Monday, January 24, 2011

Cha-Ya Japanese @ San Francisco

We knew two things about Cha-Ya before we went for dinner, two things that were obvious from looking at their menu.

One. The food is vegetarian or vegan.
Two. It is a $$$ restaurant.

A $$$ restaurant that doesn't have a Website. Call it comical, but it baffles me as to why they don't have a Website showcasing all the funky Japanese food, along the lines of Dengaku, Hangetsu, Tonchi Nasu and many more. Located in JapanTown on Valencia, Cha-Ya is small and kind of cramped, when you pull a chair, watch out, because you could literally be sitting on some one's back. The maximum seating capacity is 25-30.

At 8:45 pm, we weren't the first people there -or the last. They close at 9:30 pm. The restaurant was almost full. The lady who was our waitress/hostess/busser, showed us to a small table in the corner, at the back. Not a problem, I like a room that's buzzing with people.

The waitress brought our menus and water. One flip through the menu and we were overwhelmed. We knew we were getting the Sushi (Hell, which one?), but that still left a whole lot of menu to cover. Cha-Ya offers a variety of Soups, salads, sushi, rolls, entrees, combination dinners, noodles and desserts. The downside of being petite and lacking a monstrous appetite is that you can only order so much. We got the Soba Sushi ( Buckwheat Noodle Sushi) - Instead of sushi rice, the roll contains buckwheat noodles, along with spinach, atsuage tofu, asparagus, cucumber, pickled burdock, and seasoned kampyo gourd and shitake. Served with a soba dipping sauce.
Kanpyo is a shredded and dried long strip of gourd. Cooked kampyo seasoned with shoyu and mirin is an indispensable ingredient in traditional Sushi preparations. Making Sushi is an art and making one with noodles instead of rice, must be the toughest of them all. How in God's name do they stack the thin stick like noodles and roll it? Am better off just enjoying the fruits of labor.

The Uramaki Roll - Avocado Tempura Roll. The was my favorite of the day. Every time I bit into the sushi, the crisp tempura and the soft avocado dipped in the pungent wasabi-soy sauce mix, blew my mind!

The last one was Tonchi Nasu ( Stuffed Eggplant) Eggplant stuffed with satsuma potato, corn, hijiki, carrots, and soy beans. Lightly battered and deep-fried. Served with a special ginger sauce.

For a person who's knowledge of Japanese cuisine is restricted to Sushis, Sakes, Yakisoba Noodles, Tempuras and Miso Soup, this was a shocking revelation. An eye-opener. It was fantastic and exotic.

The one thing that we were not aware of is that this ludicrous $$$ restaurant accepts only cash. After emptying our pockets to the last of the dimes and pennies, we walked out of there, vowing to go back once more before getting back to Seattle, but it never happened.

If you are a vegetarian and haven't had the chance to explore Japanese food, you know where to go! They also have a branch in Berkeley.

Cha-Ya on Urbanspoon


Related Posts with Thumbnails

Where do u wanna eat? Not sure? Spin the wheel!

Seattle restaurants on Urbanspoon