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.
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
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.
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,
Why was the revolution betrayed?
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
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,
…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 prepared to resemble a maki roll – deep fried on the outside, raw on the inside.