Head into the Arcadian Centre via the Cathay Street entrance and you’ll quickly stumble across Cafe Soya on the left hand side with its playful, colourful signage and bright yellow window frames. Much like the rest of the eateries and venues scattered throughout the Arcadian Centre, it’s a bit of an “if you know, you know” sort of deal; there’s a lot of choice, and for those with little experience with Chinese and Vietnamese cuisine, you might be a little unsure as to where to choose. And we have to admit that we’re in this boat; we stopped and wondered about Cafe Soya many times before cottoning on to a mate’s recommendation and taking the plunge, and you know what - it was more than worth it.
Cafe Soya serves up a storm inspired by traditional and popular Vietnamese and Chinese eats. Much like the look of the space itself, the menu is a bright and colourful array of dishes. It seems almost endless: soups (order the tofu and fish ball), thai curries, sizzling dishes, stir-fried rice, and crispy salads offer just a smidgen of the impressively sized menu. It’s an invitation to enjoy some of the things you love, such as the chilli pepper pork noodle soup, or expand your horizons with a whole new bite, like the fruity spare ribs or crab meat sweet corn soup.
But although Cafe Soya’s meat-based dishes certainly hit the spot, it’s their vegetarian and vegan options that really stand out from the crowd. You’ll find plenty of dishes that’ll tickle your fancy, from sweet and sour hot pots with fresh pineapples, onion & peppers, to stir-fried mixed vegetables with garlic served in crispy lettuce wraps. But above all, it’s their soya-based ‘mock meat’ selection that really sparks our interest. We’re talking rich mock crispy aromatic duck made from textured soya and served with a classic line-up of pancake wraps, salads and hoi sin sauce. There’s also stirred fried soya textured mock chicken pieces (with a crispy fried coating), that come with an array of diced vegetables and noodles. With vegetarian and vegan options still limited in other eateries around the city, Cafe Soya’s unique approach results in some revitalising eats; they do well to offer classic textures and flavours sans meat without any compromise.
Whether you live the meat-free life or not, Cafe Soya has your back. It brings everyone together with its old-favourites and contemporary twists on a huge variety of dishes. So next time you’re passing, do yourself a favour and get stuck in.