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Zen Garden, Great Neck, NY

Are you looking for a wonderful “mostly vegan” restaurant where the food is great, and the service is always warm and friendly? Look no further than Zen Garden (ZG) in Great Neck, NY. I love this restaurant. We have been dining at Zen Garden since its opening in 2019, and even though we don’t live close by, we always try to find a way to work it into our schedule. 

I love Asian food more than any other, and Zen Garden’s Spicy Szechuan Casserole (with napa cabbage, lotus root, enoki mushrooms, black fungus, burdock protein, tofu, and vermicelli) is one of my all time favorite dishes. Wow. My palate can’t be too sophisticated however, because I sometimes measure how good this meal is by how much it makes me sneeze, or causes my nose to run! A family member loves ZG’s Cedar Shoots Pancakes, Herbal Ginseng Casserole (with fresh ginseng, soy chicken, napa cabbage, Japanese white yam, shiitake mushrooms, tofu, Asian red dates, and goji berries), and the Stuffed Mushroom (jumbo shiitake mushrooms stuffed with soy paste on top of baby bok choy). The food at Zen Garden is always exceptional, as we have also enjoyed their Singapore noodles (Mei Fun), fun vegan dessert menu, and the many flavorful tea options as well. 🙂 

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with one of the restaurant owners Isabelle Fu, who explained that Zen Garden is the first vegan Chinese restaurant on Long Island. Isabelle raved about her customers and her team, and said that her favorite part of her job is the people she meets, and the friendships that develop as a result of her work. She also takes great pride in not just Zen Garden’s delicious food (which is no easy task, as ZG omits garlic and onions from their recipes due to Buddhist teachings), but also the atmosphere of her restaurant. Zen Garden has an elegant vibe, yet feels cozy in an informal way too. The restaurant is inviting to families, but doesn look like a typical family restaurant. Isabelle hopes to still be running Zen Garden in five years, but says that it is not always easy. She is most grateful to the Zen Garden patrons, her crew, and to her patient and supportive husband who understands her time constraints, and the other challenges of trying to run a restaurant. And what advice would Isabelle give to young entrepreneurs who dream of owning their own restaurant one day too? “Go for it!”, she says with a smile. 

Isabelle also mentioned that Zen Garden frequently works with a group called the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, which is an international humanitarian organization whose mission is to relieve the suffering of those in need while creating a better world for all through compassion, love, and hope. Nice. 🙂

The Bottom line on Zen Garden? In the words of co-owner Isabelle Fu, “Go for it!”, of course. 🙂

Click here for the Zen Garden website.

Click here for the Zen Garden menu.
Click here to learn more about Tzu Chi.
Click here to learn more about the Buddhist Tzu Chi Education Foundation from Charity Navigator.
Click here to learn more about why some forms of Buddhism discourage the use of garlic, onions, and other alliums and spices.
*According to a Master Sheng-Yen, Buddhism teaches that it’s best to refrain from eating the five pungent spices. There are two reasons for this: 1. When you’re chanting sutras or when you’re receiving guests, it is impolite and disrespectful if your breath smells bad. 2. When eaten raw, they may cause irritability. When eaten cooked, they arouse your sexual desire, and passions, and stimulate your sex drive.

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