Susan Hart reviews Chao Chao West Bridgford.
I’ve never been much of a fan of Chinese food, because for a vegan the food can often be samey and lacking in texture. And there is always the danger that fish or oyster sauce finds its way in to my meal and it’s often awash with MSG. But when I hear through the West Bridgford Wire that a new urban oriental kitchen had opened its doors a month ago, with the promise of MSG free food and a separate vegan menu, I just had to go and check it out.
So last week I went with my friend and hopes were high. The restaurant definitely has more of a takeaway feel to it, but the inside was clean, fresh and bright. We sat at a high table and perused the menu, which stated they had vegan options on offer.
Unfortunately they haven’t managed to create a separate vegan menu and no ‘ve’ symbols were visible on the main menu, so initially it looked like there was nothing for us. However a quick chat with the owner eventually got us on track; he explained that many of the dishes could be veganised by removing, chicken, egg etc, although there were no dedicated vegan dishes . We opted to share the crispy seaweed (which is in fact kale), vegetable katsu curry (which came with steamed white rice), Chinese Green detox (a green veg curry) and Chow mein noodles (without the egg).
The crispy kale, which arrived in its biodegradable cardboard box was a good size and not greasy but it lacked a bit of seasoning; the addition of some sea salt, a dash of soy sauce or some toasted sesame seeds would have made it perfect. The veg katsu curry initially came as chicken katsu, which was hastily removed before the vegan version was presented. It was without fault; piping hot, el dente vegetables and plenty of flavoursome curry sauce (in a separate pot). I’d definitely have that again.
The Chinese green detox was hot, hot, hot! Not only was the sauce spicy but there was a larger gathering of raw chillis on top. But chilli is very good for the body so I ploughed on! There were plenty of crunchy veg to get my teeth into and like the katsu curry it was very tasty and fresh. We ate that with the chow mein noodles; totally delicious and again not too greasy.
After the meal we took our tray and empty boxes to the waste bin and were surprised that there seemed to be no recycling facility, maybe that’s on the to-do list too.
I would like to revisit when there is a separate vegan menu as I think we would have struggled without the owner’s intervention.