Image for conde.kedar

rating star

Update: Lan Cafe isn't quite what it used to be. For one thing, the portion sizes of each dish are tiny and the prices aren't that great; to make matters worse, Lan Cafe is also cash-only.

None of the dishes really stand out, either. They're all mostly basic stir-frys and not particularly innovative or unusual.

I had the seitan lemongrass curry which was decent but not worth the $10 or so that I paid for it.

I also was not impressed with their mock duck/seitan baguette sandwiches, which had low-grade bread and too processed a sauce/mayo.

All told, I would skip Lan Cafe. It's decent if you're desperate, but there are many superior restaurants nearby, such as Organic Grill, Pukk, and Vegetarian Dim Sum House (which is a bit of a hike, but not too far away in Chinatown).

Original review (December 2008): Lan Cafe offers friendly service and excellent prices for unusual, tasty Vietnamese dishes. Their coconut-potato soup was simple and good; I loved their tofu curry and green papaya salad. The tastes were spicy, but subtle, and completely different from Thai or Chinese cooking styles. I really liked that this place is all vegetarian as Vietnamese food can be intimidating if you're vegan and not familiar with the ingredients. If you're looking for a delicious change of pace in a great environment, I strongly recommend Lan Cafe.

Image for Dave Rolsky

rating star

I was here recently with my wife. We shared summer rolls, tofu with mixed vegetables, and the seitan with basil and water spinach.

The summer rolls were great. They had some interesting filling, including thick rice noodles, potato, and toasted rice powder. The sauce they come with is a nice peanut sauce, although we also added some soy and hot sauce to the mix. Very tasty and fresh, with lots of mint.

The tofu with mixed vegetables was not too exciting. The sauce was a little drab, basically soy with some hint of peanut. It wasn't bad, just dull.

However, the seitan with basil and water spinach (#37) was amazing. I highly recommend this dish. I've never had water spinach prepared like this, but it was a great combo. The sauce was a spicy soy-based sauce, and I think it also had lemon grass in it. Combined with basil and onions it was amazingly delicious. I also really liked the seitan they used, which was very tender, quite different from typical seitan. The whole dish had a very fresh, lively taste.

One thing that annoyed both of us was the ridiculously small amount of rice they served. They gave us two tiny bowls, and each bowl was barely half-full. Seriously, it was maybe a quarter cup of rice! That's ridiculous when you order a stir-fry dish at a Vietnamese place. The rice was good (jasmine), though.

I'd definitely go back, because based on the seitan dish, I'm sure they have some other gems to order.

rating star

Eaten here a couple of times and thought it was decent. Tonight, got the Seitan Lemongrass Curry and it blew me away! It came out sizzling in a pan. I added some red pepper paste to it and went on a trip to flavor land. I’ll let you know when I return.

Image for Cass Danger

rating star

Great food for a great price. You can get a tasty meal (soup, noodles, stirfry) for about $7/8 any time of day. It's pretty much lunch prices all day long. I especially like their pho soup and lemongrass curry. The service isn't anything to brag about and can be a bit slow but considering the taste and price, it's well worth it.

rating star

Tasty Vietnamese food. I tried the summer rolls and the lemongrass seitan. Great flavor. Cute little place. Friendly staff. I wish i were in New York longer to try more of their food.

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