Chaya, Banff

There is this teeny tiny restaurant in Banff called Chaya. Run by Japanese, they serve a small variety of ramen, rice, udon and soba dishes. The food is rather simple, but it is satisfying. Seating is limited – if the restaurant is full you will have to wait. They are open from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. (although don’t quote me on that as my memory is swiss cheese and I didn’t jot it down). Menus are in both Japanese and English.

Chaya

Chaya

Their rice balls come with your choice of salmon, tuna or umeboshi (Japanese pickled plums). I ordered a salmon filled rice ball to try. (I’ve had umeboshi before but I think it’s one of those foods that I’d rather pass on.)

salmon rice ball

salmon rice ball

The rice is unseasoned, but the filling was actual chunks of cooked, seasoned salmon instead of just some canned fish stuffed into the rice. My only complaint was that either the rice could have used some seasoning or that it would have been nice to have more salmon included, as I found the rice to be somewhat bland on it’s own. The salmon tasted very flavourful.

inside of salmon rice ball

inside of salmon rice ball

The chicken teriyaki don came with many pieces of very tender chicken, plenty of sauce, and some pickled ginger on the side. It was a very large bowl and was more than enough for one person. Could probably feed two if you only wanted a small meal.

chicken teriyaki don

chicken teriyaki don

The BBQ pork ramen (chashu) had four thick slices of cooked pork, a very flavourful broth that was salted perfectly, and gorgeous, tasty fresh noodles. The noodles themselves were probably the best thing in any of the ramen dishes, and were some of the best noodles I’ve had in a long time (including the ones I had on my trips to Malaysia and Hong Kong). I could not discern any specific BBQ taste to the pork.

BBQ pork ramen

BBQ pork ramen

The miso ramen was basically miso soup with the aforementioned noodles. I think there was ground pork in the bowl as well. The miso tasted fine but was a touch salty for me and I much preferred the BBQ pork ramen instead.

miso ramen

miso ramen

The tan tan ramen was a spicy, peanut-flavoured broth, with broccoli, ground pork and those wonderful noodles. We asked to have extra spice added to this bowl (the person eating it loves hot peppers), but when I tasted it the dish was still only had a slight heat to it. Fine for me but not hot enough for the person who ordered it. I actually quite liked this one and would recommend it if you were looking for something with a bit of heat.

tan tan ramen

tan tan ramen

Is this the best ramen in Western Canada? No, there are probably better ones in Vancouver. But the noodles alone make me think about going back.

Chaya
118 Banff Avenue, Banff

And lastly, the main reason why I usually end up in Banff – skiing and the mountains:

Lake Louise Ski Area, Banff

Lake Louise Ski Area, Banff

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3 thoughts on “Chaya, Banff

  1. All of that looked fantastic. We’re supposed to go out for Japanese food tonight. The place makes handmade soba and has gotten rave reviews. We’re going to try the omakase and see what the chef comes up with. I can’t wait!

    Have fun skiing!

  2. Bette Terada says:

    The quintessential Japanese onigiri or musubi–the triangular rice ball which is usually bland with a little bit of filling. If one tries to load it up with filling–it’s usually mishapened with bits oozing out the sides. That’s never good–compromises the elegance of the shape. Should try making it and you’ll know what I mean. The rice may be seasoned with salt or with furikake sometimes but usually it’s plain. So, it’s a very traditional food mostly for picnics and lunches, and the original ones were just with umeboshi as it’s acidity preserved the rice. And when one would like more taste, one will have a little okazu on the side. The nori–or sea weed is wrapped around each onigiri. Nothing like an onigiri with or without filling–it’s so Japanese–that first bite with a little snap of the nori with a bite of rice, it’s heavenly to a truly seasoned Japanese palate. So your review was perhaps a little off base as that’s how an onigiri is. Simple, subtle, beautiful food.

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