Thoughtful food choices are so important in a healthy lifestyle. At Capital Chiropractic, we address habits surrounding food, the impact of processed foods, and strategies for implementing healthier choices. Central to this discussion is where patients can go for good quality meats, produce and other food products – right here in Central Iowa.
With Des Moines Restaurant Week around the corner, we thought we would highlight a local restaurant that takes a holistic approach to food. In addition, the Downtown Chamber of Commerce will soon host their new lunch series at HoQ in late July. Learn more here.
We recently talked with our East Village neighbor Suman Hoque, owner of HoQ Restaurant at East 5th and Walnut, about his unique approach. His passion for the slow food and local food movement is evident and inspiring.
The Des Moines restaurant scene is creative and vibrant. What sets HoQ apart from the rest?
The most unique thing about HoQ is that we are entirely farm-to-table, meaning we get approx 95% of all of our ingredients locally from Iowa (within 200 miles of the restaurant). We know our farmers personally. Most of our ingredients are organic, although not all are certified organic. Many restaurants use local ingredients when it’s convenient, but we develop our menu around what’s available and fresh from local producers. The majority of our menu is gluten-free.
What inspires new recipes and menus for your restaurant?
Our recipes/menus revolve around what’s local and fresh! For example, we’re just starting to get new potatoes from our local farmers so you will see more potatoes on our next menu. Sometimes it creates a challenge – there’s a lot of kohlrabi available right now so I have to be creative and figure out how to use it.
Tell us about your experience at the Farmer’s Market.
The Farmer’s Market has been awesome! It’s a lot of fun to cook outside and meet old/new customers face to face. They can see what I’m cooking and what they’re eating. It piques people’s interest in eating simply and locally.
What do you mean when you say “sustainable farm-to-table dining?” And why is that important?
That means we try to use as many local ingredients as possible and as completely as possible. For example, we use the greens on top of turnips. We butcher whole animals in house and use every part. We try not to throw anything away. This means less waste for the environment, more health benefits from typically unused parts of animals/vegetables, and less work for our farmers. This also means food doesn’t have to travel as far to get to us. Less packaging and transportation costs/fuel usage. And I speak with my farmers daily so I can personally attest to my food safety.
Have you ever made a dish you were especially proud of that didn’t really take off with patrons?
Pork belly was a little bit slow to take off. I served it initially with a poached egg and kale. My salmon tartare also didn’t take off right away. People were hesitant at first. Now that more people have become familiar with my cooking, they’re more adventurous and enjoy these dishes.
Do you accommodate special dietary restrictions and allergies for diners in your restaurant?
Definitely. The majority of our menu is gluten-free without any modifications. Our vegetarian dishes can usually become vegan very easily. We’re happy to accommodate any other requests to the best of our ability.
What do you love about Des Moines?
I love the people of Des Moines. My wife and I moved to Des Moines 5 years ago. Since then, people have been very friendly, welcoming, and helpful. I’ve enjoyed getting to know people from a variety of walks of life including farmers, business owners, politicians, and foodies of all kinds! I love being a chef and I hope to educate people about food quality/healthy eating. We have some of the best food in the world right here in Iowa so I try to encourage people to make good food choices.
Links to Learn More:
Des Moines Downtown Chamber Summer Lunch Series event is July 28th.
Des Moines Restuarant Week is August 14-23.
Need yet another reason to check it out? Happy Hour at Hoq is a delicious.
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