Wednesday, 10 October 2012

EAT. and the Rise of the Culinary Travesty

How I feel about EAT.
Gah


I work in the City. Lunch options are scanty - throw a stone and you'll hit an identikit franchise serving variations on the same inedible theme - Pret, EAT., Chop'd, Tossed, Crussh.

Bitter experience should have taught me that whenever one of these places launches a new dish, it won't be any good, yet foolish hope springs eternal and on occasion I will return.

More recently I've come across instances of what might even be called cultural insensitivity.

EAT. are by far the worst culprit - here are just three examples of how their R & D department are completely rubbish.

EAT. travesty 1: Udon Ramen
Udon Ramen


Exhibit 1: Their "Udon Ramen". Udon Ramen. UDON RAMEN.

Udon is one type of Japanese noodle. Ramen is an entirely different type of Japanese noodle. This dish of theirs actually comprises a vague stock plus udon noodles. So it's udon. Not ramen.

It's the equivalent of a restaurant serving a dish called Rice Pasta, or Spring Roll Cannelloni.

IT MAKES NO SENSE.


EAT. travesty 2: Laksa Pho
Laksa Pho


Exhibit 2: Their "Laksa Pho". As if confusing two types of noodles wasn't enough, EAT. also manage to conflate whole dishes.

Laksa is a Malay/Singaporean dish of round egg noodles (sometimes also rice vermicelli) in a pungent, curried soup.

Pho is a Vietnamese dish of flat rice noodles in a clear, aromatic stock.

THEY ARE NOT THE SAME THING.


EAT. menu of travesty
Hells, no

Exhibit 3: I relate this one with a deep sense of sadness.

I'm walking past EAT. and see a sign for their new Hot Pots. I pop in out of curiosity, but I'm taken aback to see the whiteboard which says, "Burmese Chicken Curry".

Knowing EAT's track record for butchering "ethnic" cuisines, I walk straight out distraught. I thought I was safe - Burmese food is obscure, right?!

A few minutes later, I pluck up the courage to return.

I say, voice cracking, "Burmese Chicken Curry please", and the server yells, "Chicken Curry!" and every single one of the other staff yell back at him, "It's Chicken Hot Pot!". Already the dish is losing its identity.

EAT. "Burmese Chicken Curry"
The sight that greeted me

I scurry back to my desk and remove the lid. It looks like it's been eaten already, and I dry-heave.

I'm struck by a cloyingly coconutty scent. So that's the first thing wrong - we use coconut in two savoury dishes and that's about it -
  1. the Burmese equivalent to laksa (ohn-no khao swe); and 
  2. coconut rice (ohn-htamin).
Poking the surface gingerly, I spot bright green edamame beans and carrots. The Burmese only eat edamame that's been dried and then deep-fried, and carrots are very hard to come by (and we only use them in Chinese dishes anyway). Strike 2.

EAT. "Burmese Chicken Curry" Close-up
Slop in a cup

The carbohydrate under the slop is wild rice. Now Burma may once have been known as the rice bowl of Asia, but we have never produced wild rice - a Burmese person in Burma wouldn't be able to tell you what it was. Strike 3.

Sighing, I bring a spoonful to my mouth and chew. It tastes like a cheap, overly sweet Japanese curry, with the stringiest chunks of chicken breast.

Weirdest is the hit of chilli throughout. And guess what - the Burmese don't put chilli in our curries.

I'm done.

You might be thinking - what's the big deal: people have been tweaking recipes for centuries?

The big deal is that such tweaking ends up eroding the cuisine, even if the tweaking is an improvement (and this really isn't - it's more of an insult to said cuisine).

Burmese food isn't remotely well-known enough that it can withstand this kind of mucking about. The majority of punters won't know how the dishes ought to be, and so will take it as gospel that eg the Burmese dish mohinga uses cod (it doesn't), or that Burmese duck egg curry uses shrimp paste (it doesn't), rather than realising that the ingredients or methods have been changed at the whim of the chef.

Cuisines which are arguably well established in the UK have already suffered in this way - you wouldn't get Spaghetti Bolognaise, Chop Suey or Chicken Tikka Masala in their supposed countries of origin.

But at least those dishes and their names exist in their own right, and most people realise that they aren't authentic.

Whereas EAT. is declaring that Ramen IS Udon, and thus wilfully misleading the masses who aren't yet as familiar with Japanese (or Vietnamese or Burmese) cuisine.

I'm all for experimentation, but if EAT. are going to claim that a dish is a dish, they ought to get that dish right (with exceptions for ingredients that are genuinely obscure - though in that case, they shouldn't be seeking to mass produce that dish).

Dearest EAT., please keep developing new products, but if you're delving into new cuisines, you have to consult someone who actually knows what they're talking about before you slap a label on something and stick it on your shelves.

This is an open invitation to call me by the way ...



This post was inspired by Mr Noodles of Eat Love Noodles who is better at rants than me.

79 comments:

  1. It's just so irritating. Names MEAN something - if you put a sponge cake on a menu and called it an eclair people would be confused and misled. Why is this different, do you think?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ha! Yes, this kind of thing drives me nuts. I'm pretty sure most people in the UK believe "Indian chai" is that flavourless hot milkshake stuff you get from chain coffee shops.

    This reminded me of my recent trip to the US: "It's the equivalent of a restaurant serving a dish called Rice Pasta"

    We ate at a place that proudly boasted their wild mushroom risotto was "by far our most popular pasta dish". Bwa?!?

    ReplyDelete
  3. @Foodycat - Exactly. And names are powerful too - Shakespeare was right about a lot of things, but if a rose was called shitweed it would smell a lot less sweet to me.

    @Matthew - I was once served muttar paneer in an "Indian" restaurant which comprised garden peas covered in cheddar cheese. I thought I would cry.

    And wow - you have actually had rice pasta :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had a very similar saag paneer once. Melted cheddar cheese covered in spinach. I think it was only my third meal in London. I wondered what I had gotten myself into...

      My national cuisine is fairly mucked about with too. I ordered a pavlova in Bill's once, and was served a large, rock-hard meringue.

      Delete
  4. Great piece MiMi! Can't wait for the EAT response.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Go girl go! Many a time we've had a fist-shaking session on twitter on the travesties of EAT and I am SO glad you have coalesced these into such a great blogpost.

    IMHO the UK is particularly prone to abysmal food-grammar - I've seen (insert random name of country) Tapas, 'Sicilan-style' dishes with Northern Italian ingredients, Banh-mi with red peppers, Thai curries with courgettes, not pea aubergines.

    Enough is enough.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi Mimi,
    Thank you for your feedback. We really appreciate you taking the time to review some of our products and love to hear different people's points of view.
    At EAT. we like to put a twist on our recipes so they are often 'inspired by' rather than strictly traditional.
    Our Team would love for you to share some of your recipes with us if you'd be interested.
    Kind regards,
    The EAT. Food Team

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Food Team at EAT.,

      If you are "inspired by" a cuisine or have adapted a dish, I think you have a responsibility to make that clear to your customers.

      Moreover, your "Burmese Chicken Curry" bears no resemblance to any actual Burmese Chicken Curry and it breaks my heart that someone will believe that it might even approximate the Real McCoy.

      Also, calling your dish Udon Ramen isn't inspired by anything - it's not only inaccurate and misleading, it's actually illegal - please see Sections 1, 2(1)(c), 3 and 4 of the Trade Descriptions Act 1968.

      Lastly, I would be happy to share recipes with you if you're interested in hiring me as a consultant.

      Thank you,
      MiMi

      Delete
  7. Oh dear. Intern handling the social meeedja, then?

    Imma gonna get me some pasta rices right now.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Sorry, that was mean to interns, and possibly a bit mean to EAT, but come on...grow a soul.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I just don't understand why they feel the need to (erroneously) label such dishes; why not just "chicken curry with wild rice"; "hot noodle broth" etc?

    ReplyDelete
  10. ps Great rant! Very eloquent.

    ReplyDelete
  11. "share recipes" doesn't mean pay you for recipe development, does it?

    ReplyDelete
  12. @Paul Hart - Cheers Paul - see comment below yours!


    @Mr Noodles - I also felt enough was enough. And I was cross at forking out £4.25 for that cup of sorrow.

    The food grammar thing - throw enough adjectives and one will stick? Plus as @_aka_hige said to me on Twitter:

    "So the concept is one of compounding and contributing to food ignorance while playing on exoticism? Is it 1900 again?

    It makes me very annoyed too. Selling food like this smacks of 'oh white folk don't/won't know any different'."


    @The Food Team - You get a separate reply later.

    @The Shed - I think it's called trying to blag their way out of it.

    @walshy - EXACTLY!!!

    ReplyDelete
  13. My main issue with EAT isn't that they haven't a fucking clue when it comes to the geographical authenticity of dishes, but that it all tastes like shit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's entirely different issue :)

      Delete
  14. Ethnicity argument aside, -t's just so STUPID, all of it - did no one think to google 'udon' and 'ramen' and 'pho'? If I'd done the same lack of due diligence I'd get a right telling off. What kind of twat names a product without researching it???

    Ugh.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Lizzie, I reckon it is what happens when menus are written by marketers not cooks.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I have to admit I do take and adapt recipes myself but I am not a multi million pound corporation, when I do adjust things it's for good reason and I admit it. What annoys me is people claiming to be authentic and the inauthenticity being so jarring as to appear deliberate.

    I posted some Spanakopita on my blog a while ago. I admitted it was an adaptation but it still contained feta, spinach and filo. A recipe I found on BBC good food website (by a very famous chef) had no feta in it at all and used ricotta????? Now that's just wilfully wrong!

    I'm no Asian food expert but I would have spotted and been annoyed by the Ramen / Udon and the Laksa / Pho but as you say not many people have experience of Burmese food and I'm no different so I wouldn't know.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly, I have no problems with recipe variations so long as they don't (specifically or by inference) claim to be authentic.

      The shrimp paste in duck egg curry really got my goat because the recipe stated "use shrimp paste to be authentic".

      Delete
  17. Oh and I've only once eaten in EAT, I had a bacon sandwich. As they managed to even f--- that up I've never been back.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I really hope you get the reply your post merits, Mimi. Authenticity is important, especially when it comes to cuisines that aren't so well known over here. Modifying recipes is all well and good and food evolves because of it, but to suffocate and misrepresent lesser-known cuisines in this way is sad and negligent. Great post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for summing up my points so succinctly!

      Delete
  19. Trying again, without the rubbish spelling.

    It's one thing putting a 'twist' on a recipe, it's another thing changing it completely, and YET CALLING IT THE SAME THING. It insults the culture it comes from, and it also puts out food that engenders bad and wrong ideas about a culture's dishes.

    Poor show EAT. When you first started, we had high hopes of you. You seemed different. Now you are just another chain.

    Get in proper consultants, people who know what they are doing, and how to keep foods fresh and inviting.

    Mamacook - I think I read that recipe, and a little part of me died.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, yes, and yes.

      Especially to part of you dying when you see this stuff happening.

      Delete
  20. I know I should probably 'get over it' and just not go to these places, but we always hold out that tiny glimmer of hope that "Maybe THIS one will be different."

    But no.

    Taking recipes from a culture and adapting them to your own tastes - fine! Hello Nigellissima, which I know has annoyed the bejeezus out of some people but she is adamant it is just her take on food she loves, and is quite clear on "a Sicilian wouldn't do this..." etc.,

    You take my culture's recipes, change them beyond belief, use ingredients we do not have and call it by our name?

    No. For shame.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't think we'll ever get over it and quite right too!

      And yes, Nigella is very good at admitting when something is her own spin or take. Other chefs, not so much.

      Delete
    2. Yes - I like the way she does that "I've never been to Kerala but this is what I think of when I imagine their food". No claim to authenticity.

      Delete
  21. I'm not necessarily terribly worried about actual authenticity - it's a separate debate and I'm not certain it really exists - but at the same time, I agree with all of the sentiment here.

    Mainly, I wonder why they feel the need to label their curry (eg) as 'Burmese' in the first place... Surely if they were to call it 'Chicken Curry' or 'Creamy/Spicy/insert-appropriate-adjective-here Chicken Curry', just as many people would buy and eat it...?
    Maybe I'm wrong.

    And re the udon/ramen/pho/laksa thing - well that's just silly, innit?
    If I asked for rice and got ice cream or asked for fried chicken wings and was given sauteed aadvark slices, I'd naturally be a little bit confused - misnaming stuff is really just plain weird.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mmmm, sautéed aardvark slices ...

      Re the need to label the curry as coming from a specific geographical origin, see the comments from @_aka_hige above. I genuinely think EAT. etc believe that "ethnic = trendy".

      I say EAT. etc because unfortunately there are numerous other culprits -

      Waitrose has a "pho" which contains egg noodles, edamame and some kind of beef stew and

      POD Food sell a "Super Soba" containing rice and kelp noodles, but no actual soba noodles.

      Delete
    2. "Waitrose has a "pho" which contains egg noodles, edamame and some kind of beef stew "

      You shit me?

      Delete
  22. This is a brilliant post Mimi. I think you and @_aka_hige really hit the nail on the head when you talked about them butchering "ethinic" cuisines and the inherent exocitism involved. It really is just a cheap and insulting way to try and make the food seem more interesting, pinching bits of other cultures to try and dress up their marketing without any real reference or respect for the cultures they're appropriating. They could at least have the decency to say "inspired by", although judging by your post it clearly isn't.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Love your comment. It really is insulting.

      It's a bit like people who put random Buddha or Ganesh statues in their loo to make it look "spiritual".

      Delete
    2. Ugh. Yes.

      That's why it's so insulting. It doesn't seem as though they're trying to actually engage with Burmese, or Japanese or Vietnamese cuisine, and just getting it a bit wrong. It's just looks like a marketing ploy to sell more pots of goop by branding it as "Asian".

      That's the other thing that's insulting about it too, it contributes to the tradition of assuming one homogeneous set of pan-Asian flavours. Udon, ramen, laksa, pho, Japanese, Vietnamese, Burmese, it doesn't seem to matter, it's all just chillies, limes, coconut, noodles and edamame beans right?

      Delete
  23. Hi Mimi great post! I have also encountered many food-butchery lately and that includes restaurants and food sites. It's heart breaking. As for their response... are they serious?? I wonder how this people have and most importantly keep their jobs.
    Lots of love to you (not them)
    Rosana x

    ReplyDelete
  24. It's not just asian cuisines they're targetting - they're even butchering the hot pot.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Good post Mimi. EAT's 'inspired by' claim is somewhat disingenuous - I'm not at an EAT right now but I'm pretty sure it doesn't say 'inspired by' anywhere on the pots or the signage. So the implication is the food is the real deal.
    I do like EAT's bircher muesli though, best thing in there!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like their ham and cheese baguette :)

      Actually their website does say in small print "Inspired by Burma" though it's still called Burmese Chicken Curry.

      Delete
  26. If you are 'inspired by' you have be very careful to say that. I write lots of recipes that are literally inspired by seeing something new (to me) on the shelf or stall but it would be immensely patronising to tell someone for whom that's a staple, that you know better.

    It's just good manners as much as anything, but with a side helping of exoticism and cultural homogenisation that reeks of something more privileged and unpleasant in this case than debating whether your Lancashire hotpot is 'more authentic' than mine because it has oysters/black pudding/an actual flat cap in.

    I get annoyed when people here don't know what champ is (ie: not colcannon) but this is more cynical and unpleasant.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! It's not just some petty, even wanky authenticity argument - it's something more fundamental. As you say, it's cynical on the part of EAT and all the other chains.

      Delete
  27. Why don't you all not just make sandwiches and take them to work?

    If you are foolish enough to visit those overpriced chain eateries in the city or west end you deserve having the piss taken out of you.

    It was you who demanded this sort of crap fake world cuisine with your wallets and because you thought you were to sophisticated for beans on toast in a cafe.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Eh? Think I made it fairly clear that sometimes it's my only option. I generally make a packed lunch, and there's nothing I like better than a fry-up in a cafe.

      Don't think anyone can accuse me of being too sophisticated but then I guess you've never read my blog before.

      Oh I know - it's because I said I work in the City, right? We're not all well-paid "suits" you know. Think you're the snob here.

      Delete
    2. All my points are still valid. And prey tell me: when was the last time you faced starvation with only an EAT to go to. In the centre of London? I know things are bad, but not that bad. It's exactly that excuse why those chains get away with making fun of you. You will always be back. Same reason RyanAir are still in business.

      Delete
    3. Yes, that's the way to win a debate: "I'm still right".

      Am slightly embarrassed at having to defend myself to someone who won't even sign their name, but am worried my other readers might believe the nonsense you're coming up with.

      I never said I was starving. Sometimes though I only have 5 minutes to grab something and haven't had the time to make a packed lunch - and EAT is literally across the road from my office.

      Saying these sorts of places will always exist because of the demand is such a tired argument. The fact is, yes, there will always be demand. Me boycotting EAT will achieve bugger all in the whole scheme of things - surely it's better that I try to make things better by letting them know that we know that they're trying to shovel shit down our throats and we don't want to stand for it?

      Also - it's "pray".

      Delete
    4. Hi Anonymous, gosh it's terrible having to remind everyone just how much better than us you all are. Pray tell how you navigate the pitfalls of modern life and deal so adroitly with the various imprecations of this modern world? I, for one am dying to know. Is it, perchance by not actually reading peoples posts and then by leaping to unjustified conclusions all the while flaunting your ignorance behind a squalid little cloak of anonymity?

      Delete
    5. Hooray for the internet!

      Now I, much like Anonymous here, was *literally* forced (ie, sat in a chair, eyelids held open "Clockwork Orange"-style) to read this blog post, and as such I realised that I needed to post criticism.

      Rather than not comment, or perhaps attempt to start a constructive discourse, I'd prefer to snipe with some snide silly snarky sarcasm. And there's no way I'd say "well Mimi, I really enjoyed this post, because you made your arguments with proper, irrefutable evidence peppered [sorry!] with amusing descriptions of your horrid experience." Oh wait, that's actually how I feel.

      As the journo Sid Lowe said: "Give a man a mask and he will tell the truth, Give a man a user name and he will act like a total twat." Now I don't want to imply you're a man, Anonymous, just didn't want to misquote. And surely you can choose a username of your own to dish up obnoxious ripostes to someone's PERSONAL FOOD BLOG. ffs.

      Delete
    6. My heart just went pitterpat. Steampie, I love you.

      Delete
  28. Ranting rantiness! I love angry rants! This shit *enrages* me too. And feels soul-destroying. ARGHHH!

    ReplyDelete
  29. Message to the EAT Food Team: if you want to secure the likeliest route to a successful future, offer Mimi a consultancy. This is about integrity as well as authenticity, as Matt so rightly points out. We thrive on living in a cosmopolitan country and, if we are to embrace the advantages that world can offer, we should do so with integrity, not by misleading people. Mimi knows her stuff and would be a real asset to you. I pray you take heed...

    ReplyDelete
  30. Great Post and good on you mimi! I think it's about time someone take a stand to all these travesties against the so-called ethnic 'trendy' food they are selling to the general public. Fair enough if they want to come up with new products to entice the consumers but for heaven sake do their research. Laksa Pho?? It's not only insulting to their origins but also highly irresponsible. I am from Singapore where Laksa comes from and I am positively sure I have never heard or taste of such ridiculous combination? The truth is they are two very different dishes and both are equally delicious. Why conjures up something so vile and before anyone say anything, I have tasted it before. Some of my colleagues used to swears by it and have it for their lunch until I introduced them to places like Banh Mi 11 and also taken the effort to make my own laksa and brought them into work. They were rather surprised to discover that the REAL laksa was nothing like those that they had from establishment like EAT.

    So before they go round telling people these are authentic ethnic dishes that they are selling, do some research or just brand them accordingly and not misleading the public. How would they feel if I start selling Pie Mash with couscous instead of potato mash, or Kedgeree Pizza and called them authentic British food?

    Dear Anonymous – Bean on toast? If you want to go down that route why not just have instant noodles which cost far less if you buy in bulks. Just make sure you don get the ‘Laksa Pho’ flavour.

    ReplyDelete
  31. If you want a job surely there's a slightly better way to go about it than slating the company that you want to work for on a public forum?

    I'm not entirely sure that people buy food from EAT. because of it's authenticity, much the same as I doubt people buy food from KFC because they believe it is from Kentucky.

    I enjoy world cuisine, and enjoy trying foods from different cultures, however it wouldn't offend me to the point of boycott if they misstated the origin. I was in a Lebanese restaurant in the West End last week and I'm 90% tempura shrimp isn't Lebanese but enjoyed it anyway.

    It's a well constructed article, and I understand many of the points, but it's not a Burmese restaurant, or a Japanese restaurant. It's a convenience eatery.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Firstly, thank you for your very reasonable comments. I only mentioned a boycott because the Anonymous commenter seemed adamant we all vote with our feet.

      Secondly, sorry if it wasn't obvious but I was being sarcastic about wanting to be hired as a consultant. I may not be rich, but I happen to enjoy my entirely-non-food-related full-time job (too many hyphens, whoops).

      Thirdly, I'm sure people don't buy food from EAT for its authenticity, but at the same time if EAT says something is a duck then the majority of punters will think it's a duck and I don't think that's right. And as a passionate duck expert (go with me on this one) it does upset me when they get things wrong and the public is misinformed.

      To take your Lebanese example, you may not have been bothered, but I expect the average Lebanese person would have been.

      Delete
  32. Thank you for your equally reasonable comments in return but forgive me for being a tad sceptical on the sarcasm comment! (I am a born cynic though)

    It raises an interesting point regarding who do you target and unfortunately with places such as Pret, EAT, Costa etc it is the majority of people that wont have a clue how food is served in Burma or Japan that make the money.

    To be completely honest, I think anything to changes peoples traditional tastes and gets them to try new things (whether they are 100% authentic or not) is fantastic and people should be commended for that. Without this, our culture wouldn't grow, people wouldn't be tempted to travel and we'd end up with a nation of people eating baked beans and thinking Swindon is an exotic location.

    Food is often people's first experience of a new country or culture and, although it may not be exactly correct, it will expand peoples horizons.

    (Apologies if I'm rambling, I just think it's an interesting debate!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Please don't apologise - I love to engage in a proper discussion. It's ad hominem attacks I object to.

      You raise a very good point about widening horizons. There's nothing I want more then people to be comfortable about trying new cuisines. I remember being bullied at school for eating foreign packed lunches - hopefully this kind of thing is less common these days.

      But I do still think that if new cuisines are to be promoted, it should be done with some attention to detail - not slapdash, cynical marketing. We'll have to agree to disagree on this point.

      And seriously though - I really don't want to work for EAT :)

      Delete
    2. "than people" not "then people" - whoops.

      Delete
    3. Not a problem - hence why I think certain commenters on this article and just Twitter in general sometimes needs to have a bit of a look at themselves (but that's a discussion for another day!) as I don't really see how EAT's response could have been much different - it's a pretty large company (as a quick Google revealed!)

      Good point: Widens horizons, introduces people to new cuisines - quite tasty IMO!

      Bad point: Packaging, and food perhaps, should be double checked.

      That about sum it up?

      Delete
    4. Yes, it's all a little bit 'pitchforks and outrage' on comments, and twitter. I'm a bit miffed that wonderful foods get turned into generic Asian grub, and passed off as the real deal, but as our anonymous friend pointed out; just don't buy it, then. Whether the food is good or bad in anyone's opinion is not really an issue for me.

      Let us not forget that many restauranteurs 'put our own twist on' the heck out of plenty of dishes, too. Mainly to get the punters in - giving them the crowd pleasers that they want/are expecting. Crispy seaweed, anyone? It is not only the western high street who are 'to blame' here.

      However, I disagree that EAT had no choice but to copy paste that form response. For starters, they could have admitted that they were wrong (and culturally insensitive, lazy etc) for calling udon, udon ramen, and a generic noodle dish, laksa pho. They could have reassured that they would pass the feedback to their product development team, so that they don't just name any generic noodle dish, pho, in the future. I believe they could have responded in a more positive manner.

      Delete
  33. Not really.

    Pretty large company = the resources and the responsibility to get things right and admit when they've got things wrong.

    It's not widening horizons to say, "Look, have some ethnic food and feel good about yourself" when the food in question is misrepresentative, and IMO largely not very nice.

    And it's not just a packaging problem as I think I've explained at length above.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Sounds like they first make the product (eg. Noodle soup) and then come up with a name ("pho is sexy! ! ! So is laksa! "). Sigh.

    I think I would have cared less if they actually tasted good but since they suck, yeah, bad times. I used to wish we had an Eat near us so I'd have more lunchtime options!

    ReplyDelete
  35. Oh MiMi I do love you. EAT is one of the worst culprits. I think if you are going to sell a product you need to do some justice to it but there really has been no research evident in even the basics such as names and core ingredients. I would be curious to know just how much laksa pho they sell at the king st branch by me. I am sure they would do far better if it resembled more either a true pho or true laksa. I understand EAT is a convenience place but customers should be respected to have better taste and knowledge and it is disrespectful to portray a country's cuisine as something completely different.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Well, it's a country that isn't famous for its cuisine and most ppl haven't got a clue about food and they like to pay for food at places like EAT, for eg. As long as it fills the stomach, doesn't matter if it's authentic or not, who cares Ramen is Udon and Laksa is Pho? They are noodles and who cares how different they look?
    Anyway, keep on doing what you are doing. But, you may want to give up at some point as ranting wouldn't help much. Start bringing lunch box to work. Good luck with EAT!

    ReplyDelete
  37. Haha. Thorough expose of name butchery. Adore you.

    xo,
    Lela
    http://www.LelaLondon.com

    ReplyDelete
  38. Hey Mimi,
    I'm in Thailand at the moment so thankfully can have the real thing... Any particular Burmese food you recommend me to try? I'm in Chiang Mai so it's pretty available and I'm thinking of going to Burma at some point as well..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Ian! Try ohn no khao swe (coconut noodles which became khao soi), Shan khao swe (a meat and tomato sauce on noodles), mohinga (our national dish - a sort of fish chowder), and Shan tohpu in its various forms - Shan Burmese style tofu which comes as fritters, a porridge, and a salad.

      See this article for more.

      Delete
  39. When I don't bring my lunch, I tend to have no idea where to get my food. A few times, I bought stuff from EAT but would buy baguette sandwich and nothing else. Tried their noodle stuff a few times and are always disappointment. I don't think they really get the idea of getting it right and don't respect the idea of delivering the right message to the public.
    The chicken curry doesn't look appetising. Basically, they just make an almost curry-sauce and dump whatever in there to create curry.
    Anyway, the Laksa-egg-noodles-pho combo is rather interesting. LOL

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  40. You are much braver than me in trying the 'Burmese' chicken curry! I walked past the 'udon ramen' in horror and couldn't stop laughing and I doubt I'll try it since there are now proper ramen and udon restaurants in London. However, I do like some of Eat's soups which I often buy for lunch.

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  41. Excellent! I confess that I gave up paying extortionate amounts of money for the rubbish that the majority of such places charge. And, please, please do not cease ranting, especially when the object of the rant really deserves it as this crew appears to. Love the 'looked like it had already been eaten...' - nothing more damning.

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  42. I always have people asking me for Italian restaurant recommedations locally but I have no idea as I avoid them for the reason in your post. "Spag bol" is almost a minor blunder when I see some of the dishes. Sadly, I'm pretty sure I could actually find Spring Roll Cannelloni somewhere round here.

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  43. I just tried the Burmese chicken curry and have to say it was pretty terrible.

    Wild rice is also overrated. What eat need is some sort of chicken and chorizo with normal rice, maybe a bit of coleslaw in a pot. Similar to what LEON does...

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  44. It's shocking how they try to follow food trends by introducing "ethnic foods" and completely bastardise the recipes. Unfortunately, EAT are not the only ones. The number of times I have seen versions of Malaysian laksa and rendang that resemble nothing like what the dishes should be, they need to be educated.

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  45. "Cultural insensitivity"? Grow up. I know little of Burma but have lived in HK and Singapore and they both do their fair share of appropriating Western foods in their own way. Ever been to a Cha Chan Teng? Don't understand why you expect the British to be any different.

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    Replies
    1. I don't really, but that doesn't make their behaviour right or justifiable.

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