Updated November 23rd, 2021
Several seconds after biting into Fat Choy’s toasted sesame bun sandwich filled with hearty mushroom ragu and crisp slaw, you’ll forget about all of the upsetting sloppy joes of your past. This Chinese-inspired restaurant on Broome Street just so happens to be vegan. Even if you normally eat meat and fish, you won’t be thinking about their absence at Fat Choy. When vegetables - like slippery baby bok choy, perfectly-fried salt and pepper cauliflower bites, or charred scallions - taste this cared for, cuisine categories become the last thing on your mind.
Fat Choy’s pastel-green-tiled dining room can fit roughly 12 people, with a view of the kitchen counter and the sneaking feeling like you could be friends with everyone eating or working in the restaurant. There’s a lot more space to sit under their covered streetside area, though. Wherever you sit, treat Fat Choy like a reliable place to disown the memories of sweet ground beef on stale potato buns.
Between the vegan menu and casual set-up, Fat Choy has some distinct Superiority-Burger-punk-rock-but-make-it-produce energy. Don’t take yourself too seriously here, it’s not that kind of place (on the beverage side of the menu, for example, you’ll see “red wine” and “white wine” respectively described as simply “fancy” and “crisp.”) If we’re drinking at Fat Choy, we pretty much always order a frosty, light beer.
You could come to Fat Choy with a friend or two, and order most of the menu for around $50. It’s a charming place where you can be accidentally or purposefully vegan, which is precisely the kind of restaurant that we need more of in this city. Go as often as you can, and follow the food rundown below for ordering advice.
This is a mandatory order at Fat Choy, especially if you like the idea of eating delicate rice rolls that taste like a jug full of olive oil grew up and became something you could chew. They have a distinct grilled taste, and come topped with charred scallion and whatever other vegetable the Fat Choy team is currently excited about. Then the whole thing gets coated in a splash of black vinegar for a buttery-acidic bite.
When we eventually run for office, we will put together a platform that includes the mandate that all New York City bars must serve a tub of Fat Choy’s fried cauliflower bites. Instead of being served in big bunches, these babies are separated into tiny florets, meaning every angle of them gets crispy. Each is seasoned with jalapeño and garlic, and you should liberally dip yours into the accompanying vat of shallot cream.
Crunchy, cold, and doused in sesame dressing, these are an ideal sidekick to something like the mushroom sloppy or the rice rolls.
Fat Choy doesn’t f*ck with fake meat. When trying to understand this sandwich, it’s more useful to think of it as its own independent thing from the sloppy joes of your past. Fat Choy’s mushroom ragu (made with a mix of shiitake and tofu) tastes better, for one thing. And it’s served in the middle of two chewy sesame buns with slaw for crunch and brightness.
“Wow, what a healthy decision I’ve made at a restaurant that also fries things. Go me,” you’ll think while eating this paper boat full of garlicky-sauteed baby bok choy. There’s something to be said about the simplicity of these vegetables topped with a brown glaze that tastes a little like oyster sauce. But, even still, we always want these to have a little more bracing acidity or salt. If you feel the same way, dip them into the incredible tofu-shallot sauce that comes with the cauliflower bites.
These rectangular pockets are exceptionally fried, and come lathered in a tart red vinegar. The crunchy rice inside gives them a textural pop.
Fat Choy runs on seasonal vegetables, so you’ll often see rotating specials like longevity noodles or a watermelon salad. Follow them on Instagram to keep up with what’s new.