I had heard a lot about this restaurant before my first visit a few weeks ago. Not only was it recommended to me by fellow vegans & vegetarians, but it had a 94% like rating on Urban Spoon. I was excited about dining at a local Thai restaurant with so many “vegetarian friendly” dishes on their menu. As lovers of Thai cuisine are aware, Thai food is typically laden with all kinds of hidden animal products; oyster sauce, fish sauce, shrimp paste and chicken stock, to name the usual suspects. Despite having a menu which had the friendly little “V” marked next to so many dishes, this restaurant was no exception to the usual rule. As an extra bonus, this restaurant came with a manager who was condescending, rude and clearly had no clue as to what vegetarianism actually means. Anyway, I am getting ahead of myself here…
I thought I would begin with one of my favourite Thai entrees, Vegetable Tom Yum Soup. Despite seeing that friendly little “V” next to the dish, I thought it best to ask the standard questions;what kind of stock is this soup made with, does it contain fish sauce? etc. The waiter was immediately flummoxed and unsure, so headed to the nearby kitchen to query it with the chef. Turns out the soup stock was made with chicken bones and yes it did contain fish sauce (sigh)…not doing well so far. I then changed my order to the Vegetarian Spring Rolls…oh, these contain oyster sauce (louder sigh)…OK, well how about I just skip to a main and have the Pad Krapow with vegetables….sorry this contains fish sauce (getting hot under the collar now). I then decided to ask the manager who had arrived by our table by this point, why all these menu items were marked vegetarian when they all contained animal products. I was then informed that fish is NOT an animal and what I was looking for was vegan food NOT vegetarian. Last time I checked, fish had a central nervous system so I’m not sure when they suddenly shimmied over to the vegetable category. As I was dining with a friend who I hadn’t caught up with in ages, I wasn’t going to upset the apple cart by storming out at this point and just wanted to eat something that wasn’t a shrimp dressed in carrot’s clothing! The waiter who had delivered the bad news initially dashed over when he discovered there was one dish I could eat from the menu being the Tofu Tod and I gratefully accepted his suggestion; I was getting pretty hungry by now. The Tofu Tod was nice and crispy on the edges and the dipping sauce provided a good balance of sour and sweet. As I was not able to order any mains from the menu, the owner suggested he steam some vegetables and serve with a couple of dipping sauces. This was edible but that’s about all I can say here. I thought the days of steamed vegetables for the vegetarian had passed, but clearly not. It was a very frustrating dining experience and I have resolved to do far more research before booking a restaurant for fear of a repeat of this happening again. To add insult to injury, when the bill arrived I noticed I had been charged the price of the main I had originally ordered for a plate of steamed vegetables. Upon querying this, I was told they “weren’t able” to change it on the computer…just wanting to leave, I left it at this and needless to say, no tip was left.
I didn’t take photos of the food on this night – at the time I had no intention of blogging about it however on my arrival home I was feeling quite wired up. You can deal with a restaurant not having vegetarian friendly food but it’s the false claims and rudeness that really get me riled up.
Anyone else had a similar experience to this? If so, how did you deal with it and what was the outcome?