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Jun 1, 2007 11:59 AM

Best veg/vegan awards

Inspired by one of my fave food blogs, I've decided to give props to what I consider some of the best veg/vegan foods and restaurants in the city. This is my list (at least what comes to mind now). Please add your nominations, and your own categories.

Best brunch
1. Bright Food Shop (vegan huevos rancheros)
2. Sacred Chow
Hon. mentions: Café Mogador, Old Devil Moon, Organic Grill

Best sandwich
1. Nicky's veggie banh mi
2. Taim's sabich
Hon. mentions: veggie burger at Stand (I included veg burgers here because I haven't found enough standouts for a separate category), sNice's "meatball" sub, Tiny's po'boy or "veggiest of them all"

Best side dish(es)
1. Westville market sides

Best healthy meal
1. Angelica's dragon bowls
2. Salads at Spring Street Natural

Best unhealthy meal
1. Soul chicken at Red Bamboo (I know, it's a given)
2. Chili dawg at Kate's Joint
Hon. mentions: 'shroom burger at Shake Shack

Best soy as soy
1. Ganmo patties at Soy
2. Fresh tofu at that cart in Chinatown
Hon. mentions: Kyotofu

Best soy as meat/dairy
1. Vegetarian Paradise/Red Bamboo
2. Vegetarian Dim Sum House

Best veg place to take your non-veg friends
1. Gobo
2. Pukk
Hon. mentions: Kate's Joint, Life Café, Saravanaas

Best cheap meal
1. Congee Village
2. Roll and Dough
Hon. mentions: Caracas Arepa Bar, Ukrainian National Home

Best splurge
1. Counter
2. Hangawi
Hon. mentions: Candle 79

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  1. best sandwich: Cajun seiten at Candle Cafe

    2 Replies
    1. re: alc

      Best splurge is Counter? Really? Wow, you're so wrong. And I don't think this is a case of just having a different opinion. I mean, you're just wrong. It's as if you're trying to pass off an old boot covered in wino vomit for foie gras. I've tried Counter on and off over the last few years (being someone who's not a huge meat eater) and it's never totally disappoint. Maybe that makes me an idiot for going back, but I prefer to think of myself as an optimist. Try the gnocchi! Little uncooked balls of raw potato covered in a sauce that's been cut with water. Or how about the pomme frites - big steak fries with several sub-par dipping sauces, each less flavorful than the last. Or ask the bartender to make you a cocktail - no matter what you order they'll screw it up. Martinis drowning in vermouth, champagne cocktails with no champagne, and have you seen how they make their sangria? It's all in a big plastic jug and they drop the fruit in from another container as if it's an olive or lime wedge. If you have any respect for yourself, you'll avoid this horrible, horrible place. Also, they're minus a chef. Apparently the kitchen is coasting right now since their chef is absent and they're too cheap to hire a new one. Rather than make me cut them slack, that makes me angry. They should be ashamed of themselves.

      Also, not to be too contrary (I love Hangawi and Nicky's veggie banh mi as well) but Angelica's isn't a restaurant. It's a steam table cafeteria with table service. Even including it in this list is bizarre and insulting to the actual restaurants you've put on your list.

      1. re: LES_Crawler

        Hey, to each his/her own.

        I haven't been to Counter in more than a year - it's too expensive for me to hit often - so maybe my memory's playing tricks or the food has declined.

        Re: Angelica - I like the dragon bowls precisely because they're so simple. You'll notice I didn't laud any of the more complex dishes.

    2. Best Japanese Noodle: Sobaya
      Best Indian: Devi
      Best Splurge (to add): Gramercy Tavern

      3 Replies
      1. re: kobetobiko

        Not to nitpick, but I once brought an Indian vegetarian friend to sobaya for noodles and found out that he couldn't eat most of the things on the menu. The dipping sauce is made with bonito flakes (fish) and dipping soba in regular soy sauce just didn't taste too great.

        1. re: xigua

          You are correct. The diipping sauce, miso soup, and a lot of the items do have bonita flakes, but there are a few items that are specified vegan, such as the soba salad. There are also other dishes like tempura / grilled vegetables, tofu, etc. They are flavorful on their owns and so I usually just ask for soy sauce instead of the dipping sauce for a hint of additional flavoring.

          1. re: kobetobiko

            Gotcha! Thanks for the additional disclosure. Now I know what to order next time there's another vegetarian in the house =)

      2. Not so much nominating (I agree with most of piccola's picks) as asking where to get a dish I can no longer find. Summer Palace on 3rd and 17th, an otherwise undistinguished Chinese place, used to serve vegetarian meat ball casserole, the veg version of lion's head. It had a butter-like flavor and a springy texture and was just really, really good. Anyone had something similar?

        1. Best overall vegetarian dinner and memorable dining experience...Vatans

          8 Replies
          1. re: jinet12

            My picks (as a new vegan--as of Jan 1st--I conducted a full survey):

            Best not necessarily healthy, with lots of use of soy, but very tasty:
            Vegetarian's Paradise (esp. the banana split dessert)

            Best burger: Kate's

            Best Korean: Any of the veggie options at Mandoo (or the tteok bokki takeout at Hanh Ah Reum.) Haven't tried Hangawi yet.

            Best gourmet surroundings (and best gourmet dessert, although the entrees aren't quite as noteworthy): Blossom (esp. with a glass of Muscat wine.)

            Best raw: Pure Food and Wine (esp. the chocolate ganache and raw lasagne)

            Best sandwich: any of the good Banh Mi joints, made with the veggie options. (Also veggie Banh Uoot. Really seriously yummy.)

            Okay, so there are a lot of dessert recommendations here. So sue me...I like my sweets!

            Thumbs DOWN to:

            Angelicas, Gobo and Candle (all really bland). I just DON'T see other people see in them. Is it a case of the Emperor's new clothes??? Hmmmm.

            1. re: gaijingirl

              I have to respectfully disagree. I LOVE candle 79 and the candle cafe. I just went to the candle cafe and had the chipotle tofu. so delicious. and the guacamole timbale at 79 is amazing. so is their seitan. And the marinated tofu sandwich at Angelica's is excellent.

              I'm also a big fan of hangawi. Pure food & wine has some good things, but my favorites are the desserts.

              I was disappointed by blossom, but their dessert was good. a surprising tofu cheesecake.

              Counter.. decent, but not no. 1 splurge. no way. vegetarian fare in the city is way better than that.

              1. re: muffintop

                Again, it's been a while for Counter. What's more, I haven't tried many of the upscale veg/vegan places because I'm a) cheap and b) the only vegetarian in my group of friends - so I can't compare to, say, Pure Food or Blossom.

              2. re: gaijingirl

                I miss VP 3 on Mott so much! And they delivered. We have kosher Buddha bodai on Mott. Where is VP? In the W. Village? Assume no affiliation w/VP3??? VP 1 is long gone too.

                1. re: financialdistrictresident

                  I have to say that Buddha Bodai is my favorite Chinese vegetarian restaurant in the U.S. (and pretty close to some of the places in Toronto). The durian pastry and chai siu sou (faux roast pork pastry) are great.

                  As for Vegetarian Paradise in the West Village, the one I know is VP2 which is on West 4th Street. Not sure if it's still around though.

                  1. re: Nightspect

                    VP2 is still around - I go almost once a week.

                2. re: gaijingirl

                  I dragged my husband (a non-vegan) to Angelica. We tried 5 different dishes. Every dish was bland and frankly.. weird. There was nothing for a non-vegan to eat according to my husband.

                  Compare that to Candle cafe 3rd@75th - even my husband likes it there! lol .. The best dish is the ginger stir fry.

                  1. re: gaijingirl

                    Gaijingirl, i'm with you. Angelicas, Organic Grill, Gobo, Candle, even Broadway East -- many of them are bland. I prefer Asian-style vegetarian which has stronger flavors and spices.

                3. best burgers (might be surprising), but anytime and houstons.

                  i second kate's and love all tiny sandwiches.