An oasis dies in SoHo
Today marks the final week of Souen. Yes, there is another location. No, it is not the same. Everyone has already explained why—but from the "old white people who look like they live in Berkeley" to the "emotional warmth that comes through on the plate," I loved it, and so here I am, chiming in.
For twelve years, I went to school within three blocks from Souen—on the fringes of the village, not quite SoHo, just north of TriBeCa. For so long, I didn't even know what it was. It wrapped around the corner of Prince St and 6th Avenue, exuding hippie-like energy, with tinted windows that made it difficult to see inside. Never inclined to ask anyone or Google it, I assumed it was some sort of spiritual-leaning institution. A place to have your fortune told, perhaps. Or a meditation studio. The funny thing is, it always smelled so good. Wafts of sweet, freshly baked bread would engulf me as I walked by. At some point, I think someone told me it was a macrobiotic restaurant. Gross, I thought and continued to write it off.
In my junior year of high school, I ate there for the first time with my friend Claire and her parents. Her mom was a teacher at our school, a health nut before it was cool, and a longtime devotee of Souen. I hated it. Whatever I ordered was utterly flavorless. I resolved never to return.
Then a little over a year ago, everything changed. I'd been working in SoHo for some time, frequenting some of the same lunch spots that I did when I was sixteen. One day, my co-worker Anna suggested we go to Souen. As a millennial adult with more health-forward tastes, I allowed it a second chance. I did my due diligence and determined that a macro plate with maze rice and sesame vinaigrette was the way to go.
I became an addict and the rest is history. Kind of. A heated argument over Instagram DM with yet another friend, Ellen, convinced me to change my dressing order to tahini dill, and I never looked back.
For those of you who claim that Souen was never that good or that everyone can boil vegetables and steam brown rice at home, fine, but I'll say this: there's something sacred about a restaurant with no vibe and a trustworthy kitchen that puts out 100% wellness. Is it lame? A little. Is it mainly beloved by those with severe body image issues? Sure. (FWIW, the portions are large.) But that doesn't discount the fact that the macro plate is delicious, wholesome, and rejuvenating. A meal at Souen brought me back to my roots, if not because I've been eating there for ages, at least because it's always been there.
RIP, Souen. I'll miss you.
210 6th Ave, New York, NY 10014
Souen Was Populated by Dinosaurs and Served Twig Tea. I Loved It. [NYTimes]
New Yorkers Mourn Souen, The Beloved Boiled Food Restaurant [The Cut]
I've never been happier about living where I do [WSJ Magazine]
I'm excited to start dissecting the dietary preferences of other politicians (the 2020 race has begun!) but for now... there he goes again. [New Yorker]
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