Where to Bite Vegetarian Fusion – NYC [The Traveling Bite]

Hello again! For those of you who didn’t get my Facebook update [and if you didn’t, you should like LWB for the latest buzz] I was on a whirlwind adventure in New York City, and didn’t get a chance to sit down for my weekly Sunday bite.

Since Sunday, I’ve been back and forth between Brooklyn and Manhattan, trying coffee from every cafe I passed, running my fingers along the spine of every cookbook and memoir in the food writing section. I had a few meetings that I truly consider life-changing.  I sat down with industry idols I only dreamed of meeting up until a few days ago.

I went to NYC with high expectations.

I came home with: A full backpack, [Cookbooks, A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes From my Kitchen Table by Molly Wizenberg, the latest issues of Food Network Magazine, Food & Wine, Martha Stewart Living, Gotham Magazine] a happy stomach [Momo Sushi Shack, The Fat Radish, Saraghina] and some incredible new friends, contacts, and unforgettable experiences.

Before I left for New York, I had a number of people recommend extensive lists of places to eat and sights to see.  Everyone told me I would love New York because there would be no shortage of things to do or food to bite.  Everyone was right.

One of the daily Insalatas at Saraghina in Brooklyn. Crips mesculin greens and endive cut the sweet squash and grilled apple.

One of the daily Insalatas at Saraghina in Brooklyn. Crisp mesculin greens and endive cut the sweet squash and grilled apple in the hearty starter.

As I sat down to share some of my favorite bites from my trip, I realized how difficult it would be to even classify the meals I enjoyed.  From Bed-Stuy to the Lower East Side, Bushwick to the West Village, I love how eclectic and diverse NYC is.  That’s why I decided to share my favorite fushions; the Japanese-tapas with an Italian twist and British gastropubs serving American-style BLTs and Thai-inspired dishes with kabocha squash and hijiki.

My first night in the big city put me at my cousin’s Bed-Stuy brownstone. After I settled in, Eric, Jonathan and I made our way to East Williamsburg for some Japanese Fusion.  If you weren’t looking for Momo Sushi Shack, you probably wouldn’t find it.  Hidden behind the discrete exterior of an old warehouse, this tiny, trendy gem has an extensive vegetarian and vegan menu.

The Handmade Vegan Gyoza from Momo Sushi Shack in East Williamsburg is more easily described as a crisp, stuffed pancake than the dumplings you find in the freezer isle of your local supermarket.

The Handmade Vegan Gyoza from Momo Sushi Shack in East Williamsburg is more easily described as a crisp, stuffed pancake than the dumplings you find in the freezer isle of your local supermarket.

After starting off with hearty bowls of miso soup, packed with seaweed and tofu, we split a few surprising appetizers. A handmade vegan gyoza, filled with oyster mushroom pate, napa cabbage, and chives, arrived at our table looking nothing like the doughy potstickers we’ve all become accustomed to.

We also tried the rice croquettes.  While delicious, it was a bit peculiar to eat the squash and mozzarella-stuffed fried risotto balls with chopsticks.

For my main entree, I enjoyed four vegan futomaki rolls. Sweet soy sauce mushrooms, thin slices of lotus root, cucumber, carrot, hijiki, and mixed pickled vegetables made for a big, sweet and sour bite.

The four thick pieces of futomaki were stuffed thick with traditional Japanese vegetables.

The thick pieces of sushi were stuffed with traditional Japanese vegetables.

The following day, after an incredible meeting at Thomson Reuters in Manhattan, Eric and I convened in the Lower East Side for lunch at The Fat Radish.  A self-proclaimed reflection of London’s Covent Garden Market, the simple, seasonal menu is full of surprising ingredients and vegan-friendly options.

In order to sample as much as I could in one sitting, I ordered the Fat Radish Plate. This daily dish serves up a combination of brown rice and red lentils with the freshest, healthiest, and often locally-sourced ingredients.

With micro greens, kale, and sesame seaweed came thick-cut sweet potato, kabocha squash, turnip, and whole roasted cipollini.  Vibrant cabbage, sauteed chard, and heirloom carrots rounded out the dish.  By the time I got through the day’s fresh offerings, I could hardly touch the rice and lentils.

There were a hundred things I wanted to order off the menu at The Fat Radish - but I had no regrets about this unique, flavorful plate.

There were a hundred things I wanted to order off the menu at The Fat Radish – but I had no regrets about this unique, flavorful plate.

My weekend in New York taught me, above all, to always be hungry.  Hungry for information – from industry professionals, from peers, from 18 miles of books.
Hungry for a slice of funghi flatbread even after a hearty frisee salad with butternut squash, poppyseeds, and grilled apple [at Saraghina].
Hungry for entertainment – A seat at the award-winning play Tribes, at the Barrow Street Theatre, and a sweet after-show cocktail that mixed organic and kosher vodka with apple cider, lemon, juniper and clove [at Bobo NYC].

I’m back in Connecticut for just a few short hours, digesting everything I took in.  Tomorrow, it’s back to Boston for the final run at Emerson. And above all, I’m hungry to get back to NYC, to keep writing and biting my way through it all.

Melanie

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