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Zen Palate in Princeton

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Heatherb Jul 7, 2008 09:54 AM

I'm largely carnivorous, so it's not surprising I'm not a big fan of this place. How does this stand among other vegetarian restaurants, and what should I order when I go there with my vegetarian best friend. The stuff I've ordered so far has been largely.... meh. Suggestions appreciated...

  1. r
    RGR Jul 7, 2008 11:22 AM

    We have not been to Zen Palate in Princeton, but we have eaten at the flagship location on 9th Av., in NYC. One word describes the food we had: Horrible!

    Edited to add: We have vegetarian family members, and when we carnivores dine out with them, we never go to vegetarian restaurants. Instead, we select places where the menu accommodates all of us. For example, Italian restaurants usually work very well.

    4 Replies
    1. re: RGR
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      Heatherb Jul 7, 2008 12:59 PM

      So it's not just me.... Ok. Thanks, RGR! Yeah, we usually go to regular restaurants, but she'll come with me to a steakhouse, so I always figure it's only fair if I hit the vegetarian restaurant with her sometimes... It's just that it's not that good - out of four trips, I've only found one thing that I actually enjoyed, and that only mildly.

      1. re: Heatherb
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        fpatrick Jul 7, 2008 02:31 PM

        I wouldn't go so far as to say "horrible", but (based on when I visited the NYC location), Zen Palate's approach of creating soy protein versions of meat by its very nature, is doomed to failure on the palate of a carnivore, and runs the risk of disappointing vegetarians who have gotten used to, if not developed a distaste for ersatz "meat". Why go with fake meat that no one likes when there are so many real ethnic eateries that offer up great vegetable dishes for what they are?

        1. re: fpatrick
          r
          RGR Jul 7, 2008 03:11 PM

          Our experience at Zen Palate dates back many years. I don't recall knowingly ordering anything with fake meat though it's entirely possible some may have been incorporated. Z.P. was fairly new at the time and was receiving raves, so I was completely appalled that the food was so totally blech!

          I agree with you that a vegetarian restaurant should be able to produce a menu which does not include ersatz anything. Even as a carnivore, I occasionally cook all-vegetarian meals that are very tasty, and I use only "real" ingredients.

          1. re: fpatrick
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            cranrob Jul 7, 2008 03:36 PM

            I have to disagree on the soy-protein-is-doomed-for-a-carnivore thing. I'm a major carnivore, and I've had some amazing meals made from various types of TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein), most recently at a Vegetarian Restaurant in Hong Kong that is hugely popular. (Pictures attached - The first is a dish of roast "meats", and the second is a Taro and Bean Curd pinwheel that was just amazing). I've also had really good TVP dishes at a place in Berkeley, California called Long Life Veggie House, but it's been awhile.

             
             
      2. r
        rutgers2 Jul 7, 2008 02:23 PM

        Hi Heatherb, I am vegan and I really, really wanted to like their 9th Avenue location but it is expensive and, well, you said it (meh). I would definitely follow everyone's advice below. It sounds like you won't be in the Red Bank area otherwise I would suggest Eurasian Eatery which has plenty on the menu for everyone (carnivores, vegetarians and all in between).

        1. BeeZee Jul 8, 2008 07:43 AM

          I've eaten there twice, it's fair. I generally don't order dishes with "fake meat" since I really prefer the veggies and the proportions are skewed towards the "fake meat" to make it more like what a meat eater would expect. I do remember enjoying some veggie dumplings as an appetizer, and the soups are pretty good if you add a little seasoning (they have bottles of some kind of sauce, maybe teriyaki on the table?).

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