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With blaring house music and punk-style murals greeting you in the foyer, things get off to a quirky start at this post-war Hong Hong-inspired basement diner. The dimly-lit room and sprawling bar is oddly reminiscent of a school canteen, with the food and pricing following suit. An erratic selection of dishes includes macaroni soup (a warming, ramen-style dish lacking in flavour), crispy Spam rolls and Singapore noodles. Our bao buns were light, spongy and packed with sweet and sticky beef, while the curried egg spring rolls with wasabi have a clashing spice flavour – quickly soothed by a sweet tea-based cocktail. The friendly, eager staff guided us to peanut butter French toast for dessert, a gooey, melt-in-your-mouth creation covered in condensed milk, while our cinnamon doughnut bao was crisp and fluffy, oozing thick custard and egg yolk. Portions are plentiful yet underwhelming, so we say come for the desserts and a fascinating tea list.
I try not to read other reviewer’s opinions of a restaurant until after I’ve finished writing my own review, so as to not skew my own views. I couldn’t resist taking a peek at the social media chatter and user generated ‘reviews’ of Holborn’s Cha Chaan Teng though, especially when they turned out to be face-slappingly hilarious. Some lauded the ‘Hong Kong street food’, while others pilloried it for being unrepresentative of traditional Chinese cuisine. Cha Chaan Teng isn’t meant to be either – it’s based on the eponymous post-war Hong Kong diners serving up oddly localised versions of Western dishes.
More from The Picky Glutton »
Meet Jeremy Pang, the man behind School of Wok, a British Chinese guy with generations before him who have cooked and worked in Chinese restaurants. Chinese cookery is in his blood, and having opened his own Chinese cookery school, he is now also the consultant chef of Cha Chaan Teng, an unashamedly ‘inauthentic playful’ take on the popular Hong Kong tea houses (cha chaan teng translates literally as ‘tea restaurant’) which began springing up in Hong Kong in the 1950s.
More from A Girl Has to Eat - Restaurant Reviews & Food Guide »
Cha Chaan Teng, Holborn – opened only twelve weeks ago, it seemed like Cha Chaan Teng had been around for much longer than that; probably because this is not the first time I have heard about the owner of Cha Chaan Teng, Jeremy Pang, he was also the founder of School of Wok and ambassador of the British Chinese Food Culture.‘Cha chaan teng’ is a typical Hong Kong diner. These bustling ‘cha chaan tengs’ in Hong Kong serve local comfort food as well as guilty pleasure food to satisfy in between meals food craving. They are also the hangout places for locals, being family favourites, make for a casual fun night...
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