While in NYC this week, I went to one of my favorite vegetarian restaurants, Hangawi. I always enjoy going there. The food is all vegan, all pretty unusual, and all very delicious.
This time I ordered the Chef Emperor’s Meal, a prix-fixe meal including appetizers, salad, soup, and a main course. I do not remember exactly what I ate, other than it including lots of mushrooms and roots. But it was very very good. I enjoyed some traditional Korean rice wine (nongju) with it too.
I’d had a long day interviewing, so I was pretty content to bring a crossword puzzle and magazine with me, for some sedate entertainment.
The way the tables are set up a person dining alone (that’s me!) will sit nearby to 2-4 others. Two young women sat at the table next to me. It sounded like both were professional actresses, both in the perpetual audition, disappointment, audition cycle. Then is came time for them to order.
One of the women said – "you decide, you’re the one who can’t eat anything". And indeed that was the case … she ran through a list with the waiter of all of the things she couldn’t eat. It included wheat, soy, and a number of other ingredients often found in a vegetarian Asian restaurant. Then she informed the waiter that if any of the verboten ingredients were in her food, he would need to call an ambulance, and that it was quite possible that her death would be on his conscience. Wow – no pressure.
On the other hand, I can’t imagine living with dietary restrictions like that. You have the constant choice of being a pain in the side whereever you go out to eat, or ending up in the hospital or dead. I wondered whether there are restaurants for people with dietary restrictions like this. What’s the menu like : lettuce soup, with a tossed lettuce salad, a lettuce casserole, topped off with lettuce pudding for dessert?
I enjoyed my dinner, and left before any ambulance was called.
And unless you have severe dietary restrictions about soy and wheat, I’d highly recommend a visit to Hangawi. You might combine it with a nighttime trip to the top of the Empire State Building, which is right around the corner.