Tag Archives: Japanese

Eating Out with your Vegan- Part 2

Fed your vegan Indian? Good noms. Time to explore other yummy countries.

EVERYTHING ELSE IN ASIA

Don’t assume that other Asian food places will be as vegan or vego friendly. Asian restaurants are as diverse as the huge continent from which they come, so if you’re booking for a party that has a vegan, ask if meals can be made without egg or fish sauce in the least. Your vego friend can figure it out from there. I have to admit, I HATE asking questions about food at restaurants- I want to be a diner, not labelled as “the vego table”. I have happily eaten Chinese, Thai, Korean, Malaysian, Indonesian, Japanese and a whole lot of other cuisines asking minimal questions and knowing the potential pit falls. As a host, you don’t have to know everything that could stop your vegan friend eating, but it helps to know a few.

In Asian cuisine, the most common unveganising factors are:

-egg (many menus don’t mention it in a dish. I just always say “no egg” when ordering, even if it shouldn’t have it).

-fish sauce (laksa and east Asian curries)

-tofu made with egg

-ham in fried rice (obvious but it happens)

-mayo in avocado/vege sushi

-fish and shrimp paste in miso

Don’t worry, your vegan friend can handle themselves, but knowing to ask one or two questions on the phone about removing one or two ingredients from otherwise nommy dishes is super considerate and will make your vegan love you.

OTHER CUISINES

-Ethiopian can be vegan friendly (and very trendy and exotic right now in Brisbane. Try out places on Beaudesert Road in Moorooka).

-Many burger places bind patties with egg, so check if there’s a mushroom burger option

-Pacific Islands eat a lot of seafood and pork, but baked taro in coconut, salads and *sigh* chips will still get you where you need to go.

-Try Buddhist restaurants- you can get amazing mock meats and fresh veggies. A non-Buddhist restaurant chain that is all vegan is The Loving Hut. They’re even in Paris. But they’re also in Mount Gravatt (slightly less exotic).

-Do the call ahead, like, a week. I’ve had beautiful vegetables (admittedly, that’s all they were, but they were great) made up for me at the Lyrebird restaurant at Queensland Performing Arts Centre because my mum called ahead (thanks Mum). Just make sure sides of vegetables are not cooked in butter, or can be flavoured with an alternative.

LESS FRIENDLY CUISINES

-You know, you can totally get vegan friendly Italian, but not normally (in my experience) at the best Italian restaurants. Good fresh pasta has egg. Unless that restaurant is super duper awesome and committed to making a vegan dough, you might be better off going somewhere a little down market where the pasta is dried or packet. Sorry. That, or hope your vegan gets to love cheeseless bruschetta.

-Greek. GREEK! Although I KNOW there are awesome vegan Greek things out there, in restaurants the options are usually vego-only. Because of feta. You magnificent bastard. You could ask for a Greek salad without feta, but it’s probably pre made and will result in fury or picked out cheese- neither so good. Common vego options are: Greek salad (feta), dolmades (cheese sometimes!), spanakopita (cheese), haloumi cheese or vege moussaka (cheese). You can see the trend. Unless you can get cheeseless dolmades, and some gigantes (big baked beans things in a tomato sauce), it’s actually quite a hard cuisine from which to order off the menu. Be nice to your vegan and maybe avoid altogether, or try Turkish (there’s some cuisine overlap but generally less cheese).

-German or Bavarian. Be kind. Don’t book. We don’t want to watch you shovel thousands of calories of spatzel into your mouth while we drink schnapps. There is usually nothing at all on the menu, unless it’s green salad or chips or you’ve called ahead and discovered your chef is from Berlin and therefore kinda cool with vegans. Oh well, at least your vegan will get drunk cheaply.

And you know what? Chances are, that you’re already a pretty neat friend/relative if you’re reading this to help you understand eating out with your vegan, but when in doubt, ask. I’m sure you’re vegan would rather chat about it than eat chips.

Again.

QUESTION: Do you have any tips you can share on eating out with vegos, vegans or other people with dietary needs?

PS- The 14th is my birthday. Happy birthday to me 🙂

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Koncept Fusion Bar and Restaurant

Recently I was asked to find a restaurant in the Mr Gravatt area to have a catch up dinner with a couple of friends. Not knowing the area very well, I did a lot of urbanspoon hunting and found Koncept.

Eating out in smaller, local areas that aren’t foody-centric can be tough, as some places that cater to a large amount of people can get lazy (that Thai place near you, you know the one I’m talking about. But not mine, my local Thai place is YUM). There was just enough competition around to suggest that Koncept needed to stay on its toes.

I had made a booking, and we were seated quickly, although were still waiting for the last of our party to arrive. It was a quiet, mid-week night, but there were still about 3 other groups of people there- all Japanese or Asian. I admit, I am one of these people who gets a good first impression of an international restaurant positively if I see people from that country enjoying the food! Later, an anglo family joined us all.

We perused the menu until our friend arrived. Veggie options included dumpling, tempura and sushi. It wasn’t an exhaustive list, but was rather nice. The prices and sizes were small- think tapas bar, where you really need to buy two-three things to fill up. After the last person arrived, we ordered. I wanted to try the vege dumplings, as I was avoiding fried food, but they were out. I had veggie sushi, agedashi tofu and ordered edamame for the table. My friends ordered sushi and one ordered something fishy. Literally, but I just can’t remember what.

Agedashi Tofu

Agedashi Tofu

Devouring our sushi

Devouring our sushi

Edamame

Edamame

The timing of our food was a little slow and erratic. Things we thought would come out together came out last, or we had to ask for it. The wait staff were consistently pleasant and attentive. When the food did arrive, we weren’t disappointed. Everything was beautifully presented and very fresh. The presentation was very western styled, which was some of the fusion of the restaurant, I suppose. The edamame were delicious and salted a perfect amount. I normally am not a huge agedashi tofu fan (pictured) but this was good.

The thing to write home about here are the DRINKS! The DRINKS, children! Fully licensed, Koncept has cocktails based on traditional spirits, as well as saki and umeshu (plum wine. Well, technically not plums, but close). I had to drive, so couldn’t immediately jump into all the delights on the menu, but bevvies started from $5 to the more typical $15 for cocktails. Lots and lots on the drinks menu were $7-8 dollars. On the drinks specials menu, they were $11-12, but also a bit fancier. What you see here is a mojito, a pink mess (not its name, just can’t remember what was ordered) and a cosmo made on plum wine.

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Everything I ordered came to just over $20. For a drink, sushi, agedashi tofu and a share of edamame, I’m impressed. If the food timing can be sorted out a bit, this would be a fantastic place for a light, yet satisfying meal (with drinks!).

Kampai!

Koncept Fusion Bar and Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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Ginga- Little Stanley Street

So I’ve been to Ginga twice now (there are two at Southbank, one next to the cinema which does fusion and sushi train, and the Little Stanley Street one, opposite the parklands). Both times have been lovely. I go when I’m at Southbank and I want to cram my face full of noodles. That’s a good enough reason, surely? The vegetarian options there aren’t as appallingly priced as other parts of Southbank ($20 for any noodle or rice based veggie dish is terrible!). Both times I’ve been there I’ve had the vegetable Yaki Soba ($13.90). This is a yummy, stuff in your face dish that isn’t served with egg, so if you’re careful about asking about the sauces, it could easily be vegan. First time I went, my friend got beef something (I never pay attention to non-vego dishes 😉 ) and we shared edamame ($6.90?). Goooood edamame. This time, my other friend got chicken something and veggie gyoza ($6-8 I think). I didn’t try the gyoza but they were really tiny and cute with a dipping sauce and were reportedly nice. It’s nice to find somewhere that had veggie gyoza at all, so many have pork!

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Southbank experiences vary hugely between days and group size- I’ve only been there on quiet nights with one other person. I avoid eating out at Southbank on Friday/Saturday nights at all unless someone else has organised something. The quality of service in many restaurants has been (reportedly and from experience) compromised by over-stretched staff and large groups. Remember that Boundary Street (busy), Hardgrave Road (moderately busy) and (I’m discovering) Gladstone Road (quiet and only 5-10 mins walk from Southbank) have nearby options to try.

Ginga was great, and a chocolate parlour has opened up next door. This is never a bad thing. Florentines are never a bad thing.

Ginga Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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