Another year, another stylish restaurant opening from Alan Yau. The entepreneur and restaurateur, native of Hong Kong, has taken London by storm in recent years with a succession of well received asian restaurants including two michelin starred restaurants (Yautcha & Hakkasan). He started with Wagamama in 1992 which he sold in 1998 when it comprised 2 restaurants. These were followed swiftly by Satsuma (for the Royal China Group), Busaba Eathai, Hakkasan, Yautcha, Sake no Hana and now Cha Cha Moon.
Famously, he was very unhappy with what happened with Wagamamas. It was a hostile buyout and he is quoted as saying that that was “was like seeing your baby brought up by strangers with different values”. He is seeking to make amends with Cha Cha Moon. It is intended to be the Chinese Wagamamas serving healthy, casual fast food.
On approach, Cha Cha Moon is even more startling and modern than previous offerings with bright panels of lights on the walls, broader than at Yautchas, a pretty neon sign by the door. The kitchen is open and, as you walk in, behind red glass, which lends it a surreal and exciting effect. Stylish, modern and in a great location, it’s a similar formula to some of his previous establishments offering communal eating on long wooden tables and food served swiftly as it’s ready. The menu, on first glance apperars very traditional, serving the likes dan dan noodles & szechuan wontons.
It was quite empty when we arrived at 7.15pm, I can only assume that not many people know that it’s there yet, and we had no trouble getting a table. In fact we had a large table to ourselves. I took a couple of photos until someone ran over quickly advising “no photos allowed”. I obliged and put my camera away, but really, it’s a little silly. Especially as I already had taken some ;)
We ordered a beer and a shibuya casual cocktail. The cocktail, made of lychee, sake and martini bianco, was delicious. It was also very pretty with four raspberries nestling on some white foam on top. To eat we ordered jasmine tea smoked chicke lao mian, seafood ho fun, szechuan wonton and spring onion pancakes.
I really enjoyed the chicken, it was delicately flavoured and light, and the noodles were flavoursome especially when blended with some nice accoutrements inluding a beautiful light bowl of light soup/stock. The seafood ho fun was extremely fresh and contained scallops, prawns and squid but the sauce overwhelmed. I am not a fan of black bean sauces generally, so I am sure this is why it disappointed on that front. Why order it then? It wasn’t my dish but my dining partners, he also was underwhelmed. The szechuan wonton was tasty, but not as firey as one I previously had at Angeles, a traditional szechuan restaurant in Kilburn in London. The spring onion pancakes were very flavoursome and a nice accopaniment.
Overall judgement? It opened only last weekend, and so, while they are perfecting their craft, all food on the menu is £3.50. Bargain! Therefore, I can’t really judge the food just yet, it wouldn’t be fair. First impressions are that it’s cheap, stylish, central and quick. I think it will be good for that stopgap on a busy evening or a quick sociable bite with friends.
Cha Cha Moon
15-21 Ganton St, Soho, W1F 9BN
28/05/08 Visited Cha Cha Moon again and had Sigapore fried noodles which were delicate, light and beautifully seasoned. Choi Sum on the side was well seasoned and flavoursome. Spring rolls were disappointing. More photos added to the post. I managed to take some this time! :-)