Sunday, October 22, 2006

Sacred Chow Brunch

We liked our dinner so much we decided to return to Sacred Chow to try their brunch. It’s located at 227 Sullivan St in Manhattan.

Better Than Biscuits & Gravy w/ Tempeh Strips
Wow. This dish knocked me off my feet. I mean, not literally, because I was in a chair when I ate it. But it was really, wonderfully good. The bottom layer consisted of flakey, delicious biscuits. Above that was a layer of steamed collards. I mentioned in our last review that Sacred Chow gets the texture of their collards just right, and that's true again here. The next layer up was scrambled tofu. Now, I'm not a scrambled tofu connoisseur, so I can't really compare this scrambled tofu with any other, but I can tell you that I really liked it. It was flavorful and there was chopped onion in it and the texture was satisfying and it really kind of reminded me of eggs, but in a good way, not a gross way. The next layer up was a white gravy sprinkled with some paprika. The gravy wasn't too strong or overpowering, but it added just the right creaminess and savoriness to the dish. Combine all those layers on one forkful and you have soul, comfort-food brunch at it's finest. You also get a choice of salad, greens or fruit, and I picked the fruit. I think that was a good choice because the sweet freshness of the fruit offsets this dish nicely. And I also got a side of smoked tempeh which was good but in retrospect the dish was good enough on it's own that I didn't even need a side. -Jim

Banana Bread French Toast w/ Home Fries & Tempeh Strips
I don’t know why I wasn’t expecting actual banana bread. I mean they said so right there on the menu, but did I pay attention? Noooo. So I was surprised when I got a big ol’ cakey hunk of banana bread. Not that I minded. At all. The banana bread was warm and delicious and the blueberries on top were really good with it. What made everything better was a sprinkling of cinnamon. It was a small and subtle addition but it made this dish taste fantastic. Also wonderful were the home fries. They were perfect all around- golden and salty and seasoned just right. I’m not the worlds biggest tempeh fan, but I really enjoyed the tempeh strips. They too were seasoned just right and they were sliced very thin so they crisped nicely. All in all, this was a perfect way to start the day -Ev

The Bottom Line
It’s official. I’m a Sacred Chow stalker. I daydream about all the delicious things I can eat there, and wonder if the Tapas ever think of me (even though we’ve only met once). Even when we were eating brunch I couldn’t help but spy on what the dinner specials were going to be. Dinner was great the other night, and Brunch today was amazing, maybe even better. ::sigh:: I wonder what Sacred Chow is doing right now… -Ev
Is it a little weird that we reviewed ths same restaurant twice in a row? Yes. But it’s also a testament to how good it is. We enjoyed dinner so much on Monday that we were dying to come back and try their brunch, and rightfully so because it was amazing. This is one of the top three vegan brunches I’ve ever eaten, and one of them was in Portland and another one of them was cooked by our friend Isa at her apartment, which means this is the best vegan brunch I’ve ever had at a New York City restaurant. -Jim

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Sacred Chow

We got dinner at Sacred Chow before attending the NerdNYC Boardgame Night on Monday. Sacred Chow is a vegan bistro specializing in heroes and tapas and it’s located at 227 Sullivan St in Manhattan. The funky, colored lighting at Sacred Chow caused our photos to come out a little weird, but you get the idea.

Spicy Pickled Vegetables
I love pickles of all shapes and sizes, from Kosher Dills to Japanese Oshinko. So when I saw that Sacred Chow offered a side of Spicy Pickles, I knew I had to try it. I wasn’t disappointed. The side consisted of cauliflower, carrots, bell pepper, jalepeno pepper and more, all spicy, sweet and strong from the pickling process. The mild veggies were kicked up by the pickling while the spicy jalepenos were cooled down enough to the point where I could eat them, and I’m usually a wimp with hot foods. It was a light, tasty way to start a meal. -Jim

Four Seasons Salad
Given the fact that lately I subsist on fruit and oatmeal at work, and the fact that I had my eye on a seitan sub for din-din, I thought it would be a good idea to throw some veggies up in the joint. I decided to go with a small Four Seasons Salad which consisted of greens, beets, carrots, apples & crunchy yuba strips topped with a dijon vinaigrette. I am a salad lover, especially when said salad has a unique combination of ingredients. This salad was highly loveable. The ingredients were all very fresh and flavorful. The mix of textures was fantastic as was the play between sweet and tangy. The yuba strips were excellent. I thought yuba was some kind of root vegetable, but Ms. Terry Hope Romero was kind enough to inform me of its real nature; it comes from a film that forms on top of hot soymilk and then is dried or what-have-you. The yuba tasted surprisingly like Bac-Os, or Bacos, or Scott Bakula, or however you spell it. (Strange but little known fact Scott Bakula indeed tastes like Bacon Bits). Also, the dijon vinaigrette was a sassy change from my usual Balsamic traditions. And Bakulic traditions. -Ev

Tapas Plate: Mama’s soy meatballs, Steamed Sesame Collards, Sauteed Shiitake Mushrooms w/Toasted Sunflower Seeds
Sacred Chow offers a wide variety of Tapas, and in addition to what’s on the menu they have several specials every day. The Tapas come in two varieties: “Protein Rich” (tofu, seitan and the like) and “Complex Carb” (veggies and grains and stuff). For $12 you can get a plate of three Tapas, and that’s what I did. The Mama’s Soy Meatballs were off the “Protein Rich” menu, in case you couldn’t guess, and they were mighty fine. The texture was slightly on the mushy side but still very satisfying, and they were covered in chopped tomatoes, onions, garlic and herbs, kind of like an Italian salsa. The collards were a special that day. I’m used to the garlicky collards at Kate’s Joint, so the more subtle flavor of these collards was disorienting at first, but I enjoyed them nonetheless. Also, they were just the right texture. The mushrooms were good and very plentiful. I had to give away some of my mushrooms because I was getting full. Overall, the tapas I chose had a very fresh, healthy vibe to them. Which was great, though between you and me I might order some more exciting tapas next time I go (and there are plenty of exciting-sounding tapas on the menu). -Jim

Orange BBQ Seitan Sub & Roasted Black Olive Seitan Sub (w/vegan cheese)
What’s better than a seitan sub??? Two different kinds of seitan subs that you share with your friend! (I really hope Paula thinks we’re friends.) There are a few key words that get me excited about eating. Among these are “Seitan” and “BBQ”. Throw in a fruit and I’m really excited. String these words along in a description such as “sliced chunky orange-molasses seitan, ginger BBQ sauce, onions, cheese” and it’s pretty much going in my belly. I opted not to get the cheese on this one. It was a great sub. The seitan was thick and chewy, salty, flavorful. And yet, this sub was blown out of the water by the Roasted Black Olive Seitan Sub. Holy crap, was this good! We got vegan mozzarella on it, and thankfully it wasn’t swimming in fakeness. The olive flavor was fused - scientifically fused! - into the Seitan. It was so… GOOD. It had that nice olive-y tang and then the creaminess of the cheese was there to cradle it into submission, and then there were green leafy things nestled against the delicious bread. Double YUM. -Ev

The Bottom Line
Just when we thought we’d been to every good vegan joint in NYC, we find another one hiding somewhere that knocks our socks off. I really enjoyed my experience at Sacred Chow. The food was great. The location is great. The atmosphere is great. But the really amazing thing about Sacred Chow is the variety of food to choose from. They have soups, salads, heroes and 19(!) tapas, not to mention a large selection of daily specials, and it’s all vegan. Plus they have eleven homemade desserts, which we didn’t have time to sample but I’ve heard they’re very good. This was only my first time trying Sacred Chow, but I think it’s safe to say that they’re awesome. And even though they’re a couple of bucks more expensive then I generally prefer, I could see them becoming a staple in our neverending NYC restaurant crawl. Oh, and one more thing: their brunch menu sounds really good. Don’t be surprised if you see a Sacred Chow Brunch review on veganfriendly in the near future. -Jim
Word. I found myself wanting to go back the next day. Everything was delicious- especially Jim’s Mushrooms and Terry’s Pumpkin Tapas. I was expecting boring hippy-dippy food and was pleasantly surprised to find really delicious and nutritious fare. Plus the restaurant itself is cute with its window of glowing red lights. So what if our pictures came out weird? I seriously want to go back there. Like right now. -Ev

Saturday, October 14, 2006


We recently went to Ghenet, an Ethiopian restaurant located at 284 Mulberry St & Houston St in Manhattan. While not strictly vegetarian, they have amazing selctions for vegans, whether ordered per dish or part of a combo meal.

Engouday Tibs
Oh boy, was this delicious! The Engouday Tibs (aka spiced mushrooms) at Ghenet satisfied so many hard to define cravings it was wonderful. The mushrooms were soft and savory as were the onions and peppers that were sauteed with them. Everything was spiced to perfection, both taste-wise and kick-wise. The flavors were very strong but worked well together, especially when wrapped in the Injera bread. It’s so hard to describe Injera bread to the uninitiated. Made from a nutritious grain called Teff, the taste is both wholesome and a little tangy. It resembles a half-cooked pancake- smooth on one side and bubbly on the other. The texture is soft, moist, and cool to the touch. The bread actually does double duty: Yes, it’s delicious and you eat it, but it also takes the place of utensils. You rip and scoop to eat your meal. This was our first food of the day and it couldn’t have been tastier. -Ev
There was something Fajita-esque about this appetizer, only it was better than the best fajita I’ve ever had. It was really delicious and probably my favorite thing at Ghenet. -Jim

Vegetarian Combo for 2
The best way to go at Ghenet is the combo meal. The combo meal for two was about 30 bucks and it consisted of a small amount of every vegetarian dish they offer at Ghenet (except the Shimbra Asa). That’s nine different foods packed into one dish, served on Injera bread with more Injera bread on the side. About half of the items in the combo were legume-based, with variations on seasonings, texture and spiciness (my favorite of these was the Shiro Wett, which was the most rich and spicy). There was also a cold potato, carrot and beet salad, spiced collard greens, a string bean and carrot dish and (my favorite) Atkelt Wett, which was cabbage, potatoes and carrots cooked in a mild caramelized onion sauce. I can honestly say that everything in the combo was delicious, and I loved the variety of dishes and how they worked with eachother. And it was SO MUCH food. Frankly, I think the Vegetarian Combo for Two might be a little too much for two people, as every time we’ve had it we’ve left the restaurant painfully stuffed with food. -Jim
I agree that the cabbage/potato dish was amazing. My other favorites were the green bean/carrot, and the yellow spilt pea. They were all so comforting and delicious. Oh, and there was a spicy lentil one that was really good too. You can also order the combo for 1 and have your choice of any 4 dishes. -Ev

The Bottom Line
I was 17 the first time I tried Ethiopian food & I was in Washington DC. I thought it was the best food I’d ever had. For years I clung to the memory of the unique flavors of the dishes and the amazing texture of Injera bread. I thought I would have to travel back to DC if I ever wanted to taste that goodness again. I am so happy that Ghenet is in NYC. The restaurant is beautiful and the food is so yummy you owe it to your tongue to try some. Ghenet (meaning “Paradise”) has a cute slogan that this is “Where Angels Eat”; well vegans should eat here too! -Ev
If you’ve never tried Ethiopian food, you’re really missing out. The spices are reminiscant of Indian curries but the food is very unique and the Injera bread is addictively good. Ghenet is definitely my favorite Ethiopian restaurant. Their food is just a little more fresh and flavorful than other Ethiopian places I’ve tried. -Jim

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


We went to Nana at 155 5th Ave in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn. Nana is a Pan-Asian restaurant that isn’t specifically vegetarian, but has a decent amount of vegan-friendly options.

Vietnamese Salad
I’m not usually a big fan of salads, but this is one that I can get behind. It consisted of mango, jicama, fried rice noodles, crushed peanut, jalapeno and cilantro piled on top of chili dressing. What really stood out about this salad is that they were able to make it light and refreshing but also packed with flavor. There was a great combination of sweet and spicy ingredients, and the textures were all very satisfying. I’d definitely order this again. -Jim
I loved this salad. Everything was so fresh and cool. And the sweet chili dressing was the best! -Ev

Roti Canai
Much like my love of Dosas, I not only love the taste of Roti Canai but also the wonderful variations to be found in restaurants around the city. The Roti Canai here wins the presentation award, because the colors of the soup were so high-contrast and trippy. The soup itself was rich, mild, and creamy and the two bits of potato inside were divine. The bread was chewy, soft, and flaky. I also loved that the size of the bread was perfect to the amount of soup. I recommend ripping some bread off and submerging it a few seconds before eating it because you soak up a lot more flavor than if you just dip it. It's not often you can get something this tasty for $3. -Ev
Word. This is my favorite thing at Nana and we always order it when we come here. The soup is coconutty and curry-licious. Some day I might just order three of these and that will be my meal. -Jim

Fried Mei Fun w/ Tofu
This was on the Noodle menu and I think it normally has chicken in it or something, but you can ask for it vegetarian (and hold the egg!) and ask them to add some tofu and they hook you right up. The dish consisted of Mei Fun noodles, scallions, bean sprouts and tofu lightly fried in a savory, Asian brown sauce. Very simple but it definitely works. I loved the texture and flavor of the tofu, and scallions and bean sprouts are two of my favorite ingredients, so I really enjoyed this dish. I also felt like it was just the right amount of tofu, which was nice. There’s nothing worse than ordering a tofu dish and getting only a couple of little pieces of tofu, or having your plate overflowing with nothing but tofu. Okay, I guess there are things worse than that. My point is you don’t have to worry about it at Nana. -Jim

Tofu Pad Thai
This was a really great Pad Thai, on account of the fact that the sauce was very tamarind-y (which is my preference) and because of the tofu. The tofu at Nana's is the best because it has just the right amount of crispness to the skin, but the inside is so soft it practically melts in your mouth. I do think, however, that next time I’ll order the Vegetable Pad Thai and ask to pay extra for some Tofu. The waiter assured me there were vegetables in the Tofu Pad Thai. To his credit, scallions and bean sprouts are vegetables, but I would've loved some broccoli and carrots too. The Pad Thai is listed only with the standard choice of meats, but a side note on the menu mentions that it can be made vegetarian. Obviously, you also have to request that they omit the eggs. -Ev

The Bottom Line
Nana might not look too vegan-friendly when you first see the menu, but they do have a decent selection of vegan dishes and the atmosphere and the quality of their food makes them worth checking out. Also, It’s important to keep in mind that they can make a lot of their non-vegan dishes vegan by request. Both of our entrees above are normally meaty and we asked them to hold the meat and egg and add some tofu. In my experience, special-ordering off the non-vegetarian menu at Nana yields tastier results than ordering off their vegetarian menu. Oh, one more thing: Nana is cash-only for some reason, so hit the ATM before you go. -Jim
YUM. The tofu rules here. Nana has a lot of great options for vegans from inventive appetizers, to Thai standards, and all-vegetable entrees. Plus the restaurant itself is beautiful (and has a really cool lower level where the bathrooms are). -Ev

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Caravan of Dreams

We recently went to Caravan of Dreams, located at the corner of 405 East 6th St street in Manhattan.

Unchicken Nachos
Best Nachos ever. There, I’ve said it. And I’m not going to take it back. CoD started with a bowl of blue corn tortilla chips and they piled on (and I mean “pile” in a very literal sense) the fixings. To start with, there were black beans, salsa, and guacamole, all of which were fresh and delicious. Then there was vegan sour cream. Some vegan sour creams are too thick or too grainy or too sour tasting. This was perfect. But the best part of this dish is the un-chicken, AKA seasoned, shredded seitan. A simple addition but a brilliant one, the seitan really makes this dish awesome. It doesn’t take much effort to make good nachos, but CoD makes the extra effort to make really excellent nachos that should not be missed. -Jim
I agree the Seitan took this dish to the next level, but what really got my attention were the blue corn tortilla chips. They had an incredible lightness about them but were still really flavorful and packed a good strong crunch. I thought it was a great example of the skill and care used at Caravan of Dreams. -Ev

Angels’ Pesto Pizza
This dish was a punch in the kisser, but I mean that in a really good way. There were so many flavors and each one held its own wonderfully. First, our friend Seitan was back in all its savory, chewy glory. Then there were tons of veggies that were cooked perfectly and had such pure flavor. I always love it when I’m reminded that veggies have taste. There were so many veggies they were spilling out off of the pizza onto the plate. Hiding underneath was a thick and incredibly potent pesto sauce ( I think that’s what punches hardest). So YUM. And the sourdough pizza dough underneath was thick, soft and deeelicious. This dish was also really good cold the next day. Just sayin’. -Ev

Tempeh Reuben
I know it’s not fair, but I can’t help but compare every vegan Reuben I eat to the awesome one that our friend Isa from the PPK makes (you can find her Tempeh Reuben recipe in her Vegan with a Vengeance cookbook). So how does Caravan’s measure up? It’s good, but not awesome. They have the standard Sauerkraut and tangy dressing, which is always good (I love Sauerkraut). And they’ve added a tomato slice, which is cool. But it seemed that the Tempeh was just Tempeh, which wasn’t too exciting. Isa marinates her tempeh for at least an hour before crafting her sandwich, and I think that’s wise. It occurs to me now that I’m not a huge fan of Tempeh in it’s plain, un-altered state. If you are, you might enjoy this sandwich more than I did. -Jim
Don’t listen to Jim, this was awesome. It was really thick and as you bit through you could taste all of the textures and varying temperatures of the ingredients, all of which were really fresh and tasty. -Ev

The Bottom Line
What strikes me most about Caravan of Dreams is not only the amount of TLC and skill they use in preparing their dishes, but how evident this is in the flavor of the dishes. The restaurant itself is really cute and cozy, with tables out front and wacky décor way in the back. All of these things, not the least of which was the delicious food, made for a great night out. This is a mildly pricier restaurant where appetizers range from $5-$13, and the entrees are $11- $17, but it’s perfectly possible to keep things reasonable. I should also mention that Caravan of Dreams has an extensive Raw/Live foods menu. -Ev
My meal tonight was pretty indicitive of my usual experience at CoD: some of the food is great, some of it is not so great. CoD has a lot going for it. They have a conveniant location, cool décor, polite waitstaff, live music and amazing nachos. But many of their dishes are a little bland for my taste, which wouldn’t be a huge problem if they didn’t cost so much. Overall, CoD is a good restaurant, but I’m not sure it’s good enough to justify the extra bucks you spend when you go there. -Jim