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

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Mmm… ramen

Saw this trailer today and couldn’t stop thinking about ramen.

And no, this isn’t the freeze dried Mr. Noodles stuff that I’m talking about. Proper ramen is filled with rich stock, fresh veggies, and tender meat. I wish there was somewhere here that made it, but the only place I’ve had it was at this tiny little shop in Banff called Chaya. Eating real ramen was a revelation after only having ever had the freeze dried stuff (albeit they were the better tasting Chinese, Japanese and Korean kinds).

I’ve heard there are some ramen shops in Calgary, so next time I’m over there I may have to hunt some down. And Vancouver has tonnes. Other than a change of planes in the airport on my way to and back from Hong Kong, I haven’t been to Vancouver since 2005. I need a Vancouver foodie trip. 😦

Edited to add: I just realized that Mr. Noodles is a Canadian brand and that no one else might know what I’m talking about! Think Lipton instant soup mixed with instant noodles. I found a photo too.