Saturday, September 22, 2012

Enjoying the Raw Food Trend at Quintessence in East Village

Whether one orders a burrito, pizza, or burger, the entree that comes to the table at Quintessence—a 100 percent organic, vegan, and raw restaurant in East Village—will be served uncooked. Quintessence takes the diners on a unique culinary experience, offering innovative dishes made with ingredients that are not found in a typical kitchen pantry, such as kamut, nut meat, and fofu (yes, that's tofu with an f!).

For an unconventional taste of traditional dishes, try the Italian sausage pizza ($15.50) topped with savory nut meat, nut cheese, and tomato sauce. It was a bit weird trying a cold pizza, but it worked for this one since it didn't have cheese to begin with.

The pizza had an interesting dichotomy between strong nutty and sweet flavors. The pizza dough, which is not baked, had some sort of a grainy, granola-bar like texture. The tomato sauce tasted sweeter than your usual marinara sauce, whereas the nutmeat and the nut cheese had flavors that were surprisingly reminiscent of their real counterparts.

The Indian platter ($21) is a lighter alternative to the typically rich malai kofta, a vegetarian meatball made with chickpeas. The Indian platter included two chickpea balls covered in creamy almond curry sauce with sweet mango chutney and tamarind sauce, side salad, two pieces of kamut bread, and tangy cucumber “yogurt.”

I really enjoyed the cucumber yogurt. Since I am lactose-intolerant, I tend to avoid dairy products unless I am really craving them. This yogurt satisfied my cravings without the sore stomachache aftermath. I am not sure what the green dressing was, but it complemented the salad well. The kamut bread was rather disappointing because it tasted so bland.

The malai kofta didn't disappoint! Traditionally, this Indian dish uses loads of heavy cream and the chickpeas are deep-fried, adding tons of calories to the meal. However, this lighter dish came with chickpea balls that were binded without frying, and the creamy almond curry sauce didn't have any cream. It probably used almond fat or coconut milk.

The sweet mango chutney on top of the chickpea balls were pleasant additions. My only wish is that I could had more of it! The brown tamarind sauce tasted like teriyaki sauce to me.

The chickpea balls were quite dense and a bit dry on the edges. I would have preferred it if the chef had put the curry on the plate first and then the chickpea balls, but because he/she did it the other way around, there were no curries to dip the chickpea balls underneath. Nonetheless, I enjoyed my first raw-food experience!

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