At midday, I arrived at Dr. Yu’s famous Vegan Hut on the second floor in one of the several huge SoHo office/retail complexes that feature in downtown Beijing. I didn’t find Dr. Yu (it was his day off, alas). But I did find a yin/yang mix of bustle and serenity. Many tables were filled and the staff (all women out front) were busy. But the light green walls, orange parasols, and lanterns hanging from the ceiling, wood plank floors, and big picture windows (revealing a smoggy sun) offered calm, too.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have time for lunch. I had food envy: everything I saw people eating looked delicious. So I drank fresh carrot juice—my first in Beijing—and a delicious plum tea, served in a clear glass tea pot, kept warm by a candle in heart-shaped warmer. The tea’s sweet flavor grew stronger as I neared the bottom of the pot. The Vegan Hut lunch crowd was what seems to be classic 21st century Beijing: sophisticated, international, savvy, pretty hip, and with almost equal numbers of women and men.
Many thanks to Dr. Yu for participating in Brighter Green’s documentary, “What’s for Dinner?” Next time I’m in Beijing, I’ll hope to meet him and drink some plum tea—and actually get to eat at Vegan Hut; if possible, more than once.
And thanks to Joe, a regular customer, for helping direct me on the phone to Vegan Hut after my taxi driver left me off a block or so away (by the time I arrived, Joe had gone). I was lost: so many tall white buildings named SoHo, so many restaurants, coffee shops, and retail stores, but no Vegan Hut. “Walk west,” “five minutes,” someone told me, but in Beijing at noon, which way is west? And along Beijing’s wide streets, how long is a five minute walk? Even a New Yorker like me isn’t sure.