Mon-Thu, 2pm-11pm; Fri-Sat, noon-midnight; Sun, noon-10pm
6 at Astor Pl.; N, R at 8th St.-NYU; L at Third Ave.
Cha-An is a second-floor haven for lovers of tea and elegant Japanese snacks. Chef Tomoko Kato is trained not only in home-style Japanese cooking, but also in French pastry; she apprenticed at Bouley Bakery with Bill Yosses, the Obamas' White House pastry chef, and also did turns at the Russian Tea Room and Le Bernardin before opening her own restaurant in 2005. While stellar sweets make Cha-An popular for afternoon tea or dessert, Kato also presents a short but notable savory menu. Sweet-potato samosas and tea-smoked salmon make delicate appetizers, and visitors also have the option of one of two Cha-An "sets," featuring a range of dishes, tea, and dessert. Though wine, beer, and sake are available, most diners take advantage of the extensive tea list that includes several dozen offerings, each presented in the appropriate style. The décor is traditional as well: wooden floors, tables, and booths; bamboo room dividers; rice-paper-shaded lamps giving off a warm glow; and fresh flower sprigs at each table.Traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony
Half-hour sessions; $15 per person, including matcha and Japanese sweets; maximum four people per ceremony.
Hours: First and third Sundays of every month, noon-4pm, reservations required
Tea-Smoked Salmon, $9.50; Chef’s Dessert Assortment, $7