New York City: Cha-An

Elisa:

Nestled in what seemed to be a-tiny-shop-house-at-first-glance on the second floor of 230 E 9th Street is Japanese dessert house Cha-An. Unlike the charming, dainty exteriors that many cafes or restaurants attempt to put up in order to lure patrons in, Cha-An is almost unobtrusive; the only thing that indicates that you’re in the right place is a monotone black and white color signboard that writes “Cha-An”. Its Japanese name spans almost ¾ the board however, and for non-Japanese speaking, “Cha-An” is written in such a small font at the top of the board that it becomes almost unnoticeable without squinting.
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Walk in however, you immediately feel as if you are transported to Kyoto – wooden chairs and tables, bamboo walls, tea cups and pots everywhere, minimal lighting, Japanese conversations, or accents at the very least. Although Cha-An serves savory food such as donburi and various kinds of Japanese appetizers (they also have one of the best value set lunches), Cha-An focuses more on tea and sweets. It’s a shame though, that I did not get to try one of their 11 different kinds of green tea as experiencing the entire tea ceremony would definitely be quintessentially Cha-An.
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While Cha-An offers the classical and the traditional with desserts such as Mochi, Hojicha Anmitsu (Green tea jelly with sweet black syrup), and definitely with its tea offerings, Cha-An also offers unique tantalizing fusion desserts that incorporate Japanese flavors with French techniques. Their signature dessert, the Black Sesame Crème Brulee, topped with black sesame ice cream and a sesame tuile ($9), is one example. Beneath the crackling of the caramelized sugar is a slightly sweet, crème anglaise that had a strong, earthy, roasted black sesame flavor. It was perfectly smooth, thick and creamy. It was not cloyingly sweet, the caramelized sugar provided just the right amount sweetness.
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We also had their Seasonal Chestnut Flan with Red Bean, Chestnut and a Momiji Leaf ($8). I’m not a huge fan of flans. To me they’re merely just a “sophisticated” name for pudding. Unquestionably though, the flan had such a smooth texture that each spoonful almost seem to melt in your mouth. The chestnut flavor was subtle, but you definitely get that nutty aftertaste. A+ for plating though, Cha-An definitely takes pride in all the minute details such that each dish eventually looks like an art piece.
Although Cha-An is situated in the perhaps the most quiet, unseen, location of the East Village, be prepared to be greeted by a crowd of people waiting in line. No reservations, just leave your name and they’ll call you back when the table is ready. But I assure you the wait will be worth it, because Cha-An serves traditional Japanese desserts with a modern twist, in the most traditional Japanese tea-houses ever in NYC, and that experience alone, I doubt you will ever find anywhere else here in the state.
Cha-An
230 East 9th Street
New York, NY 10003
http://www.chaanteahouse.com
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This entry was posted in Cafe, Cake, Dessert, Japanese, Lunch, New York City, Snack, Vegetarian and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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