Mon-Sat, 11am-10:30pm; Sun, 11am-10pm
4, 5, 6, L, N, Q, R at 14th St.-Union Sq.
American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
Houston St. to 26th St., Ave. B to Tenth Ave.
Japanese-based macrobiotic theory believes healthy, wholesome eating is therapeutic. Meat, dairy, and eggs, and even certain vegetables, are prohibited. It's not a versatile cuisine, but all those dark green vegetables, soy, beans, grains, and fish on the menu should leave you feeling fantastic. No matter if you think it's all a bunch of hooey, the Asian-influenced food at Souen stands on its own. A meaty seitan cutlet with a popped millet crust is crispy outside, chewy inside, and served with sweet, crimson beet sauce. Yuba, fine tofu-skin rolls, are marinated in a light kombu-shiitake broth and then steamed. Thick Jappa soup, one of the heartier variations of miso soup on the menu, is stocked with vegetables and chunks of white fish. Simpler dishes may include salmon or wild black cod broiled or marinated in teriyaki-like sauce, or done Okabe-style, with a thick, sweet sesame paste. The whole grains, beans, steamed greens, and hijiki in the Macrobiotic Life platter are plain on their own, but easily enlivened by sweet carrot ginger dressing. The largely Birkenstock-clad crowd must feel comforted by the soft purple and yellow tone walls, the plants and humidity, and the simple wood tables that promote a zen-like, if slightly grungy, feel.Recommended Dishes
Seitan cutlet, $16; yuba, $7; Jappa soup, $12; broiled fish with Okabe sauce, $24-$26