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Radha: A Vegetarian World on New York’s Lower East Side

In the East Village and Lower East Side of Manhattan, one is never more than a few streets away from a vegetarian restaurant. The opening of Radha in April 2005 has provided yet another oasis for the diner in search of intriguing vegetable-based fare.

Located on the bustling and hip Ludlow Street, Radha is named for the Indian goddess of love and devotion, whose soothing presence might explain the warm glow that envelopes all guests — or perhaps it’s the sunset-colored walls with their rows of crimson and white beaded lamps. Or the sound of flowing water from a wavy waterfall sculpture that’s affixed to one wall. It’s Indian décor with a funky twist, where the diner can peruse a menu comprised of Indian, Asian, Mediterranean and classic vegetarian dishes while a combination of classic Indian and new-age music flows softly through the air.

Most of Radha’s menu is vegan, with vegan items clearly marked as such. The East Indian Dahl soup is rich and creamy, with a perfect blend of smokiness and spice. The Veggie Filet and Couscous appetizer is a hearty soy cutlet, grilled and served on a bed of mixed vegetables and lightly seasoned couscous, topped with homemade tomato sauce. Another good start is the Savory Samosas — a dish of pastry turnovers with curried cauliflower and pea filling and served with a side of Tamarind Date Chutney sauce. The Italian Market salad refreshingly combines seasonal vegetables marinated in lemon juice, artichokes, olive oil and herbs, served with fresh cubed tofu. The variety of dressings includes a remarkable vegan almond recipe.

The list of main courses offers the full range of cuisines that Radha so wonderfully marries. The Mediterranean Delight offers spaghetti pasta with savory “Kofta” balls made of delicately spiced grated cauliflower topped with homemade marinara sauce. The macrobiotic Bowl of Plenty overflows with steamed vegetables and grilled tofu on a bed of organic brown rice, with tahini miso sauce. Asian Temptation mixes stir-fried, seasonal vegetables and grilled tempeh, topped with sweet and sour teriyaki sauce, and served with soba buckwheat noodles or organic brown rice. Then there’s the American Classic Veggie Burger, a homemade vegan burger served on an organic whole-wheat bun with a side of fries. The Barbequed Tofu comes with steamed greens and mashed sweet potatoes.

Desserts at Radha are just as diverse in scope. I sampled the Indian Style Halava of the Day, a semolina-based marvel served in two generous violet-hued scoops, with a drizzle of raspberry sauce. There is the Organic Zucchini Cake with maple walnut frosting, and truly unique are the Vegan Cream Cheese Truffles, filled with roasted pecans and Medjool dates, and rolled in shredded coconut.

Radha offers Sunday Brunch from eleven until three in the afternoon, including a Vegan Tomato Omelette, made from chickpea flour and served with a side of tomato chutney sauce and hash browns, Multi-Grain Pancakes served with blueberry sauce or maple syrup, and Scrambled Tofu served with soy sausage and hash browns, along with such staples as granola and fresh fruits, hot oatmeal, bagels and tofu cream cheese.

As Radha will please fans of the exotic or the traditional, it’s the perfect place to bring a group of people who can’t agree on the kind of food they want. So take the crew downtown, for a world of vegetarianism awaits you at Radha.

Ready to Go?
173 Ludlow Street (between Houston and Stanton Street)
New York, NY 10002
Tel: 212.473.3374

Dinner Hours
Tuesday & Wednesday 5 p.m. - 11 p.m.; Thursday 5 p.m. - 12 a.m;
Friday & Saturday 5 p.m.- 1 a.m.; Sunday 5 p.m. - 11 p.m.
Brunch: Sunday 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Delivery service and catering available.