Saturday, July 6, 2024

Cha Chaan Teng: Tapas and Cocktails

Cha Chaan Teng at 284 Lavender Street is a hidden speakeasy easily missed if not for its green wall and a peekaboo window glowing red from the neon lighting within. Step inside and you'll be greeted by a well-stocked bar and an open kitchen.

  Cha Chaan Teng Founders BK and Mirul along with Chef Aiman have given Hong Kong cafe classics a Singapore twist and also designed cocktails based on beloved dishes.

  Cha Chaan Teng 
We tried their dinner menu. The food is beautifully presented, like this Cha Siu 叉燒 (S$14.90) served with a salsa verde. This is a generous portion of tender, well-caramelised meat that really bore the signs of having been marinated a full 8 hours. You can't help but be wowed. However, the sweetness was a bit overwhelming for my threshold (me and my "zero sugar" preference). 

  Cha Chaan Teng But let's start from the beginning; we had a few things from the "Snacks" section. The star of the show were these Tong Cou So Coo 糖醋蔬菜 (S$10.90): Mashed sweet potato, chopped coriander, deep fried macaroni bits, chopped peanuts, pani puri shell, hot and sour water. I don't even like pani puri, but these were so moreish, we nearly went for a second helping.

  Cha Chaan Teng
Wu Tao Gou 芋頭糕 (S$10.90) also stood out as an addictive snack. You're given the thick yam fries in a shaker bag along with a saucer of seasoning. These were gone in a flash.

Cha Chaan Teng Spring rolls? That's what Chun Gyun 春捲 (S$11.90) are, but these are the prettiest ones we have seen. Shredded carrot and turnip, kueh pie tee shell, sweet chilli, mayonnaise, chives, chilli oil, chlorophyll oil. The five pieces are too easy to eat. Tastewise, they're more muted than the first two. 

  Cha Chaan Teng
There's also a medley of dim sum even at dinner time. The normal serving size is five pieces. We just wanted to sample everything. Clockwise from top: Haa Gaau 蝦餃, Siu Lung Baau 小籠包. Siu Maai 燒賣 (S$13.90 for five pieces)

Cha Chaan Teng 
Siu Ngaap 燒鴨 (S$17.90): 24-hr air-dried roasted duck breast, chives, house-made XO plum sauce, sweet lime vinaigrette dressed house salad. This is a full meal on its own, and you can tell a lot of effort went into this dish.

Cha Chaan Teng 
Siu Yuk 燒肉 (S$14.90) is a dish no cha chaan teng would be caught without. This is 12-hr air-dried roasted pork belly, served with dijon mustard and sugar on the side for dipping. This roast pork seems more like the Western kind, though, as it doesn't quite sport the signature Chinese-style brittle crust on top. 

  Cha Chaan Teng
If you must have carbs, there are two choices, both S$3.90. 

Jyu Jau Bun Faan 豬油拌飯: Jasmine rice, signature claypot sauce, crispy pork lard, spring onions, fried shallots. This was a little dry. 

Leung Mein Wong 港式煎麵: Crispy ee-mian noodles in a really slurpable seaweed mushroom broth. I think I took too long with photos, so it got cold. So eat fast!

Cha Chaan Teng 
There are only two desserts and we opted for the Yan Yan Syut Gou 欣欣雪糕 (S$11.90) as it featured an unusual homemade cream cracker-flavoured ice cream. This is fashioned after the Yan Yan biscuit snack, so it is layered with biscuit crunch, and topped with a choice of chocolate or strawberry espuma foam. 

Mango cocktail
More than half their menu is creative drinks and cocktails. Themes like Song Faai highballs, Yum Cha cocktails and even a claypot based signature drink will pique interest. The ABV (alcohol by volume) is conveniently listed, so you know how strong each one will be. I picked one of the lowest (11.5%) and thankfully it was tolerable. That's the Joeng Zi Gam Lou Mango Sago 楊枝甘露 (S$18) based on the popular Mango Sago dessert. 

Cha Chaan Teng
The ambiance is moody and dark but the place is bathed in sections of colourful lighting. Nostalgic floor tiles and old school wooden booths, tables and chairs complete the retro look. On the whole, a cosy place for gatherings and dates. The concept of a retro Hong Kong style cha chaan teng as a tapas bar and speakeasy is pretty quaint. There are a couple of standout snacks and dishes, but the highlight I am guessing is probably more the drinks. 

284 Lavender St, Singapore 338802
Open Wed - Mon (Closed on Tue)
Lunch: 11am - 3pm, Dinner: 5pm - Late

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