Old-style teahouses hong kong
Updated: 2011-01-24 09:28
By Donna Mah (China Daily)
Years ago when I first arrived in Hong Kong, I used to frequent a tea house in Wanchai called Double Happiness. I loved going there because the serving staff were older people who carried the dim sum dishes of dumplings, meats, cakes, and vegetables on a big tray with a strap around their necks, and because they served tea in traditional ceramic tea cups.
It was always crowded and noisy. Sometimes it felt you were in competition with other patrons to get the server to bring his tray to your table. Still, it was always fun and was very atmospheric.
The building which housed Double Happiness was torn down over a decade ago. So I had to find a tea house replacement.
There is the famous (and infamous for a gangland-style shooting) Luk Yu Tea House in Central, which appeals to both locals and tourists alike. With its colonial-style dcor and its tasty traditional dim sum, it is a very popular choice. Tycoon Li Ka-shing supposedly has his regular morning tea here every day.
My favorite is the Lin Heung Tea House. There is a small counter by the ground floor entrance that sells traditional Cantonese wedding pastries as well as a selection of tea leaves.
Up the stairs, your senses are assaulted by bright white light and a fair bit of noise, usually the happy cacophony of elderly regulars and families. They start serving dim sum from 6 am to late afternoon here.
On our first visit, we were hovering around waiting in vain until an elderly gentleman took pity on us and invited us to share his table. That day, the atmosphere, the company, and the tea itself were more memorable than the food.
I have been back to Lin Heung many times and they have undergone some renovations - and opened a sister restaurant in Sheung Wan called Lin Heung Kui since - but they have retained much of the old-style tea house character and charm.
Lin Heung Kui also boasts a lovely little pastry shop that is worth a visit.
For dinner, the signature pork rib dish is soft, flavorful and melts in your mouth. The duck is also very popular, but you will need to go with a big group of people as it's a fairly large serving. The fish intestines baked in savory egg custard is definitely not for everyone, but it's a dish that I order every time I go.
The crispy-skin chicken and the stir-fried broccoli and scallops are always hits with out-of-town guests.
In Hong Kong, it is now time when people meet up for a meal to close the year and time to meet close friends and family and enjoy good food together.
To me, a hearty, happy, and sometimes raucous meal is the perfect way to celebrate.
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