By Jeanne Yacoubou, MS
VRG Research Director
Since 1987 with over 250 locations in 37 states, Sarku Japan® is the largest quick service Japanese restaurant chain in the United States. It was the first to offer made-to-order Japanese dishes known as Teppanyaki in shopping mall food courts and similar locations. In 2003 the chain opened its first traditional Japanese-style sushi bars most often as kiosks and known as Sarku Japan® Sushi Bar. Since 2008, Sarku Japan® opened store-front restaurants called Sarku Japan Teriyaki and Sushi Express® that also offer a catering menu. Other Sarku Japan® family brands include Ming Tree® (Chinese) and Kato’s Cajun® (Cajun-Asian).
The VRG spoke in August 2013 with two members of the Sarku Japan® staff headquartered in Ontario, Canada. We learned that a signature entrée still listed on the website menu as “Vegetarian D’Lite” has been renamed as “Vegetable D’Lite.” It contains carrots, broccoli, cabbage, mushrooms and steamed white rice. The steamed rice has not been prepared with meat products. The teriyaki sauce served with this dish “is cooked with chicken bones” according to a staff member at Sarku Japan®. Vegetable D’Lite may be ordered without the sauce. Vegetable D’Lite is offered at Sarku Japan® food court locations.
In approximately 10-15 locations Vegetable D’Lite may be offered as “Vegetable & Tofu Teriyaki” which is made with the same sauce used in the Vegetable D’Lite dish. Vegetable & Tofu Teriyaki may also be ordered without the sauce. Patrons may ask if there is an all-vegetable sauce available; a few locations may be able to accommodate those who request it. Vegetable & Tofu Teriyaki may be ordered with steamed rice, fried rice, or noodles. The fried rice contains meat. The noodles contain egg.
Tofu in the Vegetable & Tofu Teriyaki is deep-fried. Staff members told us that meat products are not prepared along with vegetable ingredients although some contact may occur. Because of the possible contact between meat and non-meat ingredients, the staff emphasized that no dish at any Sarku Japan® should be considered vegan. The VRG was informed that there is a sign posted at all locations stating that patrons with any “dietary concerns” should request more information about specific menu items from restaurant staff before ordering.
“Vegetarian Soba” offered at Sarku Japan® food court locations is made with egg noodles according to staff members at the restaurant chain.
The Sarku Japan® Sushi Bar menu offers a “Vegetarian Zen” plate consisting of sushi rolls made to order. A Zen roll is made of a tofu skin and sushi (i.e., steamed) rice on the inside. Vegetable rolls offered include cucumber and/or avocado. They may be prepared with other vegetables and/or rice. Since the rolls are made to order, patrons may communicate directly with the chef regarding how the rolls are prepared and what they contain.
The Sarku Japan Teriyaki and Sushi Express® offers dumplings which contain chicken.
More information on the menu items at all Sarku Japan’s® locations may be viewed at: http://www.sarkujapan.com/. A restaurant locator is available on the website.
The contents of this article, our website, and our other publications, including the Vegetarian Journal, are not intended to provide personal medical advice. Medical advice should be obtained from a qualified health professional. We often depend on product and ingredient information from company employees or company statements.Information does change and mistakes are always possible. Please use your own best judgment about whether a product is suitable for you. Further research or confirmation may be warranted.
For updates on menu items and ingredients at fast food and quick service chains, view The VRG’s website here: http://www.vrg.org/fastfoodinfo.php