HONOLULU
I’ve been enamored by the cha chaang teng since my trip to Hong Kong earlier this year. It’s like a Chinese diner – a casual spot that offers a blend of Chinese and Westernized dishes.

I haven’t really found a good counterpart in the San Francisco Bay Area, but in Honolulu I think I’ll always drop by Anytime Café whenever I’m craving the delights of a cha chaang teng.

Red bean ice drink (left) and HK milk tea (right)

Nestled in the corner of a strip mall called Market City in Kaimuki, Anytime Café has the feel of a cha chaang teng, from the contemporary décor to the iced desserts to the Hong Kong milk tea. Most people in Hawaii probably don’t refer to Anytime Café as a cha chaang teng, knowing it mostly as that place with a split personality of serving both Chinese and Italian food.

I knew this would be a great lunch spot to bring my Mom, who was born in Hong Kong. But turns out my Mom and the rest of my family have been here before, and she ordered her usual favorite – the Hainan Chicken ($12.75), a half a chicken served with ginger-chili dipping sauce, a bowl of broth and steamed rice.

I ordered food I liked in Hong Kong, including the Hong Kong milk tea (a hot cup of tea blended with condensed milk) and an order of the Baked Pork Chop Fried Rice ($12.95), a plate of pork chop over rice that’s covered with tomato sauce and cheese and then baked to create this comforting and filling dish.

Hainan Chicken served on a tray with chicken broth and steamed rice

Anytime Café’s version hit the spot with smart flavors and a well-prepared pork chop, although it wasn’t as amazing as the pork dish I had in Hong Kong. (That pork was amazingly thick but tender with a delicious sauce.)

We returned later that night for dinner with the rest of my family because Anytime Café is a great spot for young and old, with easy dishes that’ll please young kids like my nephew and niece (think spaghetti and pizza) and more substantial entrees for adults like risotto and bowls of noodles.

Yu Dan Fun or Fish Ball Noodle Soup ($7.95)

I ordered another cha chaang teng classic, which is the yu dan fun, or fish ball noodle soup ($7.95). Anytime Café made a nice broth with fish cake balls, but the noodle I chose (they gave three options) weren’t the same as what they used in Hong Kong. This noodle was a wide, flat egg noodle when I wanted the rice flat clear noodles common for this dish in Hong Kong. I don’t know if they actually offer it and I don’t know how to order it or they just don’t make it.

We also tried a few of the iced drinks and desserts, and while they were colorful and not as sweet, they didn’t seem to have a lot of punch. Still, when you’re just looking for something cold to cool you off in the hot Hawaii weather, the iced desserts here will typically do the trick.

Anytime Café in Honolulu is an inviting, authentic Hong Kong cha chaang teng that’s popular for the whole family, offering traditional café dishes that are solid and satisfying.

Rating: 3 out of 4 camera snaps

 

 

Anytime Café, 2919 Kapiolani Blvd., Honolulu. PH: 808.735.3888. Open daily. Reservations, major credit cards accepted.

Grass Jelly iced drink ($4.50) didn't have much flavor

Closer look at the Hainan Chicken ($12.75)

Oxtail Noodle Soup my Mom ordered later at dinner ($11.95)

Chicken-mushroom risotto, $11,95 (right)

Diners enjoying dinner at Anytime Cafe

Halo halo snow ice dessert ($5.25) was a bit hard to eat in the small tumbler

3 Responses to Hong Kong-style Diner for the Family

  1. renee says:

    A very complete review. I especially like your on location photography. It’s easier to achieve those short depth of field effects in a studio (at home) with plenty of time and choices of lighting, but I’ve seen how quickly you shoot. Great job!

    • Ben Ben says:

      Thanks Renee. I try to be discreet even though I’m lugging my big SLR to shoot the shots. Sometimes I wish I can do a big overhead shot but don’t want to draw more attention to myself.

  2. Carolyn Jung says:

    Hainan chicken is one of my all-time fave dishes. I think it’s the ginger dipping sauce that really hooks me, too. I’m a fiend for ginger, after all. 😉