Now that I’m gearing up to leave Vancouver and heading to England soon, I can’t help but think about all the yummy foods here that I’m already missing! Vancouver is home to a multicultural variety of foods, and being right by the water, we have fresh seafood right at our doorstep. However, when I’m thinking about the places I’m going to miss dining at – the first restaurant that popped into my mind doesn’t even serve meat, or seafood – since its a vegan Vietnamese restaurant. What the pho?! Vegan Vietnamese food? “But I’d rather have a 10-hour simmered stock made from marrow and knuckle bones!” you say. I know, I know. I went through that debate already. $9 for beef pho, or $12 for veggie pho / noodles. I was so incredibly skeptical of this place, but there was such a big push from both carnivores and herbivores, that I finally came around to give it a try.
And wow, the food blew me away. Who knew vegan options can be so tasty? Chau did. Mel & I started off with the beach chips for $7… an awesome deal for what you get. You get a massive dish of thinly sliced taro root chips: the more sophisticated cousin of Mr Potato Head, served with a side of creamy spicy tofu dip. Never in my mind would I have ever eaten cold blended tofu as a sauce or dip. Its just not how my ancestors did it. But Chau totally changed my mind on that. I’m now scouring for low-fat dip and dressing recipes that use tofu. Who would have thunk it..!
We also had a few drinks around the table: coconut shake, and tamarind soda. I thought the coconut shake was going to be super rich and thick, but no, it was coconut water blended with coconut cream (which turned out to be nice and light), with a few fresh pieces of coconut. It really hit the spot for me. The tamarind soda was a bit sour, like sour plum juice. I liked it, but I think I’ll stick to the shake next time.
We tried a deep fried roll, and a salad roll (Non La, and Namahata, $4.25 each). Both had a variety of kale, shallots, tofu, beancurd, quinoa, and all that good stuff dipped in a vegan fish sauce. While these aren’t bad, the clear appy winner for me are still the beach chips.
Onto the main course: the Golden Temple Bowl ($11.75) – turmeric coconut curry soup with kale, yam, sweet potato, taro, mushrooms, and tofu served with noodles, or a side of rice or quinoa. By far, these noodles are my favorite. The rice noodles, I have no idea where they came from but they beat out the cheap Chinese store bought vermicelli I have every Sunday. It soaks up the soup nicely and holds the flavor so well, but its a bit bouncy and NEVER GOES MUSHY. Heaven! The only thing I didn’t care much for in the bowl was the tofu – they’re just plain slices, and doesn’t pick up any flavor. The only improvement I would suggest is to either lightly fried the tofu, or use tofu puffs, which will hold onto the soup a bit better.
I also had a few bites of the Rice Fields Bowl, which is a dark soy stirred noodle dish with veggies and tofu, and came with a cup of lychee date broth. While the noodles were tasty, especially with an added poached egg on top – I couldn’t help but miss my Golden Temple Bowl, which felt like a much more flavorful and hearty dish to me. If you’re looking for something filling and bit on the lighter side, the lychee date broth nicely balances out the meal. There was a whole lot of eye-rolling at the savoury lychee broth. I thought it was another silly concoction but I had to bite my tongue – it was actually really tasty. The soup is also served as a separate meal in itself with noodles (Diving For Pearls), which is something I’d consider ordering the next time I’m around.
By this point, we are absolutely stuffed. Take note that Chau has an extensive vegan / vegetarian dessert menu, and their vegan coconut ice creams are amazing. Still nice and creamy, they have a couple of flavors that they also sell in pints. By far, my favorites are the Thai Iced Tea, and the Coconut Pandan. If you’ve never had pandan before, then you’re missing out. After going 4 times, I still haven’t had a chance to try their other desserts yet, but I’m determined to come back. Chau also has a nice little refrigerated section where they sell their broth, and packages of fresh rice noodles, and jars of ice cream to go.
If you’re craving the tofu dip and would like some to go, it is sold behind the counter, $4.50 for a 250 ml tub. I finished my tub in almost 2 days, and I’ll be back for more.
Take note that it is mainly shared communal seating here. You line up and pay for your food at the till, and the food is brought over shortly. Everything comes out pretty quickly, so its not exactly a place to wine and dine for too long because there will likely be people hanging around, waiting for your seat. Come to Chau and get in line, because everything here is pho-king amazing.
They have a larger location on Victoria Drive, and they’ve conveniently just opened up a second location at the Granville Island Public Market.
5052 Victoria Drive, Vancouver BC (closed Mondays)
Granville Island Public Market, 1689 Johnston Street, Vancouver BC