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Serious Carnivore AND Strict Vegetarian


OnlyMe
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Raji,

Firstly, we really LOVE indian food, and while, on my part at least, Madras Mahla's menu looks awesome, hubby is a pretty serious carnivore and I wouldn't feel that it was fair to take him to a purely vegetarian restaurant as he's not a big veggie fan - can you recommend any other 'normal' Indian / South Indian restaurant?

I really should have said when I posted that I don't eat chicken either and I'm not a fan of Tofu (feels too much like meat to me) and hubby isn't that into fish - sorry - that would have saved you some trouble. So I'm not too sure where that leaves us with the Japanese options??

Grand Szechuan's menu has my mouth watering - that one is a definate. I can't seem to find a menu for Totto or Donburi-ya or Cafe Zaiya though.

Yeah again I'd reiterate, the masala at Madras Mahal is so good that meat is not required. You're not going to get that level of south indian at other places but there are a lot of white tablecloth midtown indians like Dawat, Divan and Utsav that have really great tandoori and other meat dishes - If not Midtown, Tabla and Devi (maybe Tamarind too) are HIGHLY recomended and at any Indian you are going to find tons of veggie options - in the east village, Haveli has been very good and they have both north and south indian

mmm no I recommended those indian places as if you were a pure vegan - the chicken at Totto is "jidori", very high quality fresh-killed chicken, which your hubby should really enjoy. Also, if you've had fresh Japanese tofu made that day, your tune about Tofu might change...

Totto, donburiya, zaiya, you're just going to have to trust me! they don't have websites. Zaiya is almost fast food, but just a lot of options there -

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WOW!! LOTS and LOTS of choices, I think my problem now will be trying to cut out places. I haven't had a chance to go through all your suggestions in detail yet but I have some initial questions ..... apologies in advance for so many questions!

LPShanet, thank you for your recommendation but I'm afraid dinner at Per Se is out of our budget, however, do you know the cost of lunch? Worth it? Examples of items on the menu?

Raji,

Firstly, we really LOVE indian food, and while, on my part at least, Madras Mahla's menu looks awesome, hubby is a pretty serious carnivore and I wouldn't feel that it was fair to take him to a purely vegetarian restaurant as he's not a big veggie fan - can you recommend any other 'normal' Indian / South Indian restaurant?

I really should have said when I posted that I don't eat chicken either and I'm not a fan of Tofu (feels too much like meat to me) and hubby isn't that into fish - sorry - that would have saved you some trouble. So I'm not too sure where that leaves us with the Japanese options??

Grand Szechuan's menu has my mouth watering - that one is a definate. I can't seem to find a menu for Totto or Donburi-ya or Cafe Zaiya though.

Lizard,

I really like the idea of 'build-your-own' in Craft, the mushroom selections sound very interesting.

There's good news and bad news about Per Se. The good news is that they do offer lunch (although I think it's only on Friday, Saturday and Sunday). The further good news is that the menu items are the same and reports have it being just as good as at dinner. The bad news is that the price is exactly the same as at dinner. So, if you appreciate that level of food, service, etc., I'd say it is definitely worth it. There should be quite a few sample menus available online, but try this page for one:

http://www.dininginfrance.com/per_se_menu.htm

Also, Per Se has its own website. www.perseny.com

Good luck!

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Are you averse to broths and soups made from animal products as well? Unless you go to a specifically vegetarian restaurant like a Chinese buddhist place or an Indian Hindu place, chances are good that even the "vegetable" dishes will include something like chicken broth.

I'd say that 90% of Japanese cooking uses a fish broth as one of its primary ingredients, even in that soy sauce that you might be pouring over your delicious vegetarian tofu dish that dressing in that spinach salad. Chinese cooking is also replete with dishes using chicken broth and chicken oil drizzled in secret.

Of course if you are of the "don't ask-don't tell/ignorance is bliss" camp, then you probably won't even notice, but just a little warning. :wink:

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LPSHanet,

Thanks for the information ... unfortunately it is not within our budget - maybe next time!

Are you averse to broths and soups made from animal products as well?  Unless you go to a specifically vegetarian restaurant like a Chinese buddhist place or an Indian Hindu place, chances are good that even the "vegetable" dishes will include something like chicken broth.

I'd say that 90% of Japanese cooking uses a fish broth as one of its primary ingredients, even in that soy sauce that you might be pouring over your delicious vegetarian tofu dish that dressing in that spinach salad.  Chinese cooking is also replete with dishes using chicken broth and chicken oil drizzled in secret. 

Of course if you are of the "don't ask-don't tell/ignorance is bliss" camp, then you probably won't even notice, but just a little warning.  :wink:

Kinkistyle,

I always ask if a restaurant uses stock / broth and am not of the "don't ask-don't tell/ ignorance is bliss" camp ao thanks for the warning. I know Thia cooking is mostly fish based so I tennd to avoid that but chinese here in Ireland don't tend to use too much fish / broth from what I know. One question though, Soy sauce contains fish???? That is something I DIDN'T know! The bottle of Soy sauce I have here at home doesn't mention fish in it's contents!

If this is true then chinese may me off the list too :(

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LPSHanet,

Thanks for the information ... unfortunately it is not within our budget - maybe next time!

Are you averse to broths and soups made from animal products as well?  Unless you go to a specifically vegetarian restaurant like a Chinese buddhist place or an Indian Hindu place, chances are good that even the "vegetable" dishes will include something like chicken broth.

I'd say that 90% of Japanese cooking uses a fish broth as one of its primary ingredients, even in that soy sauce that you might be pouring over your delicious vegetarian tofu dish?that dressing in that spinach salad.  Chinese cooking is also replete with dishes using chicken broth and chicken oil drizzled in secret. 

Of course if you are of the "don't ask-don't tell/ignorance is bliss" camp, then you probably won't even notice, but just a little warning.  :wink:

Kinkistyle,

I always ask if a restaurant uses stock / broth and am not of the "don't ask-don't tell/ ignorance is bliss" camp ao thanks for the warning. I know Thia cooking is mostly fish based so I tennd to avoid that but chinese here in Ireland don't tend to use too much fish / broth from what I know. One question though, Soy sauce contains fish???? That is something I DIDN'T know! The bottle of Soy sauce I have here at home doesn't mention fish in it's contents!

If this is true then chinese may me off the list too :(

If you're in a country with food labeling requirements, then the contents of your bottle of soy sauce are as stated. However, in a restaurant, all bets are off. Except in vegetarian establishments, many Chinese (and other) cuisines have added fish, pork or other products, and communicating that you want to avoid this can be tricky. (In some parts of Europe, if you say you don't eat meat, they bring you chicken or lamb instead.:)) It's kind of like the MSG thing...it's in there most of the time, but they're unlikely to say so, since people have an unfair bias about it. Obviously, in the case of animal products, your right to know is fair, so ask lots of questions if it matters to you....but don't worry about your bottle of soy sauce at home if you've read the ingredients.

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Kinkistyle,

I always ask if a restaurant uses stock / broth and am not of the "don't ask-don't tell/ ignorance is bliss" camp ao thanks for the warning. I know Thia cooking is mostly fish based so I tennd to avoid that but chinese here in Ireland don't tend to use too much fish / broth from what I know. One question though, Soy sauce contains fish???? That is something I DIDN'T know! The bottle of Soy sauce I have here at home doesn't mention fish in it's contents!

If this is true then chinese may me off the list too :(

I should clarify, soy sauce itself does not contain fish products, but when used as a dressing for tofu, salads, or as a dip for sushi/sashimi, soba noodles, restaurants will often thin out the sauce with fish broth. Same goes for the soup when you eat tofu and seaweed miso soup, clear broth or ramen.

Its literally as prevalent as salt in terms of basic ingredients.

I should also point out that some Japanese foods, like Western cuisine (e.g. mayonnaise, salad dressings) will contain eggs without being mentioned. Many Japanese miso dressings will have egg yolk in it -- the miso topping on miso-dengaku almost definitely contains egg yolk. Japanese dumplings almost always contain egg as a stabilizer.

I know its tough, eh? I am a health nut so I also am constantly curious about what kinds of ingredients are in my food -- I think thats why I became a cook actually.

Chinese cooking is the same. Lets face it: using water in a sauce tastes insipid. Why use that when you can use chicken stock instead, right? :wink:

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Are you averse to broths and soups made from animal products as well?  Unless you go to a specifically vegetarian restaurant like a Chinese buddhist place or an Indian Hindu place, chances are good that even the "vegetable" dishes will include something like chicken broth.

I'd say that 90% of Japanese cooking uses a fish broth as one of its primary ingredients, even in that soy sauce that you might be pouring over your delicious vegetarian tofu dish that dressing in that spinach salad.  Chinese cooking is also replete with dishes using chicken broth and chicken oil drizzled in secret. 

Of course if you are of the "don't ask-don't tell/ignorance is bliss" camp, then you probably won't even notice, but just a little warning.  :wink:

Oh would you really say 90% of Japanese food uses Dashi?? I can name a lot of foods it hides out in, like okonomiyaki, but if the dish itself is vegetarian, it's much less likely to be in there...

Just tell them you are Hindu and cannot eat meat, poultry, egg, and fish products (including DASHI) I bet they can accommodate...

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Oh would you really say 90% of Japanese food uses Dashi?? I can name a lot of foods it hides out in, like okonomiyaki, but if the dish itself is vegetarian, it's much less likely to be in there...

Just tell them you are Hindu and cannot eat meat, poultry, egg, and fish products (including DASHI) I bet they can accommodate...

Hmm.. perhaps 90% might be an overstatement, but an overwhelming number of dishes contain fish broth as an ingredient.

Well, lets see... how about a hypothetical typical 8-course kaiseki menu:

  • Saki-zuke (appetizers): Sesame-Tofu and hourensou-goma-ae Spinachi with Sesame Dressing - Dressings for both usually contains dashi broth.
  • Sui-mono (clear broth): Suimono broth is almost always fish dashi.
  • O-tsukuri (raw fish): Err... enough said. :wink:
  • Ni-mono (stewed course): Age-dashi nasu braised eggplant - 9 times out of 10, a nimono or stewed course, no matter if it be fish, meat or vegetable, will be stewed or braised in fish dashi.
  • Abura-mono (Fried course): Tempura mori-awase Assorted Tempura - Tempura batter contains egg yolks. The ten-tsuyu dipping sauce is made by a process called oi-gatsuo where sauce is heated and katsuo-bushi bonito fish flakes are tossed in, briefly heated then strained.
  • Yaki-mono (Broiled course): This is almost always a broiled fish or meat product. Sometimes you do get Eggplant or Tofu Miso dengaku, but since fish dashi is considered the "universal thinner" in Japanese cuisine, chances are the miso dressing will contain it. To make things worse, egg yolks are also often added to the miso to create the base ingredient: neri-miso. In the fall, you can often get a shichi-rin little personal hibachi and grill matsutake mushrooms at the table. But again, I'd be wary of the dipping sauce.
  • Mushi-mono (Broiled course): Kabura-mushi Steamed Turnip - Steaming liquid contains -- you guessed it -- fish dashi.
  • Shokuji (Starch/Main course): Matsutake-takikomi-gohan Matsutake mushroom Steamed Rice, Tofu Miso Soup, O-tsukemono Pickles - Takikomi steamed rice dishes are usually use fish dashi as the steaming liquid. In the summer, you often get chirashi-zushi sushi rice, then you are OK, except that chirashi-zushi typically has a layer of shredded egg on top. Miso soup is miso mixed into fish dashi. Pickles are FISH and MEAT-FREE! w00t! :biggrin:
  • Amami (Dessert): I'd be confident in saying that this course will most likely be fish and meat-free, especially if its Japanese wagashi. But of course, if you already didn't know: Traditional home-made ice cream is essentially a frozen creme anglais which is made with egg yolks. So be careful of that green tea or azuki ice cream.

Of course it is ridiculously simple to turn all of this into a purely vegetarian meal by leaving out the eggs and using shiitake mushroom and/or konbu kelp broth instead, but since fish dashi is considered such an integral ingredient one needs to specifically request it during ordering.

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Hmm.. perhaps 90% might be an overstatement, but an overwhelming number of dishes contain fish broth as an ingredient. 

Well, lets see... how about a hypothetical typical 8-course kaiseki menu:

Of course it is ridiculously simple to turn all of this into a purely vegetarian meal by leaving out the eggs and using shiitake mushroom and/or konbu kelp broth instead, but since fish dashi is considered such an integral ingredient one needs to specifically request it during ordering.

That kaiseki looks like Sugiyama's; is it?

Dashi is used eveywhere. Mexican food is most often cooked in lard - manteca. You can still ask them to NOT cook with lard...

You said yourself, ridiculously simple to request the change, and there's just too much great Japanese food out there that is naturally vegetaran to write it off because of Dashi. It would probably be a waste for a vegetarian to go and order an 8-course omakase kaiseki, but Sugiyama for $58 has a vegerian kaiseki. Or she should go enjoy soba and somen at Honmura An. Or how about an ochazuke, or any number of donburi. Instead of veggie tempura, get veggie yakitori, along with some great yakionigiri that has umeboshi or natto inside of it rather than meat. How about the various kinds of freshly made/homemad Tofu that can be had at a number of the higher-end Japanese places around town. I'd predict mostly blank stares if you're asking in Japan for them to change their recipe, in a country that is NOTORIOUSLY inflexible, but in NYC, they'll be more than used to encountering any number of NY eccentrics, from your raw dieters, to your calorie restricters, to your straight up vegans, etc.

There's no word for "vegan" in Japanese I get a few different translations, amounting to "strict vegetarianism", but you can just tell them vegetarian plus no fish or poultry products...

I had to make okonomiyaki without eggs or even dashi recently, given that the yakaimo is the binder, what it did was bring out more of the flavor of the cabbage and the toppings. Not bad at all.

Edited by raji (log)
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Thanks for all your help Guys - I have to say I'm a 'little' overwhelmed with dishes but to be honest I am a bit distracted at the minute as we have just had a house fire and I'm trying to deal with the aftermath (thankfully no-one was hurt and the damage wasn't too bad - smoke damage mostly but EVERYWHERE!). Anyways, when I get a handle on things I will try to digesta all your fantastic information and no doubt will be back with more questions :smile:

One thing, I do actually eat eggs - I prefer to buy free range myself but I don't rule out dishes containing eggs.

Thanks again for all your help - hope to be back online soon!

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