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Mar 11, 2007 04:46 PM

Veggie Castle is da bomb

Today we made our second trip to Veggie Castle II (in South Richmond Hill, Queens), and it rocks. It's a veggie Caribbean place at Liberty Ave and 132nd St. (right of the Van Wyck); apparently, the original Veggie Castle is housed in what used to be a White Castle burger place in Flatbush. There are quite a few vegetarian Caribbean restaurants in Brooklyn, but our "Veg Out" book claims that Veggie Castle is the best, and we live in Queens, so Veggie Castle II was (somewhat) accessible.

At any rate, the food is great, and the West Indian guys who run it are so laid back and nice. It's take out only (I think they have exactly one stool in the back), so be prepared to eat in the car (we had no trouble finding parking out front) or take home.

There are several meal combinations to choose from, which include a specified number of "proteins" and "sides". I get the feeling that these offerings rotate on a daily basis, so in our two trips we may not have seen all there is. The highlights of the "proteins" were the "ox tail" stew (don't know what meat substitute it was, but it was so good- tasted like perfectly grilled smoky meat), "chicken" drumsticks (in a very tangy sweet and sour sauce), and jerk tofu. Everything was well-spiced and tasty. There was also barbecued "salmon," some kind of meatloaf, and jerk shrimp, but we have yet to try those. The highlights of the sides include a brick of appropriately jiggly macaroni and cheese, rice and black-eyed peas (they have several rice and bean dishes, and lo-mein, and some other stuff). In addition to the proteins and sides, there are several kinds of veggie patties, and a comprehensive juice bar.

For about 5 bucks you get one protein and two sides, for 7 bucks you get two and two- and they lovingly cram as much food as can possibly fit in the pie tin that will hold your 'combo'. My wife and I shared a two and two for lunch the first time we went. This time, I got my own, at it at around 1pm, and have been disgustingly full ever since.

Also, right next door is Sybil's Bakery, which has some great Caribbean (and Asian?) treats - in additon to baked goods, a complete selection of Caribbean juices and sodas, including the traditional sorrel juice, which stands up great to the spicy food, but gets painfully sweet after a while. Actually, now that I think about it, Sybil's also has lunch food (but not specifically veg).

I can't praise this place highly enough.

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  1. Just went there again. Had the jerk "chicken," the drumsticks, mac n cheese, rice with black-eyed peas. The jerk sauce was tasty and spicy, and mixed in so well with the rice and mac n cheese. I've actually been there three times total, so here are my protein recommendations- by far the best I've had are oxtail and jerk chicken. Jerk tofu was sauced well, but the tofu itself just isn't as satisfying as the wheat-gluten or whatever it is that comprises the "chicken" - the chicken is more meaty, but it also absorbs the taste of the sauce, as opposed to the tofu, which sort of just collects some jerk sauce on its surface. The ginger chicken is also good, and the citrus chicken looked great (but I didn't taste it- will have to next time). For sides, the mac n cheese is definitely the way to go; fried rice was unremarkable; black-eyed peas and rice is tasty and mixes well with the sauces of the proteins. They have some kind of chick-pea dish (channa masala, perhaps?) which I will have to try, and a few other things.

    Somebody else go to this place and review it already. It's special.

    3 Replies
    1. re: bennyt

      Obviously, I'm the only one who cares about this place- but I just had to post, for the record, that the curry "chicken" is awesome; one of the tastiest dishes I've had from here. I wasn't as big a fan of the "pudh" though (I was told that it is oxtail, but it is a different preparation from the oxtail they typically serve- it's spicier and has sugarcane in the middle, but it is rather dry). I'm not sure if "pudh" is the right spelling, or if I even heard the name correctly, but I thought I detected an interdental fricative in there.

      1. re: bennyt

        Bennyt, it all sounds great. I don't suppose you tried the one in Flatbush? Much closer to me.

        1. re: prunefeet

          The Veggie Castle on Church Ave is great.

    2. I've been to that sybil's many times, but never the veggie castle; will def. check it out. but in the meantime, try the fish sandwich at sybil's quite good!

      1 Reply
      1. re: bigjeff

        I think the juice bar at Veggie Castle deserves it's own running commentary- I've just been hesitant to try any of them, at 7 or 8 bucks a pop.

        Anyone been to Singh's Roti Shop, across the street from Veggie Castle II, on Liberty Ave.?

      2. Did this place go out of business? I know they lost their Brooklyn location, but they haven't answered their phone at all this weekend (Saturday Jan 5 and Sunday Jan 6)...the message is that the number is not in service at this time, no information available. It's not close enough for me to drive in just to see they are indeed closed. I'm really sorry if they did go out of business, at least you know it wasn't because you failed to praise the place highly enough.

        1 Reply
        1. re: vegandude

          Well, I took out food from there on Thursday, Jan. 3, and there was definitely no indication that they were about to go out of business. The number I have for them is (718) 641-8343. Let me know if you find out anything (it's not close enough for me, either, to make a trip if their continued existence is unsubstantiated).
          ps- I had two dishes I had never tried: some kind of stewed pumpkin (I was informed that this is considered "brain food," and another preparation of "ox tail" that was very heavily spiced with clove, star anise, perhaps cinnamon. The latter was a little bit too sweet for my taste- the standard ox tail is preferable). The curry chicken was awesome, as per usual.

        2. Da Bomb does not even begin to discribe what we found here. First let me say it was recommended to me by a family member because we were doing the Daniel fast at church for the month of January. Well, a whole bunch of us went there to get our Sunday dinner, and the rest is history. I have never eaten food that was vegan, that taste this good. And the shakes, OMG...he made me this speciality shake, I was given the remainder of a customers order, and immediately asked for a large, at almost 9 bucks a pop, you know it had to taste awesome. I am a regular now, even though the fast is over.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Crella

            I've been there about 5 times and everything I tried was awesome. My favorite is their tofu cheese cake.

          2. Been going to Veggie Castle (in Queens) for the last 2-3 yrs. And have been loving it ever since.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Ahsek

              It's worth braving JFK traffic for on a regular basis! I usually order a two-protein meal, which can easily feed me for two days. I miss having a sit-down place like the one that closed in Brooklyn (anyone know what took over that location, if anything?), but it's just as tasty to go.