It is another weekend dilemma: where to take Dad and Grandma out for dinner? Remembering G-ma hardly eats meat, I thought I would search up Vegetarian restaurants for a change.
CHAU Veggi Express came up! I thought how perfect, vegetarian Asian food! G-ma would like it!
Arriving, I was a little shocked. I clearly didn’t research thoroughly. It is one of those hipster places!
Look at the communal table! G-ma can’t lean back and it makes her uncomfortable to sit on stool with no place for her purse. She has a paranoia about ppl stealing her purse and the purse has to be on her seat/lap at all times. She doesn’t even trust us really with it.
Beside that, it is a nice open concept little restaurant. (C: The space is really cool! There’s a nice large communal table in the middle the rest of the space comprises of side tables. It’s not ideal for elderly, but it’s perfect for a quick meal with friends. It’s also likely the cleanest and best looking restaurant on Victoria drive…)
Oh it is also self-serve! Look to the above picture and on the left side, you can see a station where patrons could get extra utensils or bowls to share and water.
Luckily, we found out that the conjoined coffee shop is also open to the patrons of CHAU Veggi Express. The coffee shops have more proper tables and chair. The coffee shop is quite busy but during dinner time, it is mostly occupied by CHAU patrons eating dinner and for larger parties. (C: Pretty interesting concept, to combine a vegetarian Vietnamese restaurant with a coffee shop. The coffee shop has more space for actual tables, which worked out great for us!).
The restaurant’s menu is simple. Despite it having a Chinese name to the restaurant, their menu is only in English. G-ma and dad gave up and let us kids have total cotrol of what to order. Here is the link on their website to check out the menu.
At the cashier, there is also a menu for drinks. I love that there are alcoholic drinks, non alcoholic ones and even smoothies for the hipster, health-conscious crowd. It sure is crowd pleasing drink menu.
I was overly excited about this cool restaurant. I went crazy with ordering. I ordered 2 appetizers, 3 entress and one drink. WHY NOT! C and I can finish it! We are pigs…binging on healthy food right? (C: yes…healthy food means we can eat as much as we want =P ).
Food came at lightning speed. Shortly after we moved from the communal table to the coffee shop area, food started arriving. Our Hand-Cut Taro Chips with lightly spiced tofu dip ($6.50) arrived pipping hot! These chips were AMAZING! I love taro chips to begin with so maybe I am a little biased. (C: These chips were HUGE. They’re fairly thin, which is just the way I like it for taro chips! I’m a fan of taro flavour, so much that I didn’t even use much of the dip!).
To be honest, I don’t think these are hand-cut. These chips are super thin and uniform in thickness hence they are more like machine cut. I quite liked the dip that came with the chips. I was surprise to know it is tofu! The taste/consistency is more of an aioli sauce. The taste of the tofu dip is similar to a peanut satay sauce mixed with a little bit of sirracha for kick. (C: The dip tastes pretty much exactly how Q described it – you’ll love it or hate it!). The taro chips and the dip are a fantastic pair! Taro chips is a dish I highly recommended and would order it every single time! It is better to pay the money than slaving over home made taro chips. (C: imo the chips were really huge and worth it! It’s tough to make taro chips like these on your own).
As you see in previous pictures, food came out fast! Drinks…not so much. One of the girl has to go over to the coffee shop to make the shakes. There seems to be only 1 blender to make shakes. The coconut shake was super tasty! It was very creamy and smooth with lots of coconut flavor. Towards the end of the drink, I discovered 2 big slices of coconut meat to munch on! I am loving this drink! (C: The weather wasn’t particularly summery when we went, which is good because if it were a hot day I would have ordered one of these coconut shakes for myself! Super refreshing and awesome coconut flavour).
Can’t be in a Vietnamese restaurant without ordering everyone’s favourite dish of Fried Spring Rolls! It is called Non La in the restaurant. The typical fish sauce is also vegan! I was surprise to learn that they use special ingredients to make it taste exactly the same!
The spring rolls themselves are tasty. It is crunchy both outside and inside from the frying and the fresh veggies. I am going to say I do like my fried spring roll with meat more! These Non La spring rolls had tofu, sesame, mung bean, taro, seasonal kale and vegetable fillings. (C: I’m on the fence with the spring rolls; they’re good for vegetarian spring rolls, but I found them to taste really different from regular spring rolls. I attribute that to the wrappers, as they seem to use some sort of rice paper to wrap them instead of the traditional material. Bit of a miss for me).
This is the vegetarian version of pho I guess. It has a very long, poetic name: Candlelit Lantern Down the River. The star anise and cinnamon broth was simple but tasty. It has the sweetness from a typical vegetable broth. I prefer the vermicelli noodle in pho instead of the thicker rice noodle used in Chau. Don’t let the picture fool you, the portion is ginormous. It is equivalent of a large pho in most places! The dishes here are probably good for sharing! I wish there was more of the veggie fillers to go with the dish! You can see the filling is kind of sparse.
(C: Was quite surprised at how large this noodle soup was! We were able to split this dish quite easily, and it was my favourite next to the taro chips. It’s not really a pho – the broth isn’t as savoury and addictive without the beef. I found the soup really “ching”, which is to say that I found it pretty healthy and potentially good for you!)
This Rickety Rickshaw Ride ($8.75) is a noodle bowl of shredded beancurds, crispy spring rolls, roasted peanuts, mung bean, shallots, pickled vegetables, greens, cucumber and lemon sauce. This was the most medicore dish amongst everything we ordered. It lacks salt and flavour? Maybe this is a good simple healthy dish that isn’t meant for lots of salt but I feel like there is something missing! The lemon sauce alone doesn’t tie all the flavour together. I think I would pass this dish next time. (C: it has the same spring rolls we talked about earlier. I thought it was alright, but could definitely have used more fish sauce).
The Moonlit Midnight Swim ($10.25) was the best entree of the night! It is a wild rice blend bowl with assorted tofu, seasonal vegetable, seasonal kale, mushrooms, lotus root, spiced peanut mushroom sauce, lettuce, roasted peanuts and seeds. The spiced peanut mushroom sauce was divine! It has a nice kick once everything was nicely mixed and coated with the sauce. The sauce is addictive making you wanting to eat more and more of this bowl. You wouldn’t even remember there isn’t any meat in this dish! It is extremely good and highly recommend this for carnivores! My dad liked this dish and that said something!
(C: This is a vegetarian stirfry noodle done right! I like the Candle Lit Lantern soup noodle dish more, but this one is a close third. If you’re not into soup noodles dishes, try this one. Great textures throughout the dish and again the portion size is awesome. Definitely give this one a shot!).
We were filled to the brim at this point. The coffee shop side has some pretty unique and tasty looking dessert/pastry. They also sell some of the vegan fish sauce and peanut sauce if you are interested!
One dessert really caught my eyes but I was too full to even move was the Hoisin Brownie! Doesn’t that sound interesting and makes you want to try it? Myabe next time!
The desserts we saw were all made in house. Just as we were about to leave, we saw a batch of fresh tarts being made. The aroma of the fresh pastry filled the shop. I really was tempted to sit down again midway waddling out of the restaurant to have some more dessert. This gives me another reason to come back!
This is a gem hidden in the Victoria neighborhood. For the price you paid, the portion is super generous and food is fresh AND healthy without compromising on the taste. I believe even if you are a carnivore, you’ll enjoy your meal here. (C: Overall Chau Veggi Express is a hit if you’re looking to wean off the meat for a little while and/or you’re looking for somewhere to eat on Victoria Drive that doesn’t look shady as heck!).