Puff Cha Brings New Flavors to Hell’s Kitchen

Article by Ka Yee Chan
Photo by Niko

Puff Cha, a place with puffs, tea, and more. It is not just a coffee shop, but it is also a place that is great for a snack, afternoon tea, dinner and even dessert. It is located on 50th street between 9th and 10th avenues in Hell’s Kitchen. If you have trouble finding it, look for the most colorful store of the street, you will find it!

Puff Cha is a partnership between four friends, Phet, Im, Bee, and Nut. They all originated from Thailand. With a passion of starting a business, they wanted to start something with Thai food/Asian food, but also something different, so they decided curry puff it is.

Without any background in culinary arts, they learned their recipes back home in Thailand, from family, friends, and constantly improving and trying new flavors on their own. First, they started an online shop to sell curry puff and had great feedback. Just two and a half months ago, they established Puff Cha in Hell’s Kitchen, which is a great addition to the neighborhood.

Let’s learn a bit about the puffs:

A puff is genuinely deep fried dough with fillings of different flavors. There are 10 flavors, which are the Original, Chicken-Basil, Chicken-Peanut, Hawaiian, Thai BBQ Red Pork, Korean BBQ, Mixed Veggie, Spinach Cheese, Sweet Taro, and Banana Choco. With two special flavors each month, this month they are Stella Omelet and Coconut n’ Corn. I know it is no use to simply say the names of the puffs, so let’s go more into details.

Chicken-Basil Puff is made of chicken, basil, taro, onion, and chili. The filling is very full, and the ingredients are blended very well together. Visually, you can’t tell what ingredients there are in the filling, but you can definitely taste each of the ingredients listed above. Chicken-Basil Puff is great for someone who enjoys the flavor of spices, because it’s composed of three kinds of spices: basil, onion and chili.

Chicken-Peanut Puff is made of chicken and peanut sauce. The filling has more texture compared to the Chicken-Basil Puff. Chicken-Peanut Puff has a lighter flavor and it leans toward the sweet side. If you are looking for a lighter snack, this is a great choice.

Hawaiian Puff is best when it is hot, because of the mozzarella cheese inside. It is almost like a Hawaiian pizza but in puff form. The sweet and sour from pineapple, and a bit of saltiness from the ham, melt with the cheese. You know exactly what that is like if you’ve had Hawaiian pizza before.

Sweet Taro Puff is good as an appetizer, or even dessert. It is best when it is hot. Each bite of the puff is filled with fluffiness of taro and coconut milk blended together. You can’t really make proper conversation when eating this, because your mouth is completely filled with the fluffiness of taro.

The puffs are best when they are hot, but even sitting out for a while, and when I say a while I mean for almost an hour, the dough is still crispy. The puffs are also great for take out to eat on the street and share with friends. Because the puffs look the same, just in case you get confused, at the corner of each take out bag there is a stamp of the flavor of the puffs.

Puff Cha was just opened for two months and a half, and they already have specials. You can tell how passionate and creative the four young friends are. The Stella’s Omelet is named after a friend who helped them with the recipe. It is made of egg, spinach, ham, and cheddar cheese. The other special of the month, Coconut n’ corn is made of coconut, corn, milk, and butter. I will not say much about these two. I think is best to keep it as a surprise.

If you are feeling a bit greased up due to the puffs, there are nearly 40 kinds of teas you can pick from, which include Chinese, Japanese, English, and more. The tea is served in cup as well as in a pot. I highly recommend having it in pot if you are planning to sit there for a while.

It is a clear teapot with a clear base where there is a lighted candle inside to keep the tea warm. It is also very beautiful to look at. Peach Fairies is what I had, smelled and tasted like its name. The smell is quite addictive, and has a strong peach scent. The taste is rather light compared to its scent; it is great after a full meal.

If you are looking for other beverages other than tea, there are also many options.

Thai Coffee, made the Thai way, it is a bit more bitter compared to Vietnamese coffee, and is also less creamy.

Thai Iced Tea, as always has a vibrant orange color, and it is not very sweet compared to normal Thai Iced Tea, which is great to drink while you eat your sweet puffs and dessert.

Matcha Latte is a surprise. It is full of the taste of Jasmine tea. Jasmine tea lovers should definitely try this. It is not so creamy, and it’s quite refreshing.

For a spicier palette, fall in love with the Mixed Seafood Tom Yum Soup. It has galangal, onion, lemongrass, and spicy coconut soup. It is not so spicy at first, but it has a strong kick at the end. People who cannot take spiciness that well might sweat a bit, but for spicy lover, they are ready to order a second bowl.

I think you are hungry by now. Roasted Red Pork Noodle and Kao Moo Dang would be great choices for the main course. Roasted Red Pork Noodle consists of noodles, roasted red pork, garlic, cilantro, spring onion, and fried wonton. The noodles and the soup are kept separate, so that the noodles would not get soft if you are eating something else at the moment. You pour the soup into the bowl when you are ready.

Kao Moo Dang is roasted pork and sweet red sauce served with jasmine rice. Roasted pork is rather skinny, which is great for you calories watchers. The sweet red sauce has a very special taste, because of the black salt. If you are not in favor of the taste, you can choose not to put in your rice. There is also a condiment tray with 8 condiments you can pick from to flavor your dish.

Both of these dishes have sweetness to them. If you are not someone who loves their protein sweet, you can try other delicious dishes on the menu.

Dessert time! Other than Sweet Taro Puff and Banana Choco Puff,, there are also Banana Pudding, Mocha Brulee, and Strawberry Short Cake. Everything is homemade.

Eating at Puff Cha, you would want to try everything, because everything is new and creative. It is a place suitable for eating from morning to night. You would wish they were opened 24/7, but they open 10am and close at 10pm.

It is not a very big space. It has approximately eight tables. However, Puff Cha has its own rhythm. The atmosphere is very relaxing. You can enjoy your puffs, chat with your friends, or even read a book while drinking your Peach Fairies.

If you are waiting for a seat or your order, you can also chat with Phet, Im, Bee or Nut. They are rather friendly and enthusiastic.

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