5 Mott Street, New York, NY
Dim sum has a special place in my heart. This is what I call breakfast food. I actually don’t love American breakfasts. I find cereal to taste like cardboard. Pancakes are alright, if you douse them in syrup and butter. Dim sum is where it’s at. The best part is it’s not overpriced and it’s like tapas where you get to try a little bit of everything.
When I heard there was a vegan dim sum restaurant in New York City, a 30 minute drive from my apartment and a hefty $13 bridge toll, I knew I had to try it the next time I was in the City.
Buddha Bodai isn’t the same as typical dim sum restaurants where people are pushing carts full of piping hot food and screaming loudly at you. As a patron, you’re screaming back what dishes you want and throwing your receipt at them to punch what size plate you ordered. Instead, you ordered off a paper menu and they give you a carbon copy so that they know who ordered what.
When we arrived on a Sunday at 12 pm, the place was packed. We ended up sharing a 4 top table with 2 nice gentlemen. The restaurant staff was speaking my language (Cantonese that is) and it felt like I was home.
The food came out all at once. We opted to choose 6 plates to share amongst the two of us.
Bottom Left: Sticky Rice Wrapped in Bamboo Leaves
Left the 4 white dumplings: “Shrimp” Dumplings
Middle: “Shrimp” Rice Rolls
Top Right Fried 3 Pieces: Fried Taro Custard
Top Far Right in the Corner: “Tripe”
Right: Crueller Rice Rolls
Everything was as good as I remembered it and I only remember the meat versions. The only dish we ordered that was lacking, which is my childhood favorite, is the “shrimp” dumplings. Those didn’t taste remotely like the shrimp dumplings of real dim sum restaurants.
However, their shrimp rice rolls tasted just like real shrimp rice rolls. Even the tripe tasted like what tripe dim sum tastes like. It was slightly creepy how well they got the texture and flavor down.
The crueller rice roll got everyone’s attention near us. Others nearby even ordered it after they saw it on our table.
I was saddened to see no veganized version of my all time favorite dim sum: spicy chicken feet. I know, it sounds disgusting but trust me, it was good. But with such an abundance of other types of vegan dim sum, I can gladly do without. Another perk is that I can finally eat dim sum without feeling guilty for taking lives.
Six plates, two people and we were happily stuffed. The two gents next to us ordered 7 and a main dish. They actually had to ask the wait staff to please cancel the main dish order because they were so full from their 7 plates. Our six plates came out to less than $25. Now that’s a bargain for how full we felt afterwards.
The staff was also really nice and polite. They automatically spoke Cantonese to me, which made me feel even more at home with them. This reason alone I would return because I love being treated well by staff.
Little tidbit when at a fully Chinese restaurant, if you’re out of tea, just take off the top of the tea pot, that is the sign to them to refill. They automatically know this.
Would I return? You bet I would. I wanted to get a job as a dish washer and ask them to just pay me in dim sum that’s how much I liked it. If you’re in China Town and looking for a vegan friendly spot, give Buddha Bodai a try. You won’t regret it.