Everything about Gobo was welcoming. There was a cute section of outdoors tables and the interior was upper east side appealing. The calm dining area had a bright wooden theme from table to floor to massive cross sections of trees being honored as wall hangings. The staff was efficient and from what I have been told knowledgable able their menu to accommodate many dietary concerns. The seating isn’t nearly as cramped as almost every NYC restaurant and still has seating for about 4 dozen. Although the restaurant offered no Wi-Fi, the restrooms were clean even if the ladies’ room was out of toilet paper.
The friendly down tempo tunes helped the mood of not feeling rushed to leave during our lunch and we enjoyed every taste that crossed our palettes. Speaking of palette, the menu at Gobo was crafted by chef Yuki Chen, a creator of temple cuisine and later the mastermind behind the menu of Zen Palate, a renowned vegetarian dining establishment with multiple locations in New York. Having now been to both we think that Gobo embraces subtle but important differences that make it’s cuisine outstanding.
One of the dishes with close similarities is Gobo’s Braised Tofu in Black Bean Sauce over Asian Kale. It very clearly resembles Zen Palette’s popular Sesame Medallions that are served of large florets of steamed brocoli. Both come with rice but Gobo’s is more than just a nutty brown rice with a few ingredients for texture and color as well as being served in a banana leaf cone. The little touches in presentation and flavor shows Gobo’s execution of an almost identical dish as superior.
A meal I would frequently order at Zen Palette on Union Square is what Gobo has on their menu as Slow-cooked Malaysian Curry. A mild yellow curry with wheat gluten and root vegetables that have become so acquainted with each other that they are soft, relaxed and a real comfort food.
Other exciting things we tried included the Pine Nut vegetable Medley with Lettuce Wraps, Five Spice Tofu Rolls with Mango Puree, Organic White Bean, Root Vegetable & Pumpkin Soup, and Seitan Skewers with Green Mustard Sauce. Each were presented beautifully and well thought out as taste sensations on their own.As a Pennsyltucky vegetarian, I was brought up in a time and area where haute Asian cuisine was more along the lines of opening a can of La Choy Fancy Mixed Chinese Vegetables and putting it over a bag of Chow Mein Noodles. Don’t get me wrong, I have fond memories of that but it doesn’t mean that a visit to Gobo is so far away from my roots that I can’t appreciate everything it is. It offers soul satisfying flavor and a vegetarian experience that is one of the best I have ever had. The menu can please a brought range of desires with it’s homemade veggie burger sliders to organic king oyster mushrooms in sizzling basil black bean sauce and everything in between. You would have to be a vegetarian curmudgeon not to love this place.