Cha Chaan Teng is a modern Chinese restaurant located in High Holborn. The concept take inspiration from Hong Kong cha chan teng (cafes) to bring a British take to Chinese cuisines.
The restaurant is located downstairs which has a 1960s upmarket feel with a modern trendy touch.
The food at Cha Chaan Teng is made for sharing, although there are some dishes where you could have by yourself.
We started our meal with some of Cha Chaan Teng’s appetisers and one of these was the Layered lemongrass chicken skewers (£5.50) served with almond and cashew sauce. I found the chicken was dry on the outside and there was not enough sauce for the three skewers.
BBQ hoisin and Coca Cola ribs (£6.80) had a sweet flavour. The ribs were tender that easily came off the bone.
Lobster prawn toast (£11) is served with wasabi mayonnaise and sprinkled with sesame seeds. I liked how they serve the lobster prawn as a whole on the toast, similar to the one I have had in Hong Kong. The portion of each toast was slightly on a small side and pricey for £11. I felt the prawn toast did not have much taste but was balanced out by the wasabi mayonnaise to give it flavour.
Spring onion & kale pancake (£4.50) served with a black vinegar dipping sauce, looked and tasted like par jeon (Korean pancake). May be this was their take of a Chinese spring onion pancake which unfortunately did not have that texture or taste. The dish itself was okay but it was where did it fit in to the concept made us question.
Cha Chaan Teng offers a selection of macaroni soup on the menu. If you are wondering what this is, it is a common dish you will find in Hong Kong’s cha chan teng (cafes). It is usually what is an option for breakfast in Hong Kong. The dish is made of macaroni pasta and traditionally served in a chicken soup stock, although you can find it in a tomato broth. The topping can vary these days but is typically with ham.
At Cha Chaan Teng, we tried their Crispy coconut spam, pork & prawn wonton (£9.20). I felt the spam was too dry and could not see or taste any coconut. The pork & prawn wonton had no texture in the filling and the question about where was the prawn. It definitely was not the tradition pork and prawn wonton you will get at a typical Chinese restaurant.
The broth of the macaroni soup used their version of a hot & sour soup. For me it did not work for me and I would had just prefer a good quality chicken soup broth.
For mains we tried the Crispy duck leg (£14) served with French toast in an orange maple syrup. The duck was crispy outside and succulent inside where the meat easily fells off the bone. The orange maple syrup had a hint of orange flavour which did not overpower the French toast and duck. I thought this was creative idea of a Chinese concept of a duck and waffle, but instead using duck and French toast.
Sweet & sour pork shoulder with crunchy five spice crackling (£12.50) was not bad in taste, although on our first visit the pineapples, peppers and onions was slightly burnt. The crackling was really good which were crunchy but you could bite in like corn crisp. It gave it some texture as the chef had opted to use tender pork shoulder instead of deep-frying the meat.
Chilli tiger prawns & lobster claws served with mantou (£44) was one of the most expensive dish on the menu. Whether it is worth £44 is a question and my answer would be no, even if it was lobster claws and huge king prawns.
This has taken the inspiration of one of Singaporean iconic dish, chilli crab. It was not the exact thing but it tasted similar. The presentation of this dish does need some working as I am not sure you would say it is pretty.
The mantou were mini steam bun which would had been better if they were deep-fried mantou just like in Singapore. Being mini, there was not enough mantou to wipe clean the sauce.
It was a messy dish to eat which you expect from seafood with their shells. But we expected there would be wet wipes or a bowl of water with fresh sliced lemon to wash our hands. We did have a problem with eating some of the lobster claws as the shell was not cracked open and there was no lobster cracker available.
In my view I would had been happy to just have king prawn which is much easier to peel and eat. The meat was better than the crab being juicy and went well with the sauce.
Whole crispy sea beam with sha cha sauce (£18) was one of my favorite dish on their menu. The fish was cooked just right and the presentation of this dish was pretty. The only criticism is the strong flavour of the lambs lettuce which I did not feel it goes well with the fish.
Whole poached free range corn-fed chicken (£28) is served with ginger and spring onion in a spicy Sichuan sauce. This was a cold dish and not as spicy as it looked. The chicken was cooked just right with succulent meat.
There are a range of sides that includes salads, vegetables and rice which can be order to go with the mains.
We tried their Smashed cucumber & heritage tomato salad with sesame dressing (£4.50). This was a refreshing salad and the dressing gave it that oriental flavour.
Salted duck egg XO fried rice (£5.80) was nicely cooked. I could taste the XO sauce but as I do love my Asian root, I would had like taste the salted duck egg.
Desserts was the one part of my meal I was looking forward to, but unfortunately we were told there was no Dan Zei red velvet waffle cone as the waffle machine was broken. That was a shame as it had been some thing I was looking forward.
Instead I tried their other desserts on the menu. Pandan raspberry ripple Artic roll (£5) was similar to the original Artic roll but with a twist. The texture of the sponge cake was dense but that is how you would expect from a cake that has comes straight out from the freezer. The flavour of panda was very light and hardly noticeable. I would had prefer to taste a stronger pandan fragrant.
Coconut vanilla Panna cotta (£4.80) texture felt odd, it was not one I relate to for a panna cotta. It was like it lack gelatine, but later I found out why. It was because they had used alternative ingredients so the dessert would suit vegans.
Hedgehog cinnamon doughnut bun (£5) is filled with an egg yolk which was not oozing at all. The egg yolk was like a jelly yolk instead of the cream centre. However, the bun was beautifully fried with a crispy bun outside and a soft bun inside. The Hedgehog was missing some eyes so maybe they could had consider sticking two black sesame seeds for the eyes.
Cha Chaan Teng also offers a selection of bao buns and crusty rolls. The size is smaller than a usual sandwich. If you considering this for lunch than I would expect you would need at least two of these.
I tried the Crispy spam and fried quail egg crusty tiger roll (£4.80) which was served with Sriracha chilli, sesame carrot, coriander pickle and coconut crunch.
As well as the main dining area, Cha Chaan Teng also has a bar area where you can enjoy their range of cocktails such as Lychee Cobbler, MSG, Kowloon Typhoon etc.
The bar offers a selection of bar snacks which can be enjoyed both at the bar and the main restaurant. There are some dishes on the bar snacks menu that is not on the a la carte, so do have a look to see if any thing takes your fancy.
From the bar snacks menu we tried the Popcorn chilli beef (£7.50) served with black vinegar sweet and sour dipping sauce. This was a nice inspiration of popcorn chicken and deep-fried shredded beef. The popcorn chilli beef was not that spicy and it had a chewy texture.
Peanut butter French toast (£3) served with condensed milk was indulgent dish. When made right this was a good dish. We had it as a dessert but it is not necessarily a dessert dish. Food does not really need to go by rules!
Overall the food was not perfect and I definitely did not expect it, being it was their soft opening period when I visited. There are things that they do need improving and I indeed look forward to see these improvement if I ever get the opportunity to revisit.
Hong Kong Cha Chan Teng (cafes) is usually considered to be a cheap and affordable place to dine in Hong Kong. But Cha Chaan Teng in Holborn can be expensive and you looking around £30 per person. It is definitely not the cha chan teng (cafes) where you want to get a quick lunch or dinner. It’s the place to enjoy the food and atmospheres with your guests.
(Not Sponsored. Prices and Menu correct at the time of dining)
Cha Chaan Teng