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Cha Ya

  • Vegan
    ( 35 reviews )
Contact 415-252-7825
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762 Valencia St (at 18th, Mission District), San Francisco, California, USA, 94110

San Francisco vegan restaurant serving Japanese food. Menu features various vegetable sushi, appetizers like gyoza and fried tofu, udon and soba noodle, rice bowls, vegetable tempura, seaweed salads. Its first location is in Berkeley. Simple setup with minimal decor.

Category: Vegan, Japanese, Take-out

Reviews (35)

First Review by Baza

Should be rated 5 Stars! Perfect restaurant. Delicious sushi. - Edit

We went there for lunch on a trip to San Francisco (to see The Mission & Castro districts).
Everything was so delicious so we came back the same day for dinner :)
First I want to say the place is very clean and neat, something you rarely see: on the way to the bathroom you can see the whole kitchen and storage area.
The service was perfect: the ladies were so friendly and helpful, they didn't rush us and made us feel welcomed. Also the service was fast and our food came out quickly.
The food was delicious and fresh!
I particularly loved the sushi and the sushi combo lunch which has a good price (2 dishes of choice and miso soup for 12$ without tax).
For lunch we both got the sushi plate which includes miso soup, Ten Bou (vegetable and tofu tempura) and Gyoza.
For dinner we got the Vegan Sushi, Sansai Noodle Soup.
I will definitely go back, Cha Ya is just perfect.

Pros: perfect service and atmosphere, clean and neat, delicious sushi

Cons: doesn't accept cards, must pay cash


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Cutest.Restaurant.Ever - Edit

This place is a must go. Run by the most adorable ladies on the planet, offering beautifully made Japanese food. Fun Vegan sushi, miso soup, noodles, and Japanese curries. They are always open to customizing your order, and really make you feel welcome and at home.

Pros: Excellent service, Delicious, simple food, Very comfortable atmosphere


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Everytime I'm in San Francisco! - Edit

I love this place - delicious, healthy, flavoursome vegan Japanese food.
Huge menu. Lots of 'authentic' items. Very popular place so reserve ahead if a popular time. Great for a quieter lunch too. This is perhaps the best vegan Japanese restaurant in the world!

Pros: Extensive menu, Deliciously seasoned , Great barrio for post dinner strolling


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I would eat here everyday if I could - Edit

The staff are incredibly nice and the food is perfect.

Coming in from a cold SF evening for some miso soup, tenbou or gyoza and cha-ya rolls is heaven. Tofu curry noodle soup is also a favorite.


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mehhhhh - Edit

I wanted to try this place because I'm visiting San Francisco and I have to admit, I was skeptical based on the previous reviews. Gave it a shot anyway, and sadly I was not impressed. I got the vegan roll and a noodle hot pot, and both were very bland with hardly any flavor at all. It all looked delicious but it was not very satisfying.

I didn't finish any of it despite my hunger. The sauce served with the hot pot was not appetising at all either... This place could be so much better!!

Pros: it's vegan!

Cons: it's not very tasty


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Super Bland - Edit

I went here with my boyfriend for my birthday dinner. I've been vegan for 3 and a half years and have tried a lot of vegan dishes at vegan and non-vegan restaurants. Our meal would have been disappointing even from a non-vegan restaraunt.

Nothing had any flavor! We ordered a vegatable udon soup, vegetable curry the cha-ya rolls, some other vegetable rolls and the agedashi tofu. Ok so the agedashi tofu wasn't bad, but I've still had better. Everything else was totally bland. I couldn't even taste the vegetables in the cha ya rolls, they just tasted like greasy nothingness. After such a bad experience (not cheap, either!) I just had to post as a warning to others. If you really want to try it anyway, maybe don't do it on a special occasion.

Cons: Bland, Expensive


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yuck - Edit

I was really excited to try this place. We got the portobello mushroom tempura and a sushi roll. Both were deep fried and tasteless. We felt like we were eating vegan junk food. Presentation was good, but that's all. And who takes cash only in this day and age?? You would need a lot of cash for this.

Cons: bland


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Reasonably Priced Delicious Japanese Vegan Lunch - Edit

I am a huge fan of Shojin vegan Japanese restaurant in Los Angeles. Shojin's presentation and food taste is amazing, and it is one of my favorite restaurants in the world.

When I heard about Cha Ya vegan Japanese restaurant in San Francisco, I couldn't wait to try it.

I ordered a combination plate with a shredded salad and the agedashi tofu. It would be very unfair to compare this restaurant to Shojin, as Shojin is a very expensive restaurant. but my experience at Cha Ya was very satisfying.

My meal here was excellent, and $10.50 for a combination lunch at a Japanese restaurant is reasonable. The shredded salad was mild, but delicious. The agedashi tofu was some of the best I have had.

The restaurant is comfortable, and the waiting staff are very kind and helpful. This is now my favorite veg restaurant in San Francisco.

Pros: Reasonably priced, Delicious food


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I'm sure I would have liked a different dish - Edit

OK - so I'm not an expert on Japanese food. I ordered the Moon Garden, described as steamed tofu custard with broccoli, shimeji mushrooms, kabocha, snow peas, atsuage tofu, broccolini, carrots, asparagus, zucchini, soybeans and gingko nuts.
I expected a lot of vegetables, and as it turns out it was almost all tofu custard and just a little bit of vegetables. The custard was OK, but not to be the whole meal - I wanted more vegetables. The menu looks very interesting and I'm sure I would have enjoyed something else. I guess you have to try different things, but since I live thousands of miles away from SF, I won't have a chance for quite a while. A shame! My spouse ordered Cha-Ya Nabe, a vegan sukiyaki, and he was very pleased. The atmosphere of this restaurant is very nice, the service was good, so I wish I came out feeling more satisfied.

Pros: interesting menu, nice atmosphere, good service

Cons: not accurate enough description of food


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Enjoy Japanese food again without the worry! - Edit

What a treat to come here and know that no dead fish of any kind is lurking in any of the food! Vegan sushi is beautifully presented. All had a fresh, delicious and healthy taste. Excellent!

Pros: Vegan Japanese!, Delicious and healthy, Aesthetically pleasing

Cons: Seems like no brown rice


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Some of the best vegan Japanese food I've had... - Edit

I was between Cha Ya and Gracias Madre for lunch during a trip to San Francisco recently. A friend who was meeting had been to Gracias Madre, so we decided to go to Cha Ya. A friend recommended the following- The namesake Cha Ya roll is pretty great: a sushi roll, filled with asparagus, avocado, yam, and carrots. lightly battered and deep-fried, tempura style. served with a special house sauce.

We had a delicious lunch to say the least. We got seaweed salad, gyozo, tempura on the outside inside out sushi roll, and miso soup, all for about $12 a piece. The staff were all very friendly and patient as we tried to decide what to get.

The presentation was lovely as well, so much so I had to take photos. A little culture, great food, at a reasonable price makes for a win in my book!

Pros: friendly staff, great presentation, delicious food


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Healthy, Delicious Japanese Vegan Cuisine - Edit

I had first read about Cha Ya San Francisco on HappyCow, and have eaten here 3 times. Was just here in October 2012 for lunch. Here's my Cha Ya Vegetarian Japanese review.

It's moderately sized (as far as San Francisco restaurants are considered where is high) staffed by several Japanese members of what seemed like a family. The menu is extensive with many selections of Japanese food that's all vegan.

My husband have had the hot soba noodle soup (rich, satifying broth + mushroom slices and veggies), the seaweed salad (okay), and the Cha Ya roll (rice and veggies sushi roll coated in light batter and fried). We also had a lunch special, for $9.75, you get white rice, miso soup, and choice of two appetizers or salads--we got the gyoza (pan fried dumpling) and the spring roll (it's fried).

This food is authentic Japanese and very delicious. I like it.

Clean space with minimal Japanese decor. Nothing fancy, just good food.

Pros: healthy and delicious, authentic flavors

Cons: needs better ventilation


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Cha-Ya - Edit

My experience here was quite the opposite of my experience at their Berkeley location - this location was terrible. Everything I ordered was a huge disappointment, and the staff recommended the items I ordered. For starters I had the spring rolls (which were tasteless and the sauce accompanying them actually tasted like vomit) and the pot stickers (which were very greasy and flavorless). I was really hopeful for my entree given my experience with the entrees, but alas it was no better. Per the staff's recommendation, I ordered the vegetable tempura with potato noodles, so I had thought this would be a winner. The veggies just did not taste good and the tempura was bland and greasy. The soup was the same and I just couldn't stomach any of it. Given my displeasure, I doubt I'd ever return to this location.


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Needs improvement - Edit

I had the takusui, which was potstickers with veggies in a light broth served in a pot. Nothing to write home about, maybe other dishes are better. Prices are a bit high, service slow.

Pros: big menu

Cons: slow service


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Good food - Edit

My daughter and I ate dinner here while visiting SF and really enjoyed it. We ordered way too much food because we just couldn't decide (so we also had Cha-ya breakfast). The food was very good, the servers were very nice when you could get ahold of them. Don't expect lightning fast service. I sat there for a long time after we had finished eating trying to flag someone down to get our check. I finally walked up to the counter and I think that might be what you're supposed to do. Cash only. We initially tried to stop in for late lunch a few minutes past 2, but they had just closed. So don't go at odd hours.

Pros: All vegan, Tasty

Cons: Crowded, Cash only, Open limited hours


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Perfect - Edit

This was our second stop on our vegan tour of san francisco and definately did not disappoint. The mushroom miso soup I could eat every day! We had mostly vegan sushi rolls which were a delight. Nice knowing that you can get these without worrying about a regular sushi resturaunts "veggie" rolls being prepared with the same utensils as the fish. WE will definately make is here next time we are in San Francisco to try some entrees.

Pros: Vegan Sushi, Awesome Miso

Cons: Cash Only


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Great cheap informal dining option in Mission - Edit

Been past it many times, never went in - wish I had before today. I had a lunchtime special: $9 for miso soup, sushi and a fried tofu dish. Decent food, friendly service, a total bargain.

Pros: good food, cheap, friendly

Cons: opening hours, location a bit of a faff


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WHAT A FIND!! - Edit

As a chef specializing in Japanese Vegetarian cuisine, I normally don't even bother with Japanese restaurants (fish broth and food that is overly salty or sweet). During our recent stay in SF, my husband, daughter and I went to check out Cha-ya and boy do we wish it was in our city! I lived in Japan for 8 years and certainly am well-acquainted with authentic flavors. Cha-ya is CLEAN food with dishes that are creative and perfectly seasoned. It was packed when we arrived (always a very good sign) and we were seated in less than five min. The dashi (broth) of the Mushroom Udon was superb as was the Tofu Cream. We can't wait to go again on our next trip to S.F.

Pros: Speedy service, All dishes were amazing!, Wonderful Staff

Cons: No branch in Seattle


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What a treat! - Edit

I really enjoyed eating here. I am vegan and it was such a pleasure to be able to order anything on the menu! The food was grand. I loved the seaweed salad and soup with dumplings. YUM!!!

Pros: Vegan Japanese food!, Great taste, Good price


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good - Edit

I'd never had japanese food before, but i really liked what I got. I got some eggplant sushi (eggplant was very very very good). I don't know if we ordered incorrectly or what, but the portions were tiny. I left hungry, and it was a tad expensive, and service wasn't the greatest.

Pros: Location, Japanese food

Cons: Small building, tiny portions?, loud


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So, so. - Edit

Very slow service, apparently due to the language problem with the waitress. We arrived there at around 1:45 on Saturday and there were only few diners, yet it took very long time for the single waitress to get to take our order and I saw others having the same problem. Food was OK, but not great.

Pros: Vegan food

Cons: slow servcies


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Good food, bad service - Edit

I went here on a Saturday night when I was starving. The place was packed - no open tables - and there was only one server. The server didn't acknowledge me at all until she had a table for me. She sat me at a table with three empty chairs, when I was only one person. I had made friends with the people standing behind me in line (a non-vegan couple) and waived over for them to sit with me. They talked to the waitress and then came to me and told me that the waitress said that she couldn't sit them at my table b/c I might not like that. So I told a busboy it was okay and the couple sat with me - but that was definetly odd. There was a lot to choose from on the menu. The soup that I got came in a cute traditional clay pot. I got to sample a lot of things because the couple let me try their items - and they got a lot (they really like Japanese food). The mochi and azuki bean dessert was different, but amazing. I would not recommend the deep fried eggplant dish if you don't normally eat deep fried food. My stomach felt weird for three hours after I ate it and I wans't sure if I was going to throw up or what. The sake was served hot was good. It was only my second time having sake so I can't really rate it as amazing or not. It was my first experience at a vegan Japanese restaurant, and besides the bad waitress it was a good experience. Definetly check this place out if you are in SF, but go to Herbivore first (on the same street, a few blocks up). If you are staying at Elements Hostel Herbivore is one block over from you and just a few doors down from the corner. This place is just down the street a bit from there. Oh yea, and some of the menu items are small so you'll need to order a few things to feel full.

Pros: lots to choose from, yummy food, near Hostel

Cons: deep fried eggplant made me sick, unfriendly waitress


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Seaweed Salad Bliss - Edit

They have two locations in the Bay Area and they both are great!
I like their Seaweed Salad a lot. It is very refreshing. Also the soups are great.
The lunch menu is much less expensive then the dinner one and you get the same amount of food.
The down side is that it can be really loud in there and the tables are a bit close together.

Pros: Soups, Seaweed Salad

Cons: Loud when busy


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Cha-Ya SF visit - Edit

Clean and cozy restaurant serving decent Japanese vegetarian food.

Pros: large portions, stunningly hot (temperature wise) noodle, awesome vegan desserts

Cons: not kid friendly, wait long time to be seated, cash only


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japanese cuisine with a difference - Edit

if you want non-traditional Japanese veg food, try this place. never had maize in my maki, or a vegan chocolate cake at an asian place before! interesting concepts for your plate and your palate.

Pros: old favourites

Cons: non-traditional


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Great Japanese goes vegan! - Edit

This place is great! I've had almost everything on the menu and have had very few disapointments. My favorites include the Cha-Ya nabe (vegan sukiyaki), the Shattuck roll and the seaweed salad. Also, it is a fact: they have the best Miso soup ANYWHERE! Fanstastic service, too!

Pros: Great food!, Great Staff!

Cons: Can get crowded.


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japantastic - Edit

i went to japan about 11 years ago, in those days there was no happy cow, and guide books were not that clued up.
i wish i found somwhere like this when i visited. this place had great service, both the starter and main were fantastic. big portions, but filled with lots of veg as well as noodles. if your in san francisco, you must visit here!!!!


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my favorite restraunt - Edit

this is my favorite restraunt. great food friendly staff. when i have been gone overseas...all i want to remember home is cha ya. the seaweed salad is a staple, the vegan roll is awesome and oh dont forget the fried bannana for dessert. great food and you do not leave hungry.

Pros: value for sushi, great staff, best sushi food around

Cons: bigger restraunt... but, the small atmostphere is, part of the experience


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Please open in Japan! - Edit

I wish there was a Japanese restaurant as good as this in Tokyo for a vegan like me. I really hope they open a branch here in Japan one day.

Pros: reasonable price, not `in your face waiters, best Japanese food

Cons: bit of a wait to enter, not in Japan


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