Lifestyle cafe: Macau’s Cha Bei bridges the gap between culture, design and tea/food

The concept is the dream of founder and curator Joanna Lui

PUBLISHED : Monday, 10 April, 2017, 12:36pm
UPDATED : Monday, 10 April, 2017, 12:36pm

Cha Bei, located at the Promenade Shops at Galaxy Macau, is already a hit with locals and tourists. We arrive in mid-afternoon and the teatime crowd is waiting in line for a table in the city’s first lifestyle cafe. The concept is the dream of founder and curator Joanna Lui, who wanted to bridge the gap between culture, design and tea and food, a place where everyone shares their stories and creates new memories. The eye-catching cafe opens up onto the mall.

There is an open kitchen and takeaway counter - with seats for people who just want to eat and go to the front. The XO teas, jams and other products are on display for patrons to buy. The décor is reminiscent of spring, with flowing curved walls - there are no corners and lots of green and pink and china teacups are displayed on the wall to the back. We love the swing near the entrance for photo opportunities. We sit to the side of the main dining area, on the tulip chairs from Marcel Wanders’ Moooi line. The green chairs are tall. I feel a bit like Alice in Wonderland in these oversized petal chairs. The four chairs make up the flower around the table, creating a semi-private corner.

The menu is fun, as it offers Western dishes with familiar Chinese ingredients. There is something for everyone, from healthy choices to guilty pleasures and comfort food. We try the delicious Cha Bei salad, which is fresh, tangy and nutty with ingredients such as lettuce, broccoli, quinoa, green mango, toasted almonds and drizzled with coconut dressing. A lobster bisque with crispy rice is hearty with fresh Boston lobster, shimeji mushroom, choy sum and golden rice adding a crispy texture to the flavourful bisque. It is a meal in itself. The not-so-traditional VAV is a giant vol-au-vent stuffed with chicken, abalone, scallop, fish maw and rich cream sauce. It is enough for two. Under the guilty pleasures, we opt for the insta-worthy strawberry chiffon cake with fresh berries and cotton candy to end. The chiffon is light and fluffy as is the sweet cotton candy. There is a choice of teas, which are served in decorated china teacups on saucers, which remind me of having tea at my grandmother’s. Tracey Furniss