Sunday, December 16, 2012

Beyond Sushi

I recently spent a day in New York to attend a cooking class at the Natural Gourmet, and made a point of arriving early so I could sample one of the many vegetarian dining options in the city.   This is always the most difficult decisions I face, since there are hundreds of possibilities.  I have my favorites: Candle Cafe, Caravan of Dreams, Counter, Quintessence, Sacred Chow, Angelica's Kitchen... to name but a few.

This afternoon I decided to try a new entry onto the scene, Beyond Sushi, a 100% vegetarian sushi restaurant on the lower east side.  It's an easy 2 block walk from the 14th street subway station, which made it convenient and intriguing.  And according to VegNews, the place was opened by a former contestant of Gordon Ramsey's Hell's Kitchen competition.  Why not give it a try?

From the outside, the restaurant had a clean, sophisticated look, and inside the minimalist decor continued that theme.  However, I have to say my Connecticut sensibilities were shocked by the New York space limitations!  At most, the three wooden shelves that acted as counters with barstools wedged beneath could seat 12, but in reality, two to a table was stretching each patron's comfort level.

The menu was a selection of about a dozen creative combinations of standard veggie fillings:  asparagus, avocado, mango, cucumber, pickled daikon, and a few others.  These standards were elevated by a choice of 6 sauces topping each roll, such as carrot ginger, spicy cayenne, and mango chili.  The rolls were also made a bit unique because they were all inside-out with a choice of black rice or 6-grain rice.  Also on the menu are several options for summer rolls, salads and soups, as well as a few vegan desserts prepared off site.

I ordered the La Fiesta - 8 pieces rolled with Black Rice, Avocado, pickled jalapeno, chayote, and topped with cilantro and mango chili sauce - and the Sweet Tree - 8 pieces rolled with six grain rice, avocado, and sweet potato, and topped with alfalfa sprouts and toasted cayenne sauce.

Both were tasty, fresh and expertly prepared in a tiny kitchen.

I enjoyed my light lunch, but left wishing there had been the ubiquitous warm tea to accompany my meal and a larger table where I could spread out with a book and linger.  However, if you're in a hurry, this is a great place to grab a quick bite that's inexpensive and satisfying.  


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

This week's menu

While I was in the checkout line of my local health food store purchasing groceries for this week, the man behind me asked about the can of Muir Glen Organic Crushed Fire Roasted Tomatoes in my basket.  "Do you like those?  I've never really had much luck cooking with them."  I was surprised, because I find that they add so much flavor to soups, stews, and sauces, especially the one with adobo seasoning.  I suggested, "have you tried using them in chili?"  He hadn't, but was intrigued by the idea.  That's my favorite use for them because they add a deep, smoky undertone to whatever it is you're cooking.  I also like them in Indian food because the roasted quality is both sweet and savory, and they'll put an extra little indescribable zing in your curries.

This week you will find Three Bean Chili with Fire-Roasted Tomatoes and Brown Rice on the Menu.  It's a favorite for cold, rainy autumn evenings.

pan-fried tempeh with agave dijon glaze, sesame cabbage, and baked garnet yam
three-bean fire-roasted tomato chili with brown rice
tofu piccata with mashed root vegetables and sauteed kale