Cha Chan Tang (aka Tea Restaurant)
45 Mott Street (between Pell St and Bayard St)
New York, NY 10013
Cha Chan Tang is a type of restaurant that is popular in Hong Kong and specializes in cheap Canto-Western style foods. It also happens to be the name of a restaurant in Chinatown that serves up this exact kind of food. Directly translated, “cha chan tang” means “tea restaurant.” They came to exist after the British colonized Hong Kong and brought the concept of having tea and cakes. Western food was very expensive so restauranteurs decided to make a “tea restaurant” just for locals which served up a fusion menu. This restaurant in Chinatown mimics these types of restaurants through their menu and decor (see above… they have these fake windows that play videos of Hong Kong streets/traffic on loop… pretty cool).
The reason I knew we had stepped into an authentic cha chan tang was because of the intense smell of Hong Kong style milk tea. Hong Kong style milk tea is made with black tea and condensed or evaporated milk. Sounds simple enough but the real deal is actually pretty hard to come by. To make this concoction, tea leaves are placed in a sackcloth (see above), which are then placed in a container with water that is brought to a boil. The sackcloth is said to make the tea smoother. The container is removed when the water is boiling, and then sometimes brought back to a boil. This repeated action intensifies the flavor and caffeine levels – hence, the milk tea is usually pretty caffeinated.
The milk tea looks just like this. You can then add sugar to your liking. It’s strong, milky, and very, very fragrant.
This is a classic pineapple bun. Growing up, I had one of these at least once a week. It is a slightly sweet bread that is made to resemble a pineapple. Nothing about the taste is pineappley. The crust is flakey and sugary while the center is soft and fluffy. This version is a buttered pineapple bun that is very common in cha chan tangs. A warm pineapple bun is served with a fat slab of butter in the middle, melting as it reaches your table. The bun paired with the strong tea is enough reason to visit the restaurant over and over again. Continue reading
Oh, home. I love home. Whenever I go home I find that I’m in this room most of the time, watching either my mom or grandma prepare breakfast, lunch, dinner, and/or some snack. During every waking hour of the day, someone is always in the kitchen prepping or cooking. This past Christmas, I learned how to make Braised Pork Over Rice (卤肉饭), a classic Taiwanese comfort food. I have yet to meet a single person who doesn’t enjoy this.
Finished product! The pork belly that we used was a bit too fatty… hence all of the extra oils. Feel free to use less fatty meats or skim the fat (or eat it like me because it has so much flavorrrrrr). The recipe is very simple and very similar to my Red Cooked Pork Belly that has become quite popular.
Couple pounds of pork belly (sorry, this recipe isn’t super precise but it’s also because it doesn’t need to be). Blanche the pork belly (aka. dump slabs of the meat into boiling water for about a minute and take out). This gets rid of some of the gamey flavors. Then chop them up into 1cm thick bits.
Diced onion, garlic, and ginger.
Star anise, cinnamon, ginger, a few bay leaves, and rock sugar (not pictured). Continue reading
located throughout Xi’an, China
I’m back from a two week trip home in Beijing where I ate five meals a day, mostly from my mother’s kitchen. I also did a short two day trip to my dad’s hometown in Xi’an. If you live in New York, you probably recognize Xi’an from the deeeelicious Xi’an Famous Foods chain. Well, I visited the original Xi’an Famous Foods and (no offense) it blew me away. Xi’an Famous Food is amazingly great. But compared to what it aspires to be, I think there is still room for improvement. 子午路张记肉夹馍 (Zai Wu Lu Zhang Ji Rou Jia Mo) is a chain that has apparently been around for ages and ages. It serves up just a handful of classic Xi’an foods.
Check out the menu board. Just a few items. All incredibly affordable (8元 is about $1.30, which in this case buys you one stewed pork burger and almost two Liang Pi noodles).
You order and pay at the front.
Then find a seat and wait. Fast food style.
This is where the dude chops up that juicy, flavorful stewed pork for the burger. Continue reading