Traditional dim sum is awesome, unless you're a vegetarian. Thankfully, Chinatown has Vegetarian Dim Sum House where omnivores and vegetarians can eat dim sum in harmony at any time of the day.
Although you wouldn't mistaken the "roast pork" in the mock roast pork buns for the real thing, vegetarians should be happy enough with this meat-free version. Pork-like textured bits suspended in a sweet and savory sauce made the heart of the fluffy steamed bun. I only wish that there had been more filling instead of bread.
Rice flour rolls with deep fried dough consisted of two sticks of airy, deep-fried bread wrapped in thin sheets of steamed rice noodle drizzled with soy sauce. It's better when it's hot, but still satisfyingly chewy when cooled down.
I was disappointed that the spinach dumplings weren't stuffed with spinach like the ones I had in Flushing; the spinach part was just in the elastic skin, and as far as I could tell, didn't add much to the dumplings flavor. The filling didn't add much either.
Thankfully the monk dumplings were much better. The filling tasted like it contained mushroom and taro, but neither me or my friends could figure out exactly what all the components were—we just knew that we liked it. If it's good enough for a Buddhist monk, it's good enough for you.
My favorite dish was the mashed taro treasure boxes, which, despite the name, aren't box-shaped nor contain anything that I'd call a treasure. They're balls of mashed taro that have been breaded and deep-fried, like a potato croquette. Bite through the light, crisp shell and you reach the creamy, starchy innards that have a hint of nuttiness and sweetness. Each ball may look small, but it packs a heavy carbohydrate-laden punch.
Vegetarian Dim Sum House
24 Pell Street, New York, NY 10013 (b/n Mott and Elizabeth; map) 212-577-7176