I had heard all good things about Mooncake Foods from Midtown Lunch – my go-to resource when I am looking for lunch in the midtown area – and was not disappointed. The restaurant / cafe serves what it calls “homecooked Asian comfort food”. Although I did not realize this when I went there – nothing is fried, there are no processed meats, they use natural and organic ingredients when possible. They also make their own sauces, roast their peppers themselves,… and you get the point. No wonder then that the food was fresh and delicious. The portions were generous and the service was excellent!! The restaurant is not exclusively vegan / vegetarian, but I loved the dishes that I tried there. If you are keen to know how their Shanghai-style short ribs taste, or how their steak and roasted peppers sandwich tastes, then look at Yelp.
We ordered the following:
- Vietnamese Summer Rolls
- Spicy Tofu Banh Mi and
- Grilled Tofu and Buckwheat Soba with ginger cilantro pesto
Vietnamese Summer Rolls: The rolls were very fresh and delicious, although I can’t remember tasting much shrimp in it. The rice paper wrap was thin, the salad leaves fresh, and dipping sauce was perfectly sweet and slightly savory with the crunchy peanuts on top. I love steamed, cooked shrimp, but will not complain if I do not get enough of it, especially when everything else in the dish tastes so fantastic. I would get this dish again when I just think of how fresh it was.
Spicy Tofu Banh Mi: This was the dish I wanted to order even before I went there – based on superlative Yelp and Midtown lunch reviews, and I ordered it. The tofu strips were marinated in a sweet-chili sauce, and the baguette was stuffed with tofu, thinly-sliced onions, freshly grated carrots, some zucchini slices, and some sliced jalapenos. While this was a tasty dish, it did not WOW me as I thought it would. Perhaps, it was not spicy enough despite the jalapenos? Or may be it was not sweet enough? Or may be it was too dry and needed more sweet-chili sauce? I would get this again, but with lower expectations. I was so excited about this dish, that I was disappointed that it did not meet my expectations. Isn’t it true – once you lower your expectations, everything seems fine? I do so when I go to the movies, but need reminders to do so when I eat out :-(
Grilled Tofu and Buckwheat Soba with ginger cilantro pesto: This dish was the highlight of the lunch. I could have got it with grilled chicken, but it may not have tasted as good as it did (or may be it would have). The tofu was grilled, but ever-so-slightly that it tasted very fresh and felt very soft. The buckwheat soba noodles were cooked well and salted enough too. Often, I find that pasta / noodles are not adequately salted and therefore taste “meh”. But I had no such complaints with this dish – perhaps the best buckwheat soba noodles that I have tasted in a long, long time. Other restaurants in NYC that I have had tasty soba noodles at, are Matsugen (not around any more) and Kajitsu. But these noodles are better than those served at the other two restaurants. OK, back to the dish at Mooncake Foods – the mesclun leaves were fresh, as were the grape tomatoes and the thinly grated carrots. The ginger cilantro pesto sauce accompanying the dish is highly recommended. The sauce was spicy because of the ginger (may be it had some green chilies too), but there must have been some lime to balance the ginger with its acidity. I love cilantro and ginger, so I believe that it’s the sauce that took the dish to another league. In case you were wondering, this is a fantastic vegan dish and very filling too – so I would definitely get this again (and not the chicken version).
Other vegetarian (and some vegan dishes) at Mooncake Foods that I would like to try are:
- Jicama spring rolls
- Pea shoot dumplings
- Garlic grilled veggie sammie
- roasted veggie plate with Korean Chili paste
- Agedashi Tofu and rice noodles
- Avocado watercress salad
- and many other veggie sides
Other info about Mooncake Foods that might be of interest:
- Yelp reviews are mixed about delivery service for dinner
- They serve $2 Sapporo beer
- Other outlets of Mooncake Foods are in SoHo and in Chelsea in NYC
Tell me, please, have you had amazing grilled tofu elsewhere in NYC?