Hong Kong of the 1960s was awash with infusions, above all in the cuisine. Dishes that were customary to the English dining table were perceived as exotic and desirable, with many attempting to reproduce them. Cha chaan tengs – small, fast-paced diners began to open, serving “western”dishes to the lower-middle class. These dishes, often interpretations of British classics, were a unique blend of eat meets west, an epitome of the atmosphere at the time. The era was one of frantic innovation and excitement, one we are sorry we were not there to witness, however, we think we may have found the next best thing.
Cha Chaan Teng, is one of those rare venues that is flexible to any occasion. Its entrance, brightly coloured with a stunning mural created by New York street artist, DAIN, certainly stands out – a welcome beacon on the rainy London streets. As we step down into the warm, underground space, we are transported back to a time where colour was celebrated, with a psychedelic swirl taking main stage on the walls, lined with intimate, art-deco booths.
The food is a wonderful infusion with surprising combinations. Authentic Chinese spices are mixed with western ingredients, forming dishes such as spam and wonton macaroni soup and pandan raspberry ripple arctic roll. For those who are not so adventurous, do not fear, a large variety of twists on classic Chinese dishes is also available, not to mention a great selection exquisite bao (filled steamed buns) and delicious mains to share. Our favourite was the whole crispy sea bream, accompanied by steamed chili aubergine on the side, a combination that created an explosion of taste with every mouthful.
Casual enough for a weekday catch up with friends, romantic enough to woo a special someone and still absolutely perfect for celebration meals, we see this place becoming one of our regular haunts.
Tickle your fancy? Book via the website on: http://www.chachaantenguk.co.uk