Veggie Heaven, formerly in Parsippany, reopened its doors in Denville on Feb. 12. Owner Doris Wu has not yet decided whether the new location will have kosher certification.
Photo by Johanna Ginsberg
March 5, 2009
Veggie Heaven fans who have been moping since the Parsippany location closed can smile again.
The vegetarian Asian restaurant with branches in Teaneck and Upper Montclair has now come to Denville.
Unlike the Teaneck eatery, the latest branch, opened on Feb. 12, does not have kosher certification; however, owner Doris Wu told NJJN she is trying to determine if there is enough demand for a kosher menu in the new location.
“I am still thinking about it,” she said. “I want to focus on getting the business off on the right track first.” If the restaurant does well without a hechsher, or rabbinic certification, she said, “I’ll probably keep it like that. But if more and more people are asking, if there’s a high demand for kosher, then we’ll do it.”
Each Veggie Heaven is owned by a different sibling of the Wu family, and each decides whether or not to bring in kosher certification. Gary opened the first branch in Teaneck over 12 years ago. It has kosher certification; David’s Montclair branch came last, just three or four years ago. He opted to go without.
Doris opened the Parsippany restaurant in between the other two, in 1997, and she had kosher supervision there. “I think it brings more customers in,” she said.
But apparently there were not enough customers overall in Parsippany, and she closed last July. In addition to a lack of customers, she cited high rent and shuttered stores in the Troy Hills Shopping Plaza where Veggie Heaven was located. Wu chose Denville because that’s where most of her customers frequenting the Parsippany restaurant came from.
Judging by the number of tables taken on a recent Sunday evening in Denville, attracting sufficient numbers of diners will not be a problem.
The new place is smaller than both Montclair and Teaneck. The space is pleasant enough, decorated with a variety of greens and fairly open. There is a party room in the back.
The restaurant is located at 57 Bloomfield Ave. in Denville. It is open Monday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday, 11:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m.; Saturday, noon-10:30 p.m., and Sunday, noon-9:30 p.m. They can be reached at 973-586-7800
All veggie, still heavenly
THE MENU AT Veggie Heaven in Denville is more creative than that of the restaurant’s previous location in Parsippany. A sushi bar serves up everything from the predictable cucumber and avocado rolls, to the traditional futo maki and California rolls, to the unexpected sweet potato roll (warm and crunchy inside).
The menu offers some of the same entrees as its sibling restaurants, such as vegetarian versions of “beef” with broccoli, salt and pepper “shrimp,” and roast “pork,” but even these dishes are slightly different at each location. (The “roast pork” is meatier and more flavorful in Denville; the salt and pepper “shrimp” works better without the breading in Montclair).
In Denville, Doris Wu recommended the crispy fried almond tofu. A visitor was presented with pillowy bean curd squares, with just the right amount of crunch on the outside and a velvety texture inside. The sauce, made with soy, scallions, and cilantro, perfect complemented the fried tofu. Thai specials like Tom Yum Chicken are also a departure from the other Veggie Heaven spots. While tasty and slightly spicy, it didn’t quite have the lemongrass or kaffir lime leaf flavor so essential to tom yum. Children will enjoy the gooey, crunchy General Tso’s chicken balls.
Tea is not included; black tea is not even on the menu, but you can order green tea. Or try the bubble tea, a cold fruity tea — flavored with mango or passion fruit — that comes with black pearls of tapioca at the bottom and a paper drink umbrella in the straw. It’s not as cheap as non-vegetarian Chinese restaurants or even other vegetarian alternatives — our bill for four people totaled $70. But we all walked away happy and satisfied.
— JOHANNA GINSBERG