Monday, September 25, 2006

Vegetarian's Paradise 2

After being closed for renovations for over a month,Vegetarian's Paradise 2. is back in business. Located at 144 West 4th Street VP2 is a vegetarian (almost entirely vegan) restaurant specializing in Chinese Cuisine.

World Famous Crispy Soul Chicken Appetizer
If you’re a New York vegan, you might as well skip over this part, because you probably know everything there is to know about the Soul Chicken at VP2 and their sister restaurant, Red Bamboo. You’ve probably ordered it many times. So many times, in fact, that perhaps you grew sick of it, and then didn’t order it for a while, and then found yourself craving it and went back and ordered it again and then got sick of it again and this became a vicious, Crispy Soul Chicken cycle. If you’re not from New York, you have no idea what I’m talking about. You’re probably thinking, “it just looks like fried chicken with some dipping sauce, what’s so great about that?” But it is great. It’s vegan, deep-fried, chickeny goodness done just right. The chicken is incredibly crispy and the sauce is wonderfully sweet and tangy. It’s simple but it really works and it can be pretty addictive. -Jim
This dish pleases meat-eaters and veggies alike- for reals. By no means is this health food, but hot damn is it tasty, crunchy, rip-your-teeth-through-it, good food. And the dipping sauce is soooo good. -Ev

Scallops in Black Bean Garlic Sauce
I've always been hesitant to try vegan seafood ever since I'd had a particularly violent encounter with mock calamari in 2000. ::shudder:: I was looking forward to trying this dish though, because I'd enjoyed scallops in my fish-eating days and I loooove black bean sauce. Unfortunately, I wasn't crazy about this dish. I loved the sauce. It was incredible. The broccoli was good but I would've preferred to have it stir-fried with the sauce. The scallops were OK. They weren't overly fishy tasting but they didn't have any real flavor either. I don't think I'd get this dish again, but I'd definitely try to get some kind of veggie/black bean stir-fry. Did I mention the sauce was really good? If you're going to order this, make sure you double check that they'll bring the veggies because I was surprised when the waiter brought a plate of just the 6 scallops in sauce. (the menu says it comes with broccoli and maybe other mixed vegs too). He brought it back with some steamed broccoli. I'm thinking things were hectic because they've only just recently re-opened. -Ev

Steamed Lotus Leaf
Lo Mai Gai is a Southern Chinese dish which normally consists of chicken and mushrooms surrounded by glutinous rice and then wrapped in a lotus leaf and steamed. VP2 offers a vegan variation of this dish which is filled with various mock meats, mushroom and chestnuts. I loved this dish. The mock meats and stuff inside were very yummy but the best part was the rice, which was subtly yet deliciously flavored by the lotus leaf it was steamed in. The dish was served with a salty, brown sauce which was great to dip everything in and fulfilled my salt addiction. They also served it with steamed broccoli, which was a little bland but it was a nice break from all the starch and protein. -Jim

Banana Split
The ice cream at VP2 and Red Bamboo is the best vegan ice cream I’ve had. It’s insanely creamy without being too heavy. In fact the ice cream is somehow fluffy. As you could imagine, the banana split, being made with the best ice cream, was divine. It wasn’t huge and had just enough toppings to taste great without drowning the vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry goodness. You get to choose any 3 flavors (including cherry vanilla, butter pecan, & mint) but this time we stuck with the basics. So good! -Ev
Dessert is one of the reasons to come to VP2. It wouldn’t be too hard to duplicate this dessert at home, but the ability to order a sundae is a rare treat when you’re vegan and Ev is right that their ice cream is better than what you’d get at the store. This is a great dessert that I get whenever I have enough room left after a meal here. -Jim

The Bottom Line
They did a nice job renovating. Colorful lights dangle from the ceiling and they’ve pulled out all the booths and replaced them with nice tables. It’s still not as pretty as Red Bamboo, but I like it. The food, on the other hand, remains the same. You can still count on VP2 for some delicious comfort food. Like their sister restaurant, Red Bamboo, VP2 has some items on the menu that aren’t as good as others, so it pays to do some research or come with a friend to make sure you order the good stuff. -Jim
I agree. The place looks great and there are many tasty meals to be had here. So I didn’t love my scallops as much as I’d hoped, but everything else was incredible. -Ev


Blogger Erica said...

I can't believe you attempted vegan scallops. You two are brave.

God, I want fried yumminess... Now!

11:40 AM, September 26, 2006

Anonymous Paula said...

I walked by there yesterday. I will check it out soon for sure. Too many places I want to eat!

you guys should do a review of bagels with tofu cream cheese from all over. That is my favorite thing about New York so far.

12:18 PM, September 26, 2006

Anonymous Big Ees said...

Wanna hear something gross? Some restaurants will reuse the lotus leaf if it isn't too badly damaged. Not saying they did this here. Long live VP2!

1:03 PM, September 26, 2006

Blogger veganfriendly said...

Wow. That is really gross. I'm just going to believe that they don't do that at VP2.

11:15 AM, September 27, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...

For all of you vegans who have never been and don't infer this from the text of the review... VP = heaven.

4:09 PM, September 29, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love VP2 too!. I think you guys should review on

11:39 AM, November 20, 2008

Anonymous Laurie said...

We had a fabulous meal there - their mock meat is just amazing (to the extend that it kept freaking me out cos I thought I was eating real chicken !). We had the pecking duck pancakes and sweet & sour chicken (which is not on the menue but is delicious, so worth asking for) and some great starters, too. We felt this to be some of the best mock meat ever!

Again, thanks for a great recommendation - we had a fabulous meal !

P.S. The left overs were devoured by meat-eating friends who we met in a bar later - they could not tell it was mock meat !

2:18 AM, August 23, 2009


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