Zen Palate

Manhattan, New York City

Reviews


rating star

I first ate here almost 9 years ago and it was high on my list when we came back to NYC. The menu clearly spells out that, unless noted, all items are vegan. Those with egg or dairy (probably less than half) are clearly marked.

We had a veggie burger and "South by Southeast", a selection of fried soy croquettes, spring rolls, and mixed beans. The veggie burger was quite different than anything one could buy at a grocery store (unlike many restaurants which are happy to slap a frozen Gardenburger on the grill). It seemed to be a hand-built combination of rice, soy, corn and other veggies with a tasty spread of chick peas. But the star was the SxSE plate. The spring rolls, while small, were delicious, as were the soy cubes which weren't nearly as greasy as deep-fried food can easily be. The beans weren't outstanding, but provided a nice, heavier counterbalance to what would otherwise have been a less-than-filling meal.

Image for Cass Danger

rating star

I gotta say that I was super disappointed to see how many menu options were NOT vegan. Given that it's an all-vegetarian restaurant and the Chinese/Asian food it serves doesn't traditionally call for dairy, it was upsetting to see that at least half the menu items had egg and/or dairy. After talking w/ a waitress, it seems like a lot of the dairy in the dishes comes from the veggie meat they use. I'm glad they're honest about the items not being vegan, but I wish they would opt for a vegan option.

Okay, as for my meal, my partner and I started with the taro spring rolls, which were absolutely delicious but they didn't taste noticeably of taro. Considering that I don't do mushrooms, which were in nearly all of the vegan items, I only had a couple options to chose from. I went with the "Sizzling Medallions", which was orange-flavored wheat gluten with string beans, asparagus, and mushrooms (which I asked to be left out). The wheat gluten had a good flavor, although the texture was a little tough, but I was disappointed that the dish was probably 90% protein and only 10% veggies. I prefer more veggies in my meal so I will likely opt for a more balanced dish next time. I did like, however, that the meal came with mixed grain rice, which was delicious.

My dining partner went with the curried Singapore noodles (which contained non-vegan ham), but given he is not a vegetarian, I was really glad he liked his dish so much. He also really liked my meal.

The service was prompt and polite, although one of the waiters pushed my sizzling, cast-iron plate onto the table too hard and it nearly flew onto my lap. Aside from that, it was good. I also spoke with one of the staff about working conditions, and while he said the owners can be strict, they are generally nice people and treat them well, which I notice is not the case in many NYC restaurants employing immigrants.

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