It has come to my attention that ByFood (www.byfood.com/) has plagiarized the only restaurant review from my website without permission, specifically the restaurant review of Okuniya Manbei, and have presented my original research and writing as their own. At the time of writing, no one at byfood has contacted me asking for permission to use my research, or credit me anywhere in the piece.
Evidence of this plagiarism can be found in the table below:
|Kunio Yamaoka decided on his business’ 70th anniversary to share his expertises on eel and opened Okuniya, specializing in Kansai-style unagi served in a claypot with rice.||Specializing in Kansai-style unagi served in a clay pot with rice, Okuniya Manbei is no ordinary eel restaurant.|
|Once seated, we were told that there was no menu to choose from, but just a wooden plaque describing the meal.||There isn’t a menu to choose from, just a wooden plaque that describes the meal.|
|The meal would also take 30 minutes to cook as the eel was killed and filleted only when we arrived, whilst the rice would also be cooked from scratch.||As the eels are killed and filleted only when guests arrive, there’s usually a waiting time of half an hour between ordering and being served.|
|The eel here is filleted Kansai-style, with the belly of the eel being slit open. Comparatively, eel is usually filleted Kanto-style, where the eel is slit open from the back.||Instead of the usual Kanto method of filleting eel in which the eel is slit open from the back, Okuniya Manbei slits from the front, Kansai-style.|
|Instead, this restaurant specialized in cooking the eel a second time by placing the eel in a second compartment under the lid of the claypot, cooking it with the rice.||This restaurant cooks the eel twice, placing it in another compartment under the lid of the claypot, cooking it together with the rice for the second time.|
|The resulting eel had skin with the most ethereal texture, accompanied by a nitsume sauce that had just the right balance of sweetness and saltiness.||This special technique results in the most tender texture. All are served with a nitsume sauce that balances the sweet and salty flavors perfectly.|
|The meal was also presented with various side pickles, including pickled eel livers, baby ayu sweetfish (鮎) and melon slices preserved in sake lees (瓜の粕漬け).||The main dish is served with various side pickles including pickled eel livers, melon slices, and baby ayu sweetfish.|
|Once we had finished most of our rice, the claypots were taken away, and the remaining Okoge (お焦げ) or crisp rice at the bottom of the pot, was scrapped into a different bowl and served Ochazuke (お茶漬け), with hot tea poured over the top.||To end the meal, the residue in the claypot will be scraped into a different bowl, with hot tea poured over the top, and served as ochazuke.|
|After a bit of digging around, I learnt that the claypots that are used to cook and serve rice and eels to the customers at this restaurant are made my Nakagawa Ippento’s younger brother, Nakagawa Isshiro (中川一志郎先生) or Isshiro Kiln (一志郎窯).||The unagi and rice are presented in clay pots made by Nakagawa Isshiro, the younger brother of famous claypot maker Nakagawa Ippento.|
Furthermore, there are two pieces of evidence that further point towards the fact that my content was plagiarized. Firstly, my website is the only website on the English speaking internet searchable on google that has translated the name “中川一志郎先生” to Nakagawa Isshiro, let alone stating the fact that he is the brother of Nakagawa Ippento. Whilst there is a chance that the writer of this article came up with this himself, and also did his research to know that they were brothers, I personally feel that this is highly unlikely.
Secondly, most websites on the internet spell the restaurant name as Okuniya Mambei (with two m’s) instead of Okuniya Manbei. As you can see in their article, it might be coincidental that they used the same phonetic spelling as me, though highly unlikely.
As readers of my site would know, it mainly contains content regarding Japanese cooking and does not contain many articles on the restaurant world. In fact, it is my personal policy not to review restaurants on my site, as I do not feel as though I have the authority to judge, let alone critique the food people cook. I strongly believe that anyone who is skilled at anything was once a beginner and restaurant work is hard enough without people on the outside scrutinising you.
The only reason why restaurant Okuniya Manbei was the exception was because they were kind enough to open just for us when we visited, and that specific article was aimed more to be a thank you letter to them, rather than a review. I consider it extremely disgraceful that this gesture of gratitude was plagiarized for monetary gain by byfood.com, given that they earn money by offering a reservation service at restaurants like this.
A copy of byfood.com’s article can be found here for you to download:
I sincerely emphasise with you, as I know exactly how it feels.
How did you find out?
I was doing some research into acquiring a clay pot from the same maker that supplies that restaurant and came across the article. It sounded awfully familiar at the time so I decided to check it against mine, so it was just by pure coincidence.