** UPDATE MAY 2010: THIS ESTABLISHMENT HAS CLOSED.**
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
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").