I’m surprised to see this is the first Turkish restaurant I’ve written abut on this blog. I’ve passed by Taci’s Beyti many times over the years on the Coney Island Avenue bus, and although I kept meaning to check it out I never did until this past weekend. There isn’t a single vegetarian option among the entrees but there are more than enough appetizers and salads to make a great vegetarian, or even vegan if you wanted, meal. All meals start with a basket of bread, and it’s great. Puffy and soft on the inside, slightly crusty on the outside, and perfect for sopping up sauces. They have all f the classics you’d expect on the menu, from hummus and stuffed grape leaves to artichokes with potatoes. I started with a cold appetizer of red bean stew, served in a light tomato sauce with fresh herbs and lemon. The beans were creamy on the inside, and the bread mopped up the sauce nicely. I also had the spinach pies, five small triangles of filo dough stuffed with fresh spinach blended with a touch of feta cheese. Nothing fancy, just well-made Turkish food. The portions are great for sharing too, so I’d recommend going with a group.
Taci’s Beyti — 1953-1955 Coney Island Ave
Before an… interesting German production of Richard III at BAM, we stopped for a quick German meal at Black Forest Brooklyn. They have a ton of vegetarian and vegan dishes, including an eggplant schnitzel and a vegan bratwurst (pictured above). I’m pretty sure the “brat” was just a Field Roast sausage on a bun, but since I love Field Roast that’s ok. Plus with a bunch of both sweet and hot mustard, plus the vegan sauerkraut, it was spicy and delicious. Even better were the soft pretzel (with more of that mustard) and best off all were the fried mushrooms served with a truffle mayonnaise.
Black Forest Brooklyn — 733 Fulton St
I’m happy to see that Brooklyn’s options for Korean food are getting better. A few years ago we got Insa, the Korean restaurant and karaoke bar, and now we have Hanki Everyday Korean. It’s in the old Tofu on 7th space, which makes it just far enough away that I won’t go there everyday (pun not intended), but close enough that I can order delivery from them and have great vegetarian Korean food here super fast. I recently ordered the vegetable bibimbap — a bowl of rice topped with various fresh, cooked, and pickled vegetables, which is then mixed together with a spicy red pepper paste. I got fried tofu on top as well for a little extra protein. I love bibimbap for its variety of flavors, textures, and temperatures, and even the delivery version worked on all of those fronts.
Hanki Everyday Korean — 226 7th Ave
Outside of soup dumplings I don’t really know a lot about Shanghainese food. The one vegetarian dish I do know about is kao fu, braised wheat gluten served cold in a sweet and savory sauce with peanuts and wood ear mushrooms. That dish was the star of the meal I had at Yaso Tangbao in Downtown Brooklyn. Yaso Tangbao seems to want to be the Shanghainese version of Xian Famous, down to the loud music and the menu on the wall with pictures and number-letter combinations for the dishes. Unlike Xian, where the chewy noodles are the main attraction, my soy garlic noodles were too mushy to really enjoy despite the tasty sauce. My mind keeps wandering back to the kao fu though; the wonderful pillowy texture and the contrasts in flavors were fantastic. I’m now on the lookout for more Shanghai restaurants to explore even more vegetarian options. Any recommendations?
Yaso Tangbao — 148 Lawrence St
Even though there’s a slight chill in the air it’s a great time of year for fruit at the farmer’s market. There are still late peaches, but apples and pears are beginning to take over. There are also plums, in many sizes and varieties, and their sweet/tart flavor makes an ideal match for clafoutis. Clafoutis (pronounced cla-foo-tee) is a dessert that’s somewhere between a souffle and a pancake, and it’s so easy to make I don’t know why I don’t do it every night. I used this recipe from Epicurious, but I used almond extract instead of vanilla. The nutty flavor balanced perfectly with the sweet batter and the tart plums.
Mix one cup of milk, three eggs, 1/2 cup of sugar, two tablespoons of melted butter, and a teaspoon of almond extract (or vanilla if you’re a stickler for the original recipe) together until thoroughly mixed. And a half cup of all purpose flour and mix until smooth. Then pour the batter into a baking dish or oven-proof pan, and add the fruit of your choice. I halved and pitted some sugar plums, but feel free to use whatever you like. Put the pan into a pre-heated 325 degree oven and bake for 35-40 minutes. It kind of poofs up but then deflates pretty fast. It’s best warm, right out of the oven. It’s even better with a scoop of homemade ice cream over the top.
I don’t write a lot about Thai food on this blog. I love Thai food, but it can be hard to find vegetarian versions of most dishes — many restaurants add nam pla, or fish sauce, to the dishes for flavor even if they are listed as vegetarian on the menu. So it was exciting to see a vegetarian and even vegan section of the menu at Mondayoff, the new restaurant by the owners of Plant Love House (despite the name most of the menu is not vegetarian). I got the Yum Puk Boong Jay, a salad of sorts with battered and deep fried watercress tossed with tofu, chili, lime, peanuts, fried garlic, red onion, and herbs. It was fantastic — the crisp warmth of the watercress was offset by the spicy lime dressing, and every bite made me want to eat more. I had a version of this dish at SriPraPhai, the venerable Queens Thai institution, many years ago and the dish and Mondayoff blows that one away on every level. Plus it’s so much closer to me.
Mondayoff by Plant Love House — 752 Coney Island Ave
For my first visit to Hugo & Sons, just a short walk from my apartment, we met my parents for brunch. Although the zucchini frittata and the roasted eggplant both sounded good, I only had eyes for the pizza. I got a Hugo, basically your classic Margherita, and it was incredible. A light and crispy crust, good sauce, and incredibly creamy fior di latte mozzarella all made for something greater than the sum of its parts and one of the best pizzas I’ve had in a while. I ate it so quickly I forgot to top it with some of the house chili oil. Oh well, there’s always next time.
Hugo & Sons — 367 7th Ave