Responses to ScienceGuy's Review

Respond to Review of Cha-Ya
by ScienceGuy

Review: I went vegan for animal-welfare reasons, not health-reasons. And yet, I've been coming to this largely healthy place for about a decade (not all of it is healthy.) I dare say it's my favorite restaurant. The biggest problem for new-comers is that people don't know what to order. You may want to ease into the unusual mountain vegetables of Japan. Here are my recommendations... DRINKS -Sake: I stick to the locally produced stuff, served hot from beautiful hand-made ceramics. -Plum wine: A cool, sweet wine, to cool off after spicy bites of wasabi. -Brown rice tea: Amazing, light, balanced Japanese tea made with toasted brown rice. APPETIZERS -Agadashi Tofu: Perfection. Large blocks of carefully fried tofu adorned with kaiware (clovers), dusted with dried red seaweed, and swimming in an amazing broth-like sauce. -Gyoza: To a typical Northern Californian, this might taste like a variation of a good potsticker, basically. SOUPS -Cha-Ya Nabe (vegan sukiyaki): My absolute favorite soup in this world. Too sweet for some. Basically a pot of veggies with a bit of noodles on the bottom and tofu/mushrooms for protein. I especially love the kabocha squash and role of steamed spinach they put in there. The types of mushrooms they use seems to vary by season. -Yasai(?) with tempura: This has a milder, meatier flavor profile and can be served with tempura. I don't usually get this but my date does. -Miso: Comes with sushi combos (per menu specifications.) Vegan miso soup with delicate, melt-in-your-mouth silken tofu and moderately-sized slices of seaweed. OTHER ENTREES: -Cha-Ya Roll: This is not for the health-nut. It's a delicious sushi roll battered and friend like tempura. It is then sliced and drizzled with a delectably sweet sauce, containing what almost tastes like hints of liqueur. This is a great dish if you are here to eat, drink, and be merry. -Soba Noodles: Cold, bland, whole wheat noodles. Not for me, but some people really like it. -Hosomaki Combo: This is a good deal, given the prices at the restaurant. You get a tiny but delicious cucumber salad, complete with sliced radish, golden raisins, seaweed, and toasted soy-nuts. I literally drink the vinaigrette when I'm done. You also get the miso soup (did I mention this place is ALL-VEGAN!) Then you get to pick three sushi roles. I recommend the following roles, in increasing adventurousness: *Kappa: Just cucumber, pretty plain. *Avocado: Classic vegan option done right. *Kampyo: Sounds weird but it's shavings of a gourd originally grown in Osaka. It actually just tastes like a really yummy soft, sweet, paste. *Shitake: A cold sliced mushroom role, meaty tasting, toothsome. Lots of "umami" flavor. *Seaweed salad: May take some getting used to if you aren't familiar with the oceanic flavor-profile. (Good source of iodine.) *Oshinko: A salty, bitter Japanese pickled radish. *Natto: I didn't order this until recently when a vegan friend of mine from Japan recommended it. It's a slimy fermented soybean mixture with raw green onion. It grows on you if you like strong flavors. DESSERTS -Ice-cream Sundae: Fantastic scout of vegan ice-cream covered in green tea sauce and red bean sauce. There's a side of pineapples that seems like it is from a can. It always boggles my mind that they had soaked, sweet, possibly canned pineapple chunks when the rest of the entire menu is so fresh, but they are actually a good compliment to the sundae. It's easily my favorite vegan ice-cream dish, period. -Fried bananas: To compliment the Sundae if you are sharing.

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