Monday, May 10, 2010


I finally got a chance last week to visit the newly opened branch of Otarian cafe in Midtown. A London transplant, Otarian is touting itself as the first resto in NYC to effectively reduce its carbon footprint, both with cuisine and with restaurant design- and if you visit the cafe or their website, you'll see carefully calcuated comparisons of lamb biriyani versus vegetable biriyani, for example, and the kilograms of carbon that you're saving by going veg.

Gotta say, that alone is pretty cool- it's nice to have numbers to quantify your ethical eating choices!

The past week being Cinco de Mayo and all, I decided to sample the Otarian tacos- and I was impressed!  I was served two crispy tacos with a vegetable and chickpea chili, topped with lettuce (as you can see, A LOT of it), guacamole, sour cream, and reduced fat cheddar. I forgot to ask if they could hold the cheese, but luckily, they didn't overwhelm the tacos with shredded cheese- as much as I love cheese, there is such a thing as too much. The chili was wonderfully zesty, not too saucy (my crispy taco shells held up just fine!), and was thoroughly filling- I was satisfied with just the two tacos.

I couldn't help it, but I started comparing Chipotle tacos with Otarian tacos- with only two tacos, you get a more filling, rounded-out meal, minus the giant scoop of rice and the sky-high calorie counts. Otarian's taco dish comes out to 420 calories- about a third less than a Chipotle meal- and for you calorie counters reading this, even less if you scrap the sour cream and cheese (I'm not sure why these are an automatic addition to the tacos- I'd much rather have chopped tomatoes or salsa on mine!).

And, because anyone who reads this blog knows my obsession with sweet potato fries, I had to try their sweet potato chiplets- little squares of sweet potatoes fried with a zesty batter. Okay, so frying them negates the health factor of my lunch, but damn, they were good, and I loved that they were bite-sized! I've taken the bait, and I'll easily be lured to Otarian again, but only when I have extra lunch money to spend- $11 for vegetarian fast food is steep!

Otarian, 947 8th Avenue @ W. 56th Street, 212-489-3270

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