Alan Yau deserves some kind accolade from the Queen for his services to the restaurant industry in the UK and now the world. His Midas quality is plain to see from the communal phenomenon of Wagamama to the Michelin starred Hakkasan. The man put himself on the map, and we the masses are happy enough to be inspired or at least be fed by him.
Cha Cha Moon (If recited backwards, ‘moon cha cha’ means dazed and confused in Cantonese) has been feeding a large number of people in its refectory-like dining room since May this year. The location within chic Carnaby Street is a brilliant marketing exercise, close to the hustle and bustle of both Oxford and Regent streets whilst retaining a degree of calm and oasis on where it stands. Since it first opened, all the food dishes were priced at £3.50; no more and no less. At those prices, it would've been pathetic to dismiss or disembowel Yau’s then new venture. The quality and quantity of the dishes were quite simply reflected in the introductory prices. The noodle based one-dish meals were in essence cheaper and better tasting than a Big Mac meal at McDs.
Passable Iced Lemon Tea
Six months later only 25% of the food menu consists of dishes that are still priced at £3.50 and this is mainly found on the sides options.
The Spring Rolls, lovingly described as containing cloud ear, carrot, Chinese chive, cabbage and dried shrimp- were at best mediocre, not too unlike the frozen variety that one buys from Oriental supermarkets.
The Prawn Guotie (fried dumpling) was tasteless and over salty. For dumplings of this ilk you can’t beat the Cantonese with their Deep Fried Prawn Dumpling in Salad Sauce.
Beef Ho Fun- this dish totally dumbfounded me. An all-Chinese crew as far as I could see manned the kitchen, sadly this dish tasted as if it was cooked by some long lost Phoenicians. It tasted slapdash and quite possibly formulated (that’s how the dishes at Wagamama ended up when it began to expand nationwide). The ironic thing with this dish was I thought the peppers that came with it were actually yummy.
The final dish of Cod and Bitter Melon Glass Vermicelli tasted wholly experimental- the vermicelli was way under seasoned, the batter encasing the cod was a tad rancid and the poor bitter melon felt hopelessly lost in this dish.
Despite the findings of the above, Cha Cha Moon deserves a huge credit for not over inflating the prices, none of the main dishes costs more than £5.50 and no service charge imposed on small groups of diners. The service from the young staff I find eager and helpful. Do I come back, yes only when I’m in the vicinity and can’t be arsed to go to Chinatown instead.
15-21 Ganton Street
London W1F 9BN
Pics of past visits-