Shanghai: Cha’s Restaurant 查餐厅

26 Nov

While waiting for our flight, we roamed around French Concession hoping to grab dessert at HoF. Unfortunately HoF was closed on a Monday, but Cha’s Restaurant was just a few units away so we ended up there for tea. It’s a popular cha chaan teng (Hong Kong style diner) that has been styled to resemble an authentic Hong Kong cha chaan teng from the 1950s. They did a pretty convincing job – it didn’t feel any different from HK’s famous Mido Cafe (also circa 1950s), except cleaner. It was full house when we were there on a weekday afternoon and we had to share a table with I suspect, a HK dude missing food from home. Can’t imagine what it would be like on weekends or meal times.

Cha’s old school interior complete with stained glass and mosaic tiles. The brisk service was also quintessentially HK (in contrast to the slow and lackadaisical service in China).

The bo luo you (pineapple bun with a slab butter) beckoned from behind the glass counter – holy smokes this was good! It was extremely fluffy on the inside, with a crusty base and a sugary crispy top. And it was served hot so the pad of butter melted into a delicious mess. The hubs and I shared one but we ended up buying more for takeaway. Note to self: never takeaway bo luo baos in the future as they don’t taste the same heated up (the texture completely changes).

Next was a set of fried chicken leg with fries (comes with a drink), since almost all the diners ordered this as well. While it was quite flavourful and had crispy bits of skin, the chicken was a bit too fatty for my liking. It made for a tasty greasy little snack though.

For drinks, we tried the iced milk tea and iced lemon tea. The iced milk tea was surprisingly good and smooth, and would have been almost good as the one from HK’s Lan Fong Yuen if it had more tea and less milk in it, I think. And finally I managed to find a decent cup of iced lemon tea in China at Cha’s.

Cha’s menu also has your other cha can ting offerings like instant noodles, curry beef brisket, breakfast sets and more substantial a la carte dishes like soya sauce chicken. From whatever we had, I must say it does fare pretty well for cha chaan tengs outside of Hong Kong, some of the ones I’ve tried in Singapore are gross in comparison. And the old school atmosphere is pretty cool too, without being tacky (somehow they just manage to pull it off). I would definitely come back for the bo luo you if I’m in town.

Price: $-$$ (~60 RMB for 2 pax, drinks and snacks only)
Location: 30 Sinan Road, 1F (by Huaihai Middle Road), there’s another branch at Lujiazui

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