Sunday, October 12, 2008

My Izakaya by Ministry of Food

I am very disappointed with My Izakaya - Ministry of Food (a non-veg Japanese cuisine outlet serving some vegetarian options). Some of you may have read my review on the vegetarian options in this post about their soba noodles. This was a terrible mistake, the soba is not vegetarian! I am very sorry if I had mislead you to have the dish at that place.

The other day I went there again with my non-veg friends. The waiter told me the soba was not vegetarian and that they used fish extract in the soup. (When I went there the first time, another waiter told me the dish is vegetarian and no fish or meat extract was used!) The waiter then started to point out to me those dishes that were vegetarian. And guess what? Many of the dishes with the "broccoli" symbol beside it (suppose to mean the dish has got no meat) are actually not vegetarian - not even ovo-lacto vegetarian.

I asked the waiter why is it they put the "broccoli" symbol besides those dishes which were not vegetarian as it was very misleading to unknowing vegetarian customers, and I was told that's because there are many versions of vegetarians. But most vegetarians don't eat meat or fish extract, I thought this was common knowledge.

Anyway, if you have to eat at My Izakaya, there are though a few things vegetarians can eat that this more ingredient savvy waiter pointed out. The fried vegetable tempura (no egg used in the tempura), the radish sushi, and sesame sushi, and a couple of other things.

After this incident, I have lost a lot of confidence with the non-vegetarian outlets. The waiters and waitresses may simply not be educated enough on the concept of vegetarianism and lead you to make the wrong choices. My best suggestion would be that if food outlets were to call their food vegetarian they must make sure they state "Contain/Does not contain meat and fish derivatives, egg, dairy, animal products, derivatives of animal products etc."

Whenever you can, stick to veg outlets.


Anna said...

Hi, I am an exchange student here in Singapore this semester. Being a vegan I have felt fooled many times! Since I only can communicate I have noticed a lot of people working at resturants and food courts don't know so good english... Last time it happened, a guy working at a food court told me, when I asked what something was, that it was tofu. So I got it, it turned out that it was fish cake...! :(

Jackie said...

Like you I find I have to be very vigilant at all times when it comes to restaurants in my part of the world, Africa. Most haven't even heard the word Vegan never mind know what it means. When out I usually just eat salad to be on the safe side.

Crystal @ Blog*Spot said...

I feel we should not avoid non-vegetarian eateries, in fact, we SHOULD EDUCATE them on VEGETARIANISM :)

They do make mistakes but we all learn from mistakes and then we can move toward a more vegetarian friendly society.

With a more vegetarian friendly society, it would allow non-vegetarian ordering/cratering food for veg*n simplified, hence reduce lots of inconveniences. And then it is also easier to convince people to go veg*n, as it is a norm.

For such case, there is a need to write to the top-management of such eatery or letter from VSS which had more influence on this matter to all non-vegetarian eateries on what is accepted on veg*n diet, if possible. The letter can be rather standardise.

Waiters are not cook, there don't know very much, it is therefore, us to point out thing that need fixing. Some chefs does not fully understand veg*n. Even newbies veg*n had lots of questions what can be eaten or not, so not to talk about non-veg.

Sauce used in Japanese cusine contains Bonito extract, very common.

I don't know, I might be wrong, my view is that we have to make our society/world more veg*n friendly and we might have to look at the big item first and then refine the smaller one.

Cheers :)

anna ( said...

That's appalling.. you should write to them!

According to their website, you can reach them at this email:

anna ( said...

PS - I'm going to Singapore in two months... are there any vegan restaurants I MUST NOT miss out on?? :)

Jari (travelling-vegan) said...

Not really surprising when it comes to a Japanese place. I'm actually in Japan right now and have gone to a lot of places that according to happycow are 100% vegetarian, but they serve meat and fish at least some of the time! Having said that, there are a few awesome vegan places here too.

Anyway, I sort of agree with Crystal that we should visit the non-veg places and walk out if they don't give us truly vegan food... just to make them feel they should.

Urban Vegan said...

Isn't it annoying--all the questions you have to ask? Does it have fish sauce, bonito, egg whites, anchovies, etc?

I frequent a few non-veg places here, but luckily the staff watches out for me.

Sarah said...

I can't say that I am 100% vegan, sorry to say that I still appreciate a little meat. I do like examining all the health factors of diets including risks and benefits. I came across an interesting article highlighting a soy diet at JPeterman. Enjoy!

Veggie Bun said...

are you sure the tempura is vegan? I think Crystal reminded me before that they use bonito sauce for tempura dip as well.

Anonymous said...

Hi, anna, you may wish to try Loving Hut at Suntec City Tower 2. nearest MRT station is City Hall.
It is located in Suntec City Tower 2, Sky Garden, 3rd floor. open daily from 11am to 10pm last order is 9.30pm. it serves good vegan dishes and gourmet coffee and juices.

dreamy said...

anna: wow... i didn't know it could get that bad here! I usually have veg food from veg stalls at food courts so it's still fine..

jackie: yea I agree, it's also pretty much the same in Singapore. They know "vegetarian" but when u say vegan... that's a total alien word... and when u say u dun eat dairy or smth, u get strange looks lol...

Thanks anna - pure mania: I will write to them. Vegetarian restaurants here usually serve vegan options and these options are plentiful.. u can try the one at madras street - 7 sensations, Vegetarian health food at fortune centre which used to be Veggie bun's fav :), forest dew restaurant at bendemeer road, lotus veg restaurant for their buffet though it's more pricey. Lao Di Fang at havelock road is also fairly good the last time I ate there..

VB: yes the sauce is not veg... I didn't use the sauce... so it's tempura without sauce... not very nice :D

I'm Philippa O said...

that's terrible! just because the restaurant has a (very misguided) idea of what vegetarians eat is no excuse for insinutating that their meat filled dishes are suitable for vegetairians. bad form!
i just found your blog - i lived in singapore for 13 years as a kid but this was before i became a vegan. it's nice to see what's available there if i go back to visit!

Fangqi said...

I agree that we should make it a point to try to 'educate' non-veg outlets. I used to feel bad having to request omission of this and that, even today I still feel so, but I think the responsibility lies in us to create demand. So now instead of simply avoiding non-veg outlets, occasionally I deliberately ask non-veg outlets if they have vegan foods. The more such requests they hear, the more they know about our existence, the more options we'll have in future, the better it is for the animals and the environment and everybody! Soup Spoon is one such place, I've written in a couple of times, the founder was very open to providing more variety, though staff at the outlets are mostly still not very aware of vegan requirements. Still, at times I deliberately ask if this or that bun is vegan, just to 'make noise'.

dreamy said...

I'm Philippa O,

Yes, I agree... it is a bad tactic to use this method to mislead people :( telling people the dish contains no meat, but actually is still not vegetarian :(


I think we might need a considerable number of ppl to make noise before they will do anything. But its a good start you are doing!

Many of this non-veg places are unfortunately not very educated in what kind of food is considered vegetarian... their bottom line is always profit and some of hem will not even bother to cater to veg when we make noise.

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