sauce tasted too fishy but I thought it worked perfectly with the turnip cake to optimize its saltiness and flavor. -Ev
Yeah, the sauce that they come with is a little gross to me. But I just put a little soy sauce on these babies and they become salty, starchy goodness. -Jim

Vegetarian Mock Roast Pork Buns
These were white, fluffy pastries filled with somewhat sweet mock pork. They were tasty but I found them to be a little dry. -Jim
I usually don’t like dumplings with soft, bready outsides but these were really tasty. The sauce was a thick bbq sauce that was a little sweet. The bready outside sucked up the sauce and complimented the chewy texture of the pork. -Ev

The Bottom Line
Vegetarian Dim Sum is on of the best places to eat when you're not sure what you want but you want it to be hot, good, and cheap! In other words, this is one of the best Vegan restaurants in NYC. I have yet to get a dish here that I didn't love. As an added bonus you can also order tons of mock-meat Chinese dishes (like Sweet and Sour Chicken, Mock Iron Steak, etc) in addition to the Dim Sum. We love the Dim Sum so much we usually just stick to that menu, but maybe we'll review some Chinese dishes in the future. -Ev
To give you an idea of how cheap it is, we ordered everything above plus an additional order of the treasure balls plus a Sesame Paste Bun that we forgot to take a picture of, and the bill came to less than $25. Very cheap! One thing I noticed on this visit was that there are still a lot of items on the Dim Sum menu that we’ve never tried. I find that to be unacceptable and we’ll need to come back soon. -Jim