In Washington Heights, a neighborhood known mainly for seafood luncheonettes and Dominican bakeries, one nondescript eatery features many offerings for vegetarians.
At Empire Szechuan Noodle House (4041 Broadway), the imitation chicken and Chinese eggplant — just one of many herbivore-friendly plates — comes sizzling in an oniony brown broth, and makes for a filling, healthy meal.
The $11.95 recipe boasts plentiful portions of moist, mock bird, and eggplant. The faux poultry tastes meaty enough, and the aubergine comes braised to the point of buttery gooeyness. The sauce, similar in thickness to those served at lots of Chinese eateries, lacks the oiliness than can be a turnoff with many gravy-heavy Asian dishes.
Garlic is plentiful, but be sure to ask for hot sauce, as Empire’s plate lacks peppery heat.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 16, 2011