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April/May 2007
Sushi No Fishy
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 who 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 ($5).

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 bean sauce and garnished with pineapple chunks ($4). Other delicious desserts include Yellow Moon, deep fried organic bananas topped with green tea sauce and azkui bean sauce 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, Sun noon-2:30pm, 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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