Restaurant review: Tojo’s

December 29, 2006

A common misconception among those unfamiliar with the recreationally vegan aesthetic is that non-vegan foods are forbidden. In actual fact, recreational veganism is defined by the occasional indulgence in non-vegan foods. And where better to indulge than at Tojo’s, Vancouver’s preeminent sushi restaurant?

Upon entering the restaurant you will be greeted by the entire staff in the usual Japanese manner – everyone yelling in unison “welcome” in Japanese. Unless you pay extra for a seat at the sushi bar, you will likely only catch a glimpse of the famous Hidekazu Tojo, inventor of the California Roll. However, if you don’t have a dire need to converse with the chef, request to be seated at a table. You probably won’t be able to convince him to convert to veganism anyway.

The best thing to do is to ask for omakase, which is essentially just a set menu. For $80 you receive a delicious and artfully presented five course meal of raw and cooked fish in various guises. Our meal included spring rolls, cooked fish, sushi, and maki rolls. The amazing buttery quality of the fish, melting in your mouth on contact, must be experienced to be believed. A vegetarian option is also available, and will be reviewed pending a return visit to the restaurant.

One of the most pleasing aspects of the restaurant is the unpretentious atmosphere, considering the quality of the restaurant. The tables look like they have been stolen from Denny’s and many of the customers dress as if they’ve just returned from a late afternoon hike.

Deliciousness: Vegequarium rating Vegequarium rating Vegequarium rating Vegequarium rating Vegequarium rating

VfM: Vegequarium rating

Ambience: Vegequarium rating Vegequarium rating

Tojo’s, #202-777 West Broadway, moving to 1133 West Broadway in January, Vancouver. $55 vegetarian meal, $80+ large vegequarium meal, excluding drinks. Reservations advised.

Of course eating fish comes at a price, and according to this article that price might be higher than you think. In remembrance of the fish who died for this meal and vegequarium meals everywhere, I would like to share the following poem, reprinted here with permission of the poet.

THE FISHSTICK POEM
R.E. Glazov

I.

I jingle of fishsticks,
Entombed in wet cardboard coffins,
Kept in rigor mortis by chloroflourocarbon coils,
And I jingle of schools
their bodies torn and rearranged
Into bricks, with
rough breadcrumbs and not smooth, gentle, scales.

I mourn the fishsticks.
I lay wreaths of parsley and fennel at their coffins.
Safety in numbers
wasn’t safe enough.
Now they’re entombed in a mausoleum
where the metal is cold and clammy
and the metal doesn’t let go.

On moonlit nights, they dance
the Danse Macabre,
the proletarian fish united
with their employers
and their employer’s lawyers.

II.

And they were the best fish of their generation,
…who harpooned their wives in Mexico at a game of William Tell,

who bubbled dissent and wrote Fishermen & Punish: the Birth of the Aquarium,

who contracted syphillis, tuberculosis, VD, and gill-rot from seedy
corners of the ocean,

And who killed these fish?

Which Salome betrayed them,
served their heads on plates?

Was it Herod, was it Holofernes,
Charles de Gaulle,
Ronald Reagan…

Why was the revolution betrayed?

Oh why?

III.

Oh, it follows that they were lambs lead to the slaughter,

Oh, it follows that they were victims of the New Economy,

Oh, it follows that in carcereal society,
hospitals,-workplaces,-schools,-and-even-boxes-of-fish-fingers come to
resemble prisons.

Oh, they were the babies in the bulrushes,

Oh, they were the fishers of men,
Christ multiplied and massacred them,

They fled to Egypt, from the frying pan and into the fire,

L-O-V-E-(thumb) (thumb)-H-A-T-E

…Que fue en Granada el crimen
…!Pobre Granada! – en su Granada…

They were there when Goya was persecuted by the Spanish Inquisition for
painting La Maja Desnuda,

They were on the dinner plate in “Saturno devorando a su hijo”

But what am I thinking about?

They were just fish!

Tuna

Tuna prepared to resemble a maki roll – deep fried on the outside, raw on the inside.

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Long live Kale!

December 28, 2006

It appears that King Kale’s sphere of influence extends far beyond Toronto’s borders. On assignment in British Columbia, I noticed this display at Choices in South Surrey. That’s right – it’s a superfood.

Choices kale



Jade Buddha Temple Vegetarian Restaurant

December 20, 2006

If you’ve made it through two days in Shanghai without being run over by either a bus, Green bunsmoped, or bicycle, you may feel the need to seek a higher form of spirituality. Jade Buddha Temple, located in north Shanghai, is a large temple, known in particular for its 1.5 meter jade Buddha statue. But to recreational vegans, the temple also represents an escape from the meat filled streets of Shanghai. After a litle sightseeing, I started my meal off with Shanghai-style steamed buns filled with greens. They were exceptional, and filled my cravings after having seen the meat version all day. Then, another appetizer, meat ballscold stringy vegetables, which were alright, but too oily. Lastly the main course, “meatballs” in a brown sauce, accompanied with bokchoy. The meatballs were filling, and the bokchoy well done. A general comment about Chinese vegetarian food in China: most restaurants style their food to look like meat(post forthcoming), and use meat names to describe the dishes. I find this a bit strange, given the eastern origins of the vegetarian diet, but it is understandable given the meat surroundings.

Jade Buddha restaurant

Ranking (Note: VfM is being ranked relative to Shanghai eating, not to Canadian price standards):

Deliciousness: chopstickschopstickschopstickschopsticks

VfM: chopstickschopstickschopstickschopsticks

Fruit in meal: No

Ambience: chopstickschopstickschopstickschopstickschopsticks (It’s a freakin’ Buddhist Temple!)

Jade Buddha Temple, located at the corner of Jiangning Rd. and Anyuan Rd., Shanghai. Full meals, including the RMB 2 (CDN $0.30) washcloth and tea for RMB 45 (CDN $7.50). Alcohol not available.


An ode to Shanghai’s use of soy bean

December 18, 2006

Shanghai– Travel books caution westerners on breakfast, often giving the reader directions to “western breakfasts” (i.e., eggs, toast, bacon). This morning in a chilly corner restaurant in Shanghai, breakfast for me was a warm bowl of sweet soy milk, a pancake-like food with green onion, and a long donuty thing. All certifiably recreationally vegan (due to possible use of meat oil). But let me tell you, I’ve never experienced better soy milk, and certainly the best North American brands (see forthcoming review by my co-author) do not compare. The goodness was heightened when I learned the trick of dipping the donuty food in the soy milk, allowing the donuty food to absorb the delicate taste.

Street meat is a subject most recreational vegans roll their eyes at with disgust. After a day in this city, I’ve seen enough street meat to kill 100 vegans and their families. But today I had my first street tofu experience. Cooked tofu with a chewy skin, sold on the corner for pennies, and positively delicious. I’m not sure this changes my conclusions about street meat, but it definitely has opened my eyes to the possibilities.

Warm soy milk breakfast, complete with donuty thing and vegetable pancake, for under $2. Available at most of Shanghai’s hole-in-the-wall breakfast joints. Street tofu, available on … errr… streets (like the one below), for about 15 cents. The author, funded by therecreationalvegan’s QSB, is currently travelling in Shanghai and Beijing.

Street tofu


A lesson in taxonomy

December 12, 2006

Many animal eaters have an instinctual need to criticize the vegan diet. The reasons for this are not known, but are likely rooted in jealousy. No matter what the cause one can expect to encounter anti-vegan rhetoric on a regular basis. To survive, the recreational vegan must be trained in the art of self-defense.

Let’s take the following anecdote as an exercise. Today I was accosted by two meat eaters who asserted that bacteria are animals and therefore non-vegan. If true, this would present a serious problem for vegans as avoiding inadvertently harming bacteria would be most difficult.

First, it should be noted that %100 veganism is impossible. The production of consumer goods often causes harm to the environment and its inhabitants in ways that even the most assiduous vegan would not suspect. However, this doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t reduce our impact. (A derivation of the optimal amount of veganism, that is %95, will be covered in a future post.)

That being said, what can you do if you are confronted by two such assailants wielding weapons of illogic? Think quickly and ask yourself this: Scientifically speaking, can bacteria be considered to be animals in any meaningful sense?

A certified biologist retained by the recreational vegan was able to supply us with this answer:

no, bacteria are most definitely not animals. They are not even eukaryotes which comprises animals, plants, fungi & protists. Bacteria are prokaryotes and their cells don’t have nuclei or other cellular organelles. so the vegetables you eat are much more closely related to animals than bacteria are.

Conclusion: with this little gem you can quickly disarm your opponent. I recommend memorizing it and storing it in your arsenal of anti-anti-vegan rhetoric for future use.


On truth and beauty

December 12, 2006

An avocado –

Slic’d and laid on a burger

in autumn sunshine.

.Tofu burger with avocado


Anti-eggplant activism

December 9, 2006

Regular readers have been asking us, “so how do I, an average citizen, fight big eggplant?” To that we say, beat them at their own game — mass marketing!

eggplant.JPG

Download the Eggplant Pamphlet