I don’t frequent solely-vegetarian restaurants often. I also hardly ever order the vegetarian dish at any restaurant – and have never been able to commit to #MeatlessMonday lol. Really, I just seem to gravitate towards the meaty items.
That’s why I feel like when I recommend a Vegetarian restaurant (like Padmanadi Vegetarian Restaurant, which is excellent!), it means something.
With that little preamble, today I’m reviewing and recommending the new An Chay, a vegetarian Vietnamese restaurant located at 11203 Jasper Avenue.
An Chay is Edmonton’s first all-Vegetarian Vietnamese restaurant. The literal Vietnamese translation is “Eat Vegetarian.”
The owners are actually family friends, so my mom and dad have tried it a couple times now and really like it (they’ve been trying to incorporate healthier eating in their older age, and are also some of the pickiest people I know – so when they like something, it’s typically a good sign too).
One of the owners of An Chay ran a vegetarian restaurant in Vancouver for many years before deciding to open up here (with their daughter/son-in-law, who are also owners of the restaurant).
I joined my dad for a lovely vegetarian lunch at An Chay this week.
The menu features five appetizers and ten entrees.
For appetizers, you can choose from vegetarian spring rolls. tofu and shredded tofu rolls, and papaya and lotus salads. The entrees range from vegetarian vermicelli bowls, vegetarian Vietnamese beef noodle soup (pho) or spicier bun bo hue, tofu rice and curry/satays.
My dad and I shared three dishes.
First, the Lotus Salad or “Goi Ngo Sen,” a light, refreshing salad with fried beancurd, lotus stems, dried seaweed, celery, bell peppers, cucumber, roasted peanuts, pickled diakon, carrots, Vietnamese coriander, and leek ($11).
This pretty plated salad is tasty, and I liked its crunchy texture, but it wasn’t my favourite of our three dishes.
My preferred appetizer was the Shredded Tofu Rolls or “Bi Cuon.” These are like salad rolls but filled with shredded beancurd, lettuce, mint, beansprouts, pickled daikon, carrots and a Vietnamese vinaigrette sauce. ($8).
Bi is typically shredded pork skin (super good) but An Chay’s vegetarian take features shredded tofu/beancurd. The shredded beancurd itself, like a lot of tofu, doesn’t particularly have its own strong flavour, but is great at absorbing sauces and flavours around it. The combination of vegetables, along with the vinaigrette gave these Bi Cuon rolls great flavour.
I thought the rolls were delicious! For $8, the appetizer comes with four moderately sized rolls, but I could have eaten at least four more of these. I would definitely order this dish again, over the lotus salad (not that that dish was bad, it just didn’t get me as excited as these rolls did).
Finally, my dad and I shared An Chay’s take on “Bun Bo Hue,” a popular Central Vietnamese spicy lemongrass noodle soup that typically comes with round rice noodles, beef and Vietnamese ham/sausage (or “cha”).
An Chay’s Bun Bo Hue featured round rice noodles, fried tofu, lotus root, king oyster mushrooms, and a vegan version of the Vietnamese sausage (vegan “cha!”) in a lemongrass-spiced broth.
I can be pretty particular about my Vietnamese broths (given that mom and dad serve up a wicked Vietnamese noodle soup pho broth themselves), and am happy to say that An Chay’s broth wasn’t your cookie cutter or standard Bun Bo Hue broth recipe that you find in so many Vietnamese restaurants.
There was solid flavour here. It was also really well-portioned with a good noodle to topping ratio (I had to take some home because I couldn’t finish after the sharing the two appetizers!)
For being as much of a meat lover as I am, I felt totally satisfied with the vegetarian dishes at An Chay – a perfect place for a Meatless Monday (maybe I can finally commit to that!)
There’s a lot of dishes on their menu that I’d like to come back to try like the green papaya salad, betel leaf wraps, sweet and sour soup and lemongrass tofu rice. I’m sure, like the dishes we tried during our lunch, that they would be just as well plated, well-flavoured, well-textured, and healthy!
I couldn’t help but think just how light all the dishes felt. I left the lunch with a full and satisfied, but light tummy. Is that how I would feel if I ate vegetarian all the time?
I’d be curious to see what actual vegetarians or people whose meals aren’t so meat-centric think about An Chay. I think if it’s appealing to a primarily meat eater, that makes it pretty darn good, but of course if you eat vegetarian food all the time, it might take more to impress you, so give it a try and let me know what you think!
Price point-wise, the most expensive dish at An Chay is $16 (the sweet and sour soup entree). Their cheapest dish is $5 (a half order of the vegetarian spring roll appetizer). This is pretty affordable by most restaurant-standards, and fairly on par with a lot of Vietnamese restaurants (though pricier than my parent’s restaurant). It’s certainly not going to be break the bank to eat here.
An Chay is located in a spot that feels like it’s changed concepts and owners several times over the years, so while it’s not the luckiest location, my fingers are crossed that their concept and quality, healthy food keeps them around for a long time to come. (In fact, while we were there, someone seated behind us told the owner that his meal was delicious and he bets they’re going to do well — same here, stranger!)
I know I’m thrilled to have a healthier, family-run, quality Vietnamese restaurant in walking distance from work!
So, have you been to An Chay?
What did you think?!
Leave a comment below or let me know on social media!
An Chay Vietnamese Vegetarian
11203 Jasper Avenue, Edmonton
Monday – Friday: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Saturdays: 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.