Off the Menu Filet-o-Fish at Zen Burger

Zen Burger, Midtown NYC

Fresh on the heels of the off-the-menu “Special Vegetarian” sandwich at Blimpie, comes word that Zen Burger (on Lex. btw. 45+46th) has been serving their own off-the-menu filet-o-fish sandwich.  When Zen Burger first launched at the beginning of the year, the only thing keeping it from being an exact replica of McDonald’s (in vegetarian form) was the lack of a filet-o-fish.  They had a “Zen Tuna” sandwich, but it wasn’t fried, and quite frankly, who wants fast food that isn’t fried.  Considering that most adult vegetarians probably refused, as kids, to eat anything *but* the filet-o-fish during family trips to McDonald’s, this addition to the Zen Burger menu should be pretty well received.

The fishless fish sandwich, and my anti-McDonald’s tirade, after the jump…


Despite hordes of complaints from a large percentage of Midtown Lunch commenters, I’m going to say it again:  I… Like… Zen Burger.  Sorry, I just think it’s a great concept-helped on in no small part by the fact that I *hate* McDonald’s.  As much as I love meat (pork especially) and could never understand why anybody would ever want to be a vegetarian, I still recognize that eating meat is bad for this planet, so if I’m going to eat meat I want it to count.  Good hamburgers, good roast pork, Chinese food (where they do such amazing things, with such terrible quality meat), and good roast pork (did I mention that one?)  When you consider how much “meat” a company like McDonald’s uses to make the garbage food they serve, it’s mind boggling.  If we are going to kill a cow, do we need to turn it into processed, tasteless patties, that need chemicals added to them to make what was once meat, taste like real meat again? 

Does it taste good going down?  Of course it does.  But it doesn’t feel good coming out 20 mins later (and I’m not talking about throwing up.)  And unless you’ve trained your body by eating McDonald’s multiple times a week, you know what happens for that occasionaly trip to the golden arches.  If Zen Burger can make a fairly decent, low priced replica of (oh so delicious tasting) McDonald’s food, without using any meat products, I say- that’s awesome!  It’s not for everyone, but if it makes a few less people eat at McDonald’s, than Zen Burger is alright in my book.

Sorry for the seriousness.  I’ll never let it happen again.  On to the fishless filet o’ fish:


It’s on the small side, but the crunch is good, and they attempted to make it mildly stringy (like fish) but it’s not really that much different than the fried chicken sandwich they serve.  It also has none of that “fish” flavor (normally indicating the fish is a little old, or cheap) that McDonald’s probably has to chemically create so that you feel like you’re eating real fish.  Anyway, it was fried- and with enough of the Zen Tartar sauce, it was tasty enough.  A combo with fries and a soda will run you somewhere around $8 (the fish sandwich isn’t on the menu above the registers- so you don’t know how much it is.  It is however on the computer screen, listed at $4.99 for just the sandwich, although I was charged $4.25.  No complaining here.)

I know Zen Burger isn’t for everyone, and this thing is certainly not going to replace the real fish sandwich I love from Kim’s Aunt Kitchen cart, but I’m sure there are a lot of vegetarians who will pretty psyched for this one…

Zen Burger,  465 Lexington Ave. (btw. 45+46th), 212-661-6080

Related: A Literal Dissection of the New Zen Burger


  • McDonald’s bashing belies the fact that as a child you loved the food, and as an adult can’t reconcile that with your self image of an individual who understands what “good” food is (if such a thing exists beyond the mind of the person who thinks it).

    But they do something Five Guys and Burger Joint and all the other great burger joints don’t- feed me for under $5, 24 hours a day anywhere in the world. So give ‘em a break, player hater.

  • Totally Agree,McDonalds is at best processed crap, at it’s worst it downright unhealthy.

    But Zen Burger? healthy?…they’re taking various vegetable prtien extracts and then doing the frankenstein stuff to make them vaguely resemble the ‘unhealthy’ meat product they profess to be healthier than.

    Maybe im just a cynical old fart ,but the irony is laughable.

  • 1) i love McDonalds. They are innovative. The food tastes good. you get real value. The consistency in the quality is amazing.

    2) you state “I still recognize that eating meat is bad for this planet.” do you think that eating meat substitute is good for the planet? it’s not a carbon neutral proposition to create and ship and serve meat substitute. . . .

  • cows fart a lot

  • I think deciding whether or not to eat meat is a personal decision. I’ve made the choice not to eat meat, but if I ever did eat it again, it would be high-quality, free range, and organic, not McD’s. I wish more meat-eaters thought like you instead of stuffing endless amounts of overprocessed greasy hockey pucks made of god knows what down their gullets. I’m glad that you don’t dismiss Zen Burger and other vegetarian places/dishes like some of the commenters on this site do.

    Btw, I was a near-carnivore as a child, but I always hated McDonald’s.

  • You’re a good egg, Zach, and such impressive pics, really.

    I do like how those sesame seeds look, uniformly and completely covering that top bun.

  • dude – mcdonald’s is great… big mac special sauce FTW!

  • Tofu makes me fart.As does cabbage,brocolli and most beans & pulses.

    Vegetarianism is directly linked to global warming, and the death of polar they float soutwards on melting iceflows.And then they die in the heat, brought on by vegetarians.


  • dear Vegetarianka.

    WTF is a “near-carnivore”? if you ate meat as a child, you were a carnivore. did you put it up to you lips, almost take a bite, and then throw it away? that’s about the only way one could be characterized as a ‘near carnivore”

    “overprocessed greasy hockey pucks made of god knows what” — it’s 100% pure beef. just listen to the ads. far too thin to be a hockey puck. not the least bit greasy — a bit dry in fact. not at all overprocessed — cooked ground beef. the bun is made w/ bleached flour, so perhaps it qualifies as overprocessed. the (vegetarian) fries certainly qualify.

  • I’m now going to eat at McDonald’s twice as much after your little tirade…and I’m going to bring 16 friends with me too.


  • Meat-eating bad for the planet? Now Zach, we already knew by your continuing obsession with Zen B that your soul was in play but stop right there. Put down that feee KoolAid sample handed to you by the Cult of Gore

    Population growth & disposable polluting lifestyle = bad for planet.

    Eating stuff (including meat) = Not bad for planet.

    The problem is in the management of the resources, not the eating or the eaten item.

    Now get your ass over to Daisy Mae’s and consume an entire pig, snout to tail

  • Filet-O-Fish sounds interesting because generally speaking, there aren’t lots of “fake fish” on the market (as opposed to Tofurkys, tofu pups, tempeh bacons, etc.).

    I never knew if this was because it wasn’t in demand by vegetarians or because fake fish was harder to replicate.

  • I think McD’s all changed for me after Fast Food Nation and finding out that the smells are all from chemical plants in New Jersey, and I do not support dirty Jerze.

  • This is a Zen Burger post.

    Where’s all the hate?

  • Here’s the real question: Does a Zen Burger Filet of Fish Sandwich cure a hangover as well as a McDonalds one. I basically only eat Au MacDo when I’ve got a colossal hangover, and its true that it works– replacing hangover stomach with post-McDonalds stomach. I might be willing to undertake this scientific study, but I’ll need to wait until Wedding Season is over so I don’t kill my internal organs. I also don’t have a digital camera, which seems vital, but I know that Featured Midtown Luncher Raechy does…

  • I’d Rather give Peter Lusk oral relief in Madison Sqr Park as Angela whips my lilly white arse than eat one of his ‘burgers’

  • Ay zach, et tu?! et tu???

    Zen burger is overpriced. That offends me much more than the fact that they are frying cardboard and passing it off as meat.

    I refuse to pay for greens and fake meat.. that shit should be under $5….

    Dammit I want a $2 buck Jumbo Jack and two tacos for $1!!

  • Dear Stan,

    Carnivore=eats only meat. Omnivore=eats meat and vegetables and grains. Vegetarian/herbivore=eats only veggies & grains. Therefore, near-carnivore=eats mostly meat and a few veggies/grains.

    Re: your comment “just listen to the ads” are you really so gullible that you believe everything that the advertising industry tells you to believe?

  • Ok people, I love meat a LOT, but Zach is right when he says eating meat is bad for the planet, especially when you don’t know where your meat is coming from which most of you do not and especially those of you eating at McDonald’s definitely have no idea where that crap is coming from.

    I admit fully that I grew up loving McDonald’s (all while being an underweight child) and when I got a bit older, my body can’t process all that stuff and it is just nasty for me to eat now. Plus just one “meal” there will cause me to gain 20 lbs, whereas the BF eats there a few times a week and remains woefully underweight. Sigh, sucks.

    Oh and to the person who said it feeds you for under $5 – do you live in NYC? I could be wrong – since I never go in there anymore – but I thought all of the “value” meals were now over $5.

  • Panda Sex = Eats,Shoots & leaves?

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