Sunday, March 12, 2017

Boracay eats: Cha-cha's lets the fun shine in

BORACAY -- Summer is fast approaching, and to many, the ultimate fun in the sun can only mean a trip to Condé Nast Traveler's Readers’ Choice Awards’ World’s Best Island of 2016—Boracay.

But this Mecca for beach lovers and thrill seekers is also fast becoming a food destination. It’s home to numerous hole in D’Mall restaurants, cafes in its innards and alleyways, and restaurant concepts from A to Z dotting the whole of White Beach.

Standing out is a challenge. New players must find ways to step up their game like in the case of one of Boracay’s newest restaurants, Cha-cha’s Beach Café at the Coast Boracay, which marks the triumphant return of the Raintree Hospitality Group to the island.

As the hotel’s main F&B outlet, Cha-cha’s Beach Cafe serves an extensive breakfast spread to guests, including breakfast staples like freshly made bread, bacon, hashbrowns, rice and various fix-ins, an egg station, overnight oats, salads, cereals, among others.

Some unconventional items are also on offer like pizza (for our visit it was Breakfast Pizza with chives, cheese, bacon with a fried egg), some curry (a deep flavored and rich fish curry), a pho station, hummus with chips, 65-degree soft boiled eggs, and waffles with ube sauce, to name some.

Morning coffee, meanwhile, can be a glass of cold brew, or a cup of hot coffee. Latte, flat white, mocha or Americano, each cup is made fresh at every order.

Breakfast endings are sweeter with pastries, cakes, as well as healthier items like fresh fruit, and house-made fruit-yogurt cups.


For the other times of the day, there’s Cha-cha’s Beach Café ala carte menu. Serving the best out of Raintree’s restaurants, their menu contains “tropical” versions of Raintree favorites.

Take the Winner Winner Fried Chicken, inspired by Providore’s Winner Winner Chicken Dinner -- juicy fried chicken in a light batter, served alongside fries and two dips -- a chili honey, and a white gravy. Suiting the location, the chili honey hits the spot, adding hot and sweet to a savory bite of chicken.

Pizza is a common item in some of Raintree’s restaurants (Stella, Chelsea, Museum Café), and now, Cha-cha’s Beach Café’s as well. Stone-fired thin-crust classics like Margherita, All Meat, or pineapple-topped Hawaii Five-o, are available, as well as signature flavors like the Sriracha BBQ Chicken (sweet and spicy, topped with tender pieces of chicken barbecue, shredded lettuce, and finished with a fruity drizzle of heat from sriracha).

Grilled Chicken Satay feels like a nod to the Asian flavors of the Museum Café. Eight sticks of chicken kissed by the grill served with a spicy coconut peanut sauce, cooled down with a side of fresh cucumbers and red onions. Nahmprik or a chili salt is available on the side to taste.

How about some street tacos in Boracay? Cha-cha’s Taco Truck has homemade soft tortillas with filling options like Carne Asada, BBQ Chicken, and Fish. Try the Carnitas with its sweet-adobo pork filling a perfect combo to a swig of beer, or your liquor of choice.

Fresh seafood is one of the great things about island life, and in Cha-cha’s bestsellers include a Cold Seafood Platter (swimmer crabs, prawn cocktail, poke, ceviche, clams, and mussels), and their answer to the poke craze, a big bright bowl of sunshine, the Cold Spicy Salmon and Tuna Poke Bowl (raw tuna and salmon with pickled cucumber, fresh avocado, ikura (fish roe), gari (pickled ginger), fresh seaweed, and nori over Japanese rice).

The signature dessert, meanwhile, takes its cue from Chelsea’s Tres Leches. Cha-cha’s Coconut Mango Tres Leches has milk-soaked cake layers covered with Chantilly cream and sprinkled with dessicated coconut on a pool of cold Mango sauce with sago pearls. Striking and beautiful, best to be shared.


Nothing beats a cold drink by the beach, and in Cha-cha’s Beach Cafe these can translate to smoothies, floats, shakes, beer, mocktails, and cocktails.

Mocktails to mention include the Passionfruit, Orange & Matcha Iced Tea, and the Grapefruit, Lemon and Ginger soda, citrusy concoctions that can effortlessly refresh in a hot summer’s day.

 For some serious vacation-vibes, there’s the Tropical Fruit Punch, packing quite the fruity wallop with pineapple, watermelon, orange juice and some cherry syrup.

On the more alcoholic side of things, one cocktail option is the National, a Cuba Libre-esque rum drink that replaces lime and sugar, with Filipino ingredients like calamansi and panocha sugar.

If you’ve never done it, having ‘A Really Cheesy Umbrella Tiki Drink’ by the beach during a vacation should be a must-do. The cloudy cocktail is a melon liqueur-tinged pina colada made extra cheesy with a pineapple-umbrella garnish in a fun Tiki glass. You can’t help but “Let The Fun Shine” as you sip this wearing your beach togs, as you stare at the beach and bask at the gloriousness of where you are.

Happy hour starts at 3 p.m. every day with buy 1 take 1 promo on selected cocktails, and special beer promotions.

In an island of many choices, Cha-cha’s Beach Café offers an intriguing mix of the old and the new, the familiar and the unusual. Food-wise that translates to reimagined bestselling Raintree dishes, while for the hotel, it’s the trademark Raintree hospitality once felt in the island, but now in a new location, also in prices that won’t break the bank.