Fake Bird, Actual Meal: Tiny Thai Yum-Yum Vegetarian Duck Salad
No shotguns used in the preparation of this dish.
If you've eaten your fair share of meat substitutes, you've probably noticed that the veg flesh -- or even tofu -- is often masked by heavy sauces. This happens a lot in Asian dishes. Chicken, beef, pork, and seafood are the shining stars of the continent's many offerings, but the imitation largely serves as ho-hum filler.
This isn't the case with Tiny Thai's Yum-Yum Vegetarian Duck Salad.
The hearty portion of meatless poultry is flavorful and prepped so that the outside is slightly crispy, and the inside warmed, but not overly chewy. While it's served on somewhat of a traditional salad base -- iceberg lettuce and sliced cherry tomatoes -- there are red and green bell peppers, green and red onions, and carrot slivers, along with several cashews, so the dish has a fresh, earthy crunch. The pineapple chunks, while seemingly of the canned variety, nonetheless add a tangy, sweet flair.
What ties this Upper East Side bistro's selection together is the dressing. Lemongrass and cilantro are strong and cool, while flecks of red chili and garlic balance out the lime, so that the citrus flavor isn't overpowering.
Granted, the vegetarian duck is a bit on the salty side, as often happens with meat analogs, but the salad keeps the dish light and refreshing. Also, strict vegetarians should beware, as the dressing contains fish sauce. For $9.98, though, the plate is quite the palate pleaser, and big enough for a meal.
Tiny Thai 1553 Third Avenue 212-828-8188
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