C is for ChuChai
Aside the celebrations, birthdays serve as an irreplicable reminder of the fleet-footedness of yet another year gone by. While I am not one for new year nor birthday resolutions, cuddling up in my thoughts recapping on the past year is as unavoidable as it is replenishing, giving me ground to refocus and reflect on how far I’ve come. The future is left to its own devise; most of the time, I allow myself to be lulled by the gentle waves of life where decisions seem to take care of themselves as long as I keep myself centered and grounded.
So much has transpired during the past years with changes that have all turned out for the better for Boyfriendlovlie and I, despite the stirring ups and less exciting downs that goes along with immigration procedures. Eighteen months since we first touched the land of the maple leaf have flown by like a breeze. Last month we celebrated both our birthdays, which are just a couple of days apart. So, we tend to celebrate some time in the middle or just push it to the closest weekend. As it so happenned, we planned our little celebration for the second weekend in May. The plan was to spend the mid-afternoon just the two of us strolling about in Montréal’s underground city followed by a classic evening with vegan fine dining and a movie to finish the day off.
Montreal’s famous underground city has been one of the many places that was on my list to visit. The peculiarity of it, first thing is that you may well be inside it already or standing at the front of an entrance and still be looking for it! Well, that was pretty much what happened to us – Google map indicated we were there but there were no signs that specifically said underground city. A little common sense told us to just not get out of the metro station and instead find an alley that leads deeper inside. And there, from McGill metro, a vast gallery of shops, food court leading to a cinema theatre opened up to us spanned on a 32-kilometre area. In fact, many parts of the “underground city” are above ground, weaving through office buildings, cultural centres, universities and civic institutions. While this is somewhat a tourist attraction, the real concept behind it was undoubtedly to serve as a convenient way of getting from one place to another on those brutal winter days when the temperature plummets horribly below -20 degrees Celsius. Since we do not live on the metro network or close enough, we only got to visit the underground city in Spring. Otherwise, I would have much appreciated the convenience of it many times during the winter season.
Here’s a few photos I captured above ground around the Place des Arts metro on our way towards ChuChai Fine Dining Restaurant for dinner.
Finally close to the restaurant, we could not miss the huge C signpost, making it so easy to find.
We were greeted by a very amiable friendly waiter who was so full of life, literally the kind of person whom you cannot but have a light heart by just being around them. The beautiful mid-Spring day called us for seating on the patio as we enjoyed the gentle light breeze while perusing through the menu.
ChuChai exults in a solely Thai vegan menu. The restaurant’s chef, Lily Sirikittikul, strives to recreate the shapes, textures and flavours of beef, chicken, shrimp and fish from soy, seitan and other plant-based products with a good selection of gluten-free dishes in the best, freshest exoticness that Thailand has to offer.
From our previous experience of ordering too much food, we decided we were only going for a main course each and one salad to share; besides we only had one hour before our movie would start.
Boyfriendlovlie ordered a Fried “Chicken” Noodle dish which I cannot remember the exact name of; ChuChai does not have their menu available online and I never took notes of what we ordered that day. Unlike me, Boyfriendlovlie does not mind faux meat. The noodle dish was an instant hit! Bursting with an amalgam of so many indistinguishable exotic flavours, this dish sure made it admirably hard to decipher each one. Boyfriendlovlie said he felt envious that he would not actually be able to reproduce this dish by himself. Attempting to reproduce restaurant dishes has almost become one of our restaurant review motto.
For my part, as I tend to steer clear of the faux meats, I figured out the vegan “shrimp” may be an interesting one to try since seafood is something I could probably still eat. “Shrimp” in a Coconut Milk sauce was my choice. And again, this is not the name of the actual dish as per the menu.
An intricate mix of fresh and dense sensation with the distinctive taste of galangal made this dish amiable for this mild mid-Spring weather. With brown rice as accompaniment, the mingled textures were quite remarkably unique.
The humble cucumber salad that we shared had quite some character of its own with a gorgeous quintessential Thai sweet chili dressing and a hint of tanginess.
Since everything on the menu is vegan, we vowed to ourselves to revisit again. If faux is not your thing, ChuChai does have a nice selection of wholesome vegetable or tofu dishes on the menu. And for those of you living with an omnivore partner, it’s the perfect place to go for fine dining and keep everyone happy.
After our satisfyingly memorable meal, we made our way to the theatres to end this beautiful day watching The Amazing Spider-man 2. Both of us are utter fans of Spider-man. Isn’t his wittiness killing cool? This one was utterly much bigger on the action scenes.