If ever you have a vegetarian friend visiting New York City, or you are one yourself, one place you mustn’t go without visiting is Red Bamboo. This vegetarian restaurant, just off Washington Square, focuses on Southern soul food – not a food that I am that familiar with, but one that is clearly very meat-heavy. The first time I came here I was extremely confused looking at the menu – the names of the dishes do not betray the fact that all the ‘meats’ are actually soy protein of one form or another made to look, and taste, like meat. In fact, the disguise is so good that at first it is somewhat difficult to believe that you do not, in fact, have the real thing. I took a friend who had to keep asking if I was sure the place was vegetarian, and could not have been more overjoyed by my reply. The truth is, though, that this is not just somewhere for vegetarians to go – the food is good not just by way of compromise, and it is really interesting to see what they come up with as substitutes for some of the animals.
I am a little ashamed to say that whenever I am there I always have the same thing – Creole Soul Chicken. Crispy outside, moist worryingly-chicken like on the inside. But the real thing that makes my mouth water even just thinking about it now is the creole sauce. This is probably some American staple that I am unduly excited by, but this sauce, sweet and rich, really is so good.
Henry had the BBQ Quarter Chicken with Fries. It was everything it promised to be – just like the real thing.
Here is Henry, very excited about his ‘chicken’.
It is funny how something that, in its original form, may be a bit unsophisticated, seems utterly not so when you would never normally be able to eat it. You get classic comfort food, big portions, a nice setting – you don’t need to be a vegetarian to appreciate it.
Red Bamboo, 140 W. 4th Street (near 6th Ave).