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Shoto & Allergy's

I had made reservations to Shoto for 2 to celebrate our wedding anniversary next month. On the reservation site, I had put in the mustard allergy for my wife.

Today I received a call from Shoto, and they told me that they would not be able to accommodate the allergy request and I should cancel the reservation. Fine, if they didn't want my business, I won't beg.

Having said that, what are some of the 'better' alternatives nowadays for a nice tasting menu? I've been to most of the 'finer' restaurants in Toronto in the past, so thought to try Shoto.
If all else fails, we can always go back to Splendido, never had a bad experience there, even after the ownership change. Plus they allow corkage, so that is always a bonus.

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  1. I'm trying to get my head around this. They ask for allergies on the reservation site as if they will make an effort to accommodate, but they can't accommodate a mustard allergy? Is mustard related to other ingredients which are used a lot. It might be possible he uses mustard seed in his stocks, but that seems a bit unconventional. Is mustard really that difficult to work around?

    3 Replies
    1. re: dubchild

      I guess mustard is used in a lot of their dishes?

      Reading some of the past reviews of Shoto, it seems a lot of other people had the same experience with allergy requests.
      Didn't even know that mustard was such an important ingredient. Never had issues with it at other tasting menu type of restaurants.

      1. re: commie

        Mustard is a tough one, it's actually a very serious allergy and people who are allergic to mustard are usually also allergic to other Brassicaceae family plant products like canola, cabbage, broccoli etc. (canola oil is so processed that the actual allergen has been stripped out but the seeds or flour are an issue). Mustard is in so many sauces dressings and pickle preparations it's possible that they use enough of it that they are worried that there's no way to assure that anything in the kitchen may not have come into contact with it.

        I know that Shoto (and Ko) will accommodate some allergies as I have been present in both restaurants when diners were served alternate dishes.

        At the end of the day Momofuku is an American company and they are probably somewhat more lawsuit cautious than we tend to be

      2. re: dubchild

        "Mustard consumption in different countries varies according to local food habits. Mustard can be found in barbecue sauce, fish paste, ketchup, tomato sauce, marinades, some mayonnaise, processed meats, sausages, piccalilli, pickles, pizza, salad dressings and salad oil. Mustard is also used in various traditional remedies and as a laxative, expectorant and antiseptic agent for the treatment of various gastrointestinal, respiratory and skin diseases."

        ^ Maybe the mustard could be an ingredient in the fish paste, which could be a component in the dashi?

      3. Ok that is pretty weird. Is the mustard allergy a lot broader than just, y'know, mustard?

        Oh and tasting menus, why not try something newer like Bero or Actinolite?

        6 Replies
        1. re: childofthestorm

          +1 on Bero. They are small and intimate and I have no doubt that they would accommodate your allergy with advanced notice. They were very gracious about a dairy intolerance in my group.

          1. re: TorontoJo

            Actually I'd +1 on Actinolite.
            Given that's it's a special occasion, ask for a chef's menu (obviously mentioning the allergy issue). I've had that (chef's choice) 3 times so far - every time excellent.

            1. re: estufarian

              I agree. When we had dinner at Actinolite, my friend mentioned a shellfish allergy. It's not a terribly severe allergy (if the spoon comes in contact with lobster and then comes in contact with her potato, it won't affect her).

              The chef was very conscientious about it. He came to the table and double checked with us. He check that the the server had relayed the correct information and assured us that no shellfish had come in contact with any of her food.

          2. re: childofthestorm

            Mustard is not that uncommon. I have a friend with a mustard allergy. Also - citrus, caffeine, chocolate (related to caffiene), pepper, tomato, raw fruit, casein, whey, egg yolks, legumes, and all the others (gluten, nuts, etc). These days, allergies to anything are not out of the ordinary.

            1. re: mattkantor

              So what the hell does this person eat? Jesus

              1. re: disgusti

                Sorry. Those are all different people.

                There exist people with tons of food allergies. Some of them carry cards around to hand out to people.

                I think this might be off topic though.

          3. I know for Shoto it also matters on the season as they use a lot of seasonal items (like in the fall, a mushroom allergy would be an issue because it is used in a lot of stock, etc). They would always accommodate you in Daisho, but the issue is not "they don't want your business" -- they don't want you to get sick (if it really is an allergy and not just a preference), plus they don't want you to waste $150 and not get your money's worth (which is why they advise against vegetarians). I have found them to be quite gracious in this way. At least they phoned you and let you know, which means they are actually reading the notes, versus having you come in and be (un)pleasantly surprised.

            1. Plus you said it's for next month. They also did call you with lots of notice....just my two cents :)

              PS Shoto/Momofuku also allows corkage

              1. To me, it is pretty simple. Someone says they have an allergy (nuts, for example). how can the kitchen 100% assure that nuts haven't come in contact with a cooking vessel, cutting board, etc?
                If a kitchen accommodates a severe allergy and someone has an allergic reaction, it is a lawsuit. while the chef has control over quality of his/her food, to ask a chef to ensure that NOTHING has mustard is a tall task. Look at your packaged foods. Most say "may contain nuts, etc" because of the risk of traces of something. Same thing holds true for a restaurant and, if they cannot assure you, then thank them for caring about your health.
                plain and simple.

                5 Replies
                1. re: atomeyes

                  I am fine with that, then they should just come out and state they don't serve folks with Allegeries. Instead of taking note of it, and then not accomodating.
                  With the latter approach, it makes the whole experience all half-hearted.

                  1. re: commie

                    I really don't get what was half-hearted. You booked, they responded clearly, story over.

                    1. re: justsayn

                      chowhound toronto: where people come to shake their fists at clouds in the sky.

                    2. re: commie

                      They do accommodate people with allergies when possible. I know first hand. Some places can't at certain times, and that's fine too.

                    3. re: atomeyes

                      Never a guarantee. But most of them try their best.

                      Unless you are in your own house, or the restaurant doens't have it as an ingredient, you can never absolutely guarantee it. You need mindful cooks who work with raw ingredients and make things from scratch. And communcaiton between the entire team.

                      When we know we have someone coming in with a Strawberry allergy (last month), pastry will actually prep those items first and then run the cutting boards and knives through the sanitizer. And when the table comes in, we know who it is, so we can deal with it.

                      Good communication solves 90% of the problem. Staff who are good at their job round it out.

                    4. I worked in a place that made the deserts in house, a woman yelled at me for not being able to guarantee that it was nut free. I had 3 other options that I could guarantee but she threw a huge fit and just could not understand that I didn't make the cocoa powder and it said may contain nuts. Sorry not worth it to risk your health and my liability. At least shoto gave you enough time to make other arrangements!

                      1. I'm surprised - it's been almost a year now since I was there, but they were extremely accomodating of my severe shrimp allergy. They replaced the few dishes with shrimp and even printed me my own special menu with the replacements. I didn't even have to remind the waiter, they must have marked that the person in my seat had the allergy, because they brought it up before I did.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: FrenchSoda

                          Shrimp is very, very different than mustard