Busy, bustling Astoria Boulevard has long been one of my favorite food blocks
in New York City. Joining some excellent eateries on this sometimes overlooked thoroughfare – including San Antonio Bakery #2, BZ Grill, Basil Brick Oven Pizza, El Rey Mexican Restaurant (not to be confused with the trucks), and Astor Bake Shop – is the one month old Venezuelan and Chinese spot, Pao and Cha Cha
23-03 Astoria Blvd, near 23rd St, Astoria
Guillermo and Mariantonia Hung, married cooks both originally from Venezuela, recently moved to Astoria from Greenpoint, Brooklyn, fell in love with our neighborhood and resolved to open a restaurant. In Greenpoint the pair ran a Supper Club where they honed the home cooking and fusion menu now on display at Pao and Cha Cha.
My interest piqued by their description of Pao and Cha Cha as a “Latin Asian Kitchen” I stopped in yesterday for lunch and absolutely enjoyed everything I tried. Favorites included the crispy fried Chicken Dumplings served with their delicious Pao Salsa, a sweet and sour fruit compote on the side ($4.80 for 4 pieces).
Awesome Chicken Dumplings with Pao Salsa
The perfectly fried cheese empanada and shredded chicken empanada were paired with the Cha Cha Salsa, made of cilantro, onion, vinegar, and spices ($3 each) and were also excellent. The Chicken Teriyaki Teppan Grill Platter provided a healthy balance to my fried feast with tender chunks of white meat chicken, green salad and rice ($10.20 with two sides of your choice). Pao and Cha Cha also offers rotating daily specials and I was sorry to have missed out on the Lemony Chicken Stew of the day before!
Teriyaki Chicken with Rice and Salad
As a nod to the couple’s shared, all encompassing love of cooking, Pao and Cha Cha plans to offer tastings of new menu items (look for an announcement about the first one next week on their Facebook page
) and eventually on site cooking classes.
The cute coffee station at Pao and Cha Cha
Pao and Cha Cha makes great use of a small space, with a coffee and tea station that features french press coffee and Vietnamese Coffee, the later served with condensed milk on the bottom. I’ll also be back to try the Cachitos, Venezuelan Ham Bread, that folks kept stopping in for while I was there.
With only one tiny table for two, Pao and Cha Cha is not a dine in destination. They do delivery, but better yet just stop in Astoria, get some great food and meet your new neighbors.