Vegan out at Cha-Ya

    Summer Green Roll – avocado, cucumber, kaiware sprout, wakame and hijiki. Alissa scooped wasabi like it was green tea ice cream, but I like this one just as it is: plain, fresh and light.

    It’s been a long time since I last either wrote about food or ate anything that I could write about. The occasional rainfalls during the drought of takeout Chinese are so-so hu tieu and com suon somewhere in the Ranch 99 complex, and homemade soups, lovely but no hot news. Vegetable intake has been limited to shibazuke from Berkeley Bowl, homemade kimchi, and toasted seaweed (seaweed counts, doesn’t it?). Before leaving for her trip, Cheryl fed me her black chicken soup, brown rice, tau yew bak (similar to thit kho but with soy sauce instead of fish sauce) and, like a loving sister, concerned looks and advice on how I should feed myself healthy meals. I agree with her one hundred percent, but all planned menus for the next day fluttered their wings away as I run from class to class and get home only wishing to relax. Cheryl is married. I entertain the idea that I live like a single guy. A single guy that could not have looked more forward to a vegan dinner with some old friends.

    After much debate we decided on a simple kampyo roll, a big fluffy summer green roll (that we each stuffed into our mouth in one bite to prove our manliness(*)), a Cha-Ya roll, a tempura stuffed eggplant, a gyoza and vegetable soup, and three desserts.

    Cha-Ya Roll – avocado, yam and carrots, tempura roll with sweet soy sauce.

    Tonchi Nasu – tempura stuffed eggplant with setsuma potato, corn, tofu, hijiki, soybean and carrot

    Taku Sui – gyoza soup with tofu, broccoli, zucchini, napa cabbage, snap peas, asparagus, cauliflower, silver noodles and mushrooms in a light broth – I like this a lot!

    Yellow Moon – tempura banana with a scoop of soy ice cream, drizzled with green tea sauce and red bean sauce

    The Yellow Moon is just the tempura banana, the soy ice cream is listed as a separate dessert, but we shameless girls requested a scoop of ice cream with the banana. The Cha-Ya staff is so nice. ;-) This tempura banana is not oily like the deep fried banana desserts at Thai restaurants, the batter is light and plain. It gives you the impression of healthy foods.

    Vegan chocolate cake (left) and Oshikuro (right) – plain white mochi in gooey red bean sauce. The red bean is a bit too sweet, but I like it still. The cake is like a soft brownie, not at all dry and lifeless like normal vegan cakes.

    (*) In case you wonder, a picture of us is to the right.

    Address: Cha-Ya Vegetarian Japanese Cuisine
    (North Berkeley)
    1686 Shattuck Avenue
    Berkeley CA 94709
    (510) 981-1213
    Dinner for four: roughly $90 – Kinda expensive now that I think about it…

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