Restaurant review #29 – A bad restaurant experience. Every vegan has had one or will encounter one at one point. At least if you go out for dinner every once in a while (I know there are vegans who don’t, precisely because they have had such bad experiences, or they just want to avoid any risk of eating non vegan items).
So before you read on, just know that we are not recommending this place.
Fanny Thai is – obviously – a Thai restaurant in the city center of Brussels. It is located near the Stock Market (Beurs/Bourse) and the concert Hall Ancienne Belgique. There are several Eastern style restaurants in this area (Vietnamese, Chinese, Thai). We had been at Fanny Thai a couple of years ago, before going to a show at the Ancienne Belgique. I remember it stood out because they had a large variety of vegetarian dishes with tofu and with seitan (the latter not being so commonly served in Asian restaurants in Belgium). We didn’t remember the name of the restaurant anymore, but we recognised the place when we were in the area again, before going to a show at the AB.
There is a Végé Friendly sticker on the window and several dishes are mentioned seperately on their menu, under the header ‘Vegetarian’. Going by the description, most of these vegetarian dishes appear to be vegan. Many of the dishes can be either ordered with seitan or with tofu.
As we didn’t want to be late for the show, we just ordered a main course: seitan in red curry (10,50€) and fried noodles with vegetables (10,50€). We asked whether these dishes didn’t contain any eggs nor dairy (no) and asked for the seitan dish to be served with plain cooked rice.
The seitan curry dish was ok, nothing spectacular, more like a soup of sauce with some seitan chuncks in it. At some point during the meal, my partner grew suspicious of the sauce of the noodles dish, questioning that it may contain oyster sauce. He asked the waiter which sauce was used for the dish? The waiter replied it was soy sauce, but when we insisted (so there was no oysters sauce used for this dish?) he confirmed there was indeed oyster sauce used.
Cr@p!! 😦 What followed was a short discussion about what ‘vegetarian’ actually means. We repeated a couple of times that ‘the noodles with vegetables’ dish is not vegetarian then (as they list it on the menu card), as oyster sauce is made out of oysters (and often fish too). Although the waiter had served us in Dutch up to that point, he suddenly asked to continue in French (which we did). He then replied, seemingly annoyed, that ‘they only serve dishes with vegetables, but don’t claim them to be vegetarian nor vegan, and you need to ask specifically in advance about the ingredients‘.
Touché. So it was our fault. By these standards, the header ‘Vegetarian’ above the list of dishes on their menu card actually means nothing.
Normally we are very wary of the use of oyster sauce in Thai restaurants, and always ask when ordering. We were blinded by the ‘végé friendly’ sticker at the entrance, and implicitly expected them to have good knowledge of what vegetarian and even vegan stands for. Lesson learned. Always check. And double check.
If Fanny Thai would have apologised and admitted making a mistake and showed some intentions to stop using oyster sauce in ‘vegetarian’ dishes in the future, it would have somewhat tempered this nasty experience. But this clearly wasn’t the case.
A disappointing experience, especially since they claim to be végé friendly. We will not visit again.
Fanny Thai (no website), location
Jules Van Praetstraat