Lunch for One: Summer Set at Cha An


[Photo: Kathy YL Chan]

We have featured Cha An once before on this Lunch for One column, but we're back again with a look at their recently launched Summer Special lunch sets. The set runs $17 and includes any tea and dessert in addition to the main Reisei Gayu lunch.

Working our way from the top left, there's warm, salted salmon flakes, then two types of pickles (one sweet and one sour), radishes in a chilled, gelatinous broth, and a single tart ume plum. At the bottom right is a dish of sauteed squid, shoyu-laced, savory, and spiked with chili powder. All this is to be eaten alongside the bowl of rice bathed in cold bonito broth. Perfect for those hot days when you're craving rice, but can't bear thought of any warm food.


Tale a closer look at the rice bowl—along the colorful tangles of toasted sesame seeds, diced cucumber, and sprouts, there's a handful of tiny colorful pearls that look like tapioca. "Seaweed Pearls," the waitress corrected. The pearls are solid and firm, crunchy to the bite. Flavorless, but completely edible, and a beautiful aesthetic addition to the bowl.


The best part of the set is being able to choose any tea (there's a large and well edited selection of teas) on the menu, including the pricier ones, which makes this lunch set a truly awesome deal. I usually go for the Matcha Float, though the Lavender-Mint tea is an equally refreshing and much lighter summer drink.


Dessert changes daily, but it will usually be a super flaky and sugar-dusted mille-feuille tower sandwiching various sweets. On one recent visit it was milk chocolate mousse spiked with berries. On others? Both matcha and strawberry creme.


230 East 9th Street, New York NY 10003 (map) 212-228-8030