Peacefood Cafe serves vegan fair that comes very close to the border that separates tasty vegan food from bad hippie food. The Boca Burger style burger comes topped with a weirdly mashed avocado and is then piled way too high with alfalfa sprouts. The Nachos seem to have been created by someone with only a passing familiarity with the dish. On the other hand the cheese cake is excellent and the dumplings are some of the best vegan dumplings I have tried.
The Dumplings: The menu describes the dumplings as being “pan-seared shanghai-style dumplings”. There are three styles of dumplings that are associated with Shanghai, Xiao Long Bao, Sheng Jian and sticky rice shumai, and Peacefood Cafe’s dumpling did not resemble any of these styles. They seemed to be boiled or steamed dumplings that had been pan-fried on one side. But while I don’t understand their dumpling marketing plan, the dumplings were undeniably good. They are filled with Chinese chives, shitake and wood ear mushrooms, marinated tofu and vegetarian protein. The wrapper dough had just the right amount of thickness and springiness to it and the filling had a convincing meaty flavor and texture. These dumplings could easily pass as being meat filled.
The Dipping Sauce: The dumplings came with a ginger balsamic dipping sauce which reminded me of a thick salad dressing. Again I don’t see a relationship to Shanghai, none of the dipping sauces associated with Shanghai style dumplings resemble this sauce.
The Location: Peacefood Cafe is in Manhattan’s Upper West Side neighborhood on Amsterdam Avenue on the corner of 82nd street.