I actually first heard of Chachawan (206 Hollywood Rd., Sheung Wan) because there was a buzz in Shanghai when “Chachawan” opened. Lo and behold, Shanghai’s Chachawan was a complete fraud and copycat of the Hong Kong establishment. They literally even copied the logo. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), they couldn’t copy the food and since then, the fake Chachawan has been renamed StreeThai.
I guess the positive side to all of this drama was that Chachawan came on my radar. While I was in Hong Kong, I happened to be staying close by and absolutely fell in love with the place. Chachawan doesn’t serve your “typical” Thai food and you won’t be finding your normal curry dishes or pad thai on the menu. Instead, they serve dishes from the northeastern region of Thailand, Isaan. Having never visited Thailand, I can’t vouch for the authenticity, but I can certainly vouch for its deliciousness!
My friend and I started our meal with the highly recommended Gai Yung, grilled chicken thigh. This chicken has been marinated for 24 hours in garlic, pepper and coriander and then grilled inside wooden chopsticks. The outside skin is crispy and the chicken is moist and tender. I really loved the side sauce and recommend keeping it to douse your other dishes in it. We also ordered the Yum Makuar Yaw, which was an eggplant salad topped by a giant prawn and a soft-boiled egg. The eggplant had a wonderfully smoky flavor, but still had a level of freshness with the mint and coriander. The prawn was HUGE and grilled to perfection with the meat having that hint of natural sweetness.
We were both obsessed with Khao Pad, crab fried rice with egg and spring onions. Even though it’s a simple dish, it was chockfull of crab meat and reminded me of comfort food. My favorite combination was actually taking the sauce from the Gai Yung and pouring it over the rice. I didn’t really like the sauce that comes with the fried rice. Make sure you save room in your stomach for Roti Gluay aka Thai banana pancake. This crispy roti has a beautiful glaze of condensed milk on the outside and is filled with thinly sliced bananas. I’m not even the biggest fan of bananas, but I will happily order this roti every time I go to Chachawan.
Chachawan does not take reservations and also does not let you order food for takeout. So expect a wait. On the plus side, you can grab a drink at the restaurant/bar next door (same owners) and can chill out while you wait for your table. Honestly, I really enjoyed the food and would happily wait again for a table.
One thing that I learned the hard way was that a lot of breakfast places are closed on Mondays in Hong Kong. My friend and I were looking for a restaurant to eat in Sheung Wan and all of the highly rated places were closed! Luckily, we came across The Cupping Room (287-299 Queen’s Road Central, Sheung Wan), which actually has multiple locations in Hong Kong. Apparently, the founder won 2nd Place in the World Barista Championship 2014. Clearly, they take coffee seriously.
The Sheung Wan location is very casual and trendy with long communal tables and shared benches. The menu is small but solid. I ordered scrambled eggs over toast with a side of bacon and my friend got the full Brekkie– complete with two eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes, bacon and sausage. My latte was smooth and creamy and definitely hit the spot. I wouldn’t recommend The Cupping Room if you want a more private meal. I unintentionally heard the life stories of the 4 women sitting next to us at breakfast because space was so tight. But it’s definitely a great option for breakfast, especially if most places are closed on Mondays!