Celebrating Vegan 11.1

January 11, or 11.1 was Ethical Eating Day where members of Tzu Chi choose to eat ethically.  This means making a personal choice in having a vegetarian diet and locally produced food to prevent global warming and combat climate change.

Vegetable Nabeyaki served in a claypot on a stove
My friend Karen, a Tzu Chi member and vegetarian, shared this with me when we sat down for lunch on Jan 11.  She picked the restaurant which has a separate vegetarian menu but assured me that I may choose to order from their non-vegan menu.

She told me about how Tzu Chi is encouraging everyone worldwide to make a pledge to be a vegetarian and locavore for a day on Jan 11, 2017 because change starts with each individual – one day at a time. 

I was turning this rarely used word, locavore, over and over in my mind and agreed that locally produced food tastes better than food grown far away or abroad, and generally is inexpensive and fresher.

A separate Vegan menu at Kinsahi outlets
in KSL City and Sutera Mall
I recalled how my parents used to have a kitchen garden with plots growing cabbages, brinjals, chillies and limes and recently, my “organic warrior” friend served me breakfast with freshly harvested fruits and flowers from her own garden!

My experience with FOLO Farms also echoes Tzu Chi’s philosophy of knowing the farmers or producers and if they used pesticides or harmful substances in their farms.

As we talked and flipped the pages of the menus, I told Karen to place the orders for us in her choice of vegetarian items so that we can celebrate Vegan 11.1 together. 

Satisfied with the meal selections, we had a good time catching up with each other while waiting for the food to be served.  It was interesting to reminisce about our first event together, the people we met and how the relationships have developed over the years.

Crunchy Wakame, Japanese edible seaweed
We discovered a bit of “history” together and marveled at how our paths crossed ever so often, and even in our busyness, it was good to meet for lunch at the start of the year.

Our meal kicked-off with a refreshing taste of crunchy Wakame, Japanese edible seaweed, and the next course of clear vegetable soup, Nabeyaki, served in a little claypot.  Karen spooned the Chinese cabbage, tofu, mushrooms, carrots and wolfberries into small bowls for us to savour its warm and comforting flavours.

The vegetable tempura was served next.  This item was slightly modified because we requested for the two vegetarian prawns to be replaced by two pieces of vegetables.

Vegan Age Miso Tofu
The serving of four pieces of Vegetarian Age Miso Tofu on the platter was just right because we can have two apiece!

At first, Karen picked the Vegetarian Mango Ebi Maki but the order-taker politely explained that they have not received their delivery of mangoes yet and advised us to make an alternative choice.  So we opted for the Vegetarian Ebi Tempura Maki, instead.

Very often the items from a pictorial menu may turn out looking different when they are served – usually smaller or less attractive.  But when it came to our order for Vegetarian Kakiage or pumpkin fritters, we had a pleasant surprise to see the serving looking double the size from its photo on the menu!

Vegan Ebi Tempura Maki
Even though I’m quite adept at handling chopsticks, even the Japanese tapered type, I warned Karen not to be embarrassed by my decision to use fingers to tear apart the large pieces of Kakiage in what could be construed as an inelegant manner, because it was really quite tricky to handle them with chopsticks!

Thankfully, we were seated in a private booth and not in full view of other diners.  

After she tried to handle the Kakiage using her chopsticks, Karen also gave up on the chopsticks and used her fingers to enjoy the freshly-fried pumpkin fritters!

Vegan Kakiage, pumpkin fritters
It was not a lot of food but our vegan meal on 11.1 was thoroughly satisfying and meaningful especially shared in Karen’s pleasant company.

I’m aware that some Japanese items travelled a long way to reach our table but it was good to appreciate a refreshing vegan meal.  It was also a timely reminder to be a locavore as we make Ethical Eating part of our lives in 2017.

Kinsahi is a Japanese restaurant with six outlets in Johor Baru and Klang that serves a Vegetarian menu on exclusive vegetarian crockery, at their KSL City and Sutera Mall outlets.  For more info, visit website: www.kinsahi.my 

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