Chai: Healthy Choices on Bayview
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.
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.
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."
Chai is open weekdays: 10-4 and weekend brunch: 10-5