Vegan Chinese food
We recently got a call from a friend who said that his favorite Chinese restaurant in New York’s Chinatown was Buddha Bodai (http://www.chinatownvegetarian.com/), a Buddhist/Kosher Chinese restaurant at 5 Mott Street. Since we are trying to cut the amount of red meat we eat to under half a pound a week – one third of a normal 24 ounce steak – it seemed worth trying. Particularly because it was not merely an interesting Chinese restaurant, of a good Chinese restaurant, but his favorite restaurant.
Since we had to be in Chinatown anyway (it is next door to City Hall and the courts), we arrived at the restaurant around 2pm. It was quite full, with roughly half the patrons being Chinese.
I had expected that the menu would largely consist of vegetable dishes, and, in fact, had my heart set on eggplant in garlic sauce, or perhaps bean curd country style. In fact, of the twenty dishes in the luncheon special (http://www.chinatownvegetarian.com/lunch%20special.htm), fourteen of them were mock rotting-flesh-of-long-dead-animals dishes. Since they had neither eggplant in garlic sauce, or bean curd country style, I decided to throw all caution to the wind and try the Lamb with Mixed Vegetable in Garlic Sauce. Afterwards, we raced to a nearby restaurant to get mock tofu dumplings, aka pan fried pork dumplings, to cleanse our palate.
There seem to be several target groups for this restaurant. The first is Buddhists, and people whose diet is kosher or halal, who want Chinese food. A second would be vegetarians and vegans. A third might be carnivores humoring vegetarian friends, but who know that real meat tastes better than faux meat.
In fact, however, the real target audience appears to be people who want to eat meat, but, for whatever reason feel disinclined to do so. And that, gentle reader, brings us to the purpose of this story. There are a number of vegetarian restaurants in Chinatown, and even more in Gotham as a whole. Many of them appear to be way less successful, because they are aimed at people who want to eat vegetables. This restaurant, however, has apparently realized that virtually everyone with canine incisors is, underneath, a carnivore. They have offered these people the opportunity to come close to eating meat, yet still allowing them to not have eaten meat.
There is a lesson for marketers here…