We, young professionals, love a Thursday, it’s the day where we often head down to the nearest bar to our office for a few bevvies to start us off for the weekend. The notion of Thursday being the new Friday is one we can certainly identify with and just this past Thursday we headed down to Holborn’s Cha Chaan Teng. The Hong Kong tea house is a restaurant that aims to bring the East to the Western world but in a more palatable way compared to other Eastern restaurants.
Immediately entering Cha Chaan Teng, you’re overwhelmed by the restaurant’s alluring art and tasteful decor. The spacious restaurant’s ambience is synonymous with a mid-week date night, with crucial touches like the lights conveniently dimming as time passes by. Once being shown our seats we were introduced to our waiter, Tom, who used himself to explain Cha Chaan Teng’s unique setup and history – seeing as he’s half Irish and Indian – like Tom, Cha Chaan Teng is a wonderful mesh of two strong cultures.
Once we had caught up on the restaurant’s history and set up, we had our first taste of some of the array of delectable cocktails that Cha Chaan Teng offer. The Shanghai Supernova was an agreed favourite of ours – a sweet cocktail made up of vodka, sparkling wine, plum, honey and some other hidden ingredients. It’s exactly all you want from a cocktail; sweet, tasty and most importantly a cocktail that perfectly masks the taste of alcohol but still gives you that kick we all long for.
With recommendations from Tom, who made sure that we didn’t over order our starters – as he warned that’ll ruin our dining experience. We opted to go with the BBQ hoisin & Coca Cola ribs, Lemon Grass Chicken Skewers and Curried Egg Spring Rolls & beetroot pancakes. Despite being the carnivore I am, I somehow ate the majority of my ribs with a knife and fork and that goes to show just how tender the ribs are that they can easily fall off the bone without being dependent on your hands. The fusion of Cha Chaan Teng’s special BBQ sauce and coca cola was unlikely but really satisfying combination with the chicken skewers acting as the must trusty appetiser we all know and love. The spring rolls were the most surprising treat of all our starter offerings as they were sweeter than your normal spring rolls and it was curry sauce that heightened its taste.
With more cocktails in our system, we began to really groove to the ’70s vibes that were playing discreetly in the background think Roy Ayers and Bobby Womack as some of the signature sounds at Cha Chaan Teng. With the alcohol kicking in and the music making us sway, we knew we were ready for our main course. Being huge chicken lovers, we made the bold – but very wise choice – of a Whole poached free range corn-fed chicken with some ginger rice and fried greens. I’m a 6’3″ man who can confidently bench 100kg at the gym but for once I had met a challenge with my main course choice. Don’t get me wrong I’m no slouch but the amount of food Cha Chaan Teng provide without needing to order much is quite startling and one I feel why many millennials will want to head to Holborn. The chicken, which is room temperature, is bathed in spicy Sichuan sauce and is a succulent eat that chicken lovers will thoroughly enjoy. Accompanied with the rice and greens it made for a perfect main course that had either party rubbing their food babies. To close the night, we went with Tom’s highly recommended peanut butter French Toast which still has me licking my fingers, in hope of still having some on my fingertips. The French Toast is quite simply a party in your mouth that keeps tickling your palate with an array of flavours hitting your tongue at once. This is a must for those with sweet tooths and peanut butter lovers.
Cha Chaan Teng was a refreshing dining experience and a perfect one for someone who wants to venture into Hong Kong cuisine without straying too far away from what they know. But while the dining experience was great, the restaurant is far more than just food, it’s an experience and one that prides itself on its decor, great service and great cocktails. We highly recommend this for couples during the week looking for a new spot for date nights.