Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Super Healthy Breakfast at abcV

A soft by otherwise delicious dosa with yoghurt and greens
When in New York, there's not only sightseeing and show watching, but also lots of dining.

One place we were very curious to try was abcV, a vegetarian restaurant opened by celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten.

I met him in Hong Kong a few months ago and when I asked him about abcV, he told me about the menu, and boasted the restaurant had "the best congee in New York City".

The restaurant's interior is sparse yet very modern
When a gweilo chef claims he has the best congee in town you have to check it out, right?

My New York-based friend made a reservation for July 4 for breakfast -- and we were told the only time available was 9.30am sharp, even though breakfast is served until 10.30am.

So we arrived a bit earlier than the appointed time -- no traffic because of the public holiday -- and hardly anyone in the restaurant either. We could have come at 10am... or did the staff forget it's a public holiday?

The decor is quite sparse -- a white modern room with a mish mash of chandeliers suspended from the ceiling, a bakery at the front, and kitchen at the back.

We noticed the pieces of cutlery were all different -- a kind of eclectic hipsterish feel that's kind of artsy, which is what the crowd was mostly made of, except for us.

Poached eggs and mushrooms underneath
The menu lists dishes that sound super good for you. Coincidentally the New York Times had tried the restaurant and the review came out just before we went, but I didn't read it until afterwards.

We agree with the assessment that the atmosphere is quite pretentious, but the reviewer showed the menu to a dietician, who proclaimed the dishes really were healthy -- though the portions were on the delicate side.

One of the first dishes we shared was the dosa with yoghurt, avocado and sprouts (US$14). It arrived in a beautiful presentation, but we have to say the dosa was hardly crunchy, but thinner than a pita bread texture. We liked the combination of yoghurt and avocado.

A winner was the wild mushrooms with poached farm eggs, shallots and herbs (US$15). How can you go wrong with runny yolks that explode onto the meaty mushrooms like a comfort sauce?

Testing out the congee dish with six condiments to choose
So the congee, or as listed on the menu: forbidden rice and millet congee with savoury condiments (US$10) that included pickled mushrooms, ginger, ponzu sauce, finely sliced nori, chilli sauce and spring onions.

The congee itself wasn't white, but more pinky brown thanks to the black rice, though it was more savoury than sweet. We threw in a bit of each of the condiments and they certainly perked up the congee. It was also quite a shallow bowl, so we savoured each bite (and more dosa), and sides like kale and potatoes.

In the end we were full, but not overwhelmingly so, which is probably the point -- portions are everything and just feeling sated is probably healthiest too.

Would we come back? Probably for lunch, not dinner.

38 East 19th Street
New York
(212) 475 5829

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