Normally, having lunch with Choobee includes the usual whining that the location of the restaurant is too far or it's not interesting enough. Imagine the shock when she suggested we eat out on Victoria Drive and at Chau VeggiExpress. What? Somewhere East of Main Street AND vegetarian??? I knew she has a screw loose somewhere, but this was outright lunacy. Fine, I guess I shouldn't be picky. At least she was willing to travel for food... Besides, I sampled the food before at a Tasting Plates and admittedly, it was pretty good.
We decided to share everything beginning with the Namahata or their version of a salad roll consisting of shredded bean curd, mint, quinoa, mung bean, green leaf lettuce, cucumber and crispy wheat crunch accompanied by lemon sauce. This was an exploration in textures including the soft bean curd, crunchy cucumber, crisp lettuce and of course, the wheat crunch. The mint really came through and the lemon added a nice refreshing acidity. For our mains, I dug into the Candlelit Lantern Down the River first. It featured an aromatic, yet impactful broth consisting of star anise and cinnamon encompassing rice noodles along with assorted tofu, mushrooms, lotus roots and herbs. With familiar flavours akin to Pho, but without the meat, this was probably my favourite of the bunch as the noodles were toothsome while the ingredients made me forget about the meat.
Next, I tried the Golden Temple with quinoa served on the side. Aromatic and purposeful, the turmeric curry broth helped highlight the combination of assorted tofu, veggies, yam, taro, kale and herbs. I found this to be both light and flavourful at the same time. The vibrant and firm veggies were a real treat as they retained their colour and textures. I'm not sure if the quinoa was the best accompaniment as noodles or rice would've soaked up the broth more readily. Finally, we had the Moonlit Midnight Swim consisting of wild rice blend, assorted tofu, veggies, kale, mushrooms and lotus root in a spiced peanut, mushroom sauce topped by lettuce, roasted peanuts and seeds. This one was the most hearty of the offerings with firm rice and a nutty sweet & salty sauce. We liked that there was a definite heat to it as well. Similarly to all of the other dishes, there was a nice contrast of textures. Okay, okay, I'm not afraid to say it - I like the food at Chau. There I said it. Now where is the closest steak house?
- Impactful and purposeful flavours
- No meat and it's still hearty
- Maybe a bit heavy on the sodium at times