One of my favorite pastimes is exploring my city on foot–armed with my FitBit–and finding new
plant-based and vegan-friendly eateries to try out.
In a city that is known for having a wealth of raw, vegan, plant-based and vegetarian-friendly
dining establishments, cafes and juice bars, it is no surprise that I discovered a new gem today.
While strolling down Park Avenue–an elegant residential street with very restaurants–to my
surprise, I spied a sign that read: Franchia Vegan Cafe so I had to double back to inspect further.
I browsed the plentiful array of dining options on outdoor menu, then peered into windows.
Unfortunately, the cafe was not yet open, so I decided to return in the afternoon to savor
some of their delectable-sounding dishes.
Franchi Vegan Cafe describes itself as a casual take on fine Asian Vegan Fusion dining.
Located at 12 Park Ave (near 34th St), it is a serene spin off of Hangawi, it’s sister Korean
vegetarian restaurant nearby.
This jewel in the midst of majestic gray apartment buildings, is a multi level space with a mix
of modern simplicity and traditional Korean decor set off by heavy dark wood grating.
The highlight of the space is a spectacular mural ceiling reminiscent of a Korean Palace.
This elegant “shrine-like” Murray Hill vegan cafe features a tea bar and a vegetarian kitchen
offering salads, wraps, noodles and noodle soups, vegan sushi, dumplings, tapas and a tempting
assortment of hearty vegan main dishes.
All chicken, shrimp, crab meat and tuna used in their sushi, salads, soups and main dishes are
“meat-like” vegetarian versions made from soy and seaweed.
Bibimbap and stone bowl rice are noteworthy menu favorites.
Bibimbap is a popular traditional Korean health staple consisting of rice with various toppings
served in a bowl to mix with sauce.
The order can be made with white or brown rice and a choice of spicy chili sauce, bean paste sauce
or ginger soy sauce.
It can be cooked in a stone bowl which is brought out sizzling to create a layer of delicious crispy
rice all around the bowl.
Fortunately, Franchia also features an extensive gluten free menu and a tempting assortment
of vegan sushi offerings.
Franhcia’s beautifully-appointed space is perfect for a relaxing dining experience.
When I returned later that day, stepping inside the tall glass door felt like I was entering a
serene, calming oasis in stark contrast to the noisy urban environment I was leaving behind.
When the waiter ushered me to a lovely dark wood table for two near a beautifully-engraved
gong, I slipped into the wooden chair, relaxed and knew I was in the right place.
After surveying the interior design, exquisite ceramics, Asian art and ceiling mural, I browsed
Franchia’s extensive menu.
With so many appealing options, it took a few minutes to make a decision, but I finally chose
the Lunch Special–which included the day’s salad with vegan crabmeat, vegan Peking duck
dumpling, kimchi roll plus a several main dishes to choose from–in order to sample a few
different delectable dishes.
I mean, isn’t that the point?
I had a taste for tofu so I chose Tofu with Vegetables in a brown ginger sauce.
My lunch was served within minutes and tasted delicious.
But let me not forget to talk about the teas.
Franchia is a favorite of tearoom lovers and offers a variety of fine teas.
According to a review by A.Reed in Teamuse:
“Several blocks east of the Empire State Building, the triplex Korean teahouse Franchia brightens a
bland stretch of park Avenue with its 3-story window and white sidewalk tables.
This “tea shrine in another space and time”, is a mountain-temple design, with palatial floral ceiling
and Chinese ink paintings on cream colored wall.
The ground floor tea bar for take out or drinking-in faces simple dark wood tables where guests can
dine and savor 15 premium loose-leaf teas and assorted herbal tisanes ($5 to $10).
Display shelves exhibit ceramic tea ware, the Franchia line of rare teas, and “tea starter kits”.
This stylish vegetarian temple exudes philosophy in every cup (“tea tao”), and educates in weekend
workshops for the tea-challenged.
The formal atmosphere is conducive to special holiday meals and events.
Poetry-engraved plates and brochures extol “harmony, balance, peace of mind…”
With so much to love about it, you can be sure that I will be bringing my vegan and non-vegan friends
to Franchia Vegan Cafe for lunch, dinner, sushi, noodle soups, tapas or tea!
Franchi Vegan Cafe
12 Park Avenue( between 34th and 35th Street )
New York, NY 10016
Tel: 212 213 1001 / 212 213 2483
Fax: 212 213 2527
Mondays to Thursdays: Lunch 12:00pm to 3:00pm, Dinner 3:00pm to 9:45pm (last seating)
Fridays: Lunch 12:00pm to 3:00pm, Dinner 3:00pm to 10:15pm (last seating)
Saturdays: 1pm to 10:15pm (last seating) Only dinner menu is served
Sundays: Dinner only, 5:30pm to 9:30pm (last seating)
Have you discovered a new plant-based or veggie-friendly restaurant in your town?
Do you have a favorite vegan or veggie-friendly spot that you love to visit again and again?
Share your thoughts and comments with us.