It’s really difficult, if not totally impossible to eat salt, sugar, and oil-free at a restaurant. So what to do when you’re trying to eat the unprocessed plant-based way? Never go out? That’s even more difficult, considering our busy lives, work meetings, and the fact that you could catch a serious case of cabin fever. AND no one wants to be that weirdo who sneaks their own food into a restaurant.
This past weekend, I had to overcome another obstacle, and it involves a restaurant. I know, real shocker, huh. So I met some friends at one of those Japanese BBQ places where you grill your own stuff, and I figured it’d be a great place to go what with their large selection of vegetables (even ones in steam packets). The appetizers ended up working out fine – edamame without the salt and a side salad, but the bbq vegetables proved to be an issue. We ordered a bunch of the vegetables (asparagus, mushrooms, sweet potato, broccoli) in steam packets, and it turned out that half of them had butter inside! I mean come on, who steams veggies only to put butter on them, doesn’t that kind of defeat the purpose of steaming?
Once in a while I want to be able to go to a restaurant where I don’t have to make substitutions or invent my own dish, and the only restaurant in town where I can do that is Hugo’s. With locations in Studio City, Agoura Hills, and West Hollywood, it’s pretty easy to get to wherever I am. Hopefully one day they’ll open a location in Santa Monica or West LA.
Luckily we’ve had Dale Jaffe and his wife Lisa at our challenge meetings. Aside from being cool folks, they’re both really knowledgeable about food, and Dale happens to be the menu consultant for Hugo’s, working on getting as many menu items to be oil free and as minimal in salt as possible. This past Sunday, he went over the whole menu and told us what the best options for eating there were. Here’s some of what he said – if anyone else who was there remembers any other items, please leave them in the comments section:
- All of the soups, including the pozole, are oil-free
- Obviously salad is a good way to go, and there are 2 oil-free dressings: the mango-tahini and the roasted garlic jalapeño. (I like the Power of Green Salad)
- The best option on the menu is the Create-a-Plate. Good sauces to choose include the tina masala (they don’t use yogurt in it), the cilantro mint chutney, the mushroom herb gravy, and now their marinara is oil-free as well.
- Other good options include the “lentils, leafy greens, and rice” and the “mung beans and rice” items.
- The very green casserole without cheese is also fantastic.
As you can see, there are plenty of delicious options, and it’s a great restaurant to bring meat-eaters to. Everyone leaves happy and full, and you know at least you’ll leave healthy too. Here’s a link to their menu.