If there's one place in the city that offers you fried food without the greasy guilt, it's the West Village's Red Bamboo. A little piece of healthy heaven, Red Bamboo's menu re-imagines traditional meat dishes with creative mock meat options. Such ingenuity has elevated the quaint basement restaurant to cult status among New York's vegetarian crowd.
One of their more successful substitutions is their Creole Soul Chicken ($12.95). Served with a scoop of sweet corn mashed potatoes drenched in mushroom gravy and a side of simple steamed vegetables (carrots, zucchini and yellow squash), the dish centers around several pieces of panko-breaded fried soy chicken. But what really kicks this dish up a flavor notch is the accompanying tangy hickory smoke Vidalia dressing. The only compliant? There's not nearly enough of this piquant dressing in the small dipping bowl. The soy chicken was juicy enough, but this added sauce made the meal into a dinner even this committed carnivore loved.