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Aug 9, 2007 07:56 PM

My Thai Vegetarian Cafe and Bubble Tea Bistro

Went there for lunch yesterday with a vegetarian friend. This is the place that took over the Buddha's Delight II space on Harvard Ave in Brookline. I was really disappointed. I actually used to like Buddha's Delight, where I had a few regular dishes I was quite fond of and clearly am going to miss and where I could go with vegetarian friends and have them completely comfortable with the menu.

To begin with, the staff was smilingly pleasant but seemed pretty confused - language barrier and new restaurant blues maybe. Had trouble understanding what we were ordering, what should go with it and what we were trying to say about things like seating (restaurant was totally empty and since I'm on crutches I'd asked if we could have a table near a wall so I could prop them there, handy for me but out of the way). OTOH probably why we were pleasantly not hassled to order more, including even something to drink, and the check came while we were only part way through our main dishes, so not pushing the supposedly wonderful desserts either.

We ordered from the lunch special menu, which should have been simple enough and almost a matter of rote. It seemed to come as a shock to the waitress that that came with soup and an appetizer. Never did get the tea that's supposed to come with it. The soup was Tom Yum, and not bad if full of unusual ingredients like celery, with an unusually thick broth for the Thai hot and sour albeit not Chinese hot and sour thick, and not particularly spicy. Did have a couple or recognizable bits of Thai basil and kaffir lime leaves though.

I ordered one of my Thai restaurant favorites - Pad Kee Mao, with fake beef. Two big problems - the sauce was brownish, on the sweet side, and not even mildly spicy (the very mild Tom Yum was liquid fire by comparison) even though I had actually asked to have it extra spicy. I suspect they gave me pad see yew without the gai lan, but given the earlier language issues I just couldn't deal with trying to sort it out and suspected from the tom yum I wasn't going to get anything I'd be happy with as recognizably spicy anyway. Should have at least been Thai basil in it if they were going to pretend it was pad kee mao though. Other problem was that if there was any fake beef in there then I couldn't find it, unless it was indistinguishable from the brown colored (because of the sauce) rice noodles, which was possible. There were some very tiny brown bits of unidentifiable origin that I assumed were bits that broke off from the rice noodles or even chopped garlic but might have been supposed to be fake beef, but nothing like the nicely chewy meat textured pieces of seitan I remember from Buddha's Delight II. There was plenty of noodles, so I wasn't left hungry because of no meat, but it was all one taste and texture because it was all rice noodles. Not even the nice variety of veggies most places have with it.

My friend got the pad thai, which did have recognizable pieces of fake shrimp and chicken and while it wasn't remotely his favorite version and the shrimp were rubbery (something I'd warned him about seeing on reviews of the place) he said it was pretty good.

Can't see going back, even with a vegetarian friend. Pity the two asian veggie places in my neighborhood (I'm not at all a fan of Grasshopper either) are such downers. Yeah, I know places like Duk Boa have vegetarian options, but I'm clearly really going to miss Buddha's Delight more than I would have expected.

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  1. I ate there soon after they opened and I was really sad that I hadn't just gone across the street to Dok Bua. I'm not a fan of fake meat, so vegetarian restaurants rarely appeal to me, but I have to say, the tofu fingers (or whatever they were called) at Buddha's Delight were seriously tasty. I will definitely miss those.

    1. They just opened up another branch of My Thai in Chinatown very recently. It's great to finally see a vegan place in Boston, but wish this were better.

      Tried them for lunch not long ago. Got pad see ew with "beef," a couple of fried dumplings, and soup of the day. The soup was the best part, essentially a tom yum goong with tofu pieces instead of shrimp -- flavorful and respectably spicy. The tiny little soup spoon they provided wasn't a good idea -- used the larger one at the place setting. The pad see ew had decent noodles, onions, and Chinese broccoli pieces but really tough and chewy fake beef -- unfortunately tough and chewy the way cheap and lousy beef chunks can be. The dumplings were tough and chewy as well, with a filling that was a surprisingly good analog to the "mystery meat" one usually finds in them, which isn't really a compliment. Perhaps the dumplings sat under the lights too long waiting to be picked up.

      Which brings us to the worst part of the experience -- service was flat out terrible, some of the worst I've encountered locally, and patrons around me rightly seemed impatient and irritated. In Chinatown, one pretty much expects detached and distant service. But this went a lot farther into incompetence, cluelessness, and a "who cares" attitude. After ordering, no one came by to fill a water glass for a really long time. Had to ask twice (the second time pointedly) for tea that came with the meal, and no refill was ever offered (I was very eventually given a cup of tea, while everyone else at the restaurant was given a pot of it). Everything was horribly slow to come out of the kitchen, soup included (a couple sitting near me never got theirs and complained -- it was brought to them *after* they had finished their entrees), and whether this was the kitchen's fault or the server's fault is unclear. One of the servers in particular seemed really out of it and acted as if she just couldn't be bothered. After waiting several minutes for someone to bring the check, I decided to get up and start putting my coat on, which finally brought someone over with it. The servers at the old Buddha's Delight weren't exactly paragons of service, but they were never remotely this bad. For anyone with anything resembling a time constraint, this is *not* the place to go.

      The restaurant looks exactly as it did when it was Buddha's Delight -- no remodeling of any kind appears to have taken place. Not that that's a bad thing. At least it was clean and reasonably pleasant, including the bathrooms.

      1. I was there this past weekend. Firstly, it was sorely understaffed. It seemed as though there was no waitstaff AT ALL. Server responsibilities were shared by a bus boy, the takeout guy in the front, and a kitchen staffer. And we waited at least 25-30 minutes while several tables were open. Who knows what kind of a night they were having before I arrived, so I'm not going to say anything more about it.

        Decor was dismal. Helped only by lots of plants near the windows.

        Had a soup-- I wish I could remember the name. Lots of veggie and spice but not terribly flavorful.

        Really enjoyed the green papaya salad.

        Had a red curry dish. Loads of vegetables but otherwise ordinary.

        Finished with a taro bubble tea and a mango one. Both delicious.

        So I leave somewhat melancholy about My Thai. Though not a vegetarian, I feel Boston is desperate for straight veg/vegan dining options. The people were sincere but the restaurant is run horribly! The dishes were full of veggies but seemingly uninspired. The decor was sad, but does it really matter if the food is fresh and tastes good? I guess not...

        I will patiently give them a second chance.