Tag Archives: curry

The most authentic Canto food at Cha Chan Tang

Cha Chan TangCha 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).

Cha Chan Tang
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.

Cha Chan Tang
The milk tea looks just like this. You can then add sugar to your liking. It’s strong, milky, and very, very fragrant.

Cha Chan TangThis 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 The most authentic Canto food at Cha Chan Tang

Cafe Himalaya

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Cafe Himalaya
78 E 1st St
New York, NY 10009

On a Friday night, R.S., A.C., and I grabbed dinner at Cafe Himalaya, a tiny, cheap, and incredibly busy restaurant on 1st and 1st. The food is Himalayan/Nepalese and is very vegetarian friendly. We sat down at about 7:00pm and watched the line of people grow. It was cold outside so they all waited inside, squished between tables while staring at our food as we ate. It was as if they were counting down for their turn on the swing. Not ideal for a mini high school reunion catch up dinner. Probably a better venue for a quick dinner before a night out across Houston in Lower East Side. We all started with a cup of homemade darjeeling tea with milk and sugar ($1.50). It tasted like Hong Kong milk tea with condensed milk. It was a little creamy for my taste but R.S. and A.C. both got second rounds. They also have butter tea… which I had my share of in Tibet. If you haven’t had it, it’s worth trying. It’s tea with salt, butter, and milk… very much an acquired taste.

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R.S. ordered the Tsel Khowa ($7.50), a mixed vegetable curry cooked “Nepali style” with basmati rice. I didn’t get to try it but like Serious Eats said, it looked like there was too much broth. I prefer heartier curries, not watered down soups. On the other hand, vegetables did look fresh. Continue reading Cafe Himalaya

Japanese Curry

This is what you make after you get out of a stressful day at work and just need a good bowl of heartiness for dinner. This is also good to make when you need to feed a large crowd because large quantities of curry does not diminish its quality. Threw together some chicken, corn, carrots, potatoes, and lots of onions with three blocks of Japanese curry (made enough for about five hungry people) and simmered until the curry was a nice thick consistency. Then scooped out a bowl of steaming hot rice and plopped on a generous portion of curry. Then repeat for lunch because there are always leftovers.