Mon-Sat, noon-10pm; Sun, closed
F, V at Lower East Side-Second Ave.
American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
East Broadway to 14th St., FDR Dr. to Broadway
Tiengarden's Chinese is not only vegan but free of what the menu vilifies as "the five impurities"—onion, garlic, leeks, shallots and tobacco. While it's doubtful you'll miss tobacco in your mixed greens, the lack of onion and garlic is a little worrying. Happily, the kitchen manages to create a number of winning flavor combinations out of crisply fresh, lightly cooked vegetables. Tofu, seitan, and gluten are prodded into an impressive number of textures—creamy, crunchy, bready, and even meaty. Peanuts, ginger, basil, bell peppers, along with vegan takes on sweet and sour and black bean sauces, add secondary notes. These culinary tactics work out well in noodle dishes like spicy Peking udon, or vegetarian standards like Buddha’s delight, redolent with the nutty flavor of shiitake mushrooms and tender bamboo shoots. Also good is the sweet-and-tangy bean curd and broccoli in tomato-basil sauce. Mock meat dishes are less successful: satay kebab, for example, looks like skewered beef but tastes more like beef jerky. Less exciting are the surroundings. Apart from a few hanging plants and some calligraphy on the walls, the tiny dining room consists of little more than ten tables and a counter.Recommended Dishes
Seaweed rolls, $7.50; five treasures, $11