When we visited Vietnam last year, we were not entirely positive about the country (see Thoughts about travelling in Vietnam) – but we did like the food and especially enjoyed the Buddhist vegetarian restaurants that were ubiquitous in the Mekong Delta. They were easy to recognise because "chay" means vegetarian and every such restaurant was called Chay Something.
Chay Village in Schöneberg, then, is completely vegetarian, and most dishes are vegan anyway, as eggs and dairy products don't play a major role in Vietnamese cuisine. In any case, they offer to prepare any dish in a vegan version.
On a Friday evening, the restaurant is full, and we are glad that a friend recommended making a reservation. The bar area in the front room is decked out in Buddha statues and flower vases, and the interior design with dark wooden tables and soft colours is comfy and relaxed.
The drink menu alone is exotic, offering a number of home-made juices and lemonades from exotic fruits, such as guava lemonade, avocado lassi, and mango menthe juice. As a starter we chose Bánh xèo, which is a thick filled pancake made from rice flour with a vegetable filling. It is yummy and crisp and definitely the best dish of the evening.
Our main dishes, Pho Xao and Dau Phu Nam, were both quite good but the main difference between the two was that the vegetables in one were mixed with thick rice noodles, while the other one was served with rice. It seemed they used the same, slightly too salty vegan Oyster sauce for seasoning. Portions were very generous though. As both cakes advertised on separate boards were already sold out we ended up with a fried banana in a rice flour coating for dessert, which was also very good. The regular version of this dish isn't vegan as it includes some honey.
We will for sure come back and our plans for the next visit include wearing something insensitive to stains in order to try the traditional noodle soup, Phở, which is usually served with heaps of fresh herbs. We may also want to try the steamed dumplings or the salads with green papaya.
Prices are very moderate (up to 5 € for starters, about 6-8 € for main dishes), and the portions big.
Eisenacher Straße 40, 10781 Berlin, Tel. 030 89204554