Restaurant Review: Imhotep’s

734 Nostrand Avenue
(between between Park Place and Prospect Place)
Crown Heights, Queens

Vegiboys Rating (2.5/4)

Crown Heights hosts a surprising number of vegetarian venues, including Rastifarian ‘ital establishment Imhotep’s. Situated inside a health food grocer of the same name, the eat-in portion of the store is nonetheless much more official than similar institutions like the Bronx’s Vegan’s Delight. A few tables and chairs for patrons occupy the partitioned rear of the store, along with a separate cash register next to the steam trays from which you choose your meal.

While the staff were polite, the atmosphere throughout the store was one of depression. Service was given without any semblance of a smile, store employees worked the aisles without any facade of friendliness, and after preparing our order, the kitchen staff sat at a table near ours to lament the plight of their business.

That said, the steam tray offerings at Imhotep’s closely resembled the familar array of daily specials found in each of the city’s Caribbean vegi-restaurants.

The food also impressed our palates. A stewed pumpkin was nicely done with generous spicing giving it a lot of flavor (much more memorable than a similar dish we tried at Strictly Roots). The faux-fish tofu was amazingly true to taste, leaving us to ponder its magically accurate flavorings. A buffalo wing was sweetly coated with jerk sauce, and had a great texture that made it fun to eat. A potato stew with fake beef, and a chopped hot dog side dish also both had nice flavors and textures.

Not every dish won over our taste buds however. The chickpeas were a bit dry, and really had nothing of note to their taste. The “rib steak” also proved disappointingly bland. With the macaroni, we had hoped for a southern-style mac ‘n cheese (which it resembled from behind the counter), but instead had no particular taste beyond an unadulterated semolina pasta.

A dumpling was deep-fried to become exactly the heavy dough we expected from it, and the okra, though overcooked, was still enjoyable.

For beverages, we went with ‘ital standby brand Ginseng Up; the apple and the cola drinks helped us to wash down the meal. Overall, the meal was not unsatisfying (we left with heavily laden bellies) and the portions were generous (we brought home leftovers from both of our meals). At $10.50 each, the price was similar to any of the city’s Caribbean counters, but still provided a relatively cheap meal. Though not necessarily worth a special trip to Crown Heights, Imhotep’s is definitely a viable option for anyone visiting the neighborhood who’s seeking vegi-friendly fare.

Food (3/4)

Atmosphere & Service

Value (2.5/4)

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