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Winter 2006 - Act•ionLine

by Edita Birnkrant | Winter 2006

Red Bamboo: Vegetarian Caribbean Soul Comes to Brooklyn

Restaurant Review

With the summer 2006 opening of Red Bamboo Brooklyn, we open a new chapter in the history of vegetarian dining in New York City.

The original Red Bamboo in Manhattan?s West Village is a long-time favorite of the vegetarian crowd and is the city?s undisputed champ of fabulous faux-meat cuisine. Compact and cheery, it?s known as the place to impress omnivores with stunningly authentic versions of soul food. The crispy ?Soul Chicken? is legendary. The raging success of the original location is apparent to anyone strolling past the Manhattan local, with its lines of people waiting for a table almost every night of the week.

It?s no surprise, then, that the creators of Red Bamboo decided to unveil a Brooklyn version. Located at the corner of an elegant brownstone building in Fort Greene, Red Bamboo Brooklyn retains the vision that has proven so successful for its predecessor. Owner Jason Wong is excited that ?the vegetarian and non-vegetarian communities have been very responsive.?

In the warmer months, visitors can dine al fresco in the shade of the leafy trees adorning a spacious patio enclosed by the wrought-iron gates that frame the building. Live jazz bands perform outside during Saturday and Sunday brunch, while guests enjoy vegan waffles, pancakes, or tofu scramble. Relaxing at Red Bamboo Brooklyn for Sunday Brunch while enjoying live jazz is soothing to the soul.

Inside, the d�cor will warm diners during the chilliest months. The earth-toned downstairs dining room is minimalist-posh: exposed brick walls, velvet draperies, lots of hanging lights, and candlelight in the evening. Features include a full juice and cocktail bar outfitted with bamboo wood and a recycled glass bartop. The upper floor is a well-appointed lounge complete with a smaller bar, and a back deck area with couches. Live bands perform on Thursdays in the lounge, and there is jazz on Sundays.

Classic dishes from the original location are here, along with a fresh Caribbean influence. The delectable Soul Chicken -- crispy, breaded, morsels seasoned with rosemary and a Cajun flair, and accompanied by a hickory smoke Vidalia dressing -- is available both as hearty appetizer or a main course served with steamed greens, sweet corn, and mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy. Those in the mood for a light appetizer might try the Collard Green Rolls, with a filling of greens and vegetarian smoked ham, served with a sweet chili dipping sauce. The Cajun Fried Shrimp is an indulgent concoction, seasoned with paprika, thyme and sage served with a southern barbeque sauce. Then there are the new and enticing Barbeque Chicken Kabobs, sweet seitan kabobs marinated in plum teriyaki sauce grilled over an open fire, and served with sweet chile sauce, and all the classic vegetables.

For a Caribbean touch, try the Oxtail Menudo -- soy morsels wrapped around a bone of sugarcane and served in a peppery potato, carrot and raisin stew. Or the traditional Caribbean Calaloo Soup, rich and creamy, made with leafy vegetables and coconut milk.

Innovative sandwiches include The Montego, grilled jerk-spiced soy layers over lettuce, carrots, onions, watercress and Vidalia onion dressing served on coco bread. Another Red Bamboo original is The Willy Bobo, a Cuban sandwich made of smoked soy ham, pickles, vegan mayonnaise, Dijon mustard and vegan Swiss cheese on grilled coco bread. All sandwiches are served with a choice of fries, spicy fries, salad or a cup of the highly recommended Calaloo soup.

Sensational salads are also offered on the menu, with a fantastic option being the Mango Chicken Salad, a tender soy chicken marinated in a spiced tamarind dressing, grilled over an open fire, and served over a mixed green salad with mushroom, carrots, scallions, tomatoes and cucumbers, and a tropical touch of fresh mango slices.

If faux meats are not your thing, you will still find plenty on the menu, including the Vegetable Skewers, the Portobello Mushroom Salad, a Vegetable Croquette with habanera aioli, and Broccoli & Sweet Potato Tempura.

The popular ?Vegan Treats? cakes are available for dessert, along with vegan ice cream, or mango, coconut and peach sorbet. Vegan ice cream shakes, such as the mint chocolate chip shake, also make for a sweet ending.

Red Bamboo Brooklyn is located at 271 Adelphi Street at the corner of DeKalb Avenue.

Open Tuesday-Friday, noon to midnight; Saturday & Sunday, 11 a.m. to midnight.

Brunch is served 11 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Tel: 718.643.4352 or 718.643.4806


Delivery and catering services are available, as is space for parties and events.

Note to vegans:  Several menu items contain milk or egg products, and all are designated by an asterisk on the menu. We?re glad that this restaurant has made the effort to make it as easy as possible to order vegan dishes without any surprises. It would not be a big step for the Red Bamboo to be 100% vegetarian, and we hope they do so. All of the dishes described in this review are vegan.


Edita Birnkrant

Act•ionLine Winter 2006

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