Thursday, February 17, 2011

Dao Palate, Brooklyn, NY Vegan Asian

I have been dying to get to V Spot for a while now and finding myself with Valentine's Day off, ("What," you say, he NEVER gets days off), I just had to do something other than veg and with a few convincing words convinced the wife to go off with me on a local culinary adventure.  

When you live in Manhattan, leaving the few square blocks of your "neighborhood" is considered traveling and taking the subway is really leaving your stomping ground.  Actually traveling to another borough, (to do something other than commute), is really hauling butt.  I'm from Brooklyn so please don't tell anyone, but I always feel like I'm home when I cross the river.

After a 6 block walk I can see the small white sign with the green V.  Mecca awaits.

Barstools on the tables were my first indication of things going awry. 
I don't call ahead and I don't ask for directions.  And V Spot was closed so there, that'll teach me.  Probably not but it's Valentine's Day and what restaurant closes on V Day.  Especially V Spot.  Especially since they should a known I was coming.

OK, Vegout to the rescue.  I see Dao Palate is only a few more blocks away and hey, damn, I'm taking my wife out for Valentine's Day and feeding her vegan if it kills me.  Besides, I love to walk.  Got to get the Bodybugg step counter to 10,000 a day anyway.

Typical Brooklyn scene except there's a vegan restaurant somewhere in the picture.  Where's Waldo?

OK, Mecca II awaits.

It's a very warm and welcoming interior.  Lots of wood.  And if you notice the tables have enough room to squeeze by without sliding your ass in someone's entree.  What this means to me is that they COULD have stuffed another 3 tables inside but wanted a certain ambiance more than they wanted to make more MONEY.  I already like this place.

Looking out.

Looking across.  (Semaphore signals over my wife's shoulder?)
Looking in.
For appetizers we ordered Seitan Skewers in satay sauce.  The dish was good but I thought more of a hoisin oyster-y-ish sauce than satay which I always thought of as peanut based.  The seitan was actually not chunks but very flat seitan rolled up.  It had a nice consistency and later I found out it wasn't made in house but marinated and prepared in the back.
Seitan Skewers ..... 5       Grilled seitan, onion & bell peppers in satay sauce
Yes, that is hot sake.  I did mention I was OFF?

You can see how thin the roll up is on the piece lower left.
I ordered the spinach shumai because I was looking forward to empanadas at VSpot.  So that translated into dumplings but I had dumplings in my last few asian meals so Spinach Shumai was close but different.  They were filled with spinach, mushrooms, carrots, cabbage and ground up soy protein which added a very nice change to the standard veggie filling texture.  The veggies weren't overcooked and there was a nice crunch along with softness of the spinach.  The sauce was a sweet soy vinegar.

Spinach Shumai... 5      

Japanese style steamed shumai w. vinaigrette 

soy sauce

I liked the presentation also.

The miso soup came as part of the lunch special.  I didn't think it was anything special and tasted more of seeweed than miso and if anything was a bit undersalted.  I think that's sort of hard to do with miso soup.
The two entrees we ordered were Lunch Specials
Comes w. miso soup, spring roll & brown rice
(L13 thru L16 without rice)

L 2. Mango Soy Protein .... 8
L 4. Smoked Teriyaki Seitan .... 8

The portions are more than adequate and every dish was beautifully plated. 
Both of the dishes were good.  I enjoyed the contrast of the chunky veggies and seitan dish with the pure "meaty" intent of the seitan.  The mango dish was of course very sweet and the veggies consisted of celery, red and green peppers, mushrooms and soy protein.  The spring rolls were pretty standard commercial rolls and with the chili dipping sauce is pretty much what you expected.  The smoky teriyaki was just that and the seitan is a very dense chewy,  (not tough), bite.

The peas were shaped to match the seitan which is very common in asian preparation.  This dish I thought was a tad light on the either the quantity of protein or diversity of the textures.  After finishing the seitan there wasn't much to offset the sameness of all of those peas.  So I went back to eating my wife's dish.
All in all I'd say if you want vegan asian food and you're in Brooklyn this is a good place to find yourself.  I have Gobo a few blocks away from me and Zen Palate just opened up a restaurant on the Upper West Side (Upper West Side - 239 West 105 Street), so there are closer places to me for this kind of food.  I also have mixed feelings about seeing things from May Wah on a menu.  Aside from sitting down, being served good food in flavorful sauces, I always hope for something much much better than I can make at home by heating up commercially available foods.  I won't put 5 different things on a plate for lunch, nor will I prepare 4 different dishes, and that alone is a great reason to eat here but I will always give an extra point to a place that makes more in-house than buys from a wholesaler.  It's sort of a funny point because in my meat eating days I never insisted that someone raise their own animals but if I can make my own seitan how hard is it if you have a commercial kitchen?

That being said it was a wonderful meal in a relaxing setting at a reasonable price.


ckwebgrrl said...

Sorry you missed VSpot, hope you get to try it soon! Good thing Dao was open :)

Marty said...

Thanks ck. I really didn't relish the thought of traipsing all over Brooklyn to find a "quick" lunch but thoughts of Foodswings and Boneshakers did enter my mind as backups.

Any other places you like?