Restaurant Review: Red Bamboo

Red Bamboo
140 West 4th Street
(between 6th Avenue and MacDougal Street)
Greenwich Village, Manhattan

Vegiboys Rating (3.5/4)

Red Bamboo was the last of the Wong family trio in need of an official Vegiboys visit, though we had certainly patronized the restaurant before (as a disclaimer, it was a preexisting favorite for both me and Brian). To help balance our review, we brought along newbies Jen and Nick, though our opinions remained unchanged by this particular experience… For us, Red Bamboo stands as one of the city’s best vegetarian restaurants.

Unlike VP2 and Soy & Sake (the other two Wong-owned eateries), there is no attempt to steer the theme in an Asian direction. In fact, without knowing its relationship to the Wong dynasty, the restaurant strikes us as purely American – and a heaven for anyone seeking some of the best prepared mock-meats to be found.

There is no character to the space itself; it’s narrow, crowded, and largely unmemorable. The service is great, though there’s almost always a line for a table (expect to wait for at least 15 minutes if you arrive without reservations).

Once you’re seated and the menu arrives though, you’re in for a culinary adventure. The beverage choices are standard, but Red Bamboo offers a nice range of unique beers, from which we shared a Liefman’s lambic.

Beginning with appetizers, the barbecue buffalo wings were phenomenal. Seitan on small wooden dowels are somehow crafted to make the most appropriately textured and tasty treat imaginable with an amazing citrus barbecue sauce coating. They’re also served with a creamy vegan ranch dressing that, when used as a dip, makes for one of the most satisfying and irreproducible vegetarian dishes in the city.

As a second appetizer, we had the almond coconut chicken: toasted almond and shaved coconut were fried to perfect crispness around the soy-meat interior, with a sweet chili dipping sauce providing just enough flavor to help the plate transcend into deliciousness.

With four eaters, we were able to taste from a nice variety of entrées. My “chicken” parmesan had a wonderful melt of mozzarella on top, with some garlic smothered toast to the side. In any other restaurant, this dish would be enough to impress, but I actually envied the greater depth in the other dishes at the table.

Brian had grilled soy ribs, perfectly created with a full sweet and smoky flavor. The side of mashed potatoes and mushroom gravy, and an assortment of steamed vegetables made it fit for a southern barbecue feast.

Nick continued in that vein with a pulled pork sandwich. Shredded vegan pork (the textures that Red Bamboo is able to capture with their mock-meats is perhaps the single most impressive quality to their food) were mixed with fried onions and pickles to create a hearty sandwich, with fries to make it a full meal.

Jen took a bit of a different route with a bamboo curry chicken. With the soy chicken and potatoes sitting in a coconut curry sauce, it offered an outstanding blend of flavors that one simply could not anticipate given the ingredients. The dish had a side of brown rice and steamed vegetables to round it out.

For dessert, a chocolate cake hit all the right notes; not too sweet, diverse flavors from the chocolate, and smooth and rich overall.

At $31.50 each all-inclusive, Red Bamboo is absolutely worth the price, and is a keystone to our vegetarian restaurant world. Whether the dish you’re craving is pub grub, ethnic fusion, or something entirely different (like their highly recommended mango chicken), Red Bamboo offers it up, and does not disappoint. Nowhere else in the city are meats served in such variety with such great tastes but without any animal products actually involved. The food is simply amazing, making Red Bamboo a must-visit spot for any NYC vegi-lover.

Food (4/4)
Atmosphere & Service
Value (3/4)

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