Year of the Takeout Day 52: MYSTERY (UPDATE)


Vegetarian “Shrimp” in Black Bean Sauce


Can we just say this? Usually, black bean is the suckiest of suck when it comes to sauces at Cantonese restos — while the gravy stems from solid gustatory principles, it’s usually prepared as an overly salted, legumey paste with a vague liquid smoke-meets-oyster sauce vibe.

Not so at Red Bamboo (140 West 4th Street, 212-260-7049), where the sauce feels light, playful and slightly earthy despite having a solid fermented bean-paste base. The recipe also features a hint of gingery heat, which adds necessary dimension to the heavy and uniform undertones.

And the veggies in this $11.95 plate are varied and prepped to near perfection — soft but with just enough crunch. The only downfall? The fake shrimp. They don’t convincingly convey a crustaceany taste, but hey — for meat-free flesh, they ain’t too bad.

Tell us where this plate is from!!! A whole cookbook is on the line. Year of the Takeout will serve up details tomorrow. Suerte!