Cha Yen

Special thanks to Cha Yen for extending this food review invitation.

Cha Yen (ชาเย็น) started as a drinks stall at Armenian Street (Lebuh Armenian) in George Town, there is now a permanent location at i-Avenue. Since the shop's opening, this Thai-style café has been expanding its menu at a steady pace.
The idea behind Cha Yen is to provide a means where customers can enjoy popular Thai street food and drinks without crossing the border. To ensure that the taste remains faithful, most ingredients are imported from Thailand.
Thai pop music at the background sets up a relaxing ambience in the dining area. Near the ordering counter is a comfortable couch for customers to chill out. The other wall is crammed with graffiti which extends nearly up to the ceiling. In fact, customers can borrow marker pens to mark their visits here.
As the restaurant's name implies, the signature item here is Cha Yen (ชาเย็น, RM5.50), or iced milk tea. In Thailand, this popular drink is commonly sold by street vendors. Made from red tea and using evaporated milk as creamer, the drink is satisfying as it trickles down the throat.
Meanwhile for something fizzy, there are a number of carbonated drinks such as Apple Soda (RM5.50), Blue Lemon Soda (RM5.50), Pineapple Soda (RM5.50) and Strawberry Soda (RM5.50).
Each drink is flavored by a different type of fruit syrup, which is also responsible for giving it a distinctive color.
Moving on to food, more dishes have been introduced since my previous visit. Many of these dishes come with a heap of rice. Previously, rice is cooked with butterfly-pea flower. Just recently, Cha Yen has switched to using red tea instead to cook rice. Red tea provides better aroma and is the reason why the rice is brownish now.
One of the recommended dishes is Kang Kieo Wan Thai Green Curry Chicken (RM12.80). Kaeng khiao wan (แกงเขียวหวาน) derives its green color from green chili peppers. Unlike the ones served in Chok Dee Thai, this version is quite watery because it does not use much coconut milk. The curry contains chicken, daikon, kaffir lime leaves and red chili peppers.
Cha Yen Fried Chicken (RM12.80) does not resemble Thai fried chicken recipes like kai thot takhrai (ไก่ทอดตะไคร้). Nevertheless, this version has proven to be hugely popular among regular customers. The chicken is marinated with salt and spices to give it an appetizing appeal. Blessed with mouth-watering aroma, this dish is best enjoyed while it is still hot from the fryer.
Meanwhile, Pla Rad Prik Fish With Thai Chilli (RM14.80) is another sound choice. Pla rad phrik (ปลาราดพริก) literally means "fish with chili", and refers to the sweet-and-sour chili dressing on fried fish. This dish uses tilapia, a fish with moderately firm texture but has lots of tiny bones.
Kaeng Som (RM18.80) is a new item on the menu. This version of keang som (แกงส้ม) is the southern Thai variant. In the rest of the country, this dish is known as kaeng lueang (แกงเหลือง), or "yellow curry", in order to differentiate it from the central Thai version. The curry is made from red chili peppers, tamarind, asam gelugur (ส้มแขก) and turmeric; the last ingredient is responsible for the curry's yellowish color. The curry way too spicy for me that it has numbing effect on my tongue. Therefore, go slowly especially if you are not used to Thai cuisine's spiciness.
Kaeng Som is served in a claypot and is kept warm by burning jellied fuel inside the wooden pedestal. Besides cauliflowers and yardlong beans, the curry also contains several large-sized shrimps. The shrimps are quite fresh as evidenced by their succulent crunchiness.
Food at Cha Yen is reasonably affordable considering the quality of ingredients and serving sizes. Potential customers who find it inconvenient to travel to i-Avenue can visit the franchised outlet at Lebuh Acheh. This kiosk only sells drinks and limited food choices. Nevertheless, food quality is monitored closely to ensure that customers get the same dining experience from both outlets.

Name: Cha Yen (ชาเย็น)
Address: 1-1-53, Medan Kampung Relau, 11900 Bayan Lepas, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 017-441-0041
Business hours: 10:00am-10:00pm
Website: https://www.facebook.com/thaistylechayen
Coordinates: 5.33332 N, 100.29368 E
Directions: Cha Yen is located at i-Avenue, just several shops away from Scotiabank. Street parking is available in front of the shop.

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