Long before the rush of street food pop-ups around London, Cha Cha Moon has been delivering high quality Chinese street food since 2008. It is situated in Kingly Court on Carnaby Street away from the hustle and bustle of the hordes of shoppers on Regent Street. In this oasis of calm are independent boutique shops and popular dining options; unsurprisingly with the popularity of its offerings, Cha Cha Moon is one of the longest tenants in that area.
Like quite a few of the projects started by restaurateur, Alan Yau of Wagamama and Busaba Eathai fame, it is about smart casual dining. The benches and low lighting are reassuringly familiar. Yet, you never feel rushed to finish off your meal and move on unlike some other venues. In fact, their terrace is the ideal place to catch up with friends over cocktails or to rest those tired shopping feet, whilst admiring the beauty of Kingly Court.
Their terminology is slightly confusing in that most of the dishes on their sides section would be called starters in any other Chinese restaurant. Their chicken satay is suitably meaty and moist with the spicy peanut sauce enlivening the dish from the ordinary to the outstanding. Their Szechuan wonton had the most delicate of skin which you would probably struggle to find a better version of, even in Chinatown. Flavoured with sesame Szechuan chilli sauce and spring onions, this is so tasty it really should be offered as a main course.
You can really taste the power of the wok from their fried dishes, the seafood ho fun we ordered tasted like it could have just come fresh off the wok from a street hawker on the side streets of Shanghai. They don’t skimp on ingredients here: there is an abundance of scallops, prawns, squids, red and green peppers and onions. Every dish we tried had that authentic oriental taste, it hasn’t been modified to cater for Londoners.
The laksa had an appetising mixture of spicy curry soup base which was matched with calming coconut milk. I wasn’t so fond of the combination of vermicelli and egg noodles, like it lacked conviction to be one thing or the other. However, what was admirable was the staff ready to quickly explain that the addition of the egg noodles was to make the dish more filling for the guests.