Lannae's Food and Travel

I hope you like my food and travel blog.

January 14, 2009

Cha Chah Changes

the front porch with roll top clear doors

We got a late start to dinner last night, and ended up going to PM, but the line was too long, so we went to Taboullis next door for a quick bite to eat at about 9:30 pm. On our way, we looking inside one more door down, and we saw a few people inside Cha Chah. We couldn't tell if they were open, or they were dry-running. The renovations of this old Mad Mod house was done very quietly, and without hoopla for the past few months. The renovations almost faded into the background, and didn't call attention to itself. I just nearly forgot about that space until yesterday. Today, after work, I ran by Bongo Java to pick up some coffee, and I walked towards Cha Chah to see what was going on inside. As I approached, I saw Mr and Mrs Myint, Arnold's parents coming out of Cha Chah, and I smiled and said hello to them. I walked inside and asked the greeters what the story is, and if they were open.

the bar

The two greeters said that this restaurant is Arnold Myint's creation. Today is day 2 of being in a soft opening, and they plan on being in a soft opening for another 2 or 3 months to work out the kinks. Once all the kinks are worked out, Cha Chah will have a grand opening. I love PM, Arnold's 1st venture, and I really liked the look and feel of Cha Chah. I told the greeters that I needed to go to the gym first, but I would be back later. I asked how late they plan to be open, and how late the kitchen is going to be open, and they thought for now, the kitchen will be open until about 11 pm, and then after that, there will be a late night menu. At this point, Cha Chah is still waiting for the phone company to turn on the phones (due on by Friday at the latest), and they just got the liquor license yesterday afternoon. Everything is just brand new.


So, I decided I wanted to Cha Chah for dinner tonight and check it out. For day 2 of the soft opening, things went really smoothly for us and dinner. I enjoyed taking in the beauty of the renovations, tables, seating, and bar. Visually, and listening to the background music, Cha Chah reminds me of a really hip bar and restaurant in South Beach Miami. I enjoyed a really smart and engaged waitstaff. It was really a good experience for us, as if the employees were old hat at Cha Chah.


The concept here is tapas and small plates. There are a few categories of food, there are dips, tapas, small plates, cheese, soup and salad. The list of dips are so creative, including balsamic onion, artichoke, mushroom, citrus hummus, and many more. We mixed and matched three dips, the onion, garlic and mushroom, and these came with bread and crackers. The crackers are locally made, and are thin, crispy and divine. The dips appear to be a really great idea because they all were made ahead of time, and can be waiting in the cooler to be served quickly. The mushroom dip is earthy and flavorful. The roasted garlic was pureed and had almost a sweetness to it. The balsamic onion dip was a bright, with a nice sauteed onion texture. I can see us going back to have a trio of dips and drinks before heading on to something else. The dips are also the late night menu, and I can also see up going to Cha Chah after something else for a trio of dips and drinks. The dips are a great concept, in my opinion.

duck tamales

We also got the duck and chorizo tamales tapas, clams in chorizo saffron broth small plate, and a salad. The tamales required a lot of work including making them, wrapping them in banana leaves, steaming, and then deep frying them. These had a nice fresh chorizo flavor, but not so heavy as to out play the duck. The slightly crunchy texture of the polenta was a nice contrast to the shredded soft duck. The clams were tiny tiny clams, and I was served a few un-opened clams. The saffron broth and clams were really delicate, and they were a bit over powered by the chorizo. I liked this dish, but probably won't get it again because of the overwhelming chorizo flavor instead of the clam flavor. The salad was interesting because it had three types of beets, red, pink and white and golden beets that were diced and boiled and then chilled. Also on the salad was sauteed clementine wedges served hot. I was expecting the Clementine wedges to be the cool juicy bites, and the beets to be the warm sauteed bites, and go the complete opposite.

The plates are tapas and small, and it will be fun to go back and mix and match. In my opinion, this place worth it, but it is a bit pricey. For 4 dishes, we accrued over $50 including tax. Because of this, Cha Chah may not be a standard dinner option for me, but it is on my list for special dinners out. The food was so tasty and delicious that we didn't need anymore than we had. The food tonight was created with care, the presentation was tight and the service was good. You can't get this experience, quality of food, presentation, and service at a chain, where one could spend the same amount of money.

Cha Chah on Urbanspoon



At 1/15/09, 8:22 AM, Blogger Eric and Katie said...

Lannae: it sounds great....we really love small dish places. How is it for vegetarian options? The prices though do sound a little steep. We'll check it out soon!

At 1/15/09, 11:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been waiting for Cha Chahs to open. I'm so excited. But, I thought it was suppose to be a tea house? Sounds like fun.

At 1/15/09, 6:24 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Hi Eric, Katie and Nicole,
There appears to be a some vegan dips, and tapas, but everything else has cheese, fish or meat. I can't tell from the menu if any of the items have eggs in them. It appears that all the dips are lacto-veggie friendly. About 60% of the tapas appears to be lacto-veggie friendly, and the rest has some meat or seafood in them. There is a cheese plate and salad with cheese on it. The soup and all but one small plate had meat or fish in them. BUT, the menu is a changing menu, so there may be other dishes good for veggie lovers in the near future.

About the tea, there was a table behind us who all got their French press teas. I did not see the tea menu, but I am intrigued! In the winter, I really like sipping on tea.

At 1/16/09, 12:08 PM, Blogger Erin said...

I'm a big fan of tea, too. Thanks for the heads up here!

At 1/20/09, 1:19 PM, Blogger Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

A nice place! Sounds interesting!



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