Berkeley Japanese Vegetarian Dining
A week ago I was chatting with a friend who is now a vegetarian...she mentioned that she loved a Japanese Vegetarian restaurant in Berkeley...Cha-Ya - 1686 Shattuck Ave. @ Virginia. 510. 981-1213 I went by and took a peek - it looked like a nice little spot - unpretentious but comfortable. The menu features vegetarian sushi, tempura & noodle dishes plus additional side dishes. There are also raw dishes for fans of this style ... I've been hearing more about this subject recently. See last week's NY Times for an interesting article about "raw" cooking and what some well known chefs are doing in this endeavor.
Went to dinner here last night with some out of town friends....had a very nice meal at very reasonable prices. We ordered many small dishes(green vegetables with sesame dressing, seaweed salad, vegetable gyoza,broiled vegetable skewers, soybeans in the pod and a shredded vegetable salad) and a couple of larger plates (cold soba noodles with vegetable tempura and a sushi dinner -w/miso soup & house salad) All of these came on distinctive plates with elegant presentations. We had a nice variety of tastes and textures. (the tempura was virtually greaseless) Tea and a beer - all of this for $42. Left feeling quite satisfied and very virtuous. Went to sleep without feeling sluggish/heavy.
I still wouldn't give up broiled eel, port tonkatsu or kobe beef but it was a nice experience. They don't take reservations and only have two tables that can take 4 or 5 guests- only 20 seats total-turnover for deuces is pretty quick.