Ching Ching Cha

$$$$ ($14 and under)
Ching Ching Cha photo
Allison Dinner

Editorial Review

Maybe it's the lute music. Perhaps it's the handsome rosewood tables, the sunlight pouring in from the skylight or the chance to unwind on big pillows and while away an afternoon with your date over a pot of tea. Everything at Ching Ching Cha, the serene tea house off Georgetown's busy main drag, conspires to put you in a better mood than when you came in. And it has all the makings for a great date -- a lovely setting, more than 60 different teas and a small menu of little dishes to accompany your beverage of choice. The best of the bunch: steamed dumplings stuffed with lamb and cabbage; peanuts tossed with star anise and peppercorns; and curried beef sealed in a packet of puff pastry. "You should always try something new," a waiter with a beatific smile coaches me when I ask for his recommendation. Today I'm sipping an aromatic ginseng oolong, but next time I might try the jasmine blossom, with tight buds that unfurl into what look like flowers as it steeps in its glass of hot water.

--Tom Sietsema (February 12, 2006)