I appreciate the calm each time I tuck into Gobo, a vegetarian retreat with convenient locations in the West Village and UES, NYC. The mostly blond and spacious interior is simply appointed with undressed wooden tables and comfortable cushioned seating. Plenty of space between tables encourages good conversation and lingering. There is a Zen simplicity that is intentional here and it carries through to the deceptively simple, Asian inspired dishes on the menu.
There is a broad selection suitable to all tastes; ranging from lighter plates mounded with veggies and soy or seitan proteins to heavier stir-fries and rice dishes for those with heartier appetites. For vegetarians, those who are Kosher Like Me, and gluten free eaters, Gobo is a perfect choice.
Here’s what I recommend:
Pine nut vegetable medley in lettuce wraps was a delicious mix of finely diced jicama, roasted to bring out some natural sugar, scallions, rich pine nuts and crispy rice toppers. Texture was a player here with crisp lettuce wraps enhancing the pleasing sensation. This dish was one of my faves.
Braised tofu in black bean sauce over kale was a generous portion of creamy thick slabs of soybean curd, crispy on the outside and and moistened with chunky, roasted tomato wedges and zucchini slices over a bed of simply steamed kale. Brown rice, coconut rice with raisins and yam fries are available as reasonable side dishes ($2-$6) if you’d like a bed underneath it all to sop up the Asian deliciousness.
Chakra Rolls, are light and raw with plenty of cabbage, red peppers, alfalfa sprouts and lemongrass wrapped neatly and enhanced by the cashew cilantro dipping sauce.
For those with heartier appetites, there are plenty of hot dishes including butternut squash risotto with toasted almonds, smoked Bejing- style seitan with Chinese broccoli, and a few stir -fries. My favorite was the Vietnamese spicy stir fry with rice noodles, carrots, cabbage and bean sprouts.
Kids may enjoy the spaghetti with wheat balls with zucchini and zingy tomato sauce or mini veggie burger sliders, which hit the mark on a rainy eve when a burger would have been tempting.
Everything is vegan except for select breads and chips where eggs and dairy are used. Sauces are rich, varied and sometimes nut based. The onion fonduta (lots o’ onion slowly caramelized and reduced to a golden, sweet paste) added a zippy chunky layer of flavor to the truffled wild mushroom panino we enjoyed.
Salads are simple, fresh and pleasing. The beet salad with steamed baby green beans and walnuts over greens with a light mustard dressing would be a great accompaniment to any of the 4-5 soups offered. Spinach wonton soup or organic white bean with root veggies and pumpkin would be my choice until the weather heats up.
The dessert menu is concise and all dishes are vegan, adding to the appeal for kosher keepers or those with dairy sensitivities.
Juices and smoothies are all organic as are most teas. Shots of wheat grass, flax seed, ginseng, or protein are available to enhance a full page of selections including house made ginger ale with fresh ginger and tempting smoothies like the “awakening” with blended mango, passion fruit and apple juice.
A full page of mostly organic sake, sparkling wines and champagnes, white, red and dessert wines is impressive. I was thrilled to see at least four kosher wines on the list, two from Israel and two from Ankara, Turkey. A concise list of beers is offered, although I was disappointed to not find any local brews on the list.
For diners with gluten sensitivities, the menu is clearly marked.
Gobo is open 7 days a week in these locations:
*1426 Third Ave (at 81st), NYC
* 401 Avenue of the Americas (between Waverly Place and 8th st), NYC
Hankering for some crispy tofu over spring greens?
I turned to Hannah Kaminsky, my brilliant blogging gal pal, vegan expert , cookbook author and recipe developer and here’s what she had whipped up that fit the bill. Interestingly, I had just bumped into Betty Lou’s powdered peanut butter at Whole Foods, where I sampled and fell hard for it.
Read more about it on Hannah’s vegan blog, Bittersweet or on Betty Lou’s site. I throw a tablespoon of Betty Lou’s chocolate peanut butter powder into my smoothie and it transforms it into a high protein, decadent without the fat, shake.
Recipe and photo were created and shared by Hannah Kaminsky, http://bittersweetblog.com/
- 1 Pound Extra-Firm Tofu
- 1/2 Cup Powdered Peanut Butter
- 2 Teaspoons Powdered Garlic
- 1 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
- 1/4 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
- Salt and Ground Black Pepper, to Taste
- Canola or Vegetable Oil, to Fry
- 1 Thinly Sliced Scallion, for Garnish (Optional)
- Drain and press tofu for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the peanut powder and seasonings. Once the tofu is ready, cut it into triangles, rectangles, or cubes, and toss them in the peanut powder. Make sure that all sides are fully coated.
- Place a large skillet with high sides over medium heat, and add in about 1/4 – 1/2 inch layer of oil. When the oil is hot, carefully place a few pieces of the tofu in the skillet at a time, being sure not to crowd the pan. Fry for 3 – 4 minutes on each side, until deep brown and perfectly crispy. Remove and drain the tofu over a over-turned wire rack resting on top of a paper towel, and repeat with the remaining pieces.
- Create a fantastic, instant sauce to go with your tofu by adding water to the remaining peanut powder mixture, one tablespoon at a time. Drizzle over the tofu, and top with scallions if desired.
Hannah says "Seasoning the peanut butter powder lightly and dusting the tofu triangles to coat each piece, the results were spectacular. Not only did the quick dredge create some of the crispiest bean curd I’ve ever crunched on, but the added flavor put it light years ahead of the standard plain starch or flour approach. Served on a bed of sauteed kale and caramelized onions, it was the kind of quick, comforting meal that will no doubt see many repeat performances. Best of all, nothing goes to waste- The peanut butter powder leftover from dredging the tofu is effortlessly rehydrated into a creamy peanut sauce. Drizzled on top or used as a dip on the side, this nutty dish is a delight even to those not wild about tofu."