Image for Lola

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I was pretty excited to try an all-vegan Japanese restaurant. After years of watching my friends order deep-fried sushi, I was happy to have the opportunity to have my own fish-free version. While the deep-fried sushi was good, nothing else seemed to be too different from the vegetarian options at a standard Japanese restaurant. I appreciated the fact that I didn't have to scrutinize the menu very carefully, but I would have been more impressed with Cha-Ya if they had offered unique vegetarian takes on traditional Japanese dishes. The only real thing that sets Cha-Ya apart from other Japanese restaurants, in my mind, is the fact that they have vegan desserts.

Image for conde.kedar

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I appreciate the large, all-vegan menu at Cha-ya, but was not thoroughly impressed with the food. My kitsune noodle soup was a bit too salty and didn't stand out in any way. The tempura didn't taste right and the miso soup seemed more like a veggie soup than anything else. My chocolate mousse cake was dry.

Prices at Cha-ya are good, and the space is quaint and inviting. But the food was only decent and nothing special. The service was wonky and curt and all of our dishes came out at random times. I appreciate any all-veg restaurant, but this one has some room to improve.

Image for Cass Danger

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I am not a big fan of Japanese food but I really enjoyed the meal I had here. The restaurant is tiny so you can't bring a large group, but the food was good. There was a long hair in the soup we had, but the staff handled it well and my friends (who are regulars there) said it's never happened before.

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While visiting Berkeley, I ventured out one night to find this vegan Japanese restaurant I'd heard about. As I walked down the street, I saw a long line of people waiting to get into a tiny restaurant. I smugly walked past, looking for what I supposed would be an unpopular hole-in-the-wall. Imagine my horror when I realized that the huge line lead right to the restaurant I'd been looking for.

Cha-Ya was worth the long wait in line. In fact, it was worth the long wait in line three nights out of seven I spent in Berkeley. The service was great, the food was outstanding, and everything was clearly labeled as vegan. You simply can't ask for more (except perhaps a shorter line!).

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it can be a trick getting in. the place is very small, and they don't take reservations, so it's best to arrive right when they open to avoid having to stand around outside for potentially a very long time.

once you get in, though, you'll be glad you waited. the food and service are superb, and they have lots of vegan desserts to choose from.

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