Owned by the same proprietor - two well known vegetarian haunts located in the heart of Chinatown (one on Mott, the other on nearby Pell Street.) Their menus blazoned with the same green and white Buddha, these restaurants serve up a number of dishes, done veggie style – from Orange Beef to General Tso...classic takeout fare, made with mock meat filling in for the real thing. As with many of their carnivorous brethren, the decoration is minimal – yet many vegetarians flock to their door – swearing by their flavor and authenticity.
For the GG trip, the litmus test was chicken (General Tso at HOV, Sweet and Sour at VDS.) Both restaurants won points for variety...offering literally hundreds of options, from mock steak to Peking Spare Ribs. The creativity also impressed – made from yam, the sweet and sour chicken almost passed the texture test...though it lost for authenticity, being fried instead of battered. It passed the taste test, too – dipped in a vivid orange sauce, dappled with pineapple and green pepper. As for the General Tso? Well, they gave me the wrong dish - a bland vegetable medley, tossed with thin slices of tofu. Neither dish was bad – but neither stood out...either as culinary masterpieces, or otherwise authentic fare (at least judging by the green pepper sauce.) And the cost? Over $10.00 per dish (rice not included) – more than your usual takeout, with less flavor in return.
I finished the Sweet and Sour in a nearby park – and gave the vegetable medley to a group of homeless, after taking a few tentative bites. It wasn't worth carting home, but I hate to see anything go to waste. Disappointed, I headed for the subway – reflecting that a better choice would have been honest, actual vegetables – stirfried by my local Chinese takeaway.