Respond to Review of Cha-Ya
Review: If i were stranded on a desert island and had to choose one restaurant's food to eat every meal for the rest of my life, Cha Ya would be high on my short list. I've eaten there hundreds of times over the years and never tire of it. First off, the most important thing to know in order to experience the best of Cha Ya is this: order the strange stuff - the unfamiliar items. The quite substantial menu includes many typical Japanese dishes that one would find anywhere, but these are not Cha Ya's specialty. The genius of Cha Ya is in its highly inventive and masterful renditions of the Shojin Ryori vegetarian cuisine the Zen Buddhist tradition. Cha Ya serves Zen temple food at its finest, with some creative innovations of the chef (with creative innovation itself being part of the Shojin Ryori tradition). The daily specials board, which includes both photos and descriptions of an ever-changing selection of unique dishes, is a great place to start. From the standard menu, consider the Cha Ya roll, Hangetsu, and the Shattuck roll. They make an excellent dressing for their sea vegetable salad, too. By the standards of Japanese restaurants, Cha Ya is quite reasonably priced, and best of all due to the healthful nature of the food one can have a feast without crashing into a food coma afterward. (I should know - i've overeaten there more often than i'd care to admit and lived to tell the story!) I have only one criticism of Cha Ya, which is that some of the servers are out of touch with the common restaurant etiquette of providing service to various customers in the order in which they were seated; instead, orders are often taken (and served) quite randomly, which can be frustrating to early birds with low blood sugar (and to those inclined to take offense at such things). Given that it's almost always full, you should definitely arrive early (or at least send an advance party to put a name on the waiting list). Note that at lunchtime they accept only cash. There's meter parking out front, but one can often find free parking on the street around the corner (try going west on Virginia street for half a block or so).