agreeable tex-mexican at this open-air restaurant in holland village. I don’t have much experience with south american or mexican food – and tex-mex is probably the closest I’ve been (since this year).
it was a reticence set off by a traumatic carbplosion of an experience with my first ever burrito: beans and rice and guac and not much meat enveloped in a thick shroud of a tortilla – nothing I cared for a repeat of. so – I came with low expectations, and while I’m pretty darn sure the food here isn’t anything fantastic, it went down easily enough.
it’s a rustic cuisine – bright and fresh and pretty wholesome, even if the carbtravaganza bit of it still holds true. my timid-embrace-a-new-cuisine solution: (mostly) skip the carb, and get at the protein.
we started with a bowl of corn chips – pedestrian, though that salsa was something spicy, and hence addictive. the menu is split between enchiladas and burritos, quesadillas and tacos – and really, it’s the best real-life application of permutation and combination I’ve seen in life: the trinity of rice, tortilla and meat combined in a ludicrous number or ways.
the crab meat enchiladas: well-seasoned, real shredded crab wrapped in two tortillas – the filling was a wet mix that turned the tortillas into a wanton-skin-tasting stodge. the insides were delicious and easily finished, the tortillas I left behind. the cha cha cha combinadoes was the same, served with refried beans on the side.
pescado vera cruz: a rather expensive plate of fish wrapped in iceberg leaves and topped with salsa, nestled in a fried tortilla. puffed up and browned, the fried shell was texturally interesting, if less tasty than the nachos – and the fish was moist and quite tasty. overall, a plain-tasting but passable dish.
we finished with churros – possibly the best part of the meal. fresh-fried, still soft but with a good crust, these were topped with cinnamon sugar alongside ice-cream. I’m not sure what it says about me that I much prefer those rotating crullers you see on sale at american fairs and theme parks.
places like this are the bane of a food review: they have passably good food – sufficient for a mild hey-check-this-place-out-if-you’re-there recommendation, but nothing to render any enthusiasm or aggravation over; service is a little haphazardly absent, but helpful enough when you get it; and the place is done up open-air and without air-conditioning, pleasant enough for a bit of a loiter.
my friend says it’s “like fast food mexican” – and I concur. it incites just about the same level of enthusiasm those joints would – sufficiently reliable enough for a quick meal, but nothing inspiring.
Cha Cha Cha Mexican Restaurant ‘n’ Bar
32 Lorong Mambong, Holland Village,
tel +65 6462 1650
$$.5: three mains + un dessert = seventy-ish
p.s. I cannot remember if the corn chips were complimentary – I don’t recall seeing them on the bill but I do see it on the menu at $4 a bowl: I suggest asking if you’re bothered about these things. it’s a decent bowl with a good salsa, for what it’s worth.