It’s All Good at All Chay
1264 W. 500 N. Salt Lake City, Utah
Tuesday–Friday: Brunch: 11 a.m.–2 p.m.; Dinner: 5 p.m.–9 p.m.
Saturday: 12 p.m.–9 p.m.
Sunday: 12 p.m.–8 p.m.
Since All Chay opened last year, I’ve been a committed regular, spending my lunch breaks devouring banh mi and slurping pho. The hospitality, modest prices and excellent food have won my heart. And I’m not alone: All Chay has become one of the most popular vegan restaurants in Salt Lake.
Nestled in a small Rose Park strip mall, All Chay serves vegan versions of traditional Vietnamese food. Over the past year, this neighborhood restaurant has become a cozy refuge with a homey, bohemian vibe. Thrifted paintings, potted orchids on each table and a parking-lot garden are part of the charm.
The menu is smartly organized into appetizers, soups, banh mi, rice and noodle dishes. Mix and match your entrée with flavored tofu or mock meats made from soy and seitan, including “chickun,” “beef” and impressively realistic “shrimp.” Order at the counter and take a number. Collect your chopsticks, flatware and condiments from a station in the middle of the restaurant and take a seat. The concise menu means you never have to wait long for food.
To whet your appetite, order the All Chay “Egg Rolls” ($5.50). Seasoned tofu, soy protein and a medley of vegetables are wrapped in an eggless shell and then deep fried. Your tastebuds will be grooving once you dip the hot and crispy eggroll into the candy-sweet chili sauce. Four rolls come in an order, so it’s a perfect appetizer to share.
If you’re looking for something cool and crisp, opt for the Four Seasons Fresh Rolls ($5.95). Veggies, vermicelli noodles, mint and cucumber are wrapped in rice paper and served with a delish peanut sauce for dipping. Each roll is named after a season and includes a corresponding protein. The Spring Roll is filled with sweet and savory teriyaki “chickun.” The Summer Roll is stuffed with mellow fried tofu, allowing the mint and cucumber to steal the show. Tart kimchi and flavorful tofu seasoned with Chinese Five-Spice fill the Autumn Roll. The Winter Roll is the heartiest, stuffed with strips of BBQ “beef” and ginger. If you find a favorite, you can order them separately—two rolls are served for $2.95.
Vegans and omnivores alike are fans of All Chay’s Pho. The broth has a rich umami flavor and intoxicating aromatics. It’s also pretty, with vibrant green scallions and onions floating on the amber surface. Dive deeper to find vermicelli noodles and a generous helping of mock meats and fried tofu. Bean sprouts, sprigs of homegrown basil, jalapeño, lime and cilantro are served on the side. The small is $7.25, the large $8.25. Order the children’s size ($5) to leave room for banh mi or eggrolls. The same prices go for the satisfying and warming Golden Noodle Soup. It’s a hearty dish loaded with strips of mock meat, chunks of five-spice tofu, sliced vegan shrimp and a bounty of toothsome ramen noodles. Add a kick of zest with lime, jalapeño and a drizzle of Sriracha.
The Ocean Love Noodle Salad ($8.95) will satisfy your hunger. Each bite is brimming with vivid flavors. Lightly battered, deep-fried vegan shrimp are served in a large bowl with slippery rice vermicelli noodles, fresh greens, mint, bean sprouts, cucumber and a hot eggroll sliced into bite-size pieces. Slivers of tart, house-pickled carrots and daikon, crunchy roasted peanuts and scallions top the salad. A light sweet-and-sour dressing is served on the side.
The Teriyaki Chickun Rice Dish ($8.95) isn’t as showy as the other dishes, but it’s just as craveable. Tuck into the succulent, tender “chickun”—savory notes mingle with subtle sweetness, accented by sautéed onion. Served with perfectly steamed rice, this is the comfort food you crave. A garnish of fresh broccoli, cucumbers and carrots adds a flourish of color and fresh crunch. Another delicious rice dish is the spicy Ocean Love ($8.95), with battered, fried vegan shrimp sautéed in a fragrant mixture of onion, basil, jalapeño, red pepper and tomatoes.
The Lemongrass Tofu Banh Mi ($5.50) is a delectable sandwich comprising a crunchy baguette drizzled with soy sauce, slathered with vegan mayonnaise and filled with brightly flavored lemongrass tofu, cool cucumber and cilantro. On the other end of the spectrum is the Five Spice Bean Curd Banh Mi ($5.50), which is savory and pungent. The bean curd is richly flavored with cinnamon, cloves, fennel, star anise and Szechuan peppercorns.
Try the refreshing Vegan Thai Iced Tea ($2.95)—a decadent, creamy drink. The Vegan Flan ($1.50), a cup of jiggly, syrupy, coffee-flavored pudding, is just sweet enough to satisfy. Both act as a palate cleanser, pairing beautifully with any entrée.
With friendly service and flavorful cuisine, All Chay is a hidden treasure worth seeking out. Located about 10 minutes from downtown Salt Lake City, it’s perfect for a quick lunch or dinner, or call ahead for takeout.