The Eats: Bamboo Garden, 364 Roy St., 282-6616. Vegan and kosher Chinese cuisine.
General Tso's Chicken: Crispy balls of saucy bliss.
The Deets: This lower Queen Anne Asian eatery is famous for its bounty of fake meat: Soy chicken, mock beef, and all kinds of gluteny pork are featured in classic Chinese dishes like egg rolls, Mandarin Chicken, and Mongolian Beef. Vegans, you can go hog wild on this menu except for the one thing that's complimentary: The fortune cookie, which contains eggs. But by the time it arrives with the check, you'll be so stuffed you wouldn't be able to choke it down anyhow.
Bamboo Garden is a dream buffet for the herbivore--the fact that it's staffed with sincere and perpetually cheery servers (an attitude that magically overrides their dingy uniforms) is a real treat that's just as good as desert. The interior's a bit shabby, but there are far more pros that outweigh the ambiance: The food is reliably consistent, the location is ideal (there's even a parking lot), and there's a full bar offering wine, beer--even a Manhattan, if you like--to accompany your meal.
The Beets: Here's the thing. The GENERAL TSO's CHICKEN here is so freaking good it's hard not to be disappointed when you order the cashew chicken or Mongolian beef and your companion orders General Tso's. The word is out, too: A scan of the dining room on a recent busy night showed a number of guests had ordered the same thing. It's hard not to notice: The entree is a pile of glistening, soy-gluten balls battered in a sweet coating, fried crisp, smothered in Tso's sauce (with spice levels modified to your taste), and garnished with steamed broccoli and carrots. The experience together--bright, fresh veggies and crispy chicken--is so satisfying it's no wonder folks order it again and again.
The Mongolian beef is tasty with a savory, gravy like sauce, but its crunchy noodles take away from its appeal. Likewise, the cashew chicken is good, but its perfectly diced vegetables look more Bird's Eye than fresh. In my experience at Bamboo Garden, flavors are always good--appearances and textures can vary. If you can't decide among their many options, order the General Tso's.
The Tweet: Get the General Tso's chicken. You're welcome!