Last night, after seeing a movie at Film Forum, my parents and I met Dave for dinner at Gobo in the West Village. The Asian vegetarian eatery has been a long standing go-to for me and my parents. While I will be the first to admit that some of the food perhaps seems healthier than it is, I rarely leave a meal at Gobo unhappy.
When you walk in the glass doors to the restaurant, you are met with another set of doors, this time made of beautiful wood. Next to the this door, imbedded into the wall, is a great array of dried fruits and spices which serve as a beautiful and fitting decorative touch.
The meal begins with your choice of bread from a large basket filled with that day’s offerings and accompanied by a vegetable spread.
Cranberry walnut bread and five grain bread with sweet potato raisin spread
The bread was delicious, but I thought that the spread lacked flavor. Perhaps it was just an off day, as I usually enjoy the spread. What followed were three of our staple appetizers which we all shared. I wanted to branch out, but we are, after all, creatures of habit.
Scallion pancakes with homemade mango salsa
Yam and yucca fries (with house made sesame ketchup)
Steamed spinach dumplings
The scallion pancakes and fries were spot on, as always. Though, the label “yam and yucca fries,” is a bit misleading as what arrived were two pieces of yucca and a whole lot of yam. There have been times when the two were more balanced, but right now they seem to be stingy with the yucca. The dumplings were the night’s biggest disappointment. They are usually better, but yesterday the skin was mushy and not at all the right texture. Masked with enough dipping sauce, they were palatable. We ended our meal with three larger dishes, again shared.
Vietnamese spicy stir-fried rice noodles with bean sprouts; hot spiced bean curd, onion and red pepper stir-fry
Ginger-glazed shiitake and konnyaku on steamed greens
The bean curd dish is another that we always order, it’s one of my dad’s favorites. It is quite flavorful, owing to the fact that smoked tofu is used. The other two dishes, however, were new to us and added a bit of excitement to the meal. The noodles were my favorite dish of the night, though I didn’t get “spicy” from them at all. The crunch of the bean sprouts paired with the soft rice noodles is an always-satisfying combination. As for the final dish, the shiitake mushrooms and the greens (which I believe were choi sum, a heartier relative of bok choy) were delicious, flavored subtly with ginger. The konnyaku, on the other hand, was suspect. It neither looked nor tasted like any konnyaku that I have ever had; my mother agreed with me. Before leaving, I asked our server if they made their own konnyaku or bought it from somewhere, to which he replied that he would have to go ask and get back to me. He came back to our table two or three times after I asked him the question, and yet he never provided me with an answer, avoiding doing so every time he came to clear plates or give us the check.
Aside from the mystery of the konnyaku, it was a perfectly nice dinner. If you don’t eat meat (or even if you do and you’re looking for a night off) Gobo should satisfy your Pan-Asian veggie dish cravings.