Picture It: Vege-Tofu Curry At Cha-Ya

cha_ya_curry.jpg

As a committed carnivore, I generally avoid eating at vegetarian restaurants. It's not that I don't love vegetables too, and it's certainly not a hard-and-fast rule, I just always feel sort of empty inside afterwards. It's like casual sex only more expensive and less gratifying. Here's the point: I finally dragged myself to dinner the Mission's Japanese vegetarian stronghold Cha-Ya (762 Valencia) after many months of the same assessment by meat-eaters and veggies alike: "It's really good, even for a vegetarian restaurant."

The exciting conclusion of my meal after the jump ...

Overall the food was a mixed bag. The gelatinous texture of the tofu custard in the Moon Garden dish was slightly off-putting. Thankfully my dining companion ordered that one. Wisely, as it turned out, I had the Vege-Tofu Curry (pictured above), a very rich, hearty curry broth packed with all kinds of cholesterol-free goodies: pearl onions, carrots, broccoli, zucchini, mushrooms, and sugar snap peas, and a nest of firm udon noodles. A worthy dish, no matter your inclinations in the flesh-eating department. And just to balance things out, I grabbed one of those bacon-wrapped hot dogs from the street vendor afterwards.

-- Brian Bernbaum

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