Saturday, September 18, 2021

Cha Cha Cha

In Hong Kong's standard where restaurants were short-lived and culinary scene keep changing by the minute, it's not far-fetched to call Chachawan an "institution", having been around for quite a few years and being one of the first trendy, finer Southeast Asian restaurants in town . This cozy eatery on Hollywood Road has attracted quite a following with its focus on Isaan cuisine from the northern part of the country known for its spicy, rich flavor. 

I was eating there a couple of weeks ago after their recent makeover, which now looks brighter and more spacious (and slightly more comfortable). And we had more than our fair share of food among the few of us, some classic dishes that made the place famous and some newer ones introduced by Chef Narisara. We started with a few salads - among those my favorite was the Phia Thale with an assortment of seafood served with a tangy, spicy dressing. Probably the spiciest of them all but also the most flavorful. 

We continued with a few tried and true meat dishes. The grilled Chicken Thigh is such a crowd-pleaser, with the well-marinated and tender piece of meat, grilled with the charred surface and served with the rich jhim jeaw sauce on the side. The spicy level of the Isaan sausage was borderline bearable to me, but I do like its flavor, and works perfectly with the lemongrass mojito. 

Massaman Gai is the "special dish of the month" with the giant chicken leg slow-braised and smothered in a pool of Massaman curry sauce and roti on the side - good for 4-6 in sharing portion, less spicy than the rest of the dishes but just as rich, and I could taste the more complex flavors in there. The crab omelette (Kai Jiaw) is one dish that every table ordered with the fluffy egg combined with crab filling to be eaten with a generous squeeze of sriracha sauce on top. We got another crab dish in the form of fried rice, which was perfectly done as well. 

We finished with 3 desserts - mango sticky rice, banana roti pancakes and Thai ice tea shaved ice. I like them all, especially the thirst-quenching, cooling shaved ice which was perfect for this weather. 

The restaurant may be a bit out of the way and probably a bit too tight for comfort - those being my only complaints and what stopped me from coming here more often - but food-wise it remained one of my favorites whenever I want something easy and casual (and Thai). 

(Meal was by invitation)

When? September 2 2021
Where? Chachawan, 206 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Gai Yang, Marinated Chicken Thigh Grilled and served with Jhim Jeaw Sauce

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