Subway in Japan is true to the spirit of the original American store. While they don’t have the “melt” sandwiches or the “Five-dollar Footlong” (footlongs range from 600 yen to 810 yen), the core group of offerings (Smoked Turkey, Ham, Roast Beef, Veggie, Subway Club, Egg, Tuna) is the same, and they have a few regular sandwiches special to Japan (Tandoori Chicken, Shrimp Avocado). Besides these two, there are the seasonal sandwiches that get changed every couple months or so. Since I moved to Tokyo in 2008 (and began to eat semi-regularly at Subway again) these have included Chili Beans, Avocado Turkey, and the heavenly Double Pastrami.
The current seasonal sub offerings are the ベジバーグ (bejibaagu, an approximation of “veggie burger”) and the ベジドッグ (bejidoggu, “veggie dog”). I was pleasantly surprised to see these available: Japan is not a very vegetarian-friendly country, but it is slowly starting to change and this is one of the signs. Clearly these are being advertised to healthy eaters:
I tried the ベジバーグ a few times and was moderately satisfied. For whatever reason, they won’t add all the veggies – just tomato, lettuce and bell peppers in addition to the patty. But then they douse it with special ginger sauce. It’s decent (and makes me feel less guilty for eating so much tonkatsu). They give out a flier with coupons too, and as I was perusing it I noticed something funny about the ベジドッグ:
ベジドッグ is Iwate Prefecture pork! I was stunned. If you read their equation carefully, the “ベジ” must refer to the six-vegetable ratatouille (ラタトゥイユ) that they use as a topping. A scoop of ratatouille does not a veggie dog make. Japan clearly has 肉 issues to work out before it fully embraces vegetarianism.
The vegeburger is made with chicken stock too.
Whoa, where’d you learn that?
Well, to be fair, I once got really excited when Bartley’s in the Square had a sign up saying they had mushroom burgers. To my dismay, it turned out it was portobello mushrooms *on top of* a beef hamburger, rather than a burger made of mushrooms, much like this “veggies on top of a hot dog” dog.
But Japan does have more of these. “Early spring vegetable pasta” in the US would probably not feature a meat sauce, as it did at an otherwise adorable little pasta-ya in Shibuya the other day. And I can’t see Subway in the US using the same nomenclature.
Yeah, it makes more sense if you look at it from a Japanese-language perspective. A チーズバーガー is not made of cheese, and an アメリカンドッグ is not made of Americans. If anything English might be the outlier here, hijacking “vege” as a prefix meaning “made of” rather than “also with”.
Yeah, I am thinking that the ベジ really just refers to the main contributor to the taste rather than the category! Vegetable burger rather than vegetarian burger I guess……but even then, a pork sausage rather than a piece of chicken or fish does push the limits of “health” credibility!!
@Julia – I was once eating at a well known Chinese vegan establishment run by Daoists in my city trying out the meat replacement products which really were just TVP (vegetarian sausage, steak and all that), and I tried the vegetarian “chicken” thinking it would be interesting – and yeah, it was a mushroom dish. A) I am very allergic to mushrooms B) Why bother! Mushrooms already have great vegetarian, nah, vegan credentials!
Really, I guess it would have been more surprising if it had been an actual vegetarian hot dog. I mean, English usage over here isn’t exactly like it is back in Kansas.
Ah, true. Damn, I fell into my own ≠ trap.
I guess I was so surprised because the veggie burger is so close to the real stuff back home. And it’s a Subway!
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Update: Freshness Burger does have a 100% meat-free marinated mushroom on a bun burger that is pretty darn good! I had never actually eaten there before…