Che Che's is a new home-based take-out venture specializing in Chinese dumplings and steamed buns. It may still be in its infancy, but the food is delicious and incredibly affordable, given the quality. The only caveat is that they're located in Palawatta, which isn't the most accessible location, but we think it's well worth the trip.
We often find that home cooks offer some of the best food in Colombo, both in terms of quality and value for money — and Che Che's exemplifies just that. They're still very new so the menu is limited to jiaozi (dumplings) and baozi (buns), both of which can be had either steamed or pan-fried. What really surprised us was how affordable all of it was, with each portion (10 dumplings or 5 buns) priced under Rs. 400. Yes, dumplings aren't incredibly expensive to make, but they take a fair bit of skill and know-how to nail. They offer chicken, beef, pork and vegetarian fillings in traditional and spicy variants. At the moment they're take-out only, but we were told that they're hoping to open a dine-in restaurant in Colombo once they've expanded their menu.
First off, we tried the steamed jiaozi with tradional beef filling (Rs. 350 for 10). These were along the lines of what you'd find at most restaurants, but executed with more finesse. The dumpling had a velvety-smooth texture, with just a hint of saltiness. The filling was also seasoned just enough to bring out the flavour of the beef.
While the dumpling was good on its own, to really unlock its full flavour potential, you need to dip it into the accompanying sauce. This one came with a soy, cilantro and green chilli sauce, which brought that extra bit of saltiness and heat. More often than not, restaurants will serve it with just soy, but those other two ingredients really tie all the flavours together.
Next up was the pan-fried jiaozi with traditional pork filling (Rs. 370 for 10). While we enjoyed the beef filling quite a lot, this was our pick between the two dumplings. The fact that the dumplings had been pan-fried added a welcome crunch, which worked beautifully with the well-seasoned and moist pork filling. Once again, the chilli garlic sauce added another dimension of flavour. All their sauces are homemade and definitely taste like it. This sauce had more oomph, with plenty of garlic and just enough spice.
The pan-fried baozi with spicy pork filling (Rs. 395 for five) ended things off on a high note. A good baozi is nearly impossible to find in Colombo, so needless to say, these blew the competition straight out of the water. They nailed that perfect contrast of textures, with a crisp outer shell and a soft centre. The spicy pork filling also also balanced out the doughy flavour of the bun.
The filling itself was tender, with a texture almost like pulled pork. This one came with a sweet chilli sauce, which was my personal favourite. The sauce was perfectly balanced, with the occasional chilli seed adding a burst of heat. It was so good that I shamelessly finished off the entire thing with a teaspoon. No regrets.
Since Che Che's is still very new, they currently only offer take-out from their home in Palawatta. Orders can be placed by either calling them on 0773508492 or contacting them via their Facebook page. Orders should ideally be placed a day in advance but they aren't too strict about that.
We've been asked to recommend restaurants for dimsum and dumplings. Until now, we haven't been able to wholeheartedly recommend any particular spot. But Che Che's dumplings are both affordable and delicious. We're definitely looking forward to seeing them in Colombo.