On Monday I attended the donut class at Cha An, a small Japanese tea shop on 9th street. (If you haven’t been to Cha An before, I’d highly recommend it. They serve wonderful tea, light food and pastries, all made in-house.) I found out about the class while having tea at the store with my friends Karen and Queenie several months ago. We ate tea cakes, thick slices of bread topped with red beans, and mochi covered chocolate. After enjoying the desserts I was excited to try the class and finally learn from a Japanese pastry chef.
When I walked in to Cha An for the class, I saw a group of six Japanese people sitting inside, speaking to each other in Japanese. The pastry chef came out to greet us, and casually mentioned the class would be taught entirely in Japanese. They didn’t mention this to me when I made the reservation (in English) on the phone, and I considered leaving since I don’t speak Japanese. I didn’t want to be rude and leave in the middle of the pastry chef’s introduction, so I stayed and watched. I’m glad I did. The instructor was very nice and would make English comments occasionally as she worked, and always answered any questions I had. The recipe was also printed in English, so I would be able to recreate it when I went home.
Just as the class title promised, we made donuts. The unique Japanese spin on the donuts was to coat the fried dough in a mixture of brown sugar and kinako powder, made from roasted soy beans. This gave the donuts a savory taste, good for an afternoon snack. We also coated the donuts in a mixture of egg whites and powdered sugar, satisfying my American sweet tooth. While the dough was rising they served us a delicious lunch of curry soup, fish cake, vegetables and rice (sorry I can’t describe it in better detail, lunch was also served by a waitress that announced the dishes in Japanese).
While I’m sure I missed many tips and tricks throughout the class, I enjoyed my experience and plan to go back for more. They offer classes twice a month, on topics like brownies, cheesecake and tea tiramisu. For schedules and reservations, call Cha An or stop by for the schedule (it’s written in English and Japanese on a small piece of paper on the table at the top of the steps).
Cha An Japanese Tea House
230 East 9th Street
New York, NY 10003
(212) 228-8030 phone