Mock meat perplexes. Sometimes, the texture comes out pitch-perfect — like Angelica Kitchen’s homemade seitan. Other times, the fake flesh winds up both stringy and rubbery — like Tofurky.
Seafood, in particular, presents many challenges to vegetarian chefs. For starters, fish and shelled mollusks have a variety of shapes, feels, muscles, and skins — as well as a hard-to-imitate brininess. Plant-based fibers can’t always capture this diversity.
Vegetarian’s Paradise II (144 West 4th Street), however, serves a tofu-based “filet” that could actually pass as a lower-end seafood product.
(Think of a less flaky “McFish” patty, or fish sticks with a crispy interior, and you’ve got the right idea.)
Covered with a sweet, tangy, and sour sauce — not altogether unlike the sugary chili glazes at most Thai restaurants — the soy slices come lightly breaded, and the planks have a fun crunch.
The dish is like a slightly off version of fried catfish, but one that you would eat anyway: The $10.95 offering tastes fine — just kinda different than what you’ve come to expect from the great, gilled plates.