4.1 / 8 votes

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Strictly Vegetarian/Vegan Indian (Gujarati) Food

Vegetarian Indian dinner set in a bi-level dining room, which resembles an Indian village.

The prix fixe meal comes with three courses: appetizer, entree, and dessert. It is all you can eat lacto-Vegetarian/Vegan. You simply point and ask for whichever items you want more of.

Make sure to make reservations in advance. They are absolutely necessary for weekends and Friday nights.

Added by Julie on Jul 27 04 (last updated Nov 30 09)

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Vatan isn't your standard Indian restaurant, which is the most impressive thing about it. For one thing, it has a prix-fixe $30 menu; second it is unusually decorated (the ground floor features bamboo huts where you take off your shoes and sit on the floor, whereas the top floor has standard seating). I think the decorations were borderline tacky and gaudy (extremely bright colors and bamboo poles made the place look almost like a 1970s Polynesian bar), but at least they're trying to be different.

I called ahead and confirmed that they have vegan food; indeed, most of the dishes they serve throughout the night are vegan, with a few exceptions.

The first course of the meal is a thali full of a variety of snack foods and fried things (samosas, batter-fried vegetables, etc.). All of them were tasty enough, but nothing stood out in my mind. The second course featured three or four curries (think potatoes, tomatoes, cauliflower, etc.), lentil dishes, rice and whatnot. Again, none of the food stood out in any way from Indian food you'd find elsewhere, but it was respectable.

The food would have been much better if they'd:

a) offered brown rice, instead of just white rice
b) offered wholewheat roti, instead of fried, oily white flour puri
c) made some dishes with less common vegetables/legumes, such as fava beans, okra, kohlrabi, or maybe even some American/Chinese vegetables such as broccoli, bok choy, pea tips, etc.

d) re-created some Indian vegetarian dishes with modern vegan ingredients such as tofu (or "soya paneer" as Indians call it), dehydrated Nutrela soy chunks, seitan, tempeh, etc.

For dessert, they gave us some mango pulp and also made a nice cup of black tea (normally they give milk tea and some dairy ice cream). I appreciated both, but it's really easy these days to get vegan ice cream (Trader Joe's has a killer mango-vanilla soy ice cream that my Indian family loves), and to offer soy milk or rice/almond milk for hot beverages.

It seemed like a gross oversight on the part of the kitchen here to not offer such basic vegan substitutes, especially in an all-vegetarian restaurant. The management here would do well to not only offer these products (and maybe soy yogurt as well), but to also learn a bit about how dairy products are made in the US, which is, on balance, with cruelty to the animals and poor working conditions for the oft-illegal labor.

While the food is unlimited here (and you can go back to earlier parts of the meal at any time and order more of a particular dish), the reality is that you can't eat much more than what they initially serve you.

Given that the quantity of the food ends up being pretty standard, you're really paying for variety.

At the same time, though, the food isn't organic, isn't innovative, and doesn't offer cool vegan substitutes. As such, I don't think it's a good value at $30.

I applaud Vatan for being one-of-a-kind, but I probably won't be coming back here unless they make those changes I recommended above.


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This is a great place to get Indian food and the traditional atmosphere!
Being of same origin, I would Highly recommend this place!

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Neighborhood

Murray Hill

Directions

Between 28th and 29th St

Non-Smoking

Accepts Reservations

Wheelchair Accessible

Prices

$$$ - expensive

Payment

  • American Express MasterCard Visa

Cuisines

  • Indian (Northern)

Features

  • Large Group-Friendly
  • Private Rooms
  • Quiet
  • Romantic

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Hours

closed
5:30pm - 10pm
5:30pm - 10:30pm
5:30pm - 10pm

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