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Veggie Guy: Bengal Coast

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The only thing worse than listening to Coldpay is listening to Coldplay on the sitar. Unfortunately, that's the kind of crap you'll hear while dining with your hot date at Bengal Coast.

Yes, vegans can score hot dates, too...sometimes.

Bengal Coast is a South Asian fusion restaurant located on the cusp of Oak Lawn and Uptown. The place offers a wide variety of dishes, and the menu notes that vegan and gluten-free modifications are available upon request.

My dinner companion and I arrived at the spot on a Friday night, appetites raging. So after some fun banter with our waitress, she had the chef prepare us an off-menu appetizer of grilled vegetable skewers on the fly to help us get rid of those hunger pangs.

The date and I dove into (onto?) skewers loaded with cherry tomatoes, button mushrooms, red bells, and onions while we looked over the entrées. Spicy offerings included Tikka Masala, Vindaloo, Indonesian Smokey BBQ, Jungle Curry, and the extra spicy Bankok Fire. On the milder side were dishes like Pad Thai, Coconut Curry, and Burmese Tofu. But after a long day at work, neither of us had any desire to use our brains any further, so we requested a visit from chef Neville to help us with our dinner selections.

Alas, no Neville. He was out on the town with his brother, a well-known Bollywood actor.

We were bummed. But so was our waitress. She was supposed to be hanging out with the Bollywood star, too. Instead, she was stuck at the restaurant dealing with my smart ass.

So she sent for Neville's replacement. I explained to the chef that I was up for something new and exciting. My last meal at Bengal Coast was a fairly safe dish, and I wanted to show my date how daring I can be. The chef suggested the Bangkok Fire, a wok-tossed mix of silken tofu, baby bok choy, button mushrooms, onions, lemongrass, kaffir lime, and Thai basil in a roasted tomato Thai chili sauce. Dinner date was game, so the chef suggested the Jungle Curry, a Thai coconut red curry with zucchini, red bells, shiitake mushrooms, pineapple, Thai chili, lemongrass, and ginger.

After a few bites of my spicy Bangkok Fire, I cried "uncle!"

Don't get me wrong--the dish was good...just a little spicier than I'm comfortable with on a date. The kind of spicy that gets your sinuses all worked up, and makes you sound like Kermit the Frog.

Still, it made for some funny jokes. And I did score a follow-up date. Only next time, I'll play it safe with dinner, and show my daring side at the bowling alley. One without sitar music.

Bengal Coast
3102 Oak Lawn Ave. Ste. 116
214 521-8600

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