Restaurant Review by Maureen C. Wyse
Assorted Sushi. Photo by Rick H
When people think of sushi, often the only things that come to mind
are fish, fish eggs and raw fish. And vegetarians say, no thanks. Those
brave the average sushi joint usually have their staples of kappa maki
cucumber rolls and avocado rolls. And really, there’s really
only so many veggies wrapped in sushi rice and seaweed one can eat.
The answer to our boring sushi selection has arrived—Cha-Ya!
Both Berkeley and San Francisco have more of a treat than Rice-A-Roni
when it comes to good food. Cha-Ya Vegetarian Japanese offers an extensive
menu of traditional
and innovative Japanese dishes wowing all those who dine. And while they boast
their vegan ethics, proclaiming that “honey from the hard working bee” isn’t
even used, meat-eaters find it hard not to rave about their 36 different types
of sushi and more! From soups to salads, noodles and dinner sets to desserts,
Cha-Ya has it all. They even have a $7.50 lunch special with two items, soup,
rice, salad and tea.
Take in the relaxing Bay Area atmosphere and begin with their Haru Maki spring
rolls, filled with asparagus, shitake mushrooms, carrots, long beans, silver
noodles and atsuage tofu served with a sweet and sour dipping sauce ($5.25).
And don’t miss their locally renown lightly breaded and fried Agedashi
Tofu served with a light ginger broth and garnished with scallions and nori
While admiring the speedy pace of the Cha-Ya sushi masters assembling rolls,
enjoy a fish-free soup. The Kinoko Miso mushroom soup with portobello, shimeji
and ernygll mushrooms, tofu and scallions is subtly flavored and quite pleasing
($3.25). Their selection of udon and soba noodles mixed with veggies in a light
broth, served hot or cold, are also quite tasty. I could go on about their perfect
tempura dishes and veggie entrees, but you came for the sushi!
Their stellar sushi is complete with favorites like Inari, sweetened tofu stuffed
with sticky white rice ($3.50) and their most famous, Cha-Ya Roll, a tempura
sushi roll filled with avocado, yam, carrots, served with their special house
sauce ($6.75). The light batter around the outside of this flavor-packed wonder
makes an already delicious roll even more flavorful. Also, try their Soba Sushi
Roll with spinach, atsuage tofu, asparagus, cucumber, pickled burdock, kampya
gourd, shitake and, instead of rice, buckwheat noodles ($7.75). While they have
a variety of their own inventive sushi rolls, they also offer Hosomaki, small
rolls in various veggies like cucumber, pickled daikon, shitake, portobello,
broccolini, sea vegetable salad and more.
But don’t fill yourself full of rice and noodles until you have tried
their Vegan Ice Cream Sundae with vanilla ice cream, green tea sauce, azuki
and garnished with pineapple chunks ($4). Other delicious desserts include
Yellow Moon, deep fried organic bananas topped with green tea sauce and azkui
and a yummy chocolate mousse cake ($4).
Cha-Ya is where it’s at for Bay Area vegans, veggies and sushi enthusiasts
alike. For some of the best Japanese food you will ever have, Cha-Ya knows what’s
up. In fact, 3,000 miles away, I am still dreaming of those Cha-Ya Rolls, mmm…
Cha-Ya Vegetarian Japanese, 1686 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA. Mon 5-9:30pm,
Tue-Thu noon-2pm, 5-9:30pm, Fri noon-2pm, 5-10pm, Sat noon-2:30pm, 5-10pm,
5-9:30pm. Take out available. Information: (510) 981-1213. 762 Valencia St,
San Francisco, CA. Wed-Sun noon-2:30pm, Mon-Thu, Sun 5:30pm-9:30pm, Fri & Sat
5:30-10pm. Take out available. Information: (415) 252-7825.
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