We Need Vegetarian Cuisine!
Must rant! Boston only has a couple of Asian vegetarian restaurants. Compared to other cities we seriously have a void to fulfill. How about a gourmet vegan restaurant like Blossom in NYC? Or a vegetarian bbq place like Red Bamboo in NYC? With all of the students and academic types there must be a market for another vegetarian restaurant besides buddhas, grasshopper, and tj's takeout!
I sympathize with the plight of vegetarians trying to dine out just about anywhere. But NYC has 8M people to Boston's 600K, so you may need to reset your expectations about what the area will support in terms of niche restaurants.
Some other ideas to consider, not East Asian though: Oleana (fine dining, lots of excellent veg options), Addis Red Sea (Ethiopian, fantastic, and friendly even to vegans), Tamarind Bay (a creative but not fusion-y Indian restaurant), and if you really want to splurge, the degustation (tasting menu) of winter vegetables at L'Espalier, one of the priciest and most formal restaurants in town.
Xinh Xinh is my favorite Vietnamese restaurant in Chinatown; it has a few decent veggie options on its menu. I have not yet tried Pasteur, the new place right next door to it (formerly known as Happy Buddha, and not to be confused with the nearby Pho Pasteur). It has preserved its predecessor's veggie menu and added hotpots and other meat dishes.
Ba Le Bakery in Dorchester does excellent mock-meat bánh mì on weekends.
The demand here is really not enough to provide the necessary margin to cover inflated fixed costs. It's really quite simple. Boston's vegetarian restaurants have been a victim of the decade-long real estate boom. NYC, by contrast, has such a massive concentration of population that demand is naturally higher there, even with similar cost profiles.
I would also say that some of the earlier versions of vegetarian restaurants (Country Life, downtown, for example) played to the reputation of vegetarian being underseasoned and penitential food. Boston's not *that* puritan. But the reputation lingers.
Grasshopper is awful. I would never send a vegetarian friend there. I really would love some options myself, but right now, homes are the option.
Gujarati food at Namaskar.
I'd also look into Italian restaurants. Carmen used to have a nice selection of vegetarian antipasti, but I haven't been in a while.
No city on the Earth is perfect chow-wise, but since chowhounds are willing to travel the extra distance for better chow as long as resources and time allow, it's not a big problem.
Masao's on Moody st. Waltham is a Class A vegetarian restaurant. It's a limited menu but he does have a few dinners to choose from or you can pick from the six or so offerings from the steam trays, and there are desserts. Everything is very tasty and I believe it is a macrobiotic place. No cheap but not over the top expensive either. The vibe is very peaceful but it can get crowded on weekends. Open till 7:30 pm. A must on every vegetarians list.
I feel your pain! South of the City, Quincy has much to offer. Standouts include Punjab Cafe, and Little Q.
My husband and I are vegetarian and had similar feelings when we moved here. A gourmet option in Jamaica Plain is the vegetarian tasting menu at Ten Tables. I don't think it is on the menu but it is offered every night of the week except one night (wed.? - Call ahead and ask). It is a four course prix fixe for $25 and is perfect for special occasions.
Centre St Cafe in JP also has some good veggie options. For a destination lunch place - Common Ground Cafe in Dorchester has wonderful smoothies and makes their own spelt bread, muffins and other items. It is run by some back-to-the Earth kind of cult. I don't get involved in their philosophy. Just eat their food!
For the best Italian that always has some veggie options - try Sweet Basil in Needham. The pesto they give you for free with your bread alone is worth the trip to the burbs.