Signifying ‘home’ in both English and Cantonese, Kasa is a modern eatery that celebrates the best of East and West. Kasa takes the familiar dishes of Hong Kong and gives them a fresh, modern twist, resulting in a somewhat new trend in Hong Kong – the contemporary cha chaan teng.
Literally a Chinese ‘tea restaurant’, cha chaan tengs are a unique class of Hong Kong–style restaurants, typically somewhere for affordable snacks at any time of day. Founded by Adrian Lo of Foodjoy Concepts, Kasa has taken this concept and propelled it into the modern age, serving traditional dishes in a clean, modern environment, with a free-roaming menu that dabbles liberally in Western ingredients.
While the original Kasa in Wan Chai sticks truer to Cantonese classics, the second restaurant in Central takes the concept one step further with a veggie-centric menu rooted in both Western and Chinese flavours. Touting a completely MSG-free menu, the idea of clean eating is at the core of Kasa Central, offering a new mode of health-conscious dining for the Chinese consumer.
To that end, Kasa on Wellington Street attracts all types of diners, from the executive crowd popping by for a quick lunch on-the-go to locals intrigued by the familiar yet new flavours, as well as the health-conscious expat crowd. The diner is also prone to draw in those just passing by, with its bright and cheery interiors outfitted in eggshell blue, peach and light pink. From the neon wall-signs to the sparkling countertops, the space is retro-chic and completely approachable, a feeling that will continue when you spot the bountiful salad selection peeking out through the glass display cases.
More often than not, guests stop in at Kasa for takeaway, with a choice of three dishes per box, encompassing fibres, carbs and proteins. A rotation of 12-15 dishes are on offer daily depending on what’s in season, and the tantalising selection can make it a tough choice to narrow down.
Perhaps you’d like the sweet potato noodles with shiitake mushrooms and onsen egg, or the eggplant lasagna doused in a bright tomato sauce with mozzarella cheese. If protein is what you’re after, the braised chicken with mushroom broth and bamboo shoots should do the trick, paired with cold tofu that’s covered with a homemade celery chilli sauce. For vegetarians, there’s the fluffy frittata with sun-dried tomatoes, or the tofu, eggplant and crispy bean curd skin.
Drinks veer towards classics, with Hong Kong–style milk tea or house-made soy milk replete with protein and essential nutrients. Sip these in-between bites of the yakult mousse or milk tea panna cotta for a true East-meets-West pairing.
While Kasa Wan Chai still nods to the past with heritage accents and a nostalgic menu, Kasa Central is a vegetarian-friendly, forward-focused eatery that touts its message of healthy and sustainable dining. Nonetheless, the basics of the cha chaan teng model are still there: easy-to-access, affordably priced and community-oriented. The fact that the food is also healthy and nutritious at Kasa represents a step in the right direction – a new brand of Hong Kong–style dining that is here to stay.