Nhà Hàng Chay was converted into a Vietnamese vegan restaurant from Thai Spoon and opened in Falls Church’s Eden Center late last year. It sits on the corner of the Saigon West portion of the building and is extremely nondescript.
This trend continues inside the restaurant with its decor matching most of the other restaurants in the Vietnamese strip mall – hole in the wall, cafeteria, very light on the frills. But the food, service and pricing are all great reasons to at least check the place out.
Also, while I’m sure Thai Spoon had plenty of vegan options, as Southeast Asians look out plenty for vegans and vegetarians, Nhà Hàng Chay is 100 percent vegan. That makes for four such restaurants, including Loving Hut, Sunflower Vegetarian Restaurant and Thanh Van Restaurant, that are located in or around Falls Church City. Sadly, while I haven’t tried the bulk of the menu, I’d have to say that it probably ranks on the bottom of those three restaurants.
It’s still pretty good, though. The menu resembles Loving Hut’s plenty, even down to the numbered menu items, which I’ve seen in a lot of other Vietnamese restaurants. Because of this, my mind naturally made comparisons between some of the menu items I’ve tried at Nhà Hàng Chay and its equivalent at Loving Hut.
All of the appetizers at Nhà Hàng Chay, with the exception of one, can be found on the Loving Hut menu. I haven’t tried it, but the dish sounds interesting enough. The Salad Rolls with Jicama, Peanuts and Basil ($2.95) comes with lettuce, tofu, Asian basil and roasted peanuts wrapped in rice paper and is served with jicama and hoisin sauce.
I have tried the Fried Wontons ($4.95), which are much smaller, but come in a larger serving size than Loving Hut’s Fried Wontons. Whereas Loving Hut’s Fried Wontons are like traditional dumplings, Nhà Hàng Chay’s dish consists of several small morsels of soy protein, onion and mushrooms wrapped in wheat wonton, which are served with a sweet and sour sauce.
At Loving Hut, the sweet and sour sauce that comes with the Fried Wontons is good, but is less thick than Nhà Hàng Chay’s and is a slightly less sweet.
The Hue’s Spicy Noodle Soup ($8.50) at Nhà Hàng Chay is another dish that can be found at Loving Hut. With thick rice noodles, tofu, vegan protein, medley of fresh herbs, shredded cabbage, lime, sliced jalapeno and bean sprout in a spicy lemongrass broth, the Nhà Hàng Chay isn’t as good as Loving Hut.
But it does come with vegan ham, which I love. It wasn’t spicy enough for my taste, so I added some chili paste to the mix to get the burn I usually like with that dish.
Nhà Hàng Chay’s Claypot Rice ($10.50) is one dish that can’t be found at the other vegetarian/vegan spots around town, but it can be found at least one other place in Eden Center. Eden Kitchen, which is 1000 steps away from Nhà Hàng Chay, has a claypot dish with cellophane noodles that I’ve written about in this space previously.
Nhà Hàng Chay’s Claypot Rice is good, too, but some of the rice in the one that I ordered was burnt. I’m okay with crispy rice, but there was a little much in the claypot that I was served.
The last time I was at Nhà Hàng Chay I ordered the Vietnamese Iced Coffee with Milk ($3.50) and it was delicious. It was strong, too. Most of the time, Thai or Vietnamese iced coffees are served sweet, which I like, but I prefer a bold flavor as well.
The service is what stood out most the last time that I visited Nhà Hàng Chay. The staff was attentive and on its toes the entire time I was there and food was served promptly.
Although it’s not my favorite vegan/vegetarian eatery in the area, I will likely return to Nhà Hàng Chay and I am open to letting it grow on me.
Nhà Hàng Chay | 6795 Wilson Blvd., Ste. B1 | Falls Church | 703-538-2255