After becoming a vegetarian, it took me a while to realize that I could still eat sushi—there's more to it than just raw fish. Over the years I came to revel in the pleasures of vegetarian sushi and other Japanese food. And in the past few years, my go-to place has been Geido on Flatbush Avenue. It's not showy, nor interested in fusion or fancy cooking, but it serves really good, fresh, and tasty food.
My meal started not with sushi, but with vegetable kakiage ($6). Kakiage is similar to tempura, but instead of battering and frying whole vegetables, the vegetables are cut into thin strips and turned into light and airy fritters. The fritters were freshly fried and only slightly oily. One word of caution: the dipping sauce that normally comes with the kakiage is dashi-based (meaning it has broth made with dried fish flakes). This same dipping sauce comes with a few other innocuous sounding menu items, like the cold soba noodles, so it pays to ask. My server was very knowledgeable about what contained dashi and what did not. The good news is that with a few sprinkles of simple table salt, the kakiage's flavor came into bright focus.
I ordered three different rolls for my main course. In the foreground you see the oshinko roll ($3.50) featured pickled radish and carrot. The nori, or seaweed, on the outside of the roll gave way to soft rice and the crunchy, tangy pickles. In the middle is the avocado-cucumber roll ($4.50). The velvet texture of avocado is a perfect match with sushi rice, and cucumber gave it a cool bit of crunch. Both of these rolls benefited from a quick dip in the obligatory soy sauce and wasabi. The roll in the back, spicy vegetable roll ($4.50) was perfectly seasoned on its own. The roll was stuffed with avocado, cucumber, asparagus, spinach, and lettuce—all of which added a nice variety of flavors and textures. The master stroke is the spicy mayo that lines the inside of the roll, bringing all of the disparate elements together and, or course, adding some heat.
Although many of the menu items I ordered at Geido were similar to those I tasted at Bozu, the experiences could not have been more different. Where Bozu seems to be playing with the notion of Japanese food, Geido offers more straightforward dishes. This is not a bad thing by any means; there's a reason that the restaurant has been around since 1985.
331 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11217 (map)
About the author: Howard Walfish is a Virginia native who has been living in New York since 2003. He is, in fact, a vegetarian, and is the co-founder of Eat to Blog and the creator of BrooklynVegetarian.