Treats on Broome Street
Restaurant Reviews by Maureen C. Wyse
Photo by Kevin Lysaght
A Great Place for Veggie Dates: Wild Ginger
A new vegetarian spot on the cusp of Chinatown and Little Italy, Wild
Ginger calls itself a “pan-Asian vegetarian kitchen,” but
Satya calls it a delicious hide-away. With moss patched bamboo walls
and simple pale wood furniture, the restaurant provides for dimly
lit, romantic dining. The atmosphere is light and friendly with relaxing
music like jazz great Chet Baker to set the mood. The entire dining
area has roughly ten tables, but is quite spacious for such a small
restaurant. Wild Ginger’s character, however, is brought to
life in how well each component, from the moss on the walls, to the
tiki hut façade of the kitchen, works together in creating
an appealing and subtle environment. Plus, each table is not only
adorned with tea light candles, but also reusable chopsticks.
Wild Ginger also does something that many other Asian veg restaurants don’t:
they make delightful, beautifully presented food that doesn’t weigh you
down in price or in oil. Meals of well-prepared soy and seitan are $9-12 and
come with a cup of wild brown rice. Noodle and rice dishes are great alternatives
and range from $1-8, starters are $3-5, and soups and salads can be devoured
for $2-6. Be sure to check out their lunch specials ($7-8; noon-4pm) which
come with portions of the dinner entrees, miso soup, steamed pumpkin, and either
brown rice/spring roll or coconut rice/shitake mushroom. They have simple traditional
teas to sip, homemade ice drinks and desserts of pudding, sorbet, ice cream
and cake. Almost the entire menu is vegan and dishes that aren’t are
clearly marked as such and can be made vegan upon request.
For appetizers, Satya recommends the well-presented, mango salsa-topped, scallion
pancake—excellent for the cilantro lover. We also recommend the light
and flaky soy protein nuggets, which are lighter than the usual soy “chicken” nuggets
and come with a lovely sweet plum sauce.
The Satya staff tasted many of the entrees on offer, and the verdict is: we
can heartily recommend them all. One thing for certain is Wild Ginger makes
tasty mock meat dishes—all have a remarkable meaty texture and savory
flavor. Favorites include the spectacular sizzling Soy Cutlet Platter with
Black Bean sauce, the sweet and flavorful Smoked Teriyaki Seitan served with
crisp sugar snap-peas, the stellar Black Pepper Seitan with Chinese Broccoli,
and the subtle Slow-Cooked Malaysian Curry Stew containing potatoes and squash.
All entrees come with either a salad—mixed greens dressed with natural
carrot ginger, topped with shredded beets and sprouts—or a light miso
soup. With perfect portion sizes, the food is as good as its lovely hibiscus-garnished
and masterfully arranged presentation.
Wild Ginger is filling in just the right way and leaves room for a light dessert
and a pot of spiced Fireside Cha tea. Take a date, yourself, or a friend and
discover this tucked away, new veg treasure.
Wild Ginger is located at 380 Broome Street between Mott and Mulberry Streets
in Manhattan. They are open Sunday-Thursday, noon-11pm; Friday and Saturday,
noon-11:30pm. For information call (212) 966-1883. Note: Wheelchair accessible;
sidewalk dining in summer.
Photo by Kevin Lysaght
Just approaching Babycakes NYC, you can’t help but smile. Their old-fashioned “bakery” sign
and front step inlayed with a ceramic cupcake mosaic are the first signs of
this delightful new vegan bakery. Looking into Babycakes, the smile breaks
through. Feeling like a kid of the 1950s, it’s hard to resist the impulse
to press nose and hands up to the big windows, longing for just one treat.
You might even drool a bit, wide-eyed, as the baker lady frosts cupcakes and
delicately places the sprinkles. But the real grin emerges with the charming
smiles of the adorable Babycakes ladies in their 50s style waitress uniforms,
embroidered with “Baking Dept” on the backs.
Babycakes mommies, Erin McKenna and Sabrina Wells, were sick of saying “no” to
sweets due to their dietary needs and ethics. They knew they weren’t
alone, so Babycakes was born. If you’re looking for sugar, wheat, gluten,
trans fats, milk, butter, cream, nuts, soy or eggs, you won’t find it
in their “delicate treats for gentle tummies.” The treats, however,
are not lacking in any way—in fact, they leave you wondering, “How
did they do it?”
On Manhattan’s Lower East Side, just beyond busy Delancey, Babycakes
is a cute neighborhood bakery with flare and a niche. Right down to the old-fashioned “milk” jugs
(filled with cow’s or soymilk), the rotary dial telephone, retro counter
and barstools, this bakery looks like it was misplaced from another era.
Feeling like that longing little kid, the Satya staff opted out of leaving
our nose prints on the window and stepped inside. Bakery cases with shelves
of colorful babycakes (aka cupcakes) and a tiered rainbow sprinkle set greet
you, bringing you even farther back into childhood. Like any bakery, the aroma
of fresh cake and sweets dusts the air, as well as some light happy music that
creates a welcoming atmosphere. A wide variety of delectable cupcakes, in small
and large, as well as cookies, biscuits and breads are all on offer. And like
the soda shoppes of the 50s, you can assume a barstool and pay your money to
a bright red cash register with manual buttons and the almost obsolete “cha-ching.”
Satya recommends any flavor of the Babycakes cupcakes: lemon poppy, plain vanilla,
fresh fruit-filled vanilla, chocolate and carrot. And if you’re feeling
adventurous, sinfully sin-free chocolate chip or cinnamon ginger cookies jazzed
up with a shot of their outstanding frosting on top are scrumptious. They even
have something for your pooch: vegan dog biscuits by Lambchop.
While munching on a cruelty-free and almost healthy treat, your eyes are drawn
to read all the signs on the pale pink walls: “100 percent Fair Trade
Gorilla Coffee,” “Cookies $1,” “Cupcakes: Small $3.50,
Large $4.50,” and “Frosting Shot $1.” But one sign politely
says, “It’s nice to be nice,” and with a Babycakes cupcake
or frosted cookie inside, it’s hard not to be. Visit Babycakes and treat
your tummy nice.
Babycakes NYC is located at 248 Broome Street between Ludlow and Orchard Streets;
open Monday-Saturday, 10am-10pm; Sunday 10am-8pm. For information contact (212)
677-5047 or www.babycakesnyc.com.