Sunday, 25 January 2015

Cha Kee - Runcorn

Being a HongKonger, despite my passionate love affair for Japanese food, there will always be a special place in my heart for Hong Kong Cuisine. Of course, I was super excited when I saw the sign for a new Hong Kong Cha Chaan Teng go up in Warrigal Road Shopping Centre last December.

As an introduction to those who may not be familiar with the concept of Cha Chaan Teng (茶餐廳 - literally tea restaurant), when the British colonised Hong Kong, Western meals were initially very expensive and only available to a select portion of society. Following this, many of the locals adapted Western Cuisine with local flavours at a modest price, with a target market of the general population. This was the birth of Cha Chaan Teng. Characteristics of Cha Chaan Teng is the casual atmosphere, set meals and extensive menu which ranges from traditional chinese dishes (fried rice, noodles, congee) to western dishes (sandwiches, steaks and pasta dishes). It is also credited with making drinks such as Yuan Yang (coffee mixed with milk tea), lemon coke and iced lemon tea mainstream [1] .  

Personally, I love going to Cha Chaan Teng especially when with a large group of people because its sure to be able to satisfy a large variety of preferences.

Consistent with other Hong Kong Style Cuisines, the Lunch Special is clearly visible from the outside, so that potential guests can consider whether they would like to eat it before going in.

It was completely full at the time that I went, but instead of taking a number and waiting outside in the 36 degree heat, the waitress took down my phone number and offered to call when they had a table. Needless to say, I was very grateful and very impressed. After walking around the supermarket for around 15 minutes, I got a call to go back.

The decor is pretty simple but comfortable, with multiple boards hanging on the wall recommending daily specials and chef specials, as well as the usual tv sets you would have in other Hong Kong Style Cha Chaan Tengs.

Compared to other Cha Chaan Teng that I have been to, the menu at Cha Kee was relatively shorter than others, being only limited to two sides and a separate drinks menu, however despite being short, it contained all the essential ingredients of a Cha Chaan Teng: Noodles, Rice, Sandwiches, Pasta Bakes, Soup, Roasts, and Congee.

I found the cutlery to be rather striking with red chopsticks and black serviettes.

Water was available in plastic cups.

My companion ordered the Lunch Set A, which was Hokkien Fried Rice. I noted that whilst other Hong Kong Style restaurants offer sets with a soup and a drink, Cha Kee only had a main with a drink. I would have liked it a bit more if they had soup with it too. In terms of Hokkien Fried Rice, I go to try a bit of my companion's dish, and really liked it. It contained all the essential elements, a fried rice base and a pour over sauce, which contained meat, mushrooms, shallots etc. I found the sauce to be yummy, and the rice to sauce ratio was quite sufficient.

On the other hand, I ordered the Pork Chop Baked Spaghetti with Pepper Sauce. I particularly liked how the baked meals were offered with customisable sauces, as other places usually only offer baked pork chop with the generic tomato sauce.  The portion looked small on appearance, but the dish was quite deep. The sauce was yummy, and the amount of pork chop was quite generous. The spaghetti was more on the soft scale, but I personally prefer my pasta to be soft.

My companion decided to offer me her drink. I got iced Yuan Yang, which usually gives a good indication of how good a Cha Chaan Teng is. The thing about a good Yuan Yang is that the coffee and milk tea have to both be strong, but neither have to be strong enough to overpower the other. In this respect, I think Cha Kee made quite a good Yuan Yang, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Within the small city of Brisbane, there aren't many options available when it comes to Hong Kong Cha Chaan Teng. Up until now I would consider Coffee Square to be the most authentic, but now with Cha Kee, I would consider it to be either on par or mildly better than Coffee Square. I really enjoyed my meal there and hope to go next time to try out their Wanton Noodle Soup.

Price Range: $10 - $15

Taste: 8.5/10
Value: 8.5/10
Service: 9/10 kudos to the manager, who made his impression on us years ago with his warmth and friendliness to us, even back when he was working in Coffee Square.
Environment: 8.5/10

Cha Kee on Urbanspoon

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