A friend had a hankering for Asian fusion cuisine, so even though it generally isn’t our thing*, we checked out the Cha-Ya Asian Bistro.

* I have nothing against Asian fusion, but generally when I want Thai, Chinese or Japanese, I go to places that specialize. Personally I believe “fusion” restaurants were intended for larger groups who can’t agree on a single cuisine, or maybe sushi fans eating out with non-sushi-lovers.

So I try to give menus at Asian places a pass when it comes to spelling, but I must admit that we had a bit of a laugh at the Vegetable section of the menu:

the vegetable section

The first item is “Crispy beef sautéed in chef’s special brown sauce.” In the Vegetable section? I suspect lazy copy/paste. And then the last item is “Vegetarian Pasta,” but your “pasta” choices are fried rice, pad Thai, and drunken noodle. I’ll give you pad Thai and drunken noodle as a very loose interpretation of pasta, but I think it’s stretching the definition just a bit too far to include rice.

But speaking of the rice, we got a side of egg fried rice for the two-year-old, and it was fantastic. The kid was a huge fan and ate a ton of it. The only issue was that they had no silverware he could use; they provided a tablespoon, but the bowl of the spoon was too big for his mouth. Then, when we asked for a smaller spoon, they came up with a long-handled teaspoon used for stirring bar drinks. The bowl of the spoon was a good size, but the kid could not deal with the very long handle. We ended up feeding him, which took time away from our meals. At one point I got tired of it and said, “okay, feed yourself. Just use your hands.”

The kid gave me a horrified look. “No! No use hands! Mommy feed myself!”

“Mommy feed… myself?” I ate a bite.

“No! Mommy feed MYSELF!” And he pointed into his open mouth.

So Mommy kept feeding him. We’ll work on proper usage of reflexive pronouns at another time. Just saying, if you’re going to have a whole kids’ menu section, it might be nice to also have kid-sized silverware.

Anyway, I got the Mandarin Pan-Fried Noodle dish (I think that was its name) and it was just what I wanted: a lot of thin egg noodles, fried crispy around the edges but still soft and dripping with sauce in the middle, piled high with chicken and vegetables. Others at the table got drunken noodles and green curry. Everyone seemed to have a good time.

When ordering, they’ll ask you how spicy you want it, on a scale of 1 to 5. Personally I was dubious over the fidelity of the spiciness scale – what do they do, just hold the bottle of hot sauce over the wok and give it one to five shakes? Or put in exactly one to five spoonfuls of chopped chili? Anyway, I ordered mine as a zero on the spiciness level, so I will never know.

I hadn’t been inside the restaurant since they renovated. They took over where the old coffee shop used to be, and now the place is dominated by a giant curving bar… at which no one was sitting, at least not between the hours of 6 and 7 on a Wednesday. The bar takes up the center of the restaurant, and then the outside areas are filled with tables, which is where most of the patrons were sitting. The service was attentive and courteous, and the servings are very generous. Next time we have a group of people who are indecisive about cuisine, I wouldn’t mind going there again.