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Restaurants

Chai: Healthy Choices on Bayview

Posted by Debbie Ohi / Listed on June 8, 2007 / review policy

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One of the most popular brunch spots in Leaside, Chai has many regulars. Not surprising, considering the quality of the food as well as the quick and friendly service.

At Chai, the focus is on the food, not trendy decor. All dishes are prepared in-house, with an emphasis on healthy dishes. I tend to always gravitate toward the combo display, where I can drool over the dishes offered before making my choices for $4.95 (one item), $5.95 (two items), $6.95 (three items), or $7.50 (four items).

You can choose between a garden salad with mango dressing, Caesar salad, Asian greens (bok choy or broccoli), tofu in black bean or curry basil sauce, roasted eggplant or zucchini in olive oil, mixed bean salad, veggie or chicken dumplings, soba noodles, spicy Oriental noodles, and seasonal items.

My current fave combo: Veggie Dumplings, Bok Choy, and Roasted Eggplant with Olive Oil. Chai's Veggie Dumplings were rated the best of North Toronto by Post City Magazines last year, and it's easy to see why. Yum.

Chai also offers hot and sour soup as well as gourmet sandwiches, including smoked salmon, smoked turkey, black forest ham, roast beef, tuna, egg salad, and several vegetarian choices. Veggie sandwich #3 sounds especially intriguing (I'm a big eggplant fan): Goat cheese, sweet pepper, tapenade, eggplant and arugula For $6.50; I'll have to try that next time. Sandwich prices range from about $5.50 to $7.25.

Beverage choice includes specialty teas, fresh juices (including mango, mango cranberry & lemonade), jasmine iced tea, and various carbonated drinks. I discovered Lapacho tea here and liked it so much that I bought a small bag to bring home. I also like Chai's Temple of Heaven / Gunpowder tea.

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Owner Antonio Tsui has been in the restaurant business since 1984. He came from Hong Kong to Toronto as a foreign student, sponsored by a Canadian businessman, and supported himself by working as a waiter to pay for his studies and training at Ryerson. After graduating, he found the job market totally dry. With his family's support, Antonio decided to open his own business: Tik Talk Cafe on Harbord.

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Encouraged by Tik Talk's success, Antonio began exploring other business venue possibilities. He spent a year doing research and came up with the idea for Chai and its healthy food menu. "I love all my regular clientele and after being there for almost 10 years, have made a lot of great friends."

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Chai is open weekdays: 10-4 and weekend brunch: 10-5

Discussion

35 Comments

Tanja / June 9, 2007 at 03:11 am
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Looks great!
Carol Kentner / June 9, 2007 at 04:07 pm
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Hey you guys, WOW! Looks very inviteing! I'll be sure to send my friends!
That's my next stop when I get to TO!
Best Wishes!
Carol
Debbie / June 13, 2007 at 12:43 pm
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Tanja - Thanks!

Carol - I'd definitely recommend this place; it's one of my favourites in Toronto.
James / June 22, 2007 at 02:54 am
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I've been going to Chai for years and the healthy, vegetarian, gourmet (and low-fat!) menu is a needle in a haystack in that area, not to mention the uber-friendly staff. I recommend Chai to everyone I know. Good review and great find!
Julia / July 25, 2007 at 02:41 pm
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This is a wonderful restaurant and they do excellent catering too. The tofu in black bean sauce and the hot and sour are the best in Toronto.
Original Owner ( Antonio Tsui ) replying to a comment from Julia / July 22, 2009 at 08:32 am
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I am currently operating a catering company, namely Queen's Chai. The website address: Queenschai.com and Email address: antonio@queenschai.com.

Go and check out the online menu for your next function.
Philip / October 11, 2010 at 11:08 am
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Hey, I keep trying to put in my comment, but it gets wiped out. One last time...Chai is a great spot, good omellettes, scrambled eggs (with herbs and things), grilled sandwiches, latte and other goodies. And the present owner, Lambert, is very attentive. A fave of me and my wife.
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katharine / February 2, 2013 at 02:29 pm
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We are regulars at Chai for lunch and just love the warm casual atmosphere. The chicken dumplings and soba noodles are a favorite accompanied by a chai latte. The owner is friendly and the service quick and efficient. Highly recommended.
Moi / February 8, 2013 at 10:42 pm
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I worked there last year for 6 months but the veggie and chicken dumplings are not homemade, they are frozen from different suppliers.

You can get them at T&T supermarket for $3.00 a pack for 30 pieces, the dumpling sauce is just mixture of vinegar, soya sauce, garlic and TAP water. Look carefully the meat inside the chicken dumplings, wondering what kind of meat they are made of. The owner told us not to tell customer.
Maiko / February 8, 2013 at 11:02 pm
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I agree with you Moi, the soba noodles at Chai on Bayview is not real buckwheat noodles either. Most of Canadians think soba are just brown in color but not knowing the real soba is a lot thinner.

Recently, Toronto has few famous Japanese noodles house opened in downtown, I hope the loyal and naive customers at Chai should visit them and get themselves educated the real soba noodles, not just some noodles mixed with oyster sauce, large amount of soya sauce, lot of vegetable oil & garlic....&&&&..extremely high in salt diet that you are feeding yourself and your kids.
Chris / February 22, 2013 at 01:21 pm
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Little gem. Friendly efficient, value for money. Worth a stop for quick lunch or take out. Great daily specials too.
Fiona / February 22, 2013 at 02:16 pm
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We love Chai and have been regular customers for years (since our oldest kid was a toddler - he's 14 now and can't get enough of the hot and sour soup!) We love the food, the atmosphere, the friendly service; when it was shut a while back our middle child literally lay down and cried..... Love the green beans, bok choy, dumplings, tuna sandwiches, soups, muffins, everything. Thanks Chai - and thanks Moi (previous post) for the recipe for the sauce, its yummy ;)
Fiona replying to a comment from Moi / February 22, 2013 at 02:17 pm
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Wow - bitter much? Thanks for the recipe though, I LOVE that sauce!
Fiona replying to a comment from Maiko / February 22, 2013 at 02:18 pm
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Maiko, do you own another restaurant perhaps??
Moi / March 25, 2013 at 08:54 pm
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Hi Fiona, the sauce is easy to make. I don't own any restaurant, just worked and visited Toronto last year on a holiday work visa. I am now back to Osaka and work as graphic designer. If you want to know more recipes of Chai, let me know and I can tell you some of them, very easy and simple.
Christy / April 3, 2013 at 08:23 pm
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I like to go there once a while to have a quick bite but the food is a little bit too oily and salty sometimes especially the vegetables they serve.
John replying to a comment from Moi / April 21, 2013 at 09:17 am
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Hi Moi! Hopefully you will read this message! I am absolutely in love with the Spicy Noodles at Chai and I am obsessed. If you could give me the recipe I would be so happy and so thankful! Have a great one!!! If you have it please share it with me :)
Moi replying to a comment from John / April 24, 2013 at 08:47 pm
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Hi John, I recall there is lot of oyster sauce, dark soya sauce, sesame oil, hot sauce, the bottle i think is orange red color and a small bottle. You can ask owner to show you the bottle, I forgot the name.
John replying to a comment from Moi / May 5, 2013 at 06:39 pm
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Moi Thanks so much! I will try and prepare the recipe this week!
Ann / February 5, 2014 at 04:40 pm
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Chai finally closed, no surprise by the high salt content foods and the place was getting extremely dirty!

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