Alongside Banff’s stunning scenery, endless activities, cute streets and shops, there’s also food to try. There’s food everywhere and even in a small town in the middle of the beautiful Rocky Mountains, I’ll be damn if I can’t find good food. Chaya is the perfect place to hop in and take a quick break before your next big adventure. Which is what Joe and I did for lunch on our May long weekend. Our next big adventure was actually a nap, but whatever. We needed a meal after our morning hike!
Chaya is located on the far (south) end of Banff Avenue, the main street of the small town. They’re open a little later than most shops on the weekend (11:30am) so going for a morning hike or bike ride is a great idea before stopping into town for lunch. Hi Joe!
Be forewarned: it’s a small shop. I mean, five or so tables, packing in 12 or so people. We came right at opening and it wasn’t long before the space was full and people were asking how long will it be for a table of four. Not happening friends, not happening. The restaurant is ideal for small (!) families or if you’re there with just one other. I don’t believe they do reservations but I didn’t see any signs stating otherwise. You can try! The order counter is located in the back, just step right up and order. If you can find a seat, they’ll bring your order out. Condiments and water is self serve.
The menu is simple: noodle soups, rice bowls, and curries. I don’t know why I haven’t taken the leap over to Japanese curries yet. It’s not that far of a leap but when given the choice, I’ll always take a bowl of noodle soup. Maybe next time!
Joe ordered the miso ramen, a flavorful miso broth with ramen noodles (not handmade), beansprouts, ground pork, and green onion. Normally any ramen bowl without an order of soft-boiled egg is a shake-my-head kind of bowl, but Chaya somehow changed my mind a few years back. It’s not bad without the egg.
It’s the broth that does it, the depth of the flavor that makes you smile. It by no means compares to ramen in Vancouver or Calgary, but it sure beats the selection in my hometown of Edmonton. I’ll take it! It’s delivered piping hot to your table too.
I couldn’t bring myself to order a bowl of ramen, knowing that later on in our trip another ramen shop was making an appearance. So I ordered the kakiage udon, a tempura fried mixed vegetable and shrimp topping a bed of udon in a clear broth. Oh man, this hit the spot. Serious. And so much steam was coming up from the bowl that it was near impossible to take a clear picture without having to wait for it to cool down. I’m sorry, even I don’t let that happen. I’m a foodie first. Photo-taker second. Nobody will ever believe that but it’s true. A few years ago I remember eating ramen at Chaya and thinking that I needed to try the udon on my next visit. I actually enjoyed my udon better than Joe’s ramen and the bowl looked considerably fuller as well. I couldn’t finish my meal! But that’s always a good sign. The udon was perfectly cooked, nice and chewy with a little bite. Most places always rush and seem to undercook the large strands. The tempura mixture was crunchy and fried with the day’s fresh batch of oil so I was pleased. Eat it fast though or it became a soggy, yet tasty, bite. We also ordered a side of seaweed salad (unphotographed). It was meh, nothing outstanding. Stick to the noodles!
Check out Chaya next time you’re up in the area. Great for a quick stop, meals come out fast. It’s cheap and delicious, I really don’t know what else you’re looking for in Banff!Chaya
118 Banff Ave (Banff)