Nancys Sky Garden

Restaurant owner keeps dishes fresh

Nancys Sky Garden is a herbivores paradise with a view.

The rooftop restaurant overlooks downtown Georgetown and offers both healthier and lighter meal options through its largely vegetarian menu.

Although owner Nancy Lee said she does not love cooking, she loves eating fresh food, which was the driving force behind opening the restaurant.

I love to go out to eat because I dont like to cook, but most of the restaurants have the oily foods, she said. Sometimes I felt so guilty feeding that kind of thing to my children.

Realizing that there was a demand for healthier food, Lee opened the restaurant in February 2013 and created a menu that is light in grease, sugar and salt.

Most of the restaurants cook the veggies, and they put in a lot of oils and sugars, Lee said. I said, I dont want to make the customer happy at first bite; I want to make the customer happy at the last bite. Even though theyve finished my entire plate, its not greasy or oily at all.

Lees entrees follow the rainbow diet philosophy, which associates health benefits with different-colored foods. For example, red foods, such as tomatoes, are rich in antioxidants, and green foods, such as kale, have components that work to prevent cardiovascular disease.

The menu also blends Asian-style meals with Western influence. She uses ingredients often seen in Korean food, but works with the ingredients in ways different from those that are common in South Korea.

Im very open-minded; thats why my food is totally different, she said.

For example, the Noodle Garden, a customer favorite, has sweet potato noodles over greens, she said. However, it is also served with an avocado.

Lee, a native of Korea, said she had not cooked with avocados prior to living in America, but at the request of a customer she incorporated an avocado into the dish.

She also offers hummus on her menu, which she learned about from an employee.

I had an employee say, Nancy, why dont we serve hummus? she said. At that point I didnt know what hummus was.

Her employee made a trip to Whole Foods so she could try hummus, and Lee said she liked what she tasted.

I thought, How should I serve this hummus? she said. We have the summer roll, and I wanted to put some protein in for the vegetarian customers so I thought this would be perfect. Thats why I made the hummus thicker than usual.

Although Lee does serve a great deal of vegetarians, she said many customers come in for the chicken salad. Lee skips the mayonnaise in her recipe, which results in a lighter, healthier substance.

She said she hopes to someday grow her own vegetables to use in her dishes, but for now the outdoor garden is purely decorative and reflects her love of gardening.

Lee said she remembers moving to Texas when her husband took a position with the Korean Consulate and she would make regular trips to see the wildflowers.

Every day Id ask other housewives to see the wildflowers. I would drive and ask just one [to come with me]. I would change [who I asked] so I could see [the flowers] every day, she said. I love flowers. Its also the reason I wanted to make my [entrees] colorful.

Nancys Sky Garden, 501 S. Austin Ave., fourth floor