I don't think I have ever been so excited to be in a restaurant. We visited this Union Square gem with some lovely friends last night and I was actually dancing around with excitement, so much so that it took me far too long to decide what to have. (I ended up going with their prepared market bar options, combining a stuffed acorn squash [roasted veggies, coconut milk, cashew, arrowroot flour], 'creamed' spinach [turmeric cashew cream with onions], and curried sweet potatoes [dried apricot, hazelnut, and a pile of spices].) Pretty happy about these. It's a marketplace set up, in that you wander around and choose the different components of your meal from different 'stations'. Having to move to get your food? I can get on board with this! [Their whole menu is here.]
Everything Hu Kitchen has going on - their mission, food philosophy, layout, deliciousness - fits pretty perfectly for everything I value when it comes to food.
- They make "food for humans". While I don't subscribe entirely to a Paleo Diet, I do feel there are some real benefits to eating foods our bodies were designed to consume - or as they indicate, 'pre-industrial' (so, not processed junk).
- They focus on plants: a variety of organic, whole, legitimately-from-the-ground produce makes up the bulk of their menu. Prepared a variety of ways, they make their vegetables incredible, moving them to center stage and highlighting their natural flavors with really interesting blends of spices.
- They focus on ingredients, not calories. Because calories are not created equal (200 calories of sugar does something very different to the body than 200 calories of broccoli rabe), it's important not to get caught up in counting them; instead, we should look at the quality and variety of ingredients in our food. Increase the whole stuff and you limit how much room there is for the junky stuff. Simple.
- They are entirely gluten-free (cavemen didn't have our processed grains of today... so, no gluten). I was thrilled. It's rare I can venture into a restaurant and know I can eat just about everything! (Even though I steered clear of the meat, I still had dozens of options.) The grains they do use, sparingly, are whole.
- Healthy fats make perfect portions so satisfying. They embrace avocado, coconut, and olive oils -- nothing on the menu has a processed or trans fat added anywhere.
- Clean, clean, clean: organic produce, free from toxins, no GMOs. This is how we should be eating.
- They've taken an ordinary restaurant experience and turned it into something new and interesting: the cafeteria-style set-up is fun, communal, and conducive to discussion with the people who prepare + serve your food. They're excited about what they do and want to engage with customers about their choices. It's also nice to see the many, many options available - it's neat to see so many healthy options at your fork-tip!
You can check out the pillars of what Hu is trying to do here. If you're not in New York, consider working some of their food pillars into your life: clean, organic produce; mostly plants; healthy fats; whole grains; increasing whole, real-food ingredients and cutting down on processed foods. If you are in New York, I'd highly recommend checking it out! It's an awesome healthy dining option (just west of Union Square at 78 Fifth Avenue) - and so accessible! I'm thrilled we live just a few trains stops away - we will absolutely be back. I'll be the one dancing in the market space.
Have a great Friday, everyone!