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Home / Chinese Cuisine / Wong Kok Char Chan Teng – It is shiok but in another way!
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Wong Kok Char Chan Teng – It is shiok but in another way!
By Alfred September 1, 2009
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Wong Kok Char Chan Teng – It is shiok but in another way!
Fast Facts
Cheong Fan HK French Toast
Chinese Cuisine
Price Range:
S$31- S$40
Rating Range:
7 to 7.9
Bugis (武吉士)
Food Centre:
Recommended For:
Dinner Lunch
Reviewed by:

Recent years, we’ve seen more and more Hong Kong style cafes penetrating our local market. But have you wondered why it is so popular?

In Hong Kong, tea restaurants/cafes or the Cha Chan Teng as they called it, have been around for a long long time. Over there, it’s at these eating outlets that the western food culture gained foothold whereas ours started from kopitiams.

The Char Chan Teng originally started getting popular in Macau offering Macanese cuisine which is unique to Macau with a fusion of Chinese food and Portuguese food. Things like Cheese Baked Rice or Portuguese Egg Tarts are inventions of these outlets.

When it arrives at Hong Kong, they incorporated Hong Kong cuisines into it and Hong Kong style Char Chan Teng would have food ranges from dim sum to wanton mee to sandwiches and of course instant noodles too.

Culturally Hong Kongers patronise these kind of cafes for yuan yang tea(mixture of coffee and tea) or iced lemon tea(dong ling cha) just like we patronise mama kopitiams for teh tarik or hawker centres for sugarcane juice. It’s like you won’t be expected to find sugarcane juice in a kopitiam or a restaurant right? So it’s the same thing for them in that way.

In the old days, these eateries operated in a style which is something they called Tea House until the 1990s, Hong Kong Maxim Group, Hong Kong’s biggest food corporation launched a new concept design to uplift the standard of Char Chan Teng which is now famously known as Hong Kong-style fast food.

Other than Maxim, the other 2 popular Hong Kong fast food are Café de Coral and Fairwood. These kind of eateries nowadays offer all kind of food from Chinese to Western to Indian to Italian or even American. International food getting popular is the effects of globalisation just like a lot of our foodcourts also have turned into something that offer you Korean, Japanese, Indonesian or Taiwanese food nowadays.

These Hong Kong-style concept outlets arrived at our shore sometime between 2006 and 2007 in the form of Xin Wang Hong Kong Kitchen and Wong Kok Char Chan Teng and many others. I have been told many good things about such cafes and thought that it’s one of those places where people would just go for some foreign food. Back then I didn’t take interest in such places because I’m usually not very adventurous with exotic food.

Some time this year, a friend who visits this kind of cafe pretty often, offered to take me to one and that visit was to open up my eyes in many ways. For one, when I first arrived at the outlet, I was amazed by the crowd. As we all know it’s only good food that Singaporeans love queuing up for, so I almost got deceived by the queue of about 15 at the door.

But my first visit to Xin Wang was not fantastic. It’s not that I didn’t enjoyed my experience but it’s just that my expectation bar was raised wrongly. I now know that it’s not the place to go for quality Dim Sum but if you and a few friends want a nice place to chill out and some exotic food or drinks to go along then the place would be making all senses.

I can imagine it’s the same case as when Starbucks and Coffeebean first appeared on our shore. There must had been someone who also couldn’t understand why people would want to pay $5 for a coffee when it can be bought at 50 cent at a kopitiam.

But just like Mcdonalds, it’s not just the burger people want to buy. There is also the comfort factor so these kind of concept outlets where you get to eat simple food or drinks at a comfortable environment by paying a little more can have a market.

In Singapore we have kopitiams > foodcourts > restaurants and Hong Kong style cafes just come in between foodcourts and restaurants. The standard of the food is not any better than any food you can find in foodcourts and yet the ‘restaurant atmosphere’ it is offering you is not going to cost you what would otherwise at a restaurant. The market for this sort of outlets is very strong and it is booming day by day.

Wong Kok’s Entrance

Wong Kok’s Interior

I had the opportunity to be brought to Wong Kok Char Chan Teng recently and over there, I opened my eyes a little wider. For one Wong Kok’s prices seem a little lower though the atmosphere is definitely better over at Xin Wang Hong Kong Kitchen.

Wong Kok’s French Toast

Since I now know that these places are not to be expected to serve real quality food, we ordered sporadically on the recommendation of the waitress. We ordered Nissin Noodles with Chicken and Beef, a French Toast and Cheong Fan Omelette. In the past, when I heard about people coming to these kind of outlets to eat Nissin Noodles with a piece of luncheon meat or something else for $7, I cannot understand the logic of it. After eating it, I still cannot understand the logic. I mean they’re using Nissin Brand noodles so it tasted exactly like how Nissin Noodles should taste – no surprise there.

Wong Kok’s Nissin Noodle with Pork Chop

Wong Kok’s Nissin Noodle with Beef

Wong Kok’s Omelett Cheong Fan

Mine came with a piece of beef which was marinated but not exactly fantastic. The other bowl came with 2 pieces of chicken breast which was pan fried and tasted not any better than any pan fried chicken breast I’ve had. The omelette Cheong Fan was interesting. It surprisingly had that wok hei flavour and was quite shiok. It’s overall taste is comparable to chai tao kuay and indeed if someone were to blindfold me and asked me to eat this, I would had guessed it’s chai tao kuay. The French toast came in that familiar deep fried crust with peanut butter in between. This was good though I prefer the one I had at Xinwang. At Xinwang, it’s a bigger piece in a cube shape and though it was deep fried but the inside was fluffy and very good to go along with the butter and maple syrup at the top.

Hong Kong style cafes seem to be keen to serve ‘fun’ food more than anything else as they embrace you in comfortable atmosphere but the price can be pretty steep and you could chalk up a bill that’s better off be spent at a restaurant if you’re not careful.

Indeed, it could be argued that this kind of outlet concept is so popular to the point where there are no compelling reasons to be regarded as a need to serve better quality foods. What it does appear to be, at the very least in my eyes of the food that I’ve eaten at such outlets is thay they do have a certain level of authenticity.

Price: $2+ onwards for drinks, $4+ onwards for appetizers, $6+ onwards for main dishes.

Recommendation: French Toast, Omelette Cheong Fan.

Conclusion: Eating in this kind of place gives me the feeling that the dynamic has changed and it’s not only food but other things that can make you shiok too. Here the food quality drops a bit but it all can still be a fun experience especially staring at the ‘alien’ menu. For me, these are places that I would go if I have good company and don’t really care how my food would turn out.

Likes: Omelette Cheong Fan is authentic.

Dislikes: Nissin Noodles for $6 is not worth it(though it came with a piece of meat too).

Address Overall Rating

Wong Kok Char Chan Teng 旺角茶餐厅
200 Victoria Street
#02-50 Bugis Junction

7/10 ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ 

6.5/10 ★★★★★★½☆☆☆ 

7.5/10 ★★★★★★★½☆☆ 

7.5/10 ★★★★★★★½☆☆ 

8/10 ★★★★★★★★☆☆ 

7.25/10 ★★★★★★★¼☆☆ 

Readers' Comment(s) : 2
Jasmine Tan says:

I went to this cafe a number of times and usually eat the noodle dishes. I like the black sauce udon and also wanton mee.

They give a free giant milk tea for a group of 2 or a group of 5 for birthday celebration.Of course the birthday person must produce IC as proof and valid thru 3 days before or after birthday.

Posted September 2, 2009
Alfred says:

Ok good, so dec we can go there to celebrate your birthday.

Posted September 5, 2009
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