Family Recipe

Manhattan, New York City

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After you've written hundreds of reviews, it's rare that a place surprises you with innovative creations and unusual recipes.

Family Recipe surprised me and delighted me. It's an elegant Japanese restaurant that's cozy and friendly and, as the name implies, the food here is not your usual industrial dreck that's copied from one Japanese sushi/hibachi joint to the next.

All vegan items on the menu are labeled, and there are a couple other dishes that can be made vegan if you ask (make sure to consult with your waiter). There aren't a ton of vegan choices, but there are enough to warrant at least a couple visits to Family Recipe, and apparently the chef/owner is always redoing the menus.

I started off with the "sesame, burdock root and carrot" multigrain rice bowl ($14). This dish comes in a small, cute metal pot with a handle and consists of pearl rice, shreds of burdock and carrot, a savory soy-based sauce, shreds of nori on top, and a semi-sweet carrot sauce on the side (which you mix into the bowl).

It was delicious. It was simple and provided an elegant mix of savory with hints of sweetness. While the dish was wonderful---exactly the type of home-cooked food you rarely ever find in restaurants---the portion size was awfully small for the price.

For dessert I got their vegan option of the night, 7 finger-sized cones alternating between ancho chili sorbet and green tea soy ice cream ($8.50, all made in-house). This was again a cute, elegant little dessert and brought some fun into my life as you have to eat the 7 little things fast before they melt. The green tea ice cream was excellent (subtle, not too sweet, with lightly brewed tea in the base), and the ancho chili also was intriguing as it had a hint of spice, but a nice citrus-sweet ting to it as well.

The service was friendly and helpful.

Family Recipe is a great place that provides unusual, off-the-beaten-path vegan options. It also has vegan brunch items on the weekend (rice waffles with tofu scramble and more). That said, the portion sizes are small for the price you pay; while I loved the food here, I left still feeling a tad hungry, despite having shelled out $30 for a meal (with tax and tip).

All that said, Family Recipe surprised me and made me remember why I love reviewing restaurants: every once in a rare while, you find something unique and memorable.

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