As the sun sets on another ‘crazy-busy’ New York day, my stomach nags: “What are we having for dinner?” After chatting with two friendly, green, feminists at Bluestockings and picking up a few used books, I didn’t have to venture far to satisfy my hunger for some good, healthy vegan food. Fortunately, Tiengarden Vegan Restaurant was conveniently-located right next door to Bluestockings Bookstore on the Lower East Side.
In addition to the fact that it was vegan, I was drawn through their doors by their new clean, contemporary, redesigned interior. What a difference good design makes!
Their Slim, Minimalist Menu Proclaims:
Their Vegetarian Cuisine Philosophy is:
“The Original Diet – Eating the Tao Way
The Chinese vegetarian way of eating is based on five-element theory.
The five major grains are not only of vital importance to the human body,
but can also balance the five elements inside the body.”
Their credo reminded me a lot of my macrobiotic days…in fact, I started having flashbacks to those Michio Kushi conferences. (Remind me to dig out my old macro cookbooks for more insights on this topic.)
Tien Organic Plates of Five
The concept sounded intriguing so I had to try the Tien Plates of Five, which are organic and only served for dinner from 5-10pm.
The cost: $15 each.
Not being very adventurous, I opted for the Tien Plate that was closest to my comfort zone:
Simply Green: Stir-fried seasonal organic vegetables and squashes in basil sauce.
When my meal arrived, I was not disappointed. Of course, I enjoyed the simply-prepared, al dente vegetables in a light basil sauce, but the five-grain rice (brown, black and red sweet rice, with wheat, millet, legumes and sorghum) took my enjoyment to the next level. Delicious!
Other ‘more-exotic’ Tien Plates included:
Black Wisdom: Marinated organic black bean tofu, black wood ear, goji berries, with a side of kale>
The Roots: Lotus root, burdock root, daikon and carrots in a ginger brown sauce.
Spicy Fruit: Crispy wheat gluten nugget, red chili, tomato and mango in orange spicy sauce.
Golden White: Special breaded crispy soy cutlet, oyster mushrooms with a side of nappa salad.
What else looks appealing on the menu?
Magic Square of Nine
A bit like tapas, diners can create a meal by choosing from 9 small plates:
1. Black Bean Salad
2. Five Grains with Kale
3. Oriental Salad
4. Sesame Curry Peanut Noodles
5. Burdock Dumplings
6. Soy Cutlet
7. Crispy Oyster Mushroom
8. Ginger Buckwheat Noodles with Goji berries
9. Crispy Gluten Nuggets
The cost: Any one for $5.50; Any two: $10; Any three: $15
Another custom, low-cost option is …
For only $11, you can create your own dish with 4 ingredients (from a selection of vegetables, soy cutlets, vegan ham, mushrooms and lotus root) and 1 sauce of your choice–served with 5 grains rice or noodles. The three sauces to choose from are ginger, curry peanut or Szechuan spicy sauce. The sauce makes the meal! I plan to try each of these sauces in the near future.
Veggie burgers, organic vegan shakes and hot and cold beverages round out the rest of the menu.
Fresh, grab and go soups, salads, sandwiches, noodles and beverages greet you near the door:
One pleasant surprise–they even offer organic wines by the bottle, oh my!
Needless to say, I left Tiengarden with my belly full, a smile on my face, and a bounce in my step. Then I crossed Houston Street, and headed up Avenue A to join the sea of quirky downtown dwellers, diners, hawkers and gawkers filling the small cafes, coffee shops and hookah bars of the Lower East Side. What’s a hookah bar, you ask? Well, that’s the subject of my next urban adventure. Stay tuned.
Tiengarden Vegan Restaurant
170 Allen Street
New York, NY 10002