Redefining Sushi in NYC

Today I got the chance to check out Beyond Sushi. It just opened a few days ago, but I’ve been waiting for them to open a location since the NYC Vegetarian Food Festival in March. It’s a small but inviting place a little ways down from Union Square on 14th Street.

I sprung for Combo 2, two rolls and two pieces, which is probably the best for your money. The food is filling but, if you can’t finish it all, it can be kept for a couple of days according to the restaurant’s website. My choices were the Green Machine and the Mighty Mushroom rolls and the Carrot and Mango pieces.

After I sat down, I noticed the sign on the table. If you check in on FourSquare, you can get a free piece. I went for Enoki.

Another thing I noticed though, as I cropped my pictures, was the sign outside reads “vegan-friendly.” Immediately, I realized the implication of this wording was that somethings on the menu were not vegan and I bolted to the counter to ask.

The gentleman at the counter pointed to the freshly prepared Green Machine. “I’m vegan,” I said starring at the roll. My mouth dropped slightly. My mind pondered if I could bring myself to eat it or if I could bring myself to waste it.

Luckily he didn’t hold me to it. He told me to pick something else and he gave the roll to, I guess, his friend. Phew. It seems so trivial, but I felt I’d dodge some ethical bullet there.

Scanning the menu again, I asked “What’s not vegan?”

Not vegan: Green Machine (Roll), Spicy Mang (Roll), Toasted Cayenne (Sauce), Jalapeno Wasabi (Sauce), Rice Bed Salads #1 and #3. (Actually, these last two items were not mentioned at the time of my visit, so be sure to confirm further if you order anything from the Wraps/Salads side of the menu.)

I went with the Sweet Tree roll. It normally comes with Toasted Cayenne sauce, but they can substitute another sauce; they suggested Carrot Ginger for me.

My greatest concern is how misleading their menu is. Upon further inspection, they do note egg in the descriptions of the Rice Bed Salads. For those who are not already under the impression that everything is vegan, seeing these items will likely lead them to believe that they at least properly note all items on their menu that contain such products. Ideally they would be all vegan; the dairy and egg industries are highly mechanized and cruel factory systems that only after 9 years of being vegetarian did I finally become aware of and no longer wish to participate in. However, having delicious vegan offerings is a huge positive for me.

Their menu, though, should have been more well thought out and transparent. Like other restaurants that are predominantly vegan, but do offer some dairy and egg containing products, they should have a symbol to make customers aware. Since they have already printed up their menu cards, they should at the very least have a well-positioned sign or chalk board that informs customers of what is not vegan.

All in all, while I enjoyed my food and was appreciative of the service, the deceptive menu situation has left a bad taste in my mouth.

Updates:

  • According to an article from Clean Plates NYC, Beyond Sushi’s Guy Vaknin, “aims for it to become an entirely vegan venture in the next six months.”
  • If anyone got their first taste at NYCVFF, please be aware that the organizers were very specific to vendors that items were to be only vegan so that everyone could eat without concern. Looking back at pictures from the March festival, despite these stipulations, Beyond Sushi sold their egg containing products to unknowing event-goers without properly labeling them as non-vegan.

Beyond Sushi
229 East 14th St.
New York, NY 10003

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One thought on “Redefining Sushi in NYC

  1. so first i want to thank you for stopping by…… we here at beyond sushi… are not hiding any thing from our clients and have reprinted the menus with a sing that clearly marks whats vegan and whats not we also added a sign on the counter that clearly states we are not all vegan….. i am the owner and if you felt mis led i apologize and take all you wrote to heart and will make the changes necessary to clearly state that some of the items are not vegan….. further im going to make the switch from vegetarian to vegan a lot earlier then six months and plan to do it in the next month….
    i appreciate the feedback thank you. and coming from a background of very strict kosher industry i understand completely dietary restrictions. hope to see you again and will update the second i make the switch

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