Lively neighbourhood restaurant & bar serving authentic Isaan regional Thai cuisine
December 30th, 2013
As authentic renditions of regional South East Asian cuisines garner the attention of knowledgeable restaurateurs and diners in trend-setting cities such as London, New York, and Los Angeles, the concept has also been introduced into the Hong Kong dining scene with the July 2103 opening of Chachawan. Serving a rigorously authentic version of the robust cuisine of the up-country Isaan region of Thailand, Chachawan delivers a bold and flavoursome dining experience in a laid-back atmosphere of relaxed informality, overlaid with the energetic buzz of a urban-hip neighbourhood eatery. Strategically located in the burgeoning dining enclave at the western / Sheung Wan end of Hollywood Road, Chachawan has been packing in throngs of happy diners since its opening. With the now almost obligatory no reservations policy some waiting is the norm- but queuing is alleviated thanks to a sociable drink or two on the pavement.
Chachawan marks another successful collaboration between local hospitality entrepreneur Yenn Wong and a growing coterie of accomplished chefs- including Jason Atherton at 22 Ships, Siu Sin Chi at the recently Michelin-starred Duddell’s, and Alan Marchetti at next door neighbour 208 Duecento Otto. At Chachawan, chef Adam Cliff brings his deep experience with Thai cuisine to Hong Kong, well-honed after lengthy stints cooking with the globally acclaimed chef and author David Thompson- commencing at his Thai restaurant in Sydney- Sailors’ Thai, and subsequently at nahm in London (still the only Thai restaurant to be awarded a Michelin star) and more recently at nahm in Bangkok. His admirable proficiency in the Thai language facilitates Cliff with both a genuine understanding and appreciation of the Thai culinary heritage, and an un-compromised communication with his mostly Thai kitchen team.
Isaan regional cuisine at Chachawan
The home of quintessential Thai dishes such as spicy papaya salads (Som Dtum)- Isaan cuisine is known for its assertive yet balanced combinations of spicy and sour flavours, often accompanied with salty fish sauces- and with dishes comprised most frequently either of salads, or charcoal grilled meats and seafood. And with sticky rice (Khao Niew) as the ubiquitous staple of every meal. At Chachawan, chef Adam Cliff and his team cook in typically bustling Thai fashion in the open kitchen- with its impressive charcoal grill the dramatic centrepiece. Dishes that exemplify the authentic Isaan cuisine of Chachawan include the Som Dtum Kai Kem – pounded green papaya salad, cherry tomatoes, chilli, dried shrimp, prawns with a sweet and sour tamarind dressing; Goong Golae– whole tiger prawns smothered in dry red coconut curry, grilled over fire with fresh lime; and Pla Phao Glua– salt-crusted whole seabass stuffed with lemongrass, pandanas and Thai basil stalks, cooked over fire, served with a green chili dipping sauce.
Beverages from the bar have been thoughtfully curated to pair with the bold flavours of the cuisine- and include the iconic Singha beer plus a good selection of craft beers from the USA and Japan. A compact list of cocktails and mocktails offer soothing refreshment- try the Frozen Tangerine Margarita– or with Thai-inflected ingredients- Lemongrass Caipirinha, and the mocktail Sour grape and Thai basil Fizz. Well-priced wines by the glass and bottle are also served.
Chachawan is open Tuesday to Sunday- and with its compact space- and no reservations- some waiting can be anticipated most evenings. A recently introduced Set Lunch Menu- served Tuesday to Friday- offers good value at HK$98. On Saturdays and Sundays, lunch is ordered from the full a la carte menu.
The narrow space has a raw, deconstructed design with unfinished concrete surfaces, exposed ceilings and retro mosaic tiled floor. A compact bar stands at the entrance, with a row of dining tables further into the room- and the kitchen and dining bar at the rear.
Rudimentary timber tables and chairs evoke the rural origins of the Isaan region- backdropped by the dramatic Thai mural that adorns the wall.
At the rear of the restaurant, colourful vintage timber stools face the dining bar and open kitchen.
Selections from the bar & kitchen
Frozen Tangerine Margarita (HK$80)
Pomelo and Pomegranate cooler – mocktail (HK$50)
Som Dtum Kai Kem – pounded green papaya salad, cherry tomatoes, chilli, dried shrimp, prawns with a sweet and sour tamarind dressing (HK$95)
Nahm Dtok Moo – spicy grilled kurobata pork collar salad with shallots, coriander, mint, lime, dish sauce and toasted rice dressing (HK$140)
Gai Yung– chicken thigh marinated for 24 hours in garlic, pepper, coriander, grilled till crispy, served with jhim jeaw (HK$158)
Singha 300ml (HK$50) / Singha 630ml (HK$90)
Yum Makuar Yaw– salad of grilled river prawns and smoky eggplant, shallots, mint, coriander, fish sauce and toasted rice dressing (HK$138)
A La Carte Menu
Set Lunch Menu- HK$98 Drink+ Rice + Main
Chachawan- Isaan / Thai restaurant & bar- Hong Kong
Address: 206 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan. Hong Kong
MTR: Sheung Wan station – Exit A1 – 10 minutes walk.
Inquiries: +852. 2549 0020 ( no reservations)
Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/chachawan.hongkong
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday- Lunch 12:00 pm ~3:00 pm & Dinner 6:30 pm ~ 12.00 midnight