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Zen Palate in Hell's Kitchen Shut Down by Health Department

By Mathew Katz | April 26, 2013 12:51pm

HELL'S KITCHEN — This kitchen wasn't so Zen.

Health Department inspectors shut down the Hell's Kitchen outpost of popular Asian vegetarian restaurant Zen Palate at 663 Ninth Ave., after finding including evidence of vermin and unprotected food during an inspection this week.

Inspectors — who hit the eatery with a whopping 73 violation points during a visit on Wednesday —  found "evidence of mice or live mice" at the restaurant, which advertises itself as "a holistic experience whose actions are focused on respect for health, people and the environment."

Zen Palate also had improperly stored utensils, unprotected food, and hot food items that were allowed to get cold before being served, as well asa bathroom was was "not maintained and provided with toilet paper, waste receptacle and self-closing door," according to the inspection.

Inspectors additionally found that the restaurant's supervisor did not have city Food Protection certification.

The restaurant is a hit with vegetarians around the city, with two other locations, in Murray Hill and Union Square.

Many reviewers on Yelp lamented what they described as the restaurant recently going downhill, including one former fan who said her meal showed up two minutes after she ordered.

"The entire meal had been microwaved, and in the worst way possible," wrote reviewer Lisa Jane C. "It was borderline warm."

The restaurant was still closed on Friday, and employees there would not answer questions. The location's manager did not respond to requests for comment.