For those looking to eat a healthier plant-based diet, the new Zen Garden at 1 Great Neck Rd. has a plentiful selection of soups, appetizers, salads, burgers, entrées and grain dishes from a variety of cuisines that are so satisfying, carnivores won’t miss the meat. And, many residents will be thrilled to learn that it’s certified kosher, too.
As owner of Red Lotus bakery and Little Dumpling in Little Neck, co-owner May Sze and her business partner Isabelle Fu know what diners are looking for. The co-owners wanted to bring healthier options to the peninsula, including the detoxing Five Elements Soups. Helping them accomplish their mission is Chef Shirley Low, a graduate of the Natural Gourmet Institute for Health & Culinary Arts in New York City, who prepares international flavors with influences from China, Japan, Korea and Thailand to India, Mexico and even the Caribbean.
In the former home of Royal Tea House at the corner of Middle Neck and Great Neck roads, the plush teal seating welcomes guests for a relaxing dining experience. While the lighting has been updated to lotus fixtures and some accessories have been added, dishes are still served on the elegant teahouse china.
Diners having trouble deciding what to choose from the extensive offerings have help visualizing their meal with the photos accompanying the dish descriptions.
The menu offers soups, such as Broccoli Cashew Cream, Miso Tofu and Pumpkin Mushroom ($6.95 to $13.95 for two), along with Noodle Soups like Curry Vegetable Tofu, Roast Soy Protein and Wonton ($12.50).
Interesting shareable appetizer selections include Tofu Kebab, Popcorn Sea Protein, Soy Drumsticks, Sushi Roti, Samosas and Guacamole Chips ($3.95 to $8.95).
Satisfying as a starter or main dish, creative salads include Avocado, Thai Mango, Fresh Fruit, Roasted Beet and Kale Quinoa ($12.95 to $14.95).
Chef Specials include Oyster Mushroom Broccoli Rabe, a remarkable rendition of a scallop dish, Peking Roast Soy Protein and Crispy Coconut Shrimp ($16.95 to $18.95). Entrée options range from Grilled Eggplant, Portobello Mushroom Jerk to Vegetable in Curry Sauce ($13.95 to $17.95).
Asian-influenced casserole offerings include Korean Kim Chi Hot Pot, Spicy Szechuan Hot Pot and Yesenabe with tofu, shitake mushrooms and other assorted vegetables ($17.95).
Though the Noodle section of the menu offers traditional items like Pad Thai, Soy Protein Lo Mein and Sichuan Style with Spice Sauce ($11.50 to $13.50), some surprises are available in the Fried Rice section, from Thai to Mexican to Chickpea ($12.50 to $14.50).
Served with yucca or sweet potato fries and inspired by cuisines from around the world, the items on the Burger, Sandwiches & Wraps section of the menu include Portobello Mushroom topped with a soy protein patty and loaded with guacamole, Eggplant Tempura Sandwich, Caribbean Wrap, Mexican Tortilla Wrap, Hummus Club Sandwich and Falafel in Pita Bread ($9.95 to $15.95).
Sushi enthusiasts can try the eclectic Mexican Spicy Roll, Caribbean Soy Protein Roll, Avocado Rice Paper Roll ($13.50) or traditional California, Sweet Potato and Vegetable Rolls ($5 to $6.50).
Diners wanting a special breakfast or brunch on the weekends will be delighted with Gluten-Free Quinoa Waffles, Pancakes and French Toast ($6.95 to $14.50) from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. During the week, pre-fixe lunch specials ($11.95) are also available from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Complementing any meal is the comprehensive variety of hot or cold teas, including Milk, Oolong, Health, Green, Black, White and Blooming ($6 to $8.95). Hot pots of fragrant Fruit Teas in House, Mango, Passion and Tropical ($8.95) are kept warm at the table over a lit candle.
With the extensive menu options, diners will surely return guilt free to try all of the delectable plant-based selections in a comfortable atmosphere with attentive service.
“I want to teach people that they can eat well and healthfully,” said Sze.
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