Chinese, Thai, or Indian? When you can’t decide, Chakara Bistro & Bar is the answer. Billed as “fresh contemporary Pan-Asian fare,” you can experience any of these cuisines and believe that each is its specialty.
Chakara opened last November on Pittsford-Palmyra Road in Perinton in the former Charlie’s Casual Dining building. With a bar to the left and spacious dining room to the right, the restaurant has a casual, minimalist decor.
On the Friday night my friend and I visited, most tables were full, more people were arriving and several were at the bar. We were promptly seated near a window. While we studied the simple yet diverse menu, I sipped the day’s drink special, a Lychee Martini, and my friend enjoyed Chinese beer.
Chakara offers daily drink specials, a standard wine menu, Asian-inspired signature cocktails for when you’re in a spirited mood, and more than a dozen beers including an “around the world” tasting of four varieties.
For our first course we chose Gyoza Dumplings — an authentic Japanese dumpling, typically with a thin, light dough with a garlicky vegetable and/or protein filling. These dumplings had thicker dough but were still light. A welcome burst of fresh ginger held the spotlight and was not overshadowed by the soy vinaigrette for dipping.
If you love fried spring rolls but not the traditional cabbage and vegetable fillings, our next selection, Tiger Shrimp Rolls would usually be a good choice. We selected goat cheese versus lemongrass filling, but the cheese did not appear to be goat cheese, and our search for the shrimp came up empty. This was the only disappointment in an otherwise great meal.
Chakara’s noodles are made in-house with a rare noodle press imported from Taiwan, so we were eager to try Stir Fry with Shrimp. It lived up to our expectations. The noodles were flawlessly cooked and had an undeniably fresh texture. Initially, I was hit with a surge of black pepper, but that was quickly complemented by the shrimp — an ample number, plump and perfectly cooked.
China and Tao of Tofu — both of Chinese influence, yet very different — rounded out our next course. The tofu, which was crisp with a lightly fried herbed exterior, isn’t just for vegetarians. It was filling and rich, yet kept us going back for more.
Our next entree, China — braised beef in 13 spices — piled onto Chinese bread, borrowed from the savory tastes of Japanese umami. We were pleased with the flavor each dish packed, especially knowing that ingredients are all fresh and no MSG is used.
The service throughout our meal was very attentive.
We couldn’t leave without trying Chakara’s one signature dessert: a ball of packed pound cake surrounding green tea-flavored ice cream, deep-fried and presented with chocolate sauce and whipped cream. Sweet, crispy, chocolaty, and maybe healthy? Not really, but definitely a good ending to a delicious dinner.
Freelance writer Amanda Antinore reviews restaurants based on a one-time visit.