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


  • Vegetarianka, like my Angie, must’ve been abused by a pepperoni stick at some point in her childhood.

  • @(Angie’s) Matt – however true that may or may not be, this post is about non-meat that resembles fish.

  • I wish somebody would abuse me with a pepperoni stick. Yum!

    And, yeah, you couldn’t pay me to eat fake meat at a McDonald’s knockoff like Zen Burger. The processing of soy proteins and whatnot to look like meat freaks me out. Either eat the real thing or eat vegetarian food. Is it really that hard? We ate vegetarian at least twice a week in my house growing up due to religious dietary restrictions and my mom never had to shape it to look like a chicken nugget or a burger.

  • @Angie’sMatt: I have nothing against people who eat meat (or pepperoni sticks for that matter). My comments were meant to criticize McDonald’s for serving items of questionable nutritional value, taste, and origin. I wouldn’t eat at Zen Burger either.

    Some of the commenters on this site seem to assume that meat-free food is inherently less tasty than food with meat, and that all vegetarians are raving lunatics like your dear Angie. If you want to discuss food choices and vegetarianism with me, I’d be happy to do so, but I’m not going to lecture you or make snide comments about your meal or rip the cheesesteak from your hands. I’d appreciate it if you’d extend the same courtesy to others.

  • I have only five words for you Vegetaranka, “FROM MY COLD DEAD HANDS!!”

    I think Heston was talking about a cheesesteak then, right???

  • Mamacita, a vegetarian(sarah,forgive me) would be too weak to pull a cheesesteak from your hands…….they’d be all wheezy….cough alot.then call in work.


  • Stan – McD’s fries are not vegetarian. The oil is mixed with beef fat (this was actually the subject of a lawsuit a few years ago, but it ultimately settled).

    Also, “100% beef” is the same as saying “100% cow” – there are way too many parts to know for sure which one McD’s is sticking between your buns (and yes, all puns intended).

  • Cows account for 30% of the greenhouse effect over Argentina, I say we eat the bastards.

  • i am very humbled by my errors concerning McDonalds food and the nature of meat eating.

  • McDonald’s makes good Iced coffee. Unlike Dunkin Doughnuts, they actually realize that sugar does not dissolve in cold drinks, and use a super saturated sugar solution instead, makes their ice coffee more consistently sweet instead of sucking in a mouthful of “sweet sand” at the bottom of the drink.

    Also, the filet-o-fish and the old “fraken-nuggets” were the best things on the menu at McDonald’s. Especially when you bit into a huge vein in your chicken nugget, ahh the good ole days. Also, McDonald’s has the best breakfast of any fast food chain.

  • It’s bizarre how defensive many of the meat-eaters on this site are…

    The comment that meat vs. meat substitute is “carbon neutral” is laughable. Cows aren’t born as patties, they are raised with mass-shipped grain and drugs so they can survive long enough to get fattened up. I eat some meat, try to know where it’s coming from, but judge no one.

    I like Zach’s mcd’s line in the sand. That said, I found zen burger overpriced and unsatisfying…

  • My coworker calls it Crack Burger. That’s because the unchicken nuggets are like crack, they are that good, think McNugget but much better because you don’t get that chicken part mumbo jumbo who knows what nonsense under the crispy skin. And the aroma, the crispy coating etc is better too!!!Yupp it’s better than McNuggets and the dipping sauces that come with them are freakin good too.

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