Cha-An is a traditional but casual and classy Japanese tea house, serving excellent desserts and teas. Its location is in East Village, an area that has the highest concentration of Japanese establishments in Manhattan.
It is easy to pass right by Cha-An since it is perched on 2nd floor. But climb up the narrow stairway from the street, then you will find a small entrance hall to the dimly-lit beautiful tea house. The entrance hall is decorated with a Japanese door gate and bamboo plants, giving a special traditional feeling when discovering Cha-An at first time. With its nicely serene ambiance, Cha-An is an ideal place to spend a perfect afternoon, enjoying teas and desserts, and chatting the night away with friends and family. Despite its full crowd during the night, Cha-An’s atmosphere invites lingering, and customers are in no rush to vacate the precious tables.
The highlights of Cha-An’s menu are the desserts and the wide variety of teas. Cha-An offers different types of black, green, oolong, pu-erh, white, and herbal teas, and also some additional special drinks like chai latte and matcha float. Each time I go there, I always sample a different tea. Each gives you a unique experience as they are prepared and served differently. A is fond of their Green Tea Matcha, the powdered green tea frequently served in traditional Japanese tea ceremony. Although it’s most expensive among all teas, their Matcha is of high quality and top grade, and tastes very good (even from a non expert standpoint). Having tasted many of their teas, I can confidently conclude that Cha-An’s teas are particularly picked for their high quality and fine taste.
The menu for appetizers and entrees is fairly small. Three choices of set menus are available. We once ordered the popular Cha-An Set B, consisting of 15 grain rice, daily soup & vegetable, soy milk quiche with mushrooms & scallions, tea smoked salmon, dessert, and your choice of tea. The soy-based quiche is given as a starter, which is light, creamy and very savory. A likes the tea smoked salmon very much. A small dessert of chef’s choice is served at the end of the meal. Personally, I like their Afternoon Tea Set best, which is only available until 7pm. You will get a choice of tea, two kinds of small bagel sandwiches (one salmon and cream cheese sandwich, and one preserve and butter sandwich), baked scones, and assorted sweets. The scones taste very nice as they are freshly baked and still warm, but need 15-20 minutes to prepare. The other set menu that I haven’t tried but looks equally good is the Cha-An Set A, containing 15 grain rice porridge, 6 mini appetizers, dessert, and your choice of tea. Apart from the set menus, you can also order their appetizers individually. Also, please check their daily appetizer. When I was there once, they served delicious shrimp shumai and tofu dumplings.
For desserts, I strongly recommend their Chocolate Mochi and Sakura Flan (not listed in the menu). The mochi has very soft and chewy rice cake exterior, with subtly sweet tea-infused dark chocolate filling. It is absurdly good. And A really loves the flan. He said that it’s the best dessert he’s ever eaten so far, which I also agree vehemently. I never thought it was made from a cherry blossom. The texture of the flan is very soft and smooth. Its taste has a perfect balance between lightness and richness. With the red beans on the side, it’s just so insanely lovely.
Also, a visit to the electronically-controlled restroom is as much of a must as the teas.
Doumo arigatou gozaimashita!
230 East 9th Street. 2nd Fl.
New York, NY 10003