“ 15/21 Ganton Street, London, W1F 9BN, Tel: 020 7297 9800 „
Cha Cha Moon has recently opened in Whiteleys in Bayswater, London and it's a strong competitor to an area which has many Chinese restaurants. ---Decor & Ambience--- Whiteleys can appear a little "empty" at times, and to get to Cha Cha Moon you need to go the third floor where the movie cinema and other restaurants are, but don't let that deter you! Staff are ready to welcome you on arrival, and I've never had to wait to be seated! It's furnished in a similar manner to Alan Yau's Wagamama - long benches and seats - communal eating. If you've ever been to Asia you will know this is a common way to eat - seated at a table with others you don't know. The restaurant is quite long, and they've used mirrors well to make it light and appear bigger than it actually is. It has a wonderful ceiling of bamboo poles and every now and then you see a spay of mist come out. The kitchen is also on full view so you can see the chefs hard at work!! ---Menu/Food--- Cha Cha Moon has a fantastic Asian menu of noodles, rice, dumplings and some more unsual dishes such as turnip cake. It's one of those restaurants where you want to try a bit of everything and simply don't know what to choose as it all looks so good. Better take some friends so you can sample theirs!! Peering over your neighbours shoulder to work out what they are eating is also a great way to confirm your choice!! Food is delivered piping hot to your table within 5-10 minutes of ordering. You can see it being made in the kitchen and the staff bringing it to you. I've been told, but not as yet sampled their non alcoholic cocktails and I'm led to believe that they are amazing!! ----Service---- When a restaurant has good service they really should be complimented! And Cha Cha Moon gets full marks! Staff are extremely attentive! Drink orders are taken when they give you the menus, and appear not long after. Food orders are taken quickly and accuratley. They ask if you want everything at the same time or not. Empty plates are cleared away discreetly and quicky, but I don't feel like they are pushing you out the door either. There is still time to finish your drink, digest your food and finish your conversation. ---Price/Cost--- Dinner for 2 with softdrinks, including 2 main and entrees, comes in at under £20! Mains hover from £6-10. ---Overall--- I'm impressed that Alan Yau didn't just create another version of Wagamama. Because as good as Wagamama is, sometimes you just feel rushed and it's not a relaxing as it could be or should be. Cha Cha Moon on the other hand, has managed to maintain a level of intimacy in a relaxed setting! But the proof is in the pudding or rather the noodles! And at Cha Cha Moon the food is excellent, the service faultless and my pocket not completely empty!
When in central London, it isn't easy to find a cheap place to eat. There are fast food places and well known chains, with slightly inflated London prices, and people holding billboards advertising a £4.99 buffer for a random nearby restaurant. It takes me quite a while to find a new place to eat, since I rely on personal recommendation, but when my friend told me of a place in Kingly Court (can be reached from central London's iconic Carnaby St), where all the dishes were £3.50, I thought it was too good to be true. Cha Cha Moon is the creation of Alan Yau, a man who's made Chinese food a 5 star affair in restaurants such as Hakkasan but also brought Wagamamas to the High Street. The concept behind the restaurant is that all the food dishes are £3.50, and turnover is fast with a constant queue of people waiting to take over your table. Dishes come when they're ready (I'm very much used to this concept now) and the tables are canteen style, complete with the obligatory randoms either side of you. The food is a mixture of Chinese, Taiwanese and Singaporean and there is a mixture of soup based and stir fry noodle dishes (note, no rice anywhere to be seen, it's just not fast enough) plus side dishes such as guotie dumplings, won ton and other dim sum. Drinks are pricier than the food, with unrecognisable brands such as 'Afrikola', and others around the £3 mark if my memory serves me correctly, so I'd recommend getting tap water if the names confuse you too much. On the occasions I've been here, it's always been busy (once I had to queue for 20 minutes as the queue went out of the back door and around the corner), but the food has always come relatively quickly (apart from the dumplings). The authenticity of the menu means that the dishes can be tricky to work out if you're not used to anything beyond your 'Sweet and Sour Pork' so it's worth asking the staff for explanations and recommendations if you're not used to certain things. Being a more adventurous eater, I've gone for seafood, Chinese salami and beef ho fun which all of course come with noodles, but there are other dishes including duck and chargrilled chicken (can't quite remember the names, but they are easy to find on the menu). After a bit of investigating, there should be something to suit everyone on the menu. Since the mains are £3.50, many of the dishes are pretty similar relying on the same broth and noodles with slight variations such as the sauce, but at that price I wouldn't really be expecting the most ground breaking dishes. The taste of everything is quite pleasant, though the portions vary, some dishes come with an extra soup and others (such as the seafood) can be finished within minutes. I often get a side dish to fill myself up, though the dumplings I have ordered twice seem to take a while to come, and I end up polishing them off within seconds. I did once overestimate some of the dishes and ended up with two rather filling mains, which was reasonable for £7, which is the cost of one meal at Wagamamas. I think it'd be a great idea to go with friends, maybe getting a few extra dishes and sharing it all for the perfect portion size. Some of the reviews of this place in the media haven't been great, criticising the random combinations of ingredients and taste, but I think they're over-analysing the place too much. You can eat out here for less than a Mc Donalds meal, and the food is so much more exciting. It's a functional place purely for eating, and opens your mind up to the foods of another culture for less than a fiver. It isn't the place to go for a special occasion, but for a lunch break or quick bite before taking on the Oxford St crowds, it's perfect. I'm not sure if the prices are a promotion, but I hope they last forever.