Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Pukk, Vegan Thai Restaurant

Thai restaurants in general are a pretty easy place to find vegan food at, with a plethora of tofu and veggie dishes. However, at a regular Thai place vegans have to be a bit picky even with meatless options because many of the dishes have egg and fish sauce, the classic Pad Thai noodle dish being a perfect example. Pukk, a fully vegetarian Thai restaurant at 1st Avenue and 4th Street with almost an entirely vegan menu (eggs are optional in a few dishes and the waiters are careful to ask if you want them) is a great solution to this dilemma.

My husband and I ordered identical meals off of the incredibly affordable lunch special menu (soup, appetizer, entree and beverage for about 7 bucks.) We each chose the chive dumplings followed by the Pad Thai with tofu, his with egg and mine without. The highlight for me was the starter of vegetable soup, a flavorful yet unsalty broth with very fresh chunks of mushroom, watercress, and onions. Soup is another food I tend to avoid in non-vegan restaurants, as often even vegetable soups are made with animal stock and the waitstaff sometimes doesn't even know it. Here there was nothing to worry about and the soup was delectable.

Additionally excellent was the Thai iced tea, a rich orange tea reminiscent of Chai but even more complex. It is served with cow's milk in most establishments but here soy was substituted for a delicious vegan alternative.

The appetizer and entree were well-prepared and tasty, but nothing terribly exciting. We should perhaps have ordered something more adventurous, as there were a host of interesting options.

Dessert is rarely a highlight in any Thai restaurant I've been to, but I always enjoy trying out a vegan pastry, as the waiter assured me all of the desserts were. My choice, the caramel apple fritters, was tasty but not at all what I expected. The dough was completely encrusted in sesame seeds and the "caramel" was actually a coconut sauce, both of which were tasty but completely obscured the flavor of the apple. My husband's choice, on the other hand, a chocolate mousse cake, was a luscious and decadent chunk of creamy chocolate with the consistency of fudge. We took it to go after a few mouthfuls and it took us the rest of the day to finish it, it was so rich and delicious.

Pukk is definitely a good choice for a very inexpensive and healthy Thai meal and as far as I know the only one in the city which is entirely meatless. I would go there again and try a more exotic choice from their menu-- but definitely save room for more of that chocolate pie.

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