Thursday, February 25, 2010

Asked and Answered: Herbivore edition

Couldn't find a picture of a hippie eating leaves

Question: Vegetarian (but acceptable to a meat eater) on the West Side
Answer: Ozu

The situation: a first date where she is a vegetarian and he is not. He has used geography (i.e. not living on the West Side, where they are due to meet) as an excuse to abdicate responsibility to choosing a restaurant. This task was conveniently passed right on down the line - to me.

Too many vegetarian restaurants ignore the fact that not everyone who eats there is necessarily a vegetarian all the time. Tofu does not stand in for meat. Neither does portobello mushroom. Better to ignore meat completely rather than trying to substitute for it. Which is not to say that both tofu and portobello do not have a place - just not as the featured ingredient.
Ozu describes itself as "kosher natural food" meaning not entirely vegetarian. There are a few salmon choices on the menu, perhaps satisfying my co-worker's date. Perhaps not. Also on the menu, a handful of noodle dishes, some tempura, and a slew of appetizers. The appetizers are like Japanese tapas and can make for an enjoyable meal. Namely, soba noodles (cold, with sesame peanut sauce), lotus root with carrots in a sesame dressing, and burdock with soy ginger sauce. I used to think burdock was a fish and was confused when, the first time I ordered it, something that looked like pygmy baby carrots was delivered to the table. I tried sending it back, but was politely corrected. My naiveté corrected, my self-esteem damaged, my dinner enjoyable nonetheless.

Ozu, 566 Amsterdam Avenue

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