Happy Friday, as you all know, I love sharing great vegan, gluten free finds when I come across them, but the truth is, sometimes we are busy and under time constraints and we can’t always take an afternoon to search for specific places. Let’s face it, as much as I like to write about the ease of living a vegan, gluten free life, it can be tricky at times and that’s why today I am featuring a restaurant that isn’t vegan, but has lots of vegan, gluten free options along with tips on how to navigate menus when eating out anywhere.
First thing, scan, look for keywords like familiar veggies, rice, potatoes and things that look and sound the most like a whole food. Second, ask questions, don’t be afraid to spell it out, not everyone knows vegan includes not eating butter, eggs and fish that sneaks into sauces and dressings. Third, stay true to your lifestyle and choices and don’t be embarrassed, people are more than happy to accommodate when they know what they are dealing with. Similar to my Eating Out Guide, I hope this post encourages you to speak up and stay true to yourself.
This week my feature Friday seeked me out! A friend at work wanted to take me out for lunch for my birthday, all my favorite vegan places in Williamsburg, Brooklyn were too far away to walk to since we only had an hour for lunch, so we wondered up to Broadway in search of a vegan/gluten free friendly eatery. I could feel my label/menu scanning skills brewing. Under the train tracks in the heart of Williamsburg, a little cafe called to us, enter Dotory, a Korean cafe that looked adorable and veg friendly. I scanned the menu on the glass outside, saw the words tofu, vegetables and rice and knew the vegan side of me would be fine, but the ever pending gluten question was on my brain. It just sneaks in everywhere and is so annoying! We entered, I asked and volia, they could make anything vegan and the sauces had no gluten! (Mini dance party in my mind!)
We sat in the back at an adorable, wooden table with fluffy pillows, a clean decor and friendly waiter.
Everything looked so good! We started with a white tea blend that offered soothing aromas.
We shared the Nori Taco Salad, a seaweed cup with a solid crunch that doubled as an edible plate for thinly sliced, summer vegetables and the most delicious kimchi vinaigrette that oozed zing. The chef told us that seaweed was a Korean style snack that she used as a base to create an appetizer. The flavors and crunch balanced and complimented each other so well.
Next up, I had the Avocado and Crunchy Nori Bibimbap! Served in a stone bowl, rice lined the bottom and acted as a bed for the vegetables arranged on top. Mushrooms, corn, sprouts, avocado, edamame, scallions and sesame seeds decorated the bowl served with a spicy sauce that brought all the flavors together. The traditional bowl came with a side of edamame, egg and fish something, but the waiter brought me a special side of edamame, kimchi and pickled radishes! (Also mayonnaise snuck in there, but when I asked, they were happy to remove it, again it’s all about not feeling defeated and asking questions!) My friend and I chatted, caught up, ate, and sipped tea and for that short 40 minutes, was transported to a zen place of simple, beautiful and delicious food.
We ended with a complimentary cold, mint tea (a peace offering for the egg/fish/mayo mistake) to send us on our way.
I am already dreaming of going back.
This experience reminded me of how to make your food preferences work for you and speak up for yourself. When I first saw the egg, I thought, maybe it’s tofu, I did say I was vegan, but then just asked and the waiter and he was happy to replace it and felt bad about the mistake. Mistakes happen and life goes on, it is just important to remember to be your own advocate for what feels right for you. I then took this opportunity to speak to another friend of mine, who is Korean to ask about the mayonnaise and he said it was actually traditional in some Korean cooking, post WWII, to add the mayo to balance the spice, so now I know to ask about that too and learned some food history as well!
Have you ever been surprised about finding a place that is accommodating for your needs?
I am thankful to all my followers and readers and want to hear from you.
Be happy, eat and feel well.