EAT: Franchia Restaurant
12 Park Avenue (between 34th & 35th Street)
New York, NY
Tel#(212) 213-1001/(212) 213-2483
Mon to Fri: noon to 10 PM
Sat & Sun: 1 to 10PM
I’ve been in New York City for just about 2 years now, and as a lover of food and vegan, I am actually in one of the greatest cities to cater to my every need. Through some twist of fate (and I honestly do not remember how) I found a spectacular little restaurant called Franchia Restaurant. Located on the verge of Koreatown, on Park Avenue between 34th and 35th Streets, this slice of heaven has now become my absolute favorite restaurant, not just in the city, but that I’ve ever eaten at. Ever. It’s my go-to place, where I know I will always get an amazing meal, wonderful service and I won’t completely empty my wallet.
First and foremost, Franchia is a Korean tea house. From their ridiculously long list of teas, you can pick something to soothe the belly, or to help a headache, or to calm the nerves, or any number of interesting useful things. But, in addition to the tea, the food is absolutely astounding. Franchia is vegan, and for those of you who don’t know what that is, it means they use no animal products of any kind in their recipes. All “chicken” dishes are made from soy-based alternatives. Same for the delicious “crab” and “shrimp” that goes into their sushi (the best sushi ever, by the way). The entire menu is a mix of mostly traditional Korean dishes (modified to be vegan), and fusions of other Asian foods (such as the sushi). The small space, holding perhaps 20 tables and built in tiers, is an indoor oasis. The atmosphere is calm and peaceful, matching the demeanors of the waitstaff and even the food tastes like it’s relaxed.
What I immediately noticed, on my first visit, was that I left feeling full but not sick. I had eaten an appetizer, main course, tea and dessert, but somehow I only felt comfortably full, which made me come to one conclusion: this place is the happiest place on earth. The portions are normal sized, more or less. They feed you quality food, in the amounts you should be eating, and they harm no animals while doing it. I think I’ve been there so many times that I have the menu memorized. I take every visitor I have to Franchia, I’ve turned most of my friends on to it (vegan and non-vegan alike) and I’m pretty sure a few of the waiters recognize my face now. While there are many, many vegan options in NYC, Franchia is leagues ahead of the rest, and I selfishly want just enough people to dine there, (not hoards, but just the right amount) so they can stay in business for me to eat there.
My recommended meal:
Appetizer: Baby dumplings in spicy sauce ($6.95)
Main: Avocado Bibimbap (lunch $12.95; dinner $15.95)
Dessert: Blueberry Coconut Cake ($7)
Tea: Plum (if you like sweet) $5, Korean Wild Green Tea 2nd Picked (if you like savory) $8