Thursday, 11 April 2013

Yum Yum Ninja.

It was pouring with rain when my friend Tabitha and I went for dinner last night, the streets were almost deserted on our walk to the restaurant so we were pleased to find that whilst Yum Yum Ninja wasn't super busy there were other diners there and there was a great atmosphere. Yum Yum Ninja is the latest in a string of restaurants trying to make it work at the large space on Meeting House Lane and we decided to give them a try after noticing that they have vegan options clearly marked on the menu. We were immediately super impressed with the decor, the tables are laid out canteen style and the light fittings are all made from repurposed ornate bird cages, so pretty. We also had a great view of the outdoor seating area which I can't wait to dine in when summer arrives.

We started with a couple of beers, your vegan choices here are Heineken, Little Creatures Pale Ale & Sam Smith's Nut Brown Ale. I haven't checked out the wine list but it's available to view on their online menu.

We're both dumpling fanatics and we were most excited about the Dim Sum section of the menu. We decided we'd go along with the restaurants pan asian tapas style of dining and ordered loads of things to share. First to arrive at the table were the Steamed Asian Mushroom & Chinese Chive Dumplings...

...and the Fried Vegetarian Gyoza which come stuffed full of bamboo shoots, carrots, water chestnuts and mushrooms.

It would be a massive understatement to say that we loved both of these dishes. They were some of the best dumplings I've ever eaten. The steamed mushroom and chive dumplings far surpassed any other steamed dumpling on my radar and the fried dumplings were on par with those found at Moshimo - the highest compliment one can give to a dumpling in my mind. They both came with different dipping sauces and each complimented the flavours of their respective dumplings nicely.

We ordered this next small plate because we were intrigued by it, this Legendary Ninja Bun is a steamed bun topped with organic tofu, ssäm sauce and spring onions.

Whilst I loved the texture of the steamed bun and the crispy pepperyness of the tofu the ssäm sauce was too much for me and this was devoured by my dining companion. Just incase you're also in the dark when it comes to ssäm sauce it's a thick spicy paste made from fermented soya bean paste, red chili and glutenous rice paste, onion, garlic and green onions. If you have a higer chili tolerance than me you should definitely give this interesting dish a go.

Next we sampled the Chargrilled Shiitake Mushroom & Spring Onion Sticks.

These sesame infused morsels were utterly delicious and were grilled perfectly. I'd definitely order these again.

From the Vegetable section of the menu we tried the Kelp Salad with mooli, carrot and mange tout served with a Japanese dressing.

This was an enjoyable salad although it had more leaves than expected and we didn't detect any mange tout at all. I really love kelp, or any seaweed, and mooli, so I was still pretty happy with the dish. We both loved how pretty the pieces of carrot and mooli were too. After this first round of food we decided to re-order our two favourite dishes, the steamed mushroom and chive dumplings and the fried veggie gyoza. We were super excited when they arrived at the table until I bit into their Pork & Shiitake Mushroom Dumpling. 

Yup, that’s right, pork. 

Strangely I didn’t start salivating at my rekindled love for meat but instead my immediate thoughts were “Shit, they’ve over steamed these dumplings. Were the originals a fluke? These are tasteless and too chewy and OMFG...” this was when the penny dropped and I turned to my vegan dining companion and asked “is this fucking meat?”. After a little more prodding we called a waitress over and from the look on her face we could tell immediately that yes, this was indeed meat. Pork to be exact. 

At least now I can answer the incessant omnivore question of “Don’t you miss meat” with a resounding “Fuck no”. In that fleeting moment I wondered what the hell had happened to the beautifully light, crisp, delicately flavored veggie dumpling I’d tried earlier? Instead they had been replaced with what I can only describe as the world's worst surprise.

I’m sure you’re wondering what the hell happened next. Firstly, I felt queasy, made a beeline for the bathroom and threw up. I literally never throw up. Never.  I have pretty much no gag reflex, I can stick all of my fingers down my throat no worries. Everyone I know gets a stomach bug? I’m A-OK! Way past it’s use by date food? No problem! Apparently the only thing that’ll make me puke is knowing that I just ate Babe.

Secondly, I didn’t freak out, scream at someone or raise my voice. For me being vegan is about making compassionate and ethical choices in every area of my life so I calmly explained to the manager that this was an unacceptable mistake. I asked him how this happened and how they were going to make sure that this never happened to anyone again. He comped all of our drinks (we took advantage and had a couple of extra beers) and the dish that they had messed up without hesitation. Unfortunately, as is customary in the US, there is no protocol in the UK for comping the whole meal when a restaurant commits such an epic fuck up!

Later when we asked to look at the dessert menu he was apologetic about the fact that the only option was an unimaginative trio of sorbets. He said that he didn’t think that it was good enough that they offered vegan options but no substantial dessert choices and when I offered to help them veganise a couple of the desserts I was met with a very positive response. I seriously hope that this was genuine. Time will tell. I’ll letcha know!

Would I eat at Yum Yum Ninja again? Yes. I don't believe in holding mistakes against people. The service at Yum Yum Ninja was great and excluding pork-gate the food was excellent. Next time I may just be a little more cautious when I bite into my dumplings.


  1. When Mestizo messed up our order (admittedly twice) we didn't pay for anything AND they sent me a £50 voucher!

  2. Oh no! I'd be the same!
    They should have knocked more off than that!

  3. Same thing happened to me, I got pork gyoza instead of the veggie. I spit it out after the first bite though. It happens. At least the owner seems nice about it and willing to work with you on vegan desserts is pretty awesome. :-)

    1. It was so grim, I'm sorry it's happened to you too - damn goza!

  4. Oh god hun, I was just gonna say how much I love the name of the restaurant but I'd be wary of eating there for fear of biting into a lump of pork!

    At least they comped the drinks and hopefully they'll take you up on your offer to help veganise the desserts, even though sorbet is more than a lot of places offer.

    I'd be surprised if it happened again, gross as it is, hopefully it'll make them more vigilant.

  5. Yuck! I think we'll stick with Moshimo for today!

    PS...our hotel (The New Steine) served us a pretty decent vegan English breakfast today!

    1. That's awesome! I'll have to remember to recommend them when people ask me where they should stay in Brighton.

  6. Yeuch!! Absolutely the right reaction, well done for staying calm! I'm glad he subbed your drinks and that would be great if you could get some of your cakes in there too! x

  7. that sucks about the food...i get freaked out about eating out at places that are not vegan...

  8. Hi,

    Hi my name is Lucy, the manager from Yum Yum Ninja. I was very upset to hear about your unfortunate experience and offer my sincere apologies. I would like to send you a voucher to come and dine with us again as some way of apology, if you could forward me an address, and we can arrange a time that would be good for you.
    I am also intrigued about your vegan cakes, do you have any information you could send across to me?
    Thanks for the review, it's really great to know that the vegan dishes went down well and you are promoting it for us.
    I've put my email below.

    Many thanks,


    1. Hi Lucy! Thanks for your comment. I really appreciate the apology & I've sent you an email.

    2. Just a heads up to blog readers who were please that the manager of Yum Yum Ninja had been in contact. I have e-mailed her twice now and have had no response or vouchers. Make of that what you will!

  9. That's a shame about the pork, the food looks so good.

  10. Eurgh that sucks pork is nasty if I even smell it being cooked I feel ill. And it seeps through the whole house I have to stay in my room until the smell has precipitated. They seem very apologetic though so it won't stop me eating there (if I can afford it). Just gotta be really careful when eating what appears to be good nomnom!

  11. Ah man, that sucks. But we've all been there, way to take the high road and be your glittery happy vegan self :)


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