Last weekend was our final weekend in Montreal, but we still have 11 days before flying overseas. And seeing that it was our last weekend in the city, we decided to try another vegan restaurant. ChuChai is an upscale, mostly organic vegan Thai restaurant that specializes in mock meats. This restaurant is located in Mont Royal neighborhood and is popular with omnivores and vegans alike. The ratings for this restaurant is extremely high, so I had high expectations going in.
Small, dimly lit and modern, ChuChai is simply decorated. It strives to be upscale, but I wouldn’t say it is; however, compared to most other Thai restaurants it may appear to be more upscale superficially. When it comes to food, the presentation and offerings are no different. The big difference is in price. ChuChai is “expensive” for a Thai restaurant, and a lot of locals complain about the price. Keep in mind when you dine out here in Montreal, there is an additional 15% tax on top of the tab plus tip, so it does add up. Our total tab with tip came out to be about $75 CND. And below is what we had, including a large bottle of spring water to share.
For starters, Nick and I shared steamed dumplings with peanut sauce. This appetizer comes with eight small dumplings soaked in peanut sauce, contrary to what we thought. We had visions of traditional dumplings served with peanut sauce on the side. It tasted better than it looked. The sauce was good-flavored but nothing different from other peanut sauces I’ve had. The dumplings were small and barely had anything to them. They’re supposed to have seitan in them. It was more like seitan bits but barely even that. When you cut them in half, one half contained nothing and the other half contained the tiny bits of seitan. It really was more like plain dumplings with sauce.
Overall, it was tasty, but it didn’t wow me.
For our main dish we both ordered the classic vegetable red curry. I know ChuChai is known for their mock meats and I was almost tempted into trying the red curry with faux chicken, but I just wasn’t feeling it. Nick wasn’t either, so I can’t divulge on how good their mock meats are. However, omnivores who eat here rave about how good it is and how similar it is to real meat. With our veggie red curry, we both agreed it was just mediocre. It was good but just not as good compared to other Thai places we’ve eaten at. We thought it was lacking in flavor, but we did love how the dish contained a lot of veggies that weren’t cooked down.
Overall, it was good but not that impressive. It really lacked in flavor.
Lastly, desserts. We were full but seeing that this was last call and because I was craving dessert dishes I grew up eating, I had to order! We ordered the tapioca pudding with coconut milk to share, but I ended up eating most of it. This was absolutely delicious, but you really can’t mess up this dessert. It made me nostalgic of my youth when my mom used to make it often. Every bite was delicious!
Overall, yummy and satisfying.
I also ordered the mango and sticky rice. This was the main reason why I wanted to go eat Thai food. I had been craving this for some time, so regardless of being full, I decided I would order it to go and have it later as my last meal. Their mango and sticky rice had a twist to it because they added toasted mung beans on top. I’ve never had it like this before, but it was good. I really enjoyed it, and I appreciated the delicious ripe mango as well. This is a big fail when restaurants use not-so-ripe and flavorless mangos.
Overall, yummy and satisfied my craving.
Out of 5 stars, I give ChuChai 3.5 stars. I wouldn’t call it “fine cuisine.” The food was decent but lacking in flavor. The restaurant and presentation were average, and the service was just okay. We don’t care so much about how fancy or nice a restaurant looks. We care more about how good the food is. I am super picky about my Thai food, and we have eaten a LOT of Thai food. Our favorite Thai restaurants are Araya’s in Seattle (they have branched out to LA as well) and Golden Temple in Berlin. ChuChai can’t compare with most of the places we’ve eaten at, but it was still nice to finally eat some Thai food as we haven’t had any since our stay in LA. If you’re a Thai food snob like me, ChuChai may disappoint a little. But seeing that Montreal is lacking in abundance of Thai restaurants, unlike where we’re from, I can see why ChuChai is popular with the locals. It would be my first pick too, given the Thai options here.