Red Bamboo or VP2?
I have never been to either.
I am not huge on mock meats--prefer large plates of a variety of fresh, well prepared veggies, but I am going with two meat eaters who need to be convinced of the glories of vegetarian dining.
I'm pretty sure they share a kitchen... or at least suppliers. I've been to both a number of times I always felt like VP2 is more junk-foody and Red Bamboo seems more /sophisticated/.
For meat eaters, the chicken fingers in VP2 are indistinguishable (i can't tell !). I recall getting a dish with seaweed at one of them and it was terrible.
I'd say, go to which ever one has room!
Both restaurants are owned by the Wong Family, as told by their websites, and have similar offerings. Of the two, Red Bamboo is probably the better choice.
Granted, it's a deep fried mock meat extravaganza either way, but I would bring omnis to Red Bamboo for their first exposure if I had to choose between there and VP2.
Another good choice is House of Vegetarian on Mott Street (perhaps as a follow-up for round two). They've been at this game the longest and have that emphasis on the veggie preference you mentioned (and very good hot & sour soup).
House of Vegetarian
68 Mott St, New York, NY 10013
Red Bamboo has more stick to your ribs kind of food: sandwiches and salads, comfort food and is a bit cheaper. VP2 is more Asian oriented dishes if you ask me.
But yes they share the same kitchen and they have the same awesome french fries. I love their buffalo chicken appetizer at Red Bamboo.
Thanks everyone. We went to Red Bamboo. The soul chicken app is so good. I haven't tasted "meat" like that in ages. And the good news is that I was able to get a lovely veg dish for my main (the grilled vegetable platter). It was wonderful-- hearty and healthy.
The butterpecan ice cream was really good.
Vegan cheescake is better at Franchia--not quite as heavy.
The atmosphere was nice (good music) and the meal was pretty cheap. I'll be back.