The other two main places we ate at (but which I didn't take pics of) were Red Bamboo and Pukk.
I'd been to Red Bamboo on my first trip to NYC back in the day (that was probably at least 6 years ago or so)--I remembered it being hip and posh and kinda snazzy on the inside. I was wowed by the food, and I was wowed by the decor. Going back again, I was a tad bit underwhelmed. It wasn't quite so cute and posh as I remembered it--it was a bit more well-worn and not quite so sophisticated-looking. I was a little bit disappointed as it was E's first NYC-restaurant experience, and it wasn't quite what I remembered it. But he liked it quite a bit nonetheless.
For an appetizer, we got something that I'm not currently seeing on their on-line menu. It was faux-chicken-related, and it was rather tasty. Vaguery, yes--my apologies.
E's entree didn't blow me away at all--he liked it much more than I did: Creole Soul Chicken Panko breaded seasoned soy chicken served with sweet corn mashed potatoes, steamed baby carrots, zucchini and their classic mushroom gravy.
I got the BBQ ribs (which for some reason is ALSO not on their on-line menu) with a side of veggies and corn mashed-potatoes with mushroom gravy. The ribs were quite delish, but I found myself thinking I could probably come close to duplicating them at home. The best part of the meal was the mashed potatoes and gravy. Damn damn damn that was good and unexpected. I can't even pin down precisely what was tasty about them, but they were awesome.
Despite being not quite as impressed as my first time there, I must say, their vegan Peanut-Butter Cup Cheesecake though--holy mother of god. I've never tasted anything like it. It was rich and sexy, gloriously gloriously peanut-buttery, and decadent like you would not believe. Best vegan cheesecake I've tasted, no contest. And one of the best desserts I've had, vegan or otherwise. If you're there, and it's on special, you MUST order it. In fact, it'd be worth making a trip over there just to get your hands on some.
But alas--except for the cheesecake, I didn't get my socks knocked off like the first time around. Don't get me wrong, the food was very good. But it wasn't anything more extravagant or special than what I can get at Cleveland's Web of Life. Damn fine vegan-cooking, but nothing to make your toes curl with its NYC-awesomeness.
140 W 4th St, New York 10012
Btwn 6th Ave & MacDougal St
Pukk on the other hand was the restaurant that I wasn't quite expecting to blow me away--it has kind of a standard veggie Thai-fare on their menu, though I was excited to find out that apparently everything was vegan. But lo and behold, they of course completely knocked my socks off (there was a lot of sock-knocking going on that weekend), perhaps because I wasn't expecting it at all. It's a very tiny (but cute space) with one of the cooler bathrooms I've ever been in (and I usually don't note the coolness of bathrooms). And its food was awesome awesome awesome.
We shared an appetizer (Stuffed Tofu--stuffed with cucumber, onion and carrot w. peanut chutney) which was delicate and yummy and just the right amount, and we each got a bowl of their Tom Yum Spicy Tofu (w. lemongrass, tofu and mushroom) soup which was the perfect level of spiciness that makes my nose starts to run and I *almost* can't handle it but can.
For my entree, I got the Steak Tofu (pan seared tofu w. peanut sauce) (I'd been debating, but then a woman sitting next to me got HER tofu-steak and it looked SO fricking good that I couldn't've picked anything else) and man was it impressive. The tofu was delicate, stacked on a bed of rice and veggies, with a rich and creamy peanut-sauce drizzled all over it. It seriously was one of the best things I'd eaten in quite a long time.
75 1st Ave, New York 10003
Btwn 4th & 5th St
All in all, if (and when) I go back again, I'm gonna be ALL OVER Pukk. Really really good food that won't leave your wallet limp. Red Bamboo, on the other hand, would probably be my NYC-Web of Life if I lived there--some place that I go when I'm in the mood for some vegan homecooking, but not something I'd hold off on just for special occasions.