Bonjoo, NYC


After bumping into an old friend on the street a few weeks, back, gotta love NYC (except when you bump into old boyfriends that you never wanted to see again--Our Lady J sings the BEST song about just that, "Pink Prada Purse"--but I digress).

Casey and I bumped into Sandra Ramani, traveler and writer extraordinaire and we made a date to meet at Sandra’s favorite Korean hang: Bonjoo.

Korean food is tricky for this allergic girl, especially as they love to use fermented fish and soy everywhere. But Sandra spoke so highly of Bonjoo and it's owner, I figured I’d have the convo and see where it went.

When we arrived Sandra said hello to the owner, Kate, a lovely young Korean woman. Kate and I went through the menu and although she could hang with the no fish thing, the no soy issue threw her for a loop. She literally said, “I’m scared for you!” I reminded her that I wasn’t allergic to soy [no hives] but it would give me a tummy ache and reinforced that fish was scarier and allergenic--worse than tummy ache, way worse.

Were were able to come up with an allergic girl safe bibimbop, a very well known and beloved Korean dish: rice, veggies and an sunny side egg on top all in a hot bowl that continues to cook everything whilst you eat it, creating the best hard rice crust on the bottom.

I admit I was a little nervous about eating because Kate was a little nervous for me. However, when the dish came it looked very simple and plain. Kate came by and reiterated that it was completely plain, no fish, no soy so I said a little prayer and dug in. I kept digging until I was practically licking the bowl it was so yummy. It was a bit bland, it needed the chili sauce that she brought but I felt I wasn’t 100% sure about the sauce yet and believe it's better to go one step at a time.

Lesson learned? I might be able to go and have some Korean food every now at then as long as Kate’s looking out for me at Bonjoo in the east village. I love adding new spots and new foods to the personal AG approved list!

107 1st Ave
New York, NY 10003
(212) 505-7974

UPDATE: Just had a chance to go back again (November 2008), still delicious and no soy no fish in my veggie Bimimbop! Be sure to ask for owner Kate or manager Hye (pronounced: "Hay").


Unknown said…
Bibimbop is one of my favorites but it was a good call to pass on the spicy sauce, made from Gochujang which can be made with soy (although the kind I buy has no soy in it). In my experience Korean restaurants are generally accommodating when it comes to my shellfish/tree nut allergies - even if there is an occasional dish sent back to the kitchen. Maybe some sesame oil and chili flakes would work as an alternate to the spicy sauce?
Allergic Girl® said…
great idea mike, thanks!
star gazer said…
The spicy sauce called Gochoojang that comes with Bibimbop has wheat and barley in it. In fact, they are the main ingredients for the sauce. I can no longer enjoy authentic korean food for that reason...

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