“Vegan food is like sex with a vibrator, you will get off, but it won’t be as satisfying…” Whitey said it best… but we digress. The first thing to know is that Vegan Vixen isn’t really vegan, she is a pescetarian/flexitarian. This means that she doesn’t eat meat, but enjoys seafood, fish, and meat byproducts like lactose products and eggs. She is especially against the factory farm system in which animals are bred into suffering. Vegan Vixen has been dragged by the Divas to her share of meat-lover restaurants, a lot of them with meat in their name like Bar et Boeuf, Hambar, Cabane à Sucre Au Pied de Cochon, Vieux-Port Steakhouse, Méchant Boeuf, etc. Mmmmm! It only seemed fair that when her vegetarian friend was here from out of town, the Divas should take the plunge, and respect Vegan Vixen by going to a vegetarian restaurant. So Vegan Vixen recommended Chu Chai, a VEGAN restaurant that was said to be so good that carnivores and omnivores love it too.
Diva #2 was so flustered by the lack of meat at Chu Chai that she made the Divas chicken pesto pasta for lunch. The Divas were now ready for Chu Chai, so off they went with Vegan Vixen and her Vegetables, which included her friend from out of town, a PETA supporter, and her little sister. The Divas were not without their own carnivorous supporters; Sweet Pea, Bellatrix and Whitey sat on the meat-loving side of the table. Diva #2 had brought G-Spot (who Diva #1 called Cheese Pot all night), her own vegetarian companion that she usually likes to keep hidden in the closet.
G-Spot started with the Falang Margarita that was a tasty traditional margarita except with a spicy rim; we were pleased! The Divas and Sweet Pea were impressed to see a delicious dry Greek white wine on the menu and we spent our night ordering bottles of Atlantis Argyros. As we decided what to order we were a little put off by the fake meat in the vegetarian dishes. We had expected dishes made solely from vegetables without attempts at reconstructing the taste of duck, beef, shrimp, etc. This turned us off but we were assured by G-Spot that if we stayed away from the shrimp and chicken, we would be impressed by the duck and beef. And with a nickname like G-spot, well who else could we trust?
We love dumplings so we started with the dumplings in peanut sauce. Saucy and delicious, you could never tell what dumplings are stuffed with anyway (probably cat), so whether it was meat, hemp, vegetables or rubber, they were tasty! The peanut sauce was good and they tasted like your average run-of-the-mill dumplings, nothing overtly vegan here.
Since G-Spot recommended the duck, we tried the duck salad as an appetizer. The outside of the faux-meat was crispy like duck skin should be but the internal consistency was a bit rubbery. It tasted fine but the texture was weird, and the Divas know their duck. The salad was made with hot chili, red cabbage, shredded carrots and mint leaves which made it very refreshing and pleasing to the palate. It was an interesting appetizer.
The Divas and Sweet Pea all ordered a won ton soup which was good but not the best that we have ever had. How many times has every girl said that line? There was a bit of an aftertaste when eating the wontons, but this was fixed by dipping them into the leftover peanut sauce that was served with the dumplings. This doesn’t beat shrimp won tons but it wasn’t bad and the broth was good. At this point in the night Vegan Vixen began to relax; she was worried that the Vegetables (especially the PETA one) would start fighting with the Divas, who aren’t known for their tact… thankfully we left the rabbit fur vests and leather pants at home. Although Diva #1 wore her boar tusk necklace and rabbit fur scarf for good measure. HER VOICE WILL NOT BE STIFLED!
The Divas and Sweet Pea also ordered the spring rolls which are traditionally stuffed with shrimp and crab, or a type of meat. The vegan option was just as good: the vegetables were fresh, the herbs refreshing and the noodles delicious. Once again it was served with a stream of peanut butter sauce which we enjoyed very much. The appetizers were tasty and not painful to eat. At this point we were thinking that perhaps vegan food isn’t too shabby after all.
Whitey and Bellatrix were rather quiet at the beginning; they started their dinner with a lot of red wine and the deep fried imperial rolls. Right before leaving work Whitey had tried to convince Bellatrix and Diva #1 to take the carnivores and go elsewhere for “some cheese, good wine and meat.” She used the magic words that Diva #1 loves… “I feel like French.” Diva #1 loves the food, wine and men that come from France so she was tempted to say YES but felt bad for Vegan Vixen who never gets to choose the restaurant. So she gritted her teeth and said that she had to go to Chu Chai. So Bellatrix and Whitey sat next to her, showing solidarity, and ate their deep fried imperial rolls with plum sauce. No complaints there!
Vegan Vixen ordered the fried dumplings which were really good and came with a sweet and spicy sauce. She chose well! All the Vegetables gleefully shared with the Divas because they knew that we were reviewing Chu Chai, and for that we are grateful… they also wanted to convert us like the religious Crusaders … but we will let that bit slide.
G-Spot ordered the deep fried tofu which was the weirdest of the appetizers. It came with a chef’s special sauce, cucumber and coriander. Folded like little tacos, the tofu had a gelatinous consistency and though it was basically tasteless, the combination of the tofu with the other ingredients was just strange. Just that afternoon, Vegan Vixen and two of the Vegetables had stuffed mushrooms with tofu… instead of stuffing them with delectable boursin cheese. If well seasoned, tofu can be decent, but it can never replace cheese; they did a better job than Chu Chai at masking tasteless tofu. But Vegan Vixen and her gang of Vegetables better not pull that shit again…
The Divas and Sweet Pea ate the duck in red curry; red curry isn’t one of the more extreme curries. The sauce was made with tomato, pineapple and basil. The mix of sweet and spicy was a nice combination; the sauce was great when poured over the side of noodles that were ordered. Once again the texture of the duck was weird but the sauce was pleasant.
Out of the two main dishes that the Divas ordered, our favourite was the beef in panang curry. This one had a little more of a kick than the duck dish and the sauce was thickened by the coconut milk. Lime leaves and basil were tossed in and it made for a delicious sauce. The faux-beef at Chu Chai resembles the texture of beef more so than the other faux-meats. It was a really nice dish and a favourite of the Divas.
G-Spot ordered the Royal Pad Thaï, forsaking her own advice to avoid anything with chicken or shrimp. Mixed in with the noodles, sauce, vegetables and peanuts, the meatless meat did not taste so strange. It is only when G-Spot handed us a piece of shrimp or chicken on its own, did we notice that it was too chewy and flavourless to be chicken or shrimp. Served with lime and bean sprouts, the Royal Pad Thaï tasted like any Thai restaurant’s pad Thai. Just don’t take bites of the faux-meat on its own!
Bellatrix and Whitey both tried the beef with three-flavour sauce. Our waiter told us that it was a very popular dish because of its resemblance to General Tao. Deep fried non-beef served with an interesting sauce with green and red peppers made up this dish. Not a huge fan of General Tao, this dish was interesting because the faux-meat was deep fried, therefore it tasted like fried goodness, which is how any type of fried meat tastes. More importantly, we did not particularly feel like we were eating vegan. Both girls ordered this dish and didn’t mind it, but Bellatrix said that for someone who likes General Tao chicken she could tell the difference, but it wasn’t bad, just average.
Vegan Vixen chose the winning main; she ordered the crispy duck with soya sauce and spinach. The faux-duck was crisped well and it almost even fooled the Divas. The sauce was very good especially when it was eaten with rice noodles or rice. This was the best main dish as it tasted the most like meat and the sauce was impressive. Not a huge fan of soya sauce, we were surprised to find this so good.
The Vegetables ordered a beef in yellow curry which was good but the Divas are not crazy about yellow curry so our dislike of the dish was about preference; other than that it was done well. It was made more Indian style with potatoes in the sauce. The chicken in red curry was also good but the consistency of the chicken was very rubbery. G-Spot had warned us to stay away from the faux-chicken.
Of course, like in all Asian restaurants, you must always order a side of sticky rice or noodles to accompany your saucy dish. We all ordered something or other to enjoy with our food and they were cooked al dente so we had no complaints.
We ordered three desserts but the other two were already being eaten by the time we tried to take a photo. One was the tapioca pudding which was awful, so good riddance, and another was a chocolate cake mousse concoction that was too dense. If Diva #1 had thrown it at one of the Vegetables she could have killed them… What we did like and took a photo of were the fried bananas. The batter was very good and they were not too greasy or overcooked. We think the problem with the other desserts was the replacement of beautiful things such as milk and butter. The deep fried bananas did not require any replacements therefore they were vegan and perfect without any modifications.
The food was better than we expected, and trust us, we came in with very narrow minds, expecting a mediocre meal that was made to impress Vegans and Vegetarians who don’t know any better. In the end Whitey said it best, “vegan food is like sex with a vibrator, you will get off, but it won’t be as satisfying.” That truly describes our meal at Chu Chai, it was good for what it was, and it did the job.
Our Rating: As Expected
Tagged: 4088 Rue Saint-Denis, Asian, Average, Beef, Chicken, Chicken Fried Rice, Chu Chai, Chu Chai Montreal, Chu Chai Plateau, Chu Chai Plateau Montreal, Chu Chai Vegan, Cocktails, Crispy Duck, Curry, Duck, Duck Salad, Dumplings, Faux Beef, Faux Thai, Flexitarian, Fried Rice, H2W 2M5, Imperial Rolls, Lily Sirikittikul, Meat Free, Meatless, Montreal, Montreal Restaurant, Pad Thaï, Patrick Michaud, Peanut Sauce, Plateau, Restaurant, Rice Noodles, Seaweed, Shrimp, Soya, Spring rolls, St-Denis, Thai, Three-Flavour Sauce, Tofu, Tom Yum, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian, wine, Won Ton Soup