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Hu Kitchen

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Hu Kitchen

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Address: 78 Fifth Ave(14th St)
City: New York, NY
Zip: 10011
Phone: (212) 510-8919
Site: Visit the restaurant site
Map: Map
Cuisine: Cafe
2nd Cuisine: Natural
Area: Union Square


Review:

"If I could eat this food every day—if all my meals could come from this restaurant—I'd feel well-nourished, totally satisfied with my diet, and less burdened with excess pudge." That was my thought the first time I ate at Hu Kitchen, and my opinion didn't change over my next two visits. The dishes here are, in every meaning of the words, honestly good.

The Hu concept started with a question: "How should humans eat?"  What we feed ourselves has changed (radically) in recent times, but our biology has not. "We are primitive bodies living in modern times," the restaurant's premise states, "[and] getting back to a preindustrial way of eating is the best thing we could do for our health."

They chefs know, however, that if food is not delicious and appealing, it will be a hard sell no matter its benefits; so they've endeavored to make sure it's yummy, and they have succeeded. 

Thought and care have been put into the details of the menu and the surroundings (the setting is comfortable and relaxing, streamlined and unfussy, and blessedly low on plastic). The website states 8 tenets for good eating, including "sweeten wisely" (the menu rejects cane sugar and corn syrup but, in a nod to the sweet tooth, incorporates organic coconut sugar, organic honey, and maple syrup). Ingredients here are 100% organic and free of gmo components, and Hu has made the decision to be completely gluten-free.

My first meal here was lunch; I had a small Hu Bowl ($7.75 for small: $9.75 for large). Its base was organic quinoa, and it was topped with roasted wild mushrooms. The surprise bonus was free toppings—I chose shaved almonds, shallots, and cumin. This bowl at this size was for me just the right amount of food for a midday meal, and it really was delish. I was neither stuffed nor hungry afterward, and I felt that I'd done something good for my body.

My second Hu meal was dinner: the "Paleo Veg Loaf" ($6.95) and a side of roasted sweet potatoes ($3.50). Though Hu's menu is not strictly vegetarian, it's easy for those who don't eat meat, like myself, to find great options here (the meat served, of course, is organic and free of hormones). The veg loaf is made of carrots, onion, sunflower  seeds, flaxmeal, organic egg, coconut milk, tomato, and basil. It holds together well, has a great texture, and is tasty and filling. One point: I would have heated it a little more—it was was warm but could have been a bit warmer. I wonder if this is a timing issue; I am assuming Hu does not employ microwave ovens. 

For my third meal, I came for breakfast with my niece. We each got a regular Hot Breakfast Bowl, which was plenty of food for us (small $5.75, regular $7.75). This has a base of organic quinoa or rustic root vegetable mash (we got one of each) topped with a vegetable medley and an organic egg (scrambled or sunny-side up). It was hearty and sustaining but not too heavy, filling but not overly rich.

Will Hu's menu dazzle with its newfangled brilliance? Probably not, but that's kind of the point here. This is real food; quality food; healthy food. Genuine, unmodified, unadulterated food that will support your body while it pleases your taste. I mean it—I believe that if I could eat every meal here, I'd feel more thoroughly nourished; and I'd be more than fine to eat every meal here, because these folks behind Hu pay close attention to how the dishes are crafted. One gets a sense of "this is it": This is in fact what you, as a human, should be giving your body.

Is it the cheapest food around? No doubt, fast-food chains are cheaper, but do you even know (or want to know) what you're getting with them? Given its quality, I find Hu's prices very reasonable. And if you're coming as a group, consider the "organic family feast"—4 servings of any entree for  $28.95.

P.S. Breaking news of my life with Hu: I just ate there for the fourth time, this time a Saturday brunch. Two eggs, a gluten-free English muffin, a side of roasted sweet potatoes, and a side of steamed greens, all organic of course. Fantastic, more than filling, and $8.95. My friend had almost the same but with bacon and a slightly different gluten-free bread. Same price, so yummy, and she could hardly finish all her food. And no one minded that we lingered literally for hours over our organic coffee ($2). Bottom line: Hu rocks.



Review By: Pamela Grossman


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