I faced some serious disappointment when I found ChuChai closed on New Years Eve. For future reference, most restaurants that don’t cater to tourists are closed in Montreal on New Years, and even any time between Christmas Eve and the New Year. But my companion and I persevered, a and returned to ChuChai a few days later. Sadly, we couldn’t open our bottle of champagne, as ChuChai is not BYOB, like it’s neighboring little sister, Chuch. But forget the drinks, and the vacation hours – let’s talk about the food.
As a 20-year vegetarian, I remember when fake meat didn’t even exist, so it doesn’t tend to get me as excited as some folks, but this fake meat is worth it. It’s well constructed, flavorful, and they get the texture as close as wheat-glutten-ly possible.
But it wasn’t really the fake meat that got me going. They dishes were beautiful and thoughtfully prepared, from the chef’s special appetizer of toasted coconut shreds, lime, peanut, and some magical sauce on a shiso leaf for bite-sized heaven to the ingenious breaded and fried seaweed shreds appetizer in a perfectly spicy sweet/hot sauce. I ordered the fried spinach on Yelp recommendation and we were shocked – how do they flash deep fry in so? And sweet with just a hint of pepper? Amazing. I have a hard time ordering when faced with so many options, but when we finally made our choice (duck with chilis and basil, chicken with spicy eggplant) I couldn’t have asked for better – the vegetables were so thoughtfully cut and prepared, the sauces amazing.
Service was just fine – suiting and upper-scale casual place such as this. A a large group made the evening louder than I would have liked, but it couldn’t have been avoided. ChuChai is definitely worth a visit if you are anywhere within 60 miles – just make sure you call ahead!
4088, Rue Saint-Denis
Montreal, QC H2W 2M5