A Late Lunch at Cha Cha Moon Restaurant, Soho:
I’ve sat looking at this place on several occasions. It’s a restaurant in Soho just off Carnaby Street, opposite an American style diner that an American friend of mine likes for brunch (perhaps he gets homesick). And, I never noticed it…or if I did, mentally dismissed it as being a club. I rather like the outside – the outside of Cha Cha Moon does look a bit like a club with a heavy door and Chinese lettering. And I rather like the inside too, with open kitchen space and long bench seating, but a slightly warmer feel than Alan Yau’s previous incarnation at Wagamama. Cha Cha Moon is much in the same model though, a Chinese noodle bar that aims to deliver fast, well flavoured Asian dishes.
I am no expert on Asian food so I’m not planning on trying to elaborate on what might or might not be authentically Chinese at Cha Cha Moon or any other restaurant in Soho. I also shared everything with my dining companion who doesn’t eat meat, so our dishes were all fish or vegetable based. It was really quite busy when we arrived at 1.30pm, so I suspect it may suffer during peak lunch and supper times, but for us and those we watched sitting close by service seemed quick and efficient.
We started with Prawn Quotie, a deep fried prawn dumpling dish with a hot chilli dipping sauce. Nice plump prawns enrobed in a slightly over-thick wrap but beautifully cooked and presented. And XO beans, which my dining companion ordered to try to overcome his cold. Again, beautifully presented, perhaps not quite hot enough, but glazed with a kind of sticky soy/chilli dressing.
We picked one noodle dish, Seafood ho fun, which was fine. Good sized prawns, scallops and squid with red and green peppers, noodles and a black bean sauce. Nice, but nothing exceptional in the sauce or noodles. Maybe you might think it a little expensive as a noodle dish at around £9, but the portion size was very good and would have been plenty for a quick lunch in itself, the seafood in the dish was well cooked so I don’t think you would be disappointed if you chose this.
Our next dish was Chilean Seabass with champagne sauce. This dish was from the ‘specials’ menu and took a little longer to cook. It was really very good, perfectly cooked Seabass with crispy skin on a bed of glass noodles with a very light sauce and some spinach and lotus root tempura as accompaniment. The fish was not noticeably Asian in flavour if you took away the noodles and lotus root this wouldn’t have been out of place in any bar or restaurant, but maybe that is in part a function of the fusion of cuisines world wide. Definitely a case of less is more and perhaps we might have been better eating this before the quite strongly flavoured seafood ho fun.
The Asian poached pear was well executed and the vanilla cream a good compliment to the lightly gingered pear.
I’d happily drop in to Cha Cha Moon for lunch again if I was shopping in that part of Soho. It’s clean, comfortable and the service is fast and friendly. From what we tried, I don’t think it serves exceptional food but I didn’t find anything much to fault in it, other than perhaps a feeling that the food while very tasty was not quite spicy enough. That may well be down to a local and regular haunt of mine which specialises in Hunan/Szechuan food where ‘a little hot’ will hit you between the ears and make steam come out of your nostrils;) If I fancied Chinese and couldn’t work out where to go in Chinatown, or simply didn’t want to walk there from Oxford Circus, Cha Cha Moon would be a good bet for lunch or post-shopping supper.
The bill for two of us including one cocktail and a large glass of wine would have been around £50, but we dined as guests of the restaurant.
Cha Cha Moon
15-21 Ganton Street
London W1F 9BN
+44 (0)20 7297 9800