Cha Chaan Teng literally means “tea restaurant” in Cantonese. This culture of dining is a welcome assault to the senses. Also known as “soy sauce Western food”, many cha chaan teng dishes seem to have a disconnect between the place they’re named after and the food itself.
In recent years, cha chaan teng have become an international attraction. This prompted many to venture outside of Hong Kong, and many local brands sprung up in Singapore.
Central is led by Executive Chef Chiu Ka Wai, who has been the master chef at Regent Hotel Summer Palace for more than 20 years, you don’t really get the authentic Hong Kong cha chaan teng staples and street food. Instead, they resemble the “real thing” with variations. Like the street food favourite of fish balls 魚蛋, instead of curry sauce, they do it in mall.
Hong Kong Street Skewers in Male Soup 香港特色麻辣串串
Imagine this like the Japanese oden but cooked in mala soup. And if you are not interested in something spicy, you can have it in the original MSG broth.
Originally I thought we are getting the entire skewer like in the cooker. Instead you only get one piece each. There are seven sticks but my favourite is the radish. Comes with four different sauces – sriracha, sesame, sweet chilli, hot mayo.
Braised Beef Brisket Noodle (Dry) 原汁柱侯牛腩撈麵
My favourite style of HK noodles is braised beef brisket noodle. Usually if you have it dry, the noodle is just dressed with a scoop of oyster sauce. In Singapore, it is spiced up with the thick sauce from the braise. I like this braise better than the one in Crystal Jade. And again, my favourite is the radish. I have to say the soup is surprising delicious with hints of anchovies and dried shrimps.
Fried Ee Fu Noodles 乾燒伊麵
Princess’s favourite is ee-fu noodles, and it has been done in her favourite way. No surprises in this dish.
Classic Drinks with a Twist
The milk ice tea is given a modern upgrade with boba pearls and grass jelly. Very sweet, despite the government drive to lower the sugar in these drinks. The almond milk is really nostalgic – reminded me the one from China that you can buy Yu Hwa.
Cha chaan tengs are messy and loud; the waiters are often snappy in demeanour; slowness while ordering is frowned upon. This is no different here.
While they try to recreate the feel and atmosphere, nothing beats the real thing in HK. But since we are stuck in Singapore during this period, this will do.
Central Hong Kong Café 中環正宗香港茶餐廳
930 Yishun Ave 2, Northpoint City South Wing, #01-137/138, Singapore 769098
Tel : +65 6481 3778
Date Visited : Sep 2020