Cross-posted from Calgary is Awesome.
Tucked away next to the McDonald’s on Banff’s main drag, I’d passed by Chaya many times, secretly hoping that it was a Jewish place that served up latkes, kugel, bagels and gefilte fish. (I have a friend whose Hebrew name is Chaya, so these are totally legit thoughts, OK?)
Anyway, Chaya (茶屋) is actually a cute little Japanese restaurant that seats about 15, specializing in noodles and rice dishes. In addition to ramen, udon, donburi and Japanese curry, there are a couple Thai curries in there, and they also recently added sushi to their repertoire, going for $2-$3 apiece. Service is cafeteria-style, and they only take cash or debit.
B. and I found ourselves here the morning after our Bon Appétit feast and he had a hankering for Curry Katsu Don… for breakfast. Fortunately we’d slept in, so after strolling around town to work up an appetite, we were the first customers sliding in at 11:30.
B. already knew that he was getting the Katsu Curry ($12.50), while it didn’t take long for me to decide to get the Tan Tan Ramen ($11.25).
As we waited for our food to arrive, B. and I shared the salad that came with his curry; a small mound of lettuce topped with sliced cucumber, carrots, broccoli and a drizzle of tart Japanese ginger dressing.
Though the fact that the salad came individually saran-wrapped from the fridge and that the homemade dressing came from a large water bottle was slightly off-putting, the veggies were crisp and the dressing was tasty; perfect for whetting our appetites for the main course.
Tan Tan Ramen gets its name from the spicy Dan Dan noodles found in Sichuan cuisine. The Tan Tan Ramen at Chaya is very well done, with nice, chewy noodles in a hot, flavourful broth filled with bamboo shoots, bean sprouts and green onion.
B.’s Katsu Curry Don was not too shabby either. A pork cutlet breaded in crispy panko sat on a bed of rice and dark, Japanese curry sauce. Our only complaint was that the dish was a little one-note – we were hoping that the flavours would’ve been a little more complex.
Ramen is definitely on the verge of exploding in the food world, so it’ll be interesting to see how Chaya fares in all of this. Either way, it’s always nice to have another quick, cheap spot to eat in Banff!