On the corner of 46th Street and 9th Ave
Overall Rating: 3.0 / 5.0 karats
You’ll find all types whetting their “palate” at this theatre district joint with tourists and locals alike seeking their “path to gastronomic enlightenment”; While some of the dishes will get you there, others will lead you down the path of eternal damnation (ok, that’s a bit over the top). The décor and ambiance (especially the elevator tunes lulling away in the background) leaves much to be desired, but the exclusively vegetarian menu has some savory dishes inspired by Chinese cuisine. The Union square location, which I think was the better looking younger sister of this location, shut down about a year ago (due to high rent), but this is a good second best. While I won’t guarantee that they’ll cure whatever’s ailing you, the herbal tonics are a good addition to any dish.
Food: 3.5 karats
Sizzling Medallions (Pic below)
Singapore Style Curried Rice Noodles (Pic below)
Sweet Yam Fries (Pic below)
Mind over Muddle (herbal tonic)
Be discriminating when choosing the dishes here. While there are several dishes that are a delight to the tastebuds, the entire menu is not as appetizing. I recommend ordering the dishes from the dinner menu (and not the prix fixe menu). While more expensive, the dishes are carefully crafted with delicate flavors, while the prix fixe is an attempt to add some inexpensive fare to the offerings. Start with something salty to get the tastebud juices running. I had the yam fries which are delicately fried and salted with a contradiction of light sweetness. The Singapore noodles have a strong curry flavor and are wok cooked with vegetables. The Sizzling Medallions (shown below) come out on a wrought iron tray still sizzzlng from the open fire pit (or stove) that they were cooked on.
The sizzling medallions are the reason I come to Zen Palate and the reason I’ll keep coming back. They are savory morsels of wheat gluten cooked in a full bodied sauce that has hints of orange (with sliced orange peels) and sautéed asparagus, mushrooms, onions and string beans. The herbal tonics are just what the doctor ordered made on a base of soda water with fruit juices.
Ambiance: 2 karats
You can sit in the front or walk through the kitchen and sit in the back area (there is also some outside seating available in the summer). The mirror paneled backroom is preferable, but some renovations would do this place some good. The restaurant does not appear to have been kept up well and this is its serious downfall. The aesthetically unpleasing dining room is a contradiction to the zen art that is put into the preparation of the food.
Service: 2.5 karats
Mediocre at best. Once you get put back into the backroom, you may be forgotten about for some time but they are pretty accommodating on any requests and seating preferences.
I had one appetizer, two entrees, and a herbal tonic. The bill ran us about $40 (excluding tip), which comes out to about $20 per person.