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December 2005/January 2006
Open Your Palate

Restaurant Reviews by Maureen C. Wyse

 

Cliff Preefer of Sacred Chow.
Photo by Kevin Lysaght

Don’t Have a Cow! Try Vegan Tapas at Sacred Chow
Sacred Chow? Wait, wasn’t that the veggie bakery/deli on Hudson Street in Greenwich Village? The answer is yes. However, that neighborhood staple has moved up and over to Sullivan Street and transformed into a vegan tapas restaurant. Sacred Chow has traded their bakery cases for a cozy sit-down eatery, and their old pay-by-the-pound scale for a friendly wait staff, wonderfully prepared meals, and a wine and beer selection. Don’t be alarmed, their delicious, healthy and ethical eats still remain, but now there is much more organic, vegan fare to go around.

Specializing in vegan tapas, Sacred Chow is much more than the usual veggie Asian fare or fake meat house. With over 20 “Heavenly Tapas” ($3.25-3.50), six “Amazing Hero Sandwiches” ($8), “Divine Soups and Salads” ($4.50-8), “Blissful Beverages,” “Bountiful Brunch” and “Devilish Desserts” a-plenty, Sacred Chow will surely stimulate the palate.

One thing that has not changed is Sacred Chow’s ability to mix flavors and ingredients in savory and unique ways. Their Sesame Collards are exactly how these nutritious greens should taste: light, healthy and extremely yummy. Recommendations for their three-for-$9 tapas special include Curried Roasted Broccoli and Sliced Ginger Soba Noodles with Spicy Peanut Sauce.

Their Western and Korean Tofu tapas are also excellent, especially if you enjoy a good baked tofu. Plus, I guarantee you can’t make their daily special Cornmeal Crusted Brussel Sprouts taste so flakey and Parmesan-like. If you’re still craving fake meats, Sacred Chow has several scrumptious seitan dishes to offer. We especially recommend the Orange Barbecued Seitan Sub and the Mama’s Soy Meatballs, both with delicious Follow Your Heart vegan cheese. (While all the food is vegan they do offer organic rennet-free cow cheese.) If you’re lucky to dine while they serve their Grilled Seitan Steak with Peppers and Onions special, don’t pass up on this truly hearty delight.

The restaurant has a quaint atmosphere with painted red brick walls, Middle Eastern colored glass lamps, miniature stools, a huge bay window, and a trickling wall mounted fountain. Their adorable Sacred Chow meditating cow logo can be found painted on the door. Light and happy music is always on call, and each table is dressed with a reusable cloth napkin and small tea light candles. With a daily specials board professing “100 percent Vegan” non-menu items, and an entire shelf dedicated to pro-veg literature, Sacred Chow doesn’t take their vegetarian beliefs lightly.

All meals can be accented with one of the wonderful soups of the day—the Butternut Squash with Butter Beans and the Split Pea captured our taste buds—a fruit smoothie, or an organic or micro brewed beer on tap. And if you’re going to do dessert, please save room for the Velvet Triple Chocolate Brownie Sacred Sundae. We did it by combining two desserts in one, making the most heavenly dessert ever. If you’re not into chocolate, Sacred Chow also offers cookies, pound cake, toasted coconut rice syrup macaroons, and if the night is right, warm delicious pumpkin bread pudding awaits.

Don’t press the snooze button on Sacred Chow’s weekend brunch. Alone, their Breakfast Sandwich with traditional scrambled tofu, soy buttermilk biscuit and vegan cheese, has the power to get me out of bed. Add a side of crunchy tempeh strips and home fries, and my breakfast is complete. Sacred Chow is as they say, “incredibly delicious vegan foods to fuel your mind and body.”

Sacred Chow truly explores the different tastes of vegan and we heartily applaud their new incarnation.

Sacred Chow is located at 227 Sullivan Street between W. 3rd and Bleecker Streets; open Monday-Sunday, 11am-11pm. For information contact (212) 337-0863 or www.sacredchow.com. Note: wholesale, catering, special occasion cakes, and house accounts also available. Vegan Shabbat dinner every Friday, starting in December.

Around the World at Radha

Khalil Houri. Photo by Luke Hoverman

Nestled in the Lower East Side’s bustling Ludlow Street, this small bar/restaurant subtly exerts its presence. Walking in, you are effused with mild, South Asian dance music and surrounded by walls covered in mounted glass flower vases, beaded hanging lamps and large windows framed in dark wood. Radha keeps the décor simple, adding a few accents here and there. What draws your eyes no matter where you are sitting, however, is the beautiful Radha, herself. When sitting below the symbol of prosperity and success, not to mention Krishna’s beloved, you can’t help but be thankful for this veg restaurant.

Something to appreciate as soon as you open the menu is that the majority of the food is vegan and clearly marked so. The different flavors of the world are fairly represented and tantalizingly described. Plus the prices are fairly moderate, with appetizers ($5-9), entrees ($10-13), salads ($7-8) and desserts ($5-6). We suggest leaning towards the Indian selections under the appetizers. We also recommend their subtle East Indian Dahl Soup, but be sure to ask what the soup of the day is—we’ve yet to be disappointed. The Pakoras are also something to write home about. The breading is dark and the perfectly spiced cauliflower lingers in your mouth all the way to the main course. The thicker than usual Savory Samosas were quite delicious, and served with the best Tamarind Date Chutney we’ve ever tasted—we nearly asked for a gallon to take home.

For entrees, go wild and try something different like the mildly spiced, sweet Bengali Thai Curry or the Asian Temptation with its flavorful pineapple and smoky tempeh. The Barbecued Tofu answers the call of any reluctant meat lover and the Bowl of Plenty makes way for the macrobiotic enthusiast. One dish that reigned was the Soychicken Tortilla, a wrap filled with one of the best secret sauces, veggies and homemade soy chicken, we fake meat eaters have ever had—served with tasty hand cut fries. With dishes like the Mediterranean Delight—spaghetti and “kofta” balls—Radha mixes east and west creating a world of goodness. They also have an excellent brunch.

Although the dessert selections look fairly bleak for vegans, the Chocolate Raspberry Cake with a cup of coffee was a delightful way to end the evening. The cake itself has the perfect density, is centered with a raspberry filling and topped with a sweet chocolate icing. Radha has achieved success in bringing a variety of delicious vegetarian eats to the Lower East Side. Make it East and try something from a different world.

Radha is located at 173 Ludlow Street between Houston and Stanton Streets; open for dinner Tuesday-Wednesday and Sunday, 5pm-midnight; Friday and Saturday, 5pm-1am; and serves Sunday brunch, 11am-3pm. Closed Mondays. For information contact (212) 473-3347 or www.radharestaurant.com.

 


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