This twice-yearly event is held indoors, in conjunction with a mini flea market; to get to the goods or to exit the room, you've got to walk by the chow, whose sale raises funds for the NYBC (most items, $2 to $5). The menu is small and, as you'd expect, meat-free. Chirashi sushi, vinegared rice topped with vegetables and mushrooms, and a vegetarian curry rice are surprisingly invigorating morning fare, especially when the weather is a little raw.
On a previous occasion I was drawn to a curious version of tsukemono (Tsu-keh-MO-no), "pickled things" customarily eaten over rice and chased with green tea. The Latin American gourd best known as chayote (chy-Oh-tay), pickled in a soy sauce mixture and accompanied by lotus root, nori, and sesame seeds, has a crunchiness that stands up to the tsukemono treatment, a member of the Buddhist Women's Association explained. (For that matter, the flavorings for curry rice hail from India, she also noted.) Though tsukemono were available at the most recent event, I didn't note whether chayote was among them.
The few Japanese confections seem to pale in popularity beside the Western-leaning desserts, like the matcha cupcakes and slice of pistachio cake shown below. Chocolate cake and apple pie were big hits, too.
New York Buddhist Church Festival
331 Riverside Dr. (105th-106th Sts.), Manhattan
(The spring 2014 event was held on March 29)