TOKYO (AFP) - A Japanese sushi chain is being accused of "wasabi terrorism" after it admitted to heaping excess dollops of the pungent root into foreign customers' food.
Osaka-based Ichibazushi issued an apology on its website on Sunday (Oct 2), owning up to the charges but denying discrimination was at play.
It insisted that the wasabi-laced sushi was a response to many foreign-born patrons ordering extra portions of the fiery green paste used a condiment for the raw fish dish.
The chain did, however, acknowledge that some of its chefs had slipped copious amounts of wasabi - reportedly sometimes twice as much as usual - into unsuspecting customers' food.
It was not immediately clear how many incidents there had been.
"Because many of our overseas customers frequently order extra amounts of pickled ginger and wasabi, we gave them more without checking first," the chain's operator said.
"The result was unpleasant for some guests who aren't fans of wasabi."
The story was picked up by national media which pointed to comments online complaining of so-called "wasabi terrorism" - and racism.
"That is no apology; it's an excuse. What they did was a hate crime," @sakeuchi317 wrote on Twitter.