Being an omnivore, I can be pretty flexible with my dining companions’ dietary restrictions, preferences, limitations and/or phobias. Having lunch with a pregnant vegetarian who loves hot and spicy food and who once lived in Hong Kong might present a challenge to some.
Without hesitation I took us to Szechuan Gourmet on West 39th. Szechuan Gourmet may be the best Szechuan restaurant in the city. Andrew Zimmern of Bizarre Foods (whom I met at the James Beard Awards) would feel right at home as virtually every species and every part of every species is well represented on the menu. But for my pregnant chili pepper loving veggie guest, what could we order to make everyone happy? No problem.
We started out with the spicy cucumber salad followed by pea shoots, steamed vegetable dumplings and braised fish filets (she’ll eat fish) with napa and roasted chili. But the vegetarian piece de resistance for you Bill Cosby fans-nothing beats the spicy jiggling mung bean jello salad which I swore tasted just like… jellyfish (and I LIKE jellyfish). Having fulfilled my lifetime vegetable requirements, I then ordered some of my favorites for the rest of the table (well, really for me). Dan Dan noodles with chili minced pork, diced rabbit with peanuts, twice cooked pork belly with chili leeks, sauteed prawns with spicy chili minced pork and asparagus, smoky wok tossed frogs and the crispy lamb filets with chili cumin. A veritable Noah’s Ark of food.