Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Dra-ma

You know what sucks? When the sides of sauce with your vegan "eggrolls" from a vegetarian restaurant include fish extract. No apologies, Van Hanh Vegetarian, I just don't trust you now.

This happened a few weeks ago. I decided to pick up a to-go order of the rolls after a shopping trip at nearby Fubonn. Van Hanh is supposed to be 100% vegetarian, and I didn't notice the note until I was on my way home. I certainly haven't been back, and yes, it was just a side of sauce and 'just' extract, but who knows what else? It could have been in the rolls, or in the peanut sauce...
I couldn't bring myself to eat them and Tommy nervously ate them, not wanting to waste. I don't want anything else to do with this. It's funny because on my walk there, I was thinking about how I used to not actually understand the full concept of a vegetarian restaurant and was worried at the first one I went to. sigh.

17 comments:

aTxVegn said...

I don't even know what fish extract is - yuk! I wouldn't go back either. I'm sorry that happened to you. Did you let them know about it?

At least you know you can get great food at home.

Vivacious Vegan said...

I was thinking the same thing as Diann. What the heck is fish extract. Sounds disgusting. I'd have been pretty upset also and I don't blame you for not ever wanting to go back.

Elizabeth said...

Oh, man! Here we all think we're safe at actual vegetarian restaurants...I've not been to that one, and I certainly won't now!

Tracy said...

I'm not surprised--I find that a lot of restaurants around here really have zero concept about what the word means. I recently was reading "the vegetarian" section of a menu for a chain restaurant here, and one of the dishes listed was a veggie stir-fry in chicken stock! DUH!

Dori said...

That does suck. I just bought a bottle of this, now I have to go look at the ingredient list.

Vegan_Noodle said...

That's really tacky of them...you should definitely let them know that this is unacceptable! This kind of thing makes you really think twice about going out to eat.

Kati said...

I second the "what-the-heck-is-fish-extract" sentiment of the other comments...I mean ??? I wouldn't have eaten the rolls either. That is upsetting.

jessica~ said...

Many of the asian restaurants here in Boston's Chinatown don't consider fish/shellfish "meat". We often find seafood or chix broth soups listed under their vegetarian offerings. Bummer. Fish extract does sound disgusting...

jess (of Get Sconed!) said...

Don't get me wrong, I am really uptight about eating at omnivorous restaurants unless 'vegan' is on the menu, and even then I often still squirm and always investigate...but this place actually said vegan and was all-vegetarian! Non-profit, too. I'm going to write them a letter about it.

Dori - I hope your brand/bottle is okay!

erica said...

oooooOOOooooh! They are soo busted!

The only place I ever eat out anymore is Proper Eats, I know they'll not do me wrong. And they actually know what "raw" means, too!

Taylor said...

If they said it was vegan, then that was wrong of them.

While I don't eat fish, I've come to accept that many sauces and broths at Asian restaurants have fish sauce - I can smell it when the dish is set in front of me and if it's strong, I won't eat it. Fish sauce is in all sorts or curry pastes and other sauces that are used to make the food.

Some restaurants won't use fish sauce or sauces containing fish sauce on the vegetarian dishes, but they're not in the majority, so always ask and be careful if you're not cool with a little fish sauce.

b36Kitchen said...

i don't even want to know how fish extract is made let alone what it exactly is. i actually have a vegetarian cookbook that uses fish sauce in some of there recipes with a note saying if you don't eat fish just replace with soy sauce!! in a vegetarian cookbook!!!

JENNA

jess (of Get Sconed!) said...

Taylor, you put this very eloquently, thank you. I honestly rarely trust the 'vegetarian section' or even worse, 'vegetable' section of most unfamiliar, typically asian restaurants. I've just run into issues so many times, even when I ask for 'vegetarian/vegan' 'no fish sauce/broth/etc.'. I'm quite the pessimist there.

Jenna - I have seen the same thing! In more than one cookbook, I should add. One in particular talked about how you needed to have fish sauce to get the true flavor into the dish. Honestly, I understand that traditionally, recipe wise, but I'm a contemporary strict vegan here! ha..
I'm also happy to add I picked up some vegetarian mushroom 'oyster' sauce recently, soI can attempt to recreate an old favorite thai dish at home..

Maria said...

I think you should write them a letter. CC Portland's Better Business Bureau, the Attorney General's office, and maybe the health dept. If they're claiming to be vegan or vegetarian, it might be illegal for them to serve food with fish extract without notifying their customers. I would imagine this is why there are consumer protection laws...

Someone made a stink about Anna's Taqueria using animal fat to fry their "vegetarian" items and now they have signs posted.

Maren said...

Whoa, everyone! I, too, feel dismayed to learn about this fish sauce packet, and of course I agree there's no place for it in an all-veggie restaurant... but how about giving a little benefit of the doubt to the people at the restaurant doing their best, rather than immediately boycotting/contacting the BBB/etc? I'm a vegan, and I have eaten at that restaurant many times. In my opinion, the food is outstanding, and quite unique--I love what they do with tofu there and I've never seen it like that anywhere else. They are an all-volunteer, nonprofit operation whose proceeds benefit a local Buddhist temple. The main cook there speaks very little English, and presumably comes from a very different cultural background, as a Buddhist from Vietnam, than us Portland vegans. Rather than having all of us write off the whole establishment and badmouth them to others, I'd like to see us talking to them, and/or writing a respectful letter, explaining why this is a problem and that we'd like to be able to trust that there will be no animal products in the food they serve. I'm so glad to see vegetarian restaurants in town--particularly ethnic ones--I really want to support them as best I can and help them to provide really vegan stuff, so I can take my friends there and show off how good vegan food can be.

jess (of Get Sconed!) said...

Maren, I am not suggesting a boycott. Although I currently do not think I would feel comfortable enough to go back anytime soon, I do plan on writing a letter quite soon addressing this issue. The workers are very nice, however, it is understandable as to why this news is alarming. I really appreciate your input, and certainly don't have a rule at dining at veg-only restaurants.

Vegan my way said...

I'm all about what Maren said. I've enjoyed eating here many times and the communication is strained at best. Meaning, I'm pretty sure dairy has slipped by as well as fish sauce. The nuns hardly understand the order being placed off of their menu, asking them about ingredients is all but impossible even with the 'Vegan Passport'. I guess I was hoping for the best and its upsetting to SEE that they are being so careless. I hope you really do write the letter because I find it hard to believe this was anything more than an extremely careless mistake.