According to ancient Jain and Buddhist texts, it was at least 2500 years ago that the first humans took a look at the meat on their plates, then at the adorable goats and chickens running around outside, and said “You know what? I’ll pass.”
The vegetarianism debate has been ongoing ever since, but the arguments have shifted. What used to be a question of animal suffering now must also take into account climate change, land use and a brutally exploitative industrial farming system. Why keep eating meat, when there are so many compelling reasons not to? The answer usually boils down to some combination of:
- It tastes good
- No libtard snowflake is going to take my goddamn burgers away
The second point doesn’t apply in a vegan restaurant mecca like Berlin, and the third point can be circumvented with a decent diet and/or supplements. The less said about the fourth point, the better. Which leaves us with “it tastes good” and the follow-up question: if a vegetable-based dish tastes exactly the same as its meat equivalent, are you – assuming you’re a generally moral person harbouring concern for the environment, an awareness of slaughterhouse conditions, etc – obligated to order it?
I tried both side-by side-and actually found the meatless one better – the soy had soaked up less of the too-salty marinade.
All of this is a very roundabout way of introducing you to the Japanese fast-food restaurant Tsu Tsu and its eerily convincing vegan karaage. For those not in the know, chicken karaage is an izakaya dish (and excellent drunk food) in which chunks of thigh meat are marinated in soy sauce, sake, garlic and ginger, coated in starch and deep fried till crispy. Tsutsu, opened off the Landwehrkanal in Graefekiez about a month ago, serves six, nine or 12-piece meals featuring either the traditional birdy version (€6-9.80) or an animal-free one made with soy meat (€8-12.30)
A friend of mine ordered the vegan nuggets and was certain the restaurant had made a mistake. I tried both side-by side-and actually found the meatless one better – the soy had soaked up less of the too-salty marinade. Both went equally well with the accompanying pickled radishes, lemon and dipping sauce. The best side dish, a homemade onigiri studded with marinated carrots and shiitake mushrooms, was vegan too.
There are plenty of reasons to be suspicious of meat substitutes, whether it’s because they contain too many artificial ingredients or they put too much power and money into the hands of the billionaire corporations that manufacture them. And then there’s the question of whether it’s better to consume soy, which if not responsibly sourced is linked to Amazon deforestation, or, say, the free-range chicken fried up by Otto, Barra and your other fancier locales.
That said, for vegans looking to hop on Berlin’s pandemic-inspired fried chicken bandwagon or carnivores who’ve vowed to eat less meat even just for one meal a week, Tsu Tsu’s offering is a very promising development. Now, if only Risa would catch on…
Tsu Tsu Graefestr. 2, Kreuzberg, Tue-Sun 10-22, pick up or order delivery via Wolt or Lieferando