Review: Red Lentil

Real talk, guys.

Sometimes I don’t cook. Sometimes I forget to go to the grocery store. Sometimes I order in. Sometimes a pizza from that hole in the wall around the corner sounds like a good idea. Usually, it’s not a good idea.

There are also times when I cook at 11 p.m., when the lights are dim and all I have in the pantry are rice and beans. And kimchi. Smorgasbord doom.

That’s how life rolls. Sometimes.

But at least there are still restaurants like Red Lentil, which I had the pleasure of reviewing some time ago and feel as though it’s my duty to pay Chef Pankaj Pradhan my respects.

Sesame encrusted seitan strips are little pockets of teriyaki, smoky and charred yum on my tongue. Considered an appetizer by the menu, these morsels could easily be munched as an entree because the serving sizes are massive. And talk about soft and juicy – I don’t know why I ever liked chicken.

Seitan is a testy subject with most meat eaters. One of my fellow comrades once told me the first time he ever tried “satan,” as he insists on calling it, he wanted to spit it out. Truth be told, this form of gluten is usually chewy, gummy and bland, but the folks at Red Lentil fry it up to perfection.

Chef Pradhan really has the beet. These thin beet-potato latkes are filled with Granny Smith apples and thyme dates before they’re pan fried. With a side salad, apricot marmalade and cilantro vinaigrette, this gets another vote for potential entree or shareable side.

I call this a pile of cauliflower smothered in sweet-and-spicy tomato sauce that would send any meat lover over the edge. Dubbed the Gobi Manchurian by Pradhan, this Indian-inspired dish has chunks of peppers and onions (love me some veggie chunks) while the cauliflower is battered in chickpea flour. Even my brother, who would rather eat Taco Bell than make his own stir fry, thinks vegetarian dishes like this are uh-ma-zing.

Whoa, vegans. Stand back. Vegan Belgian waffles are here to fill your belly for hours. I don’t care if you eat the fluffy housemade soy whipped cream first (I know I did), or if you save it for last – I guarantee you will find a way to stuff every last cubic inch of your stomach with this pile of breakfast delights. It’s crispy, it’s sweet, it’s light and airy – dance party in my mouth. My only qualm about this dish is that melon never belongs in a fruit salad. But that’s just my own meh-ing problem.

Hey wait. Did I mention all of this was given to me at once? I swear to all things delicious that I didn’t eat it all in one sitting. But I might’ve finished it over the course of a day. Zero shame.

You. Don’t. Even. Know. How amazing this vegan carrot cake was. Unless you’ve been to Red Lentil. Then you probably know. Squishy, smooth-as-butter-but-doesn’t-actually-contain-butter morsel of carrots made fresh every single darned day. Don’t get me started on the raspberry sauce. I might explode.