Sunday, April 01, 2007
Non-violence in the Mission. I spent the day Saturday at the Women's Building in San Francisco's Mission District taking a course on Non-Violent Communication, related to my PhD coursework. The Women's Building is that brightly colored one in the photo at the head of this post. It seemed rather out of sync to see posters recruiting women who had experienced violence in relationships for a study in the building where this course was taking place, and then again, not. Marshall Rosenberg has done a brilliant job of using a few simple concepts to bring a possibility for peace into the world. However, I felt the concepts taken to the extreme, which these were, was a bit over the edge on what I could accept. For example, this blog would be considered rather violent under the thought process, as I 'label' and 'judge/evaluate'. It was mind-bending, worthwhile and is recommendable to look into. Given this level of non-violent discussion I could hardly go out and chow down on flesh for lunch. And whether I compliment or curse the lunch place that I'm about to review, well, they are both the same in the eyes of this non-violent crowd. That being said, my eye was caught by a sign on Valencia near 18th, for Cha-Ya, Japanese Vegetarian Cuisine.
I was greeted cheerfully, and menus came promptly. The surroundings were fresh and well-maintained.
The food is all vegan, and I was quite amazed at how the flavors of the miso had depth and complexity.
I had an appetizer of shira ae, which was served in beautiful arrangement. My experience has been with a dish where the dressing is mixed in with the vegetables, but here it served as a base for the artfully placed vegetables to rest. Shira ae is usually served in a more modest serving as well.
My main dish was eggplant stuffed with tofu and vegetables, including a sea vegetable, hikiji. The eggplant was battered in a tempura batter and deep fried, and then the results were sliced and served with a light sauce. Wow! Filling and delicious. The only other place in San Francisco I can think to compare with this is Medicine New Shojin Eatstation. However, Cha-ya is more homey and inviting (and less expensive), while Medicine is magazine-perfect stylish. Cha-ya is worth a drive over the bridge for, and with the disappearance of a couple vegetarian favorites in Marin, I'll likely make the drive.