The clue, as they say, is in the name. Café Soya has a massive range of soya based alternatives to meat, poultry and fish, plus plenty of tofu dishes to choose from.
This place is awesome if you like Chinese and Vietnamese cuisine. If you don’t, what’s wrong with you? Horrific childhood accident in which you lost all of your taste buds? Fair enough, and a solid reason not to put your tongue anywhere it isn’t invited (if you needed one). Otherwise…I can’t help you. You’re broken.
Café Soya is also awesome if you’re vegetarian or vegan – the options are endless. Well ok, about three and a bit pages. A4 though, and pretty much half the menu. The only potential issue is too much choice. You might find, like me, that you just have to keep going back to make sure you’ve tried every possible permutation of vegan loveliness on offer.
At the moment my favourite is the mixed seasonal veg with oyster sauce – it also includes tofu, which isn’t mentioned on the menu but seems to end up in anything veggie not already containing some other form of mock meat at Café Soya. Like I said, clue’s in the name. It doesn’t come with rice or noodles but if you’ve had a starter you won’t need them, believe me. I made the mistake of ordering the stir fried hofun noodles – a big, thick rice noodle stir fried with beansprouts. They were delicious but I managed about a third before admitting defeat. Portion sizes are generally generous at Café Soya, but they will give you a doggy bag if you ask, so you can take them home with you.
The pan-fried veggie dumplings are also really tasty, crispy and chewy at the same time, with a lovely sweet chilli and soy dipping sauce. I can also highly recommend the coconut soya shake from the drinks menu, which is more like a dessert you eat through a straw. Beautifully refreshing and not too sweet.
If you’re vegan, make sure you specify no egg when you order your food. They will most likely ask but I like to throw it in anyway just in case.
This is a great place for big groups – they’re geared up for it and will happily give everyone a separate bill, keeping track of who had what as they go rather than everyone getting their phones out of the end to figure out what they need to pay. It’s also excellent for everyone from carnists to vegans, and no one can complain they don’t have enough choice. Except those broken people who don’t like Chinese food; we can do nothing but feel sorry for them. And not invite them to Café Soya.
Vegan rating: 5 avocadoes, for amazing choice and beautiful food. The décor might not be up town swish or even industrial, pared down chic (I think they’ve gone for Chinese restaurant in the middle of town as an aesthetic, and they’ve definitely achieved that).
Café Soya, Unit 2, Upper Dean Street, Birmingham B5 4SG (Opposite Rag market)
Tel: 0121 622 3888