Jajaja – Vegan Mexican in Chinatown

No, I’m not having a stroke.

Jajaja is actually the name of the restaurant. It is Mexican. It is also Vegan. And it is in Chinatown. The juxtaposition of all those factors plays into it as beautifully as the colors on every plate. 

Seriously. You know I am hardly one to run around shouting “this is vegan and it’s delicious” from the rooftops, but I REALLY dug this place. The space has an amazing history, with some original walls and floors from the 1920’s, and the food is damn good. It’s also literally right outside the F train stop at East Broadway, so you’d have to be real lazy to not at least try it.

Read on for more and if you identify as vegan, vegetarian, or savage carnivore (that’s me), you’ll be happy here.

JAJAJA - 162 East Broadway

  1. Guacamole – Wouldn’t be a Mexican dinner without guacamole to start. This one was creamy and mashed just right, but could have used a bit more heat in my opinion. They didn’t ask for heat level (mild, medium, hot) which I thought most places do, so maybe they should do that moving forward.
  2. Nachos – I saw these flying in at every direction as soon as I sat down. EVERY table was ordering these, and from the photographic evidence, I think you can see why. The “cheese sauce” was delicious and colored with turmeric, which gives it that bright yellow color, and the rest of the flavors worked so well together. One downside here: some of the chips were stale. But…only some, so I was willing to do the work and find the fresh ones. 
  3. Chille Relleno – a classic dish, this chile is stuffed with quinoa, and covered in a mushroom sauce flecked with pomegranate seeds. Traditionally I believe these are supposed to be fried, but either way I loved the texture and the flavors here. 
  4. Mushroom Tacos – pretty self explanatory. Not my favorite taco of the night, but still pretty tasty. The shell is a beet-tomato tortilla, and the mushrooms were a little moist for it, so the shell got a little soggy. 
  5. “Chorizo” Tacos – These. Were. Amazing. The “chorizo” is made from Seitan, a meat substitute (and I still pronounce it like Satan but that’s neither here nor there) and the flavors were spot on. It really tasted like meat. If I wasn’t acutely aware of this place being vegan, I might have been duped. Served in a turmeric shell. 

 

 

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