As a writer whose dog will not let her write at home, I am always in search of and appreciative of places in the city where you can write. Cha An is a great little Japanese tea house over in the East Village. Tucked on the second floor of the building and seating I’d guess only around 12-15 in total, it’s a quaint little spot perfect for writing or catching up with an old friend, or just warming up over countless pots of hot tea. It’s so quiet and serene you can totally forget how close you actually are to the raucous Saint Mark’s Place.
The tea menu here is quite extensive, noting the strength of the tea and grouping each one into one of the major classifications (black, green, oolong, pu-erh, white, or herbal). The server will continue to refill your pot as long as you are there with no additional charge.
They have an afternoon special that they offer until 7PM that’s a great value for the city. For only $10, you can get that day’s special, the appetizer of the day, and a pot of genmaiche. Yesterday was the first time I tried their food. Tuesday’s special was anago don, which was ground beef and pork mixed with 15 grain rice. The appetizer of the day was sauteed squid which came served with some mini-salty pickles. The special is limited to 15 total servings during the week and is offered up until 7PM in general on Saturday’s and Sunday’s.
If you should get the special, it is only an additional $3 to add in the “set dessert”, which is basically at the discretion of the chef. Thankfully I’m allergic to mushrooms and not any dessert ingredients. The chef sent us out one green tea mousse dish, which came sandwiched between a couple of crunchy pastry items resembling crisp onion rings but tasting much more akin to beignets. The mousse was fluffy and fresh and actually managed to truly taste of green tea, an accomplishment I’ve seen in very few green tea flavored dishes. It also had a chocolate sauce drizzled underneath the dish and I think chocolate almost always adds a nice accent. It outshone it’s companion, which was similar to a strawberry shortcake dish. The strawberries were excellent as was the ice cream, but it didn’t have quite the reception that the green tea dessert did.
They also have a wide variety of offerings of desserts and appetizers and pairing of these two. The best value for dinner is the daily special, but they have other sweet options which pair nicely with their tea if you aren’t looking for a full meal.
This is one I’d definitely recommend checking out, especially before the warmer weather comes.
Cha An – 230 East 9th Street, 2nd Floor (between 2nd and 3rd Avenues) – 212.228.8030