My goodness … was my last entry really THREE years ago?! I suppose so. A lot has happened since then, mainly that I got extremely busy working two part-time jobs, which meant I had no time to keep up this blog. But then one of those jobs eventually became a full-time opportunity, but by then, my priorities had shifted elsewhere for a while.

But now, I am finding myself wanting to share my food experiences again! I still take a lot of pictures when I eat out or when I cook, and I find myself wanting to share not just the pictures, but also the overall experience of preparing the food or eating at the establishments I visit.

The other major change that has happened since I last updated was that I went from being a pescatarian (a vegetarian that eats fish, eggs, and dairy) to being a vegan eater — consuming NO animal products or byproducts. It began as an experiment to see how I felt by omitting eggs, fish, and dairy. It turns out that I felt even better than being a pescatarian, and I even found myself suffering less from seasonal allergies and my mild cat allergy completely went away. I suppose that’s a small chance that was a coincidence as a result of something unrelated to a change in diet … but I can’t figure what else it might be. So, I have remained vegan.

You might think being both gluten-free and vegan is overly restrictive. People often ask me: “What do you eat? There’s nothing for you to eat!”

My answer: “I eat food.” Tons of food is naturally both vegan and gluten-free – in particularly fresh vegetables, fruit, nuts, beans, etc. There is an endless variety of food that is entirely plant-based. Yes, I occasionally miss a few specific things like cheese (I used to be borderline obsessed with cheese), but honestly, I don’t miss everything else and I actually feel like I will never be able to eat all the vegan and gluten-free food that is out there.


Case in point: ChocolaTree in Sedona, Arizona. Sedona very quickly became one of my favorite places to travel to when I need to get away from the concrete jungle that is New York City. The immense and mysterious rock formations and endless hiking trails in and surrounding Sedona make this little town a destination I cannot wait to return to – and I literally just got back from a trip there a couple of weeks ago!


And while I was there, I visited ChocolaTree, an “organic vegetarian marketplace garden & eatery” as they call themselves. Located on the relatively busy main road that runs through downtown Sedona, ChocolaTree offers a menu that is entirely grain-free, gluten-free, non-GMO, and has both vegetarian and vegan options. There is a very zen feel to dining there, sitting in the indoor dining area but especially in the outdoor garden area, and the food just seems to connect you with the earth even more than the ambiance does.

I love that they can provide half-portion orders for most of their entrées so that you can either have a smaller meal for your visit or, as I did, order more items! Not knowing if I was going to have time to come back for another dinner, I got two half-size entrées and a side.

I have become a sucker for anything and just about everything made out of corn. So when I saw that there was the Elote Bliss Corn Chowder on the menu, I knew I needed to get that. The Three-Bean Chili also called my name rather strongly, so I got half orders of both. The Nori Chips sounded like an excellent accompaniment to my two soup/stew entrées, and they absolutely were. Topped with vegan cheese and dehydrated, they made for a super crunchy, lightly salty chip that was satisfying to bite into.


The Elote Bliss was slightly sweet from the fresh sweet corn creamy, and very creamy, such that it might make you question if it was truly vegan. I was assured that it was. There were also finely chopped pieces of Yukon gold potatoes about the same sizes as the kernels of corn that made for an even consistency. As for the Three-Bean Chili, the mix of vegetables, herbs, and spices was accentuated by the dollop of guacamole, making it a delicious combination of complementary flavors. (I ended up taking half of the chili to go because I couldn’t finish it all, and when I reheated it the next day for a snack, my hotel room smelled SO GOOD for quite some time.)

A couple of days later, I decided to come back to ChocolaTree to have something from their breakfast offerings. I went with their Classic Waffle – something simple and uncomplicated. It came with a dollop of macadamia nut butter, which was super creamy and almost dairy-like in flavor and texture, and some maple syrup. Yes, I probably should have gotten something with more protein than just the buckwheat-based waffle, but it actually was so filling on its own that I ate three-fourths of it and had to take the rest of it to go. Yum yum yum.


Seriously, this is going to be one of the first places I make sure to go to the next time I am in Sedona (which hopefully will be next spring).


Mini Quiche

Crustless (and thus gluten-free) mini quiches are so easy to make if you have a good muffin tin. I was inspired to try making some recently when I needed something high in protein for lunch, although I found myself a little challenged in that I didn’t have a whole lot of ingredients to work with. I knew I did have some organic broccoli, some avocados, shredded sharp cheddar cheese, and some eggs … I deemed them good basic ingredients for quiche.

Since I was more or less improvising, these amounts are estimates.

Broccoli, Avocado & Cheese Mini Quiches

Yield: 5 mini-quiches
Serves 2 (just split one in half)


  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1/2 cup broccoli florets
  • 1/3 whole avocado
  • 5 Tbsp shredded cheddar cheese (or any cheese)
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped fine
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • non-stick cooking spray


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Partially cook the broccoli florets – either by steaming or microwaving – until just slightly tender. (I went the microwave route for about 45 seconds using a microwave steamer.) Allow to cool briefly, then cut into small pieces (approximately 1/2 inch).
  3. Roughly dice the avocado into small pieces and mix together with broccoli.
  4. Mix in garlic.
    broccoli, avocado & garlic
  5. Season broccoli and avocado with salt and pepper to taste (I’m guessing I used about 1/4 tsp each).
  6. Generously spray 5 of the cups of a standard muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray.
  7. Scoop the broccoli and avocado mixture into each of the 5 muffin cups. Keep the mixture loose and not packed down into the cups. Ideally, they should not fill more than 3/4 of the cups.
    Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of cheddar cheese on top of each mound of broccoli/avocado.
    broccoli, avocado & cheese
  8. Beat the 3 egg whites and whole egg together well until smooth. The egg mixture should easily pour.
  9. Pour the egg mixture to the 3/4 level of each cup. The cheese does not need to be submerged in the egg, but try to get the broccoli and avocado submerged.
    broccoli, cheese & egg
  10. Bake for 15-20 minutes until a knife inserted in the center of one of the quiches pulls out cleanly. The edges of the quiches should be golden brown.
  11. Remove pan from oven. Use a knife to gently loosen the edges of the quiches from the muffin cups.

Nutrition Information for 1 serving:

  • Calories: 171
  • Carbohydrate: 5 g
  • Fat: 11 g
  • Saturated fat: 5 g
  • Protein: 13 g
  • Cholesterol: 110 mg

When I first discovered I was gluten-intolerant, one of the foods I feared not being able to eat dim sum. I already wasn’t able to eat very much dim sum to begin with, being mostly vegetarian (I could eat things with shrimp, but no pork, chicken, beef, or other meat). But adding on the gluten-free restriction cuts out anything with soy sauce (noodle rolls), wheat flour-based wrappers (dumplings), and anything breaded and fried. On top of that, I doubted most places wouldn’t have a separate gluten-free fryer, so even things that are inherently gluten-free fried in the same oil as gluten foods would be contaminated.

But then I read about Nom Wah Tea Parlor in Chinatown in New York, NY, specifically that they are actually gluten-free friendly. Upon looking at their menu, many items are labeled as gluten-free. I will say that I have some doubts about some items (such as the deep-fried crab claw). But they do provide gluten-free soy sauce for the noodle rolls.

I asked our server about how accurate the “gluten-free” labels were. Specifically, I asked if they had a separate fryer for the gluten-free items, and he said that they did not. He advised me that if I wanted to minimize chances of cross-contamination, I should stay away from anything that’s deep-fried and to stick with the steamed or pan-fried items.

This was quite disappointing. I understand that fundamentally, some of those deep-fried items do not themselves contain gluten, but when gluten-free foods share cooking surfaces or frying oil with gluten-containing foods, they’re not really gluten-free anymore. But that’s just me and the fact that I have gotten sick from cross-contamination of this sort in the past.

So, I erred on the side of caution and got only steamed and pan-fried items and made sure that our server was aware I was strictly gluten-free.

(I came with a friend who is neither vegetarian not gluten-free, so she got a couple of items I couldn’t eat.)

Nom Wah Tea Parlor

Nom Wah Tea Parlor

Located out of the way of the more crowded main streets of Chinatown, Nom Wah is located on a quiet side street where so few cars drive on that people walk and stand in the street. They claim to be the first dim sum restaurant in New York City.

Inside Nom Wah Tea Parlor

Inside looks nothing like the dim sum restaurants I grew up going to. It resembles more like like a typical New York City diner with tables and booths, bar stools and a soda-fountain-type bar, etc. There are also no carts circulating the restaurant offering various dim sum dishes. Instead, the dim sum is ordered off a menu.

My friend ordered a couple of items that she would enjoy that I couldn’t eat, a couple of items we could both share, and I picked a dessert item mostly for myself.

BBQ Pork Bun

My friend first made sure to order a steamed BBQ pork bun (char siu bao), a classic must-get (unless you’re like me and can’t eat gluten and won’t eat pork). She said it was very good.

Said friend also ordered some shrimp shu mai, which are made with a wheat-based wonton wrapper. It was apparently so good that she was still talking about how delicious these shu mai were the next day.

Shrimp Shu Mai

One of the gluten-free vegetarian items I picked was the tofu skin roll. Sort of like an egg roll, but the wrapper is yuba (or tofu skin, or dried bean curd, or foo jook in Cantonese) and inside was a mixture of chopped vegetables (canned baby corn, canned mushroom, celery, carrot, water chestnut, etc.). They were pan-fried so the bottoms were a little crisp.

Tofu Skin Roll

Then we also got another dim sum classic: the shrimp rice noodle roll (cheong fun). Normally served with a sweet soy sauce, it came without any soy sauce but our server gave us a bottle of gluten-free tamari soy sauce. Not quite the same as it isn’t as sweet as the soy sauce typically used for this dish, but it was still very good nonetheless.

Shrimp Rice Noodle Roll

And finally, I got the black sesame roll, as dessert. It’s served cold, and it’s a little sweet. It’s made with agar so it has a jelly-like consistency. The hulls of the sesame seeds are ground into the mixture, so there is a little bit of a gritty texture (if you like that kind of thing … which I do).

Black Sesame Roll

Overall, a very satisfying reminder of the delicious dim sum I grew up with. Definitely not a traditional experience, though, but still one I’d like to have again.

I love sweet potatoes. They are naturally a nutrient-dense food particularly rich in beta carotene and vitamin C, and they are a good source of dietary fiber.

I have not had as much opportunity to cook as I would like in recent years, but I DO love cooking and when a potluck was coming up at work, I decided I wanted to try making something new, and I stumbled upon this recipe on the Internet. It has been adapted slightly to make it completely vegan and possibly higher in vitamin content with an alternative cooking method.

The original recipe calls for a little bit of milk to be added while mashing the cooked sweet potatoes, but I found that the sweet potatoes mashed quite nicely without any additional liquid. It also calls for cubed sweet potato to be cooked by boiling in water. Vegetables that are boiled in water, especially when cut up, can potentially lose a significant amount of water-soluble vitamins into the water, so I like to avoid boiling in water if possible.

Instead, sweet potatoes (as well as regular potatoes) cook very well in the microwave and likely retain significantly more nutrients as compared to boiling in water. It is just important to make sure they are covered with a damp cloth or paper towel throughout heating and that they are turned a couple times during the microwaving process.

Sweet Potato Mini Bites

Yield: 36 mini bites


6 medium sweet potatoes

6 cups kale, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 TB extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
salt and black pepper, to taste
ground flax seed meal
nonstick spray (such as Pam)


  1. Wash sweet potatoes under running water (no need to scrub as the skins will be removed later). Line bottom of microwave oven with a damp paper towel. Lay sweet potato on paper towel, puncture each a couple times with a fork, and cover with two damp paper towels. (I was able to fit three sweet potatoes in my microwave oven. I cooked the other three separately.) Microwave on high for 3-4 minutes, turn sweet potatoes over, cover again with damp paper towel, and microwave again on high for 3-4 minutes. Times may vary depending on your microwave oven and size of potatoes. If needed, microwave again in increments of 2 minutes until the potatoes are soft.microwave sweet potatoes
  2. Lay the cooked sweet potatoes on a plate or tray to cool.
  3. In the meantime, mince the garlic, chop the onion, wash and chop the kale.
    garlic onion IMG_5077
  4. When the sweet potatoes are cool enough, remove the flesh from the skin and place in a large bowl. (I found it was much easier to cut the sweet potatoes in half and then scoop the flesh out.) Mash the sweet potato thoroughly with a fork.
    IMG_5082 IMG_5084 sweet potato
  5. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  6. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the olive oil, garlic, onion, and red pepper flakes and sauté for about 1 minute. Then add the kale and sauté until wilted.
    IMG_5091 IMG_5094 IMG_5102
  7. Add the kale mixture to the sweet potato and mix together well.kale-potato
  8. Season sweet potato mixture with sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. (I used about 1 tsp course sea salt and about 4 turns of my black pepper grinder.)
  9. Fold in black beans.beans
  10. Apply nonstick spray to mini muffin pan. Using a spoon, scoop sweet potato mixture into muffin pan to the top. Sprinkle a pinch of ground flax seed to the top.IMG_5114
  11. Bake at 425 degrees F for 20-25 minutes. Then, turn oven to broil for another 5 minutes or until the tops are lightly browned and crispy.
  12. Remove muffin pan from oven and allow to cool. Use a knife to gently loosen from muffin tin.IMG_5150

vegetable stir fry with bean thread

vegetable stir fry with bean thread

Apologies for the long absence, but I had to commit almost all of my time to school and my internship, but now that that’s done, I want to re-start this blog!

I also want to start a new series within this blog, partly as motivation to get me cooking more often, where I photograph and write about dishes and foods I prepare myself.

(These recipes are, out of necessity to accommodate my own dietary restrictions, vegetarian and gluten-free.)

To kick off this new series, here is a recipe I created myself from wanting food from my Chinese heritage. My parents and grandparents sometimes cooked dishes using bean thread noodles (also known as cellophane noodles, Chinese vermicelli, or sai fun in Cantonese) with vegetables and sometimes meat and I wanted something resembling that.

Vegetable Stir Fry with Bean Thread

Serves 1


1/2 tb sesame oil
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tb onion, minced
1 cup broccoli florets
2 oz Shiitake mushrooms, cut into 1″ pieces
1/4 cup corn (I used Trader Joe’s frozen roasted corn)
1 bundle bean thread noodle (usually come in packages of 8)
1-2 tb gluten-free soy sauce/tamari





bean thread

bean thread


  1. In a medium bowl, place the dry bean thread noodle and fill with hot water. Allow to soak through and soften. Set aside.
  2. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. Add sesame oil to coat the skillet.
  4. Add garlic and onion and stir until coated.
  5. Add broccoli and stir well frequently for 2-3 minutes.
  6. Add mushroom pieces and sauté for another 1-2 minutes.broccoli & mushroom
  7. Add corn (can still be frozen when added). Sauté until corn is heated through. At this point, all the vegetables should be at the desired “doneness”.corn
  8. Drain the water from bean thread. Add the bean thread to the vegetables and continuously mix (tongs are best) until heated, about 1 minute. (Avoid overheating the bean thread as it will soften too much and fall apart.)bean thread
  9. Remove the skillet from heat. Add the gluten-free soy sauce and thoroughly mix until sauce is evenly distributed.
  10. Serve.

Anyone who knows me knows that I’ve recently (in the last year or so) adopted food choices that favor locally and/or organically grown foods because I believe in “voting with my fork”. By choosing to spend my money to support local farmers and local markets whenever possible, I’m showing them that I believe in their efforts for helping to build a sustainable food supply and that I DON’T support the awful giant industrial food corporations who seem to care more about increasing their profit margin than protecting the health of the consumers and the environment.

I have always been interested in nutrition and health, but I have never felt stronger about these issues than after I took a Nutritional Ecology course last semester and my Community Nutrition course right now. So, when looking for a restaurant to celebrate our completion of our time-consuming semester-long group project for Community Nutrition, it seemed obscenely appropriate to go to Community Food & Juice, located on Broadway between W 111th & 112th Streets in Manhattan.

Community Food & Juice boasts a menu that features foods that are locally grown and use organic/sustainable methods of production, whenever possible. Foods are seasonal since they obtain whatever foods can be locally grown and are not imported from long distances away, which is a practice that has a heavy carbon footprint.

After selecting a table outside, we began with a few celebratory drinks.

Celebratory drinks

Many of the drinks on the cocktails menu feature organic liquor, which was intriguing. Mine was what I believe was called an Iced Green Agave. I don’t remember what the alcohol in it was, but it had cucumber and agave nectar. It was quite delicious. And strong. My friends commented that their drinks were quite strong as well.

Then, we ordered a couple appetizers to share. The first we chose was the Zucchini-Scallion Pancakes.

Zucchini-scallion pancakes

The Zucchini-Scallion Pancakes came with a black vinegar dipping sauce. The pancakes themselves were delightfully very crisp on the outside, and the inside was very soft and moist. Not too greasy at all. This ended up being my favorite dish that I tried that evening.

The other appetizer we got to share was the Curried Chickpea Fritters.

Curried chickpea fritters

The fritters (very similar to falafel) were not heavy and were actually quite light. They were served with a tamarind chutney, which provided a nice hint of sweetness that offset the bit of spice from the curry seasoning in the fritters themselves, and a yogurt dressing, which was cool and refreshing. Also a very delicious dish.

Before getting our main entrées, the sun had set and it got rather windy and chilly so we decided to move inside. Luckily, the host and waiters were very accommodating, and luckily there was one table inside that was open that could seat four. One of the waiters even brought in our glasses of water and knew whose glasses belonged to whom.

The entrée I selected (although, some might argue whether or not it could be classified as an entrée) was the Spring Market Salad.

Spring Market Salad

The Spring Market Salad had leafy green lettuce, mache, spring onions, poached baby carrots, English peas, melted shallots, and a crispy goat cheese disc, with a walnut vinaigrette that I asked for on the side. A very nice combination of flavors. The peas had been sautéed with some herbs and/or spices that lightly came through and the goat cheese added a little bit of creaminess that brought the dish together very well.

My friends ordered, from top to bottom:

The Bowl o’ Beets (local heirloom beets, orange balsamic reduction, whipped goat scheese, toasted pistachios).

Bowl o' Beets

The Bowl o’ Rice (bean sprouts, carrot, cucumber, radicchio, peanuts, cilantro & mint with sesame lime dressing, served over warm brown rice).

Bowl o' Rice

The Bowl o’ Rice with wild king salmon.

Bowl o' Rice with salmon

Overall, a very good dining experience. Our servers were attentive and helpful in choosing dishes. The food was very fresh and tasted very flavorful. The prices were a little on the pricier side — but for quality organically grown local food, which you can feel good about for yourself, the environment, and the local economy, it is worth it.

We need more restaurants like this.

Community Food & Juice
2893 Broadway (between 112th & 113th Streets)
Morningside Heights
New York, NY

Vegetarian dim sum. Yes, you read that right. Definitely not something you come across very often. I mean, there are definitely a small number of vegetarian options when you get dim sum, but for a restaurant to have an entirely vegetarian menu including all-vegetarian dim sum? A rather rare breed.

Having grown up in a Chinese family in the Bay Area of California, going to yum cha (literally “taste tea”) – which is when you would have dim sum – was fairly common. I have fond memories of sitting in crowded restaurants on a weekend late morning/early afternoon with my family and usually some extended family members, seeing and hearing what were usually ladies pushing carts by each table, calling out what kind of dim sum might be on those carts. My dad would stop the lady and ask for one or two round trays of whatever he thought we needed. The lady would use tongs to place them onto our table, place a stamp on the card that would tally up the price at the end, and move on to the next table.

Back when I wasn’t vegetarian, I had many favorites: cha siu bao (barbecue pork bun), har gow (shrimp dumpling), wu gok (taro dumpling), cheong fun (rice noodle roll, either with beef or shrimp), and sweets like daan taat (egg custard tart) and nai wong bao (sweet custard bun). Now that I only sometimes eat seafood, I usually am limited to just the shrimp-only dishes and the sweets.

So, to find a restaurant where I could potentially eat more than just a few things offered, it was very exciting. I found Buddha Bodai on Yelp when searching for vegetarian and dim sum. The reviews were mostly fairly good. My friends said they were game. So, last Saturday, we met up in Chinatown in lower Manhattan and gave it a try.

I’d been to some all-vegetarian (Chinese or other Asian) restaurants in California, a couple that offered “fake meat” replacements made out of textured soy protein or wheat protein, processed into something resembling a meat texture. Sometimes it was pretty darn close (“pork” spareribs and “chicken”, if I recall correctly). Other times, not even close (usually “beef”). So, I was curious how Buddha Bodai would handle it.

Buddha Bodi, located at 5 Mott Street (and Chatham Square) in Chinatown in Manhattan.

I was running late, so my friends ordered a handful of items off the dim sum menu. This place didn’t have the carts that you picked things from. Instead, things were cooked to order, which I suppose is more economical since it’s hard to predict how much of each dish to make ahead of time. When I arrived, there was already Two-Mushroom Congee (rice porridge or jook) on the table, vegetarian “shrimp” rice roll (har cheong fun), and what I assume to be vegetarian “jelly fish”.

Luckily, I’d be fine with eating real jelly fish if offered to me as did one of my friends who is also vegetarian, so none of us questioned the waiter about what the “jelly fish” really was. It tasted pretty darn close to the traditional jelly fish. The only thing that made us doubt that it was real was the fact that the texture – while chewy – didn’t quite have that slight crunchiness you’d find in the real thing. It was a little softer. It was still good.

The vegetarian “shrimp” rice roll (of which I did not get a good photo) was really just egg trying, but not succeeding, to masquerade as shrimp. As my friends and I would come to agree upon later, I thought, “Why not just call yourself ‘egg rice roll’ and stop trying to fool anybody?” But I guess the point of this restaurant was that it was trying to mimic the real stuff. Fair enough. It was still very tasty and my favorite part of cheong fun anyway is the soy sauce that is slightly sweeter than your usual soy sauce.

Then a barrage of dishes came out in fairly quick succession.

Next was the fried eggplant stuffed with vegetarian meat.

I don’t know if this was trying to mimic another traditional dish (I don’t think so). This was quite greasy as there was quite a bit of batter on top of the eggplant, and eggplant is like a sponge and will absorb huge amounts of oil. It was tasty, but primarily because of the oil. Fat makes anything taste good, really. And I didn’t even know there was supposed to be vegetarian “meat” stuffed in the eggplant until I looked at the menu. Perhaps my piece somehow lost the vegetarian “meat” that was supposed to be inside.

Then, more cheong fun, this time the cruller rice roll.

My family knew the fried dough that is called a “cruller” here as “Chinese doughnut” or yau za gui (which literally translates to “oil-fried devil or ghost”). It’s essentially just deep-fried dough and it’s slightly salty.  I don’t think I’d ever had it inside the rice noodle roll before, though, even though I’d seen the strange combination. It wasn’t anything terribly impressive. Rice noodle and fried dough and soy sauce. I think I prefer the fried dough by itself or in jook and have other ingredients in the rice noodle roll (like shrimp).

Then came the shredded turnip pastry, which was this restaurant’s version of lo bak gow.

If I remember correctly, traditional lo bak gow that I was used to has dried shrimp in it, and it wasn’t deep fried. The shredded turnip and whatever other ingredients it contained were suspended in the rice flour paste, steamed, and then pan-fried for a little crisp on the outside. This spin on it, using a flaky pastry, was intriguing. Again, a little greasy, but not as bad as the eggplant. The Chinese radish doesn’t have much taste to it anyway, so you pretty much are just tasting the fat and tiny bit of salt that was in the pastry dough. Pretty good.

Then it was the seaweed crabmeat roll.

I don’t think this was supposed to mimic any tradition dim sum dishes, but the “crabmeat” and “ham” were imitation meats and were quite passable.

Then pan-fried dumplings (sort of like pot-stickers, although pot-stickers aren’t really part of traditional dim sum).

This was quite good. They used lots of mushroom for the filling which gave it a bit of a meat-like consistency and flavor (thanks to the umami in mushrooms). Slightly crispy on the outside, but the wheat wrapper was still soft and slightly chewy. Perfect.

Then the attempt at vegetarian cha siu bao (barbecue pork bun).

The bun alone was quite enticing. Fluffy and moist, a little bit sweet. It gave me high expectations of the filling inside, which I still remember very fondly and very well from my meat-eating days. However, whatever they used to make the imitation pork had a flavor of its own that was very much not pork-like, and despite the barbecue sauce being pretty much the same, the overall flavor was just thrown off. It was pretty good for what it was, but if you’re expecting cha siu bao, you’ll probably be a little disappointed.

As if we didn’t have enough food already for three people, we also had a couple of dessert items. First, the sweet sticky rice ball with coconut.

What this was, really, was coconut-covered sweet sticky rice (like mochi, if you’ve had that) surrounding a sesame rice ball (ma tyun or ma yuan, depending on region) – which is a rice pastry filled with traditionally red bean paste, which is then rolled in sesame seeds, and then deep fried until it puffs up completely round. This pastry had peanut butter instead of red bean paste. This thing was heavy, as in really rich, mainly thanks to the peanut butter. It was good, but I don’t see why it couldn’t have had red bean paste instead. I couldn’t finish mine.

And finally, we had the durian pastry with egg.

Now, I have never had durian. Frankly, I am a little afraid to try it given how much I’ve heard about its highly offensive odor and bizarre taste. That said, I would like to try it some day just to say I’ve tried it and to know first-hand what it actually tastes like. That’s not something I can tell you at all from having tried this durian pastry, because it tasted just like regular egg custard. I know durian is supposed to have a custard-like consistency anyway, so I guess the egg was just to give it consistency after cooking? Perhaps the cooking process also destroys the molecules responsible for durian’s taste and odor because none of it was detected in this pastry. You could have given me this pastry, told me it was just egg custard, and I would have believed you. It was tasty – sweet custardy filling, with a slightly salty, somewhat greasy outer pastry.

Dim sum is known to be relatively cheap. I’ve gone to get dim sum with two other people in the past and ended up paying something like $7 per person for enough food to cover lunch. Partly because we ordered so, SO much food and partly because the dishes themselves were slightly more expensive than your traditional dim sum place, we ended up paying roughly $15 per person. Again, this is a unique place that caters specifically to those who are vegetarian (and also for those who eat Kosher, as they pride themselves on being Kosher as well), so it isn’t too surprising to have to pay a little bit more. I felt it was worth it.

So, it was a fun experience. A bit of an adventure in not really knowing what we would be getting when a new dish came out. Would it be an accurate trip down memory lane? Or would it be close and not quite right? Would it even be good? I would definitely want to come here again and try some of the other items on the menu as we only got to sample maybe one-quarter of the dishes they offer.

Buddha Bodai
5 Mott Street (between Chatham Sq & Mosco St)
New York, NY 10013