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Hong Kong has brought Tim Sum to the world, but that is not the only contribution it has made to the international cuisine.


The humble Cha Chaan Teng (茶餐厅) or tea restaurant culture has also become a spotlight in the food and beverage business in recent years, once again putting Hong Kong in the world map of cuisines. Thus, when Nerdy Noodles planned to launch their new outlet in Bugis+, their brief to us for this commercial interior design project was clear – to make sure their Hong Kong retro-style dining concept is reflected accurately, recreating not just the uniqueness of the Cha Chaan Teng interior design, but the vibrancy of Hong Kong’s city life.


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As this is a franchised outlet, the master design was provided by the franchisor, with Starry Homestead executing the interior renovation in Singapore. With a budget of $300,000, the restaurant’s space was utterly transformed, transporting the diners from Singapore to a Cha Chaan Teng in Hong Kong, complete with similar furniture, fixtures and wall decors.


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First, our team tackled the challenge posed by the unit’s high ceiling. To shape the place into the vernacular architecture of a Hong Kong flat, a loft that resembled a second storey was built. Recreations of windows, ventilation ducts and overhanging wires of old buildings, as well as bright neon lights were also installed. An old-style roller shutter was placed at the entrance, together with the signboard “Cart Noodles” or “Chezai Mian” (车仔面), the name of the popular hawker street food that originated in Hong Kong in the 1950s.

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Inside the restaurant, wall decors of colourful signboards protruding from external walls of buildings were reoccurring elements that reminded the diners of Hong Kong’s renowned cityscape. Drawing inspiration from the streets, we also introduced dividers that looked like the city’s metal railing to the space.

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The feel of the city of Hong Kong was further enhanced by the calligraphy on the walls and pillars, a tribute to the late graffiti artist and urban poet Tsang Tsou-Choi, one of Hong Kong’s most famous and celebrated cultural icons. Claiming to be the King of Kowloon, Tsang railed against the British and Hong Kong governments, whom he believed had robbed him of his kingdom, by writing Chinese calligraphy in public spaces.


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Of course, no Cha Chaan Tang is complete without the restaurant counter with grilles, booth seating, ’70s-style chairs and tables, tiled walls and tiled floors, which offered the space the definitive charm and character of the tea restaurant.


Overall, we wanted to translate Nerdy Noodles’ interior design concept of the Cha Chaan Teng precisely through the careful pairing of materials and colours such as the tiles, counter surface and wood panels as well as the choice of furniture. As a result, the concept came to life, offering diners a taste of not just the Cha Chaan Teng cuisine, but an authentic ambience of the ubiquitous eatery in Hong Kong.


For more information about Nerdy Noodles, check out their Facebook page at

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