It’s the height of cold and flu season. Should you add a restaurant outing to your immunity arsenal? Well, if it’s one of the new “immunity-enhancing” menus being touted at a number of new California restaurants, it might not hurt.
Now, restaurant menus here are marrying the broader commercial movement of “functional” foods – those stuffed with heavy doses of vitamins and antioxidants – and a national fixation on immunity boosting (a fizzy gulp of Airborne is as much a part of the pre-flight experience as a baggage check). In Beverly Hills, Crustacean, a modern Vietnamese restaurant, has attached an icon to the left side of several menu items letting diners know that those dishes supposedly boost immunity. At M Café de Chaya in Hollywood, a macrobiotic restaurant often dotted with celebrities, the chef, Shigefumi Tachibe, has “items that offer both immune boosting and healthful benefits for everybody,” said his spokeswoman, Cindy Choi. Down Melrose Avenue a bit from M Café is Dr. Tea’s Tea Garden and Herbal Emporium, where immunity enhancement is always part of the menu, said Dr. Tea, a k a Mark Ukra. “We work a lot with cancer patients to bring their immunity up, and lots of people come in to get our tonics to get rid of the flu,” he said.