March 09, 2010

I have to say that it’s been a while since I’ve had the wow factor from beginning to end in a restaurant. The fact that I was trying a vegan restaurant also discouraged me from being too excited before going. See, I’ve been to Washington years ago and this is where I realized vegan food could be so amazing. After that, I could never go back to Yves Veggie’s products and it’s been difficult to find anything similar in local restaurants compared to what I ate in that pretty city. I remember trying ChuChai Express in my college years but I didn’t remember much from it except that I wasn’t a fan of their vegan shrimp. I was happy to get another opportunity this year to go back and see what’s new. My friends seem to have become regular and were so excited to order that we followed tradition and ordered a bunch of dishes to share.

Chu Chai - Appetizer

Chu Chai - Appetizer

To begin with, I decided to order the appetizer that allowed ChuChai’s chef to win an award in 2005. How to resist! The dish was named 5 saveurs, from what I can recall, and definitely brought great flavors together. It was a mix of roasted coconut, lime, cashew and red pepper all resting on a lime leaf. The flavors all blended together so well to create a complex taste in such a light package.

Chu Chai Appetizers

Chu Chai Appetizers

We proceeded with a regular, peanut butter dumplings. Nothing to say except tasty! The next appetizer was a replay of general tao with instead, fried mushrooms in a delicious sweet and sour sauce. It was so delicious that we had two of those!

Chu Chai Main Course

Chu Chai Main Course

On to the entrées now! The first plate was shrimps cooked in a coconut milk and curry sauce. All the right flavors were there but I just can’t seem to enjoy fake shrimps no matter where it’s done.

On its right was a delicious and spicy mix of eggplants, tofu and basil. I think it was my favorite dish of the evening and I’m sure anyone disliking eggplants would rethink their opinion after this!

On the bottom left was a duck plate accompanied by tomatoes and cucumbers. My friends made sure that it was on our order and I can now understand. I think the duck was the most fascinating fake meat I had. It was as fat and tender as the real thing and I couldn’t help to go back for more. I would recommend it to anyone if they had to pick only one entrée.

Finally on the bottom right is what I could manage to take in picture only a few seconds after receiving it, beef à l’orange! This one has to go in my favorites too for the great texture ChuChai realized. From our guess, it was marinated and cooked to then be fried. You could get a real bite out of it and it melted perfectly with the flavors.

Now you could imagine that I couldn’t go on to dessert so it will have to wait for another visit!

Conclusion: ChuChai has made it in my favorite Montreal restaurants list and I can’t wait to go back for more. The service was fast and friendly, the wine list was affordable and went well with asian dishes and the food was such a lovely surprise to me that I’d pick this over real meat anytime.

CHUCHAI ADDRESS: 4088 Saint-Denis PHONE: 514-843-4194 HOURS: MON-WED 12PM – 3PM / 5PM - 10PM THUR-FRI 11AM – 11PM SAT 12PM – 11PM SUN 12PM – 10PM ALCOHOL: Yes VEGETARIAN FRIENDLY: Yes CREDIT CARDS: Yes PRICE: 50$ including drinks

Written by Sofia Shendi who lives and works in Montreal, as the CTO of Tastet. Join me on Twitter

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