There are many things that you can associate Hong Kong with – Great Dim Sum, Friendly people, Lively tea houses and the list goes on.
蓮香樓 (Lin Heung Tea House) is the epitome of such great such association – Excellent Dim Sum, Friendly and Hospitable people and a lively tea house (char cha teng).
There is no doubt Lin Heung is one of the oldest and most traditional of tea houses in Hong Kong, left standing. Old-school decor and very basic furnishings of stools and tables decorate the tea house. The main focal point is not fancy interior, fine dining service, but their traditional, no-nonsense Dim Sum (still served on pushcarts).
One would have to rush and grab for the dim sums you want, for any slower and they would be gone in a blink of the eye. Oh, and don’t bother asking the nice ladies pushing these carts what the hidden contents inside the bamboo containers are. It is quicker to lift the bamboo covers, peek at the contents and take whatever your tastebuds desire. Yes, this is the time when being ‘Kiasu’ comes in really handy. (Read: Afraid of “losing out” to other people)
Because the tea house is perceptually packed, the common practice here is to share tables with the other friendly patrons. Thus, do not expect to have a table all to yourself. In any case, sharing of tables is part of the whole experience!
虾仁蒸肠粉 (Rice rolls with prawns) was one of the few things we had there. Generous but not overly extravagant servings of prawns that had a nice bite to them. The rice roll is smooth and silky and was complimented really well by the not-too-salty soy sauce.
I found the taste of 韭菜肉交 (Chives and meat dumplings) a tad too light, although nonetheless, refreshing. Let’s just say, I wouldn’t go back for seconds.
When I took the 叉烧包 (Char Siew Bun), it was the last one left standing on the pushcart. The surface of the skin was a bit moist, a sign that this was on the cart for quite some time. I loved the filling of the bun – bits of meat covered in a thick red Char Siew sauce that is not overly sweet or salty. On the flipside, the bun was not as soft and fluffy as I thought it would be.
This was a rather special find for both CY and myself. The 腐皮蒸 (Steam beancurd skin) is actually a combination of pork, chicken, mushroom and fish maw wrapped in a beancurd skin and steamed together. The 4 ingredients complimented each other really well. The skin is soaked up all the essences of the ingredients during the steaming process.
I felt that the soup of this 灌汤交 (Soup Dumpling) was a bit too bland for my liking. The ingredients inside it was a different story though. The meat filling were really soft and the dried scallops, flavourful.
The 猪肝烧卖 (Liver Siew Mai) came with strong recommendations by the lovely people who shared the same table with us. Unlike your normal interpretation of Siew Mai, this version did not come with yellow skin, it is instead, topped with 2 thick pieces of pig’s liver. The liver was firm but not tough and did not have an overwhelming liver taste to it. Beneath is one piece of meat and prawn mixture, that surprisingly, went really well with the liver.
That said, in Glenn’s opinion, an “acquired taste” would be the best way to describe it.
To end our breakfast, we had the 莲蓉包 (Lotus seed paste bun). On the outside, it looked like any other lotus seed paste bun you could find in Singapore. But the moment that you tear open the soft white bun, it reveals something so simple and traditional, yet not one that I would have expect of a normal lotus seed paste bun.
In case you were wondering, yes, that is salted egg yolk. A combination of both lotus seed paste and salted egg yolk were inside the bun. Think traditional moon cakes, and you sort of get the taste, one that you only get to taste during the annual Mid Autumn Festival). The paste had a perfect level of sweetness to it, not too sweet and not too bland.
Personally, I liked this place for the whole experience of it – The crowded tea house, friendly staff, lovely patrons, delicious food, the sharing of tables and the mini battles that surrounded the pushcarts. For the price conscious, dining here was quite affordable its roughly HKD$60 (roughly S$12) per person for all those little heart warming dim sums.
Note: This entry is part of my “Hong Kong Series” and is a combination of the efforts of my guest author, CY, and your humble author.
Lin Heung Tea House 蓮香樓
160-164 Wellington Street
Central, Hong Kong
Open 6am to 11:30pm (closed bet. 4:30 to 5:30pm)