230 E 9th St (2nd fl)
City: New York, NY
Phone: (212) 228-8030
Site: Visit the restaurant site
2nd Cuisine: Tea/Tea Rooms
Area: East Village
Payment: Cash only
One of the things I love most about New York City is there always room for a new discovery. This time it was Cha-An, a Japanese tea house, tucked away on the second floor on a quiet strip of East Ninth Street.
The space almost has the feel of a bamboo forest as you enter with small booths carved out for an intimate dining experience. You can enjoy a complete meal or just dessert. And of course, there is a lengthy list of teas to choose from with names like Lavendar Mint, Crimson Chai, and the flavor I settled on, Jasmine Pearl; a blend of green tea and jasmine blossoms.
The menu at Cha-An resembles a family photo album, offering brief descriptions of various dishes. I opted for the Oka-yu which is actually several different dishes presented on a wicker tray. The centerpiece is a large bowl of grain porridge served alongside six smaller bowls, each with something different to enjoy. One bowl featured large chunks of sauteed salmon in a tangle of carrots, mushrooms and green onions in a delicate sauce. Another bowl contained seaweed with dried tofu against the backdrop of bright green soybeans and a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds. There were two types of pickles; one tart, another not, and a small bowl of flaked salmon all puffed up. The final dish contained a single sour plum. The mix of flavors and textures adds to this sensory adventure.
Desserts include the house special black sesame creme brulee, a chocolate souffle with raspberry sauce, scones and green tea truffles.
Cha-An is the perfect place if you are looking for an escape. The ambiance and doting staff will ensure the perfect meal, but remember to bring cash. Credit cards are not accepted.
Review By: Thomas Rafael