10/14/2017

Love for the Locals: An Chay

An Chay, a new vegetarian and vegan Vietnamese restaurant just opened last week where the very short-lived Pitaghetti used to be. This is an interesting addition to the block considering how Edmonton's first vegan pizzeria, Die Pie (where I also hope to try at some point) started operations not too long ago. Unlike most Vietnamese restaurants in the city, there is no fish sauce or meat in sight. The entire menu consists of vegetarian and vegan options. While it isn't as extensive as the menu of your typical pho shop, there's enough for some variety. The prices are also a little steeper, but I suspect part of that is because of the cost of rent on Jasper Ave. 

An Chay, Vietnamese Vegetarian (11203 Jasper Ave)

Located at the corner of 112 Street and Jasper Avenue, it was clear that the furniture (namely chairs and tables) was purchased together with the space, but they've made good use of both by simply rearranging things to feel cozier and more welcoming. Happy to give An Chay a try, we made a stop for lunch today. We were very promptly welcomed and seated at a table. A nice feature of the location is that 2 of the 4 walls are windows, letting in plenty of natural light. 

A new restaurant with familiar furniture to former patrons of Pitaghetti

I have a spring roll problem in that I have to order them when I'm planning to enjoy a bowl of pho or vermicelli. An Chay's spring rolls do not contain any pork or shrimp, or meat of any sort, but they do have a number of root vegetables including carrots, daikon, and taro. P and I felt that they were a little smaller than we're used to, but they were tasty. The sauce served with the spring rolls was good too, despite lacking the brininess you get from fish sauce.

An Chay's Vegetarian Spring Rolls

While traditional pho broth tends to be made with beef bones, onions, ginger, and star anise among other things, An Chay's vegetarian pho broth is primarily made with carrot, daikon, jicama, and star anise. In place of the more typical steak, flank, tripe, and meatballs, the vegetarian pho offers a plethora of vegetables including bok choy, carrot, black fungus, and king oyster mushrooms, as well as some tofu. The noodles are cooked to a perfect consistency and you are offered the usual side of beansprouts, basil, chili pepper, and lime. In addition, you are provided with a small sauce dish of hoisin and sriracha. It was more like a simple vegetable noodle soup to me, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. It just wasn't the pho I am used to tasting. I feel like I could have given this bowl of vegetarian pho a fairer trial if I hadn't just come back from a morning workout at the gym.

An Chay's Vegetarian Pho

P opted for the Spicy Noodle Soup (a.k.a. An Chay's Bun Hue). He felt that it was a bit too sweet and not spicy enough, but it did taste good. However, to be totally fair about the spicy thing, P's threshold for heat is a lot higher than most. His bowl of noodles featured tofu in a variety of forms including a "vegan sausage", which was like thin slices of compact tofu. It also came with a side of beansprouts, basil, chili peppers, as well as some shredded red cabbage. 

An Chay's Bun Hue

Overall, the staff are very friendly and the food is good if your diet leans more towards plants or are looking for a refreshing change. I would not recommend doing what I did by coming here right after the gym, especially if you are an omnivore or a meatetarian, as I found my meal a tad too light to be completely satisfying. However, if you are looking for more of a light work lunch, it would be pretty fitting. I look forward to returning for some more spring rolls and to see what their vermicelli is like.

-M

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