I had lunch this week at Souen Restaurant Macrobiotic, on 28 East 13th St. in New York City (212-627-7150), not far from my husband Tom's office.
I got there before the crowd (and Tom) and got a table on the first floor by the window to the left, as you walk in. Such a treat on a mostly dry, slightly overcast, but 75-degree day, when the window/door is open onto a small garden and the street beyond. A great spot to people-watch while waiting, too.
Souen Tom walked in almost immediately. Since he works in NYC a lot, this is one of his favorite places to eat. I ordered pickles, the natto, a bowl of brown rice and the carrot and leek soup, as you see in the photos above. And not to forget, I ordered some scones to go, one for each of us to take home to Maine for tomorrow's breakfast!
First came the pickles, a small and colorful assortment of cucumber, radish and Takuan pickles. The cucumber pickles were the long, Japanese type of cucumber and tasted deliciously mild. We decided that they were probably lightly pickled in soy sauce and water. The radish pickle was equally tasty. If we hadn't known it was a radish, we may not have guessed by the red color. We decided that it was probably dyed in beet juice. It was cut thinly in one continuous ribbon slice and beautifully done. The third pickle was what looked like was rectangularly cut pieces of a longer fermented "takuan" pickle (made with daikon radish).
The "Natto" was made traditionally cooked with mustard and scallion and served on a bed of fresh greens. I'm a natto lover, but don't make it very often, so this was a treat.
The "Leek and Carrot Soup" was served hot (as I like my soups) in an earthenware dish which made it as appealing to look at as well as warm and soothing. The carrots and leeks were pureed together. A great combination that I'd like to try at home.
The rice was cooked well and a very grounding and satisfying complement to the soup and natto.
I've had the Souen scones before and they are great if you like subtly sweet desserts, as I do. I don't eat much sugar (if something has white sugar or cane sugar, I can tell right away as I get a sugar high immediately). I don't feel this way with Souen's scones, which look more like big muffins. The outside of the muffins usually taste lightly sweet and I believe they may have some brown rice syrup or a combination of brown rice and maple syrup brushed on top.
We took a menu with us which says, "For over 30 years (30 years!) Souen has been offering macrobiotic food for New York diners with foremost priority to serve delicious meals in keeping with good health. We prepare our food naturally using the best quality organic grains, beans and produce. No sugar, preservatives, meat or dairy products are used in our kitchen. We also employ traditional methods of preparation whenever possible to enhance the healthful quality and natural flavor of our food. We continue our consistent effort to maintain and improve upon our high standards and macrobiotic principles and respect the order of our universe."
As we sat and enjoyed our lunch, we watched as a large delivery of good-quality shitake mushrooms, soy sauces, brown rice and many other such staples were wheeled in the door past us. I think they definitely walk the talk at Souen.