160-164 Wellington Street
Central, Hong Kong
+852 2544 4556
One cannot go to Hong Kong without sitting down for yum cha at least once (in my case, it was three times). In Melbourne, we are pretty spoilt when it comes to good yum cha restaurants but I wanted to taste the real thing for myself. Unfortunately, my family’s Hong Kong schedule meant shopping, shopping and more shopping so the only way I could fit yum cha in was to have it for breakfast while the others were still either asleep or slowly getting ready.
We were staying in Tsim Sha Tsui which, surprisingly enough, does not have a lot of places that open early for breakfast (and if they do, they’re not within walking distance of the Shangri-La). Consequently, I had to take the train into central for my first yum cha adventure.
Upon my friend’s Aaron’s recommendation, I decided to go to Lin Heung Tea House because they opened bright and early (at 6am!). Lin Heung is a bit of a Hong Kong institution as it’s been around since 1926, making it older than the ancient PC I use at work. Also on a work-related note, while I’m all for keeping up with the times by changing processes and what not, I have to admit that I like the fact that Lin Heung still party it up like it’s 1926.
Unlike most yum cha restaurants in Hong Kong, Lin Heung still have trolley services. They also have bird cages hanging from the ceiling (the real birds, of course, are no longer there). And apart from some very minor renovation, the place still looks the same like it did 80 years ago.
Additionally, this place gets packed like crazy. Yep, even at 8am in the morning. You’re expected to share a table with strangers so if you see a spare spot or two, just sit down and a waiter will come by to pour you some tea and dump an order sheet in front of you.
No English is spoken so it’s pretty much all pointing and hand-signalling from this moment on (thankfully I managed to learn a few handy Cantonese phrases after dating a Cantonese guy for four years).
My table mates were these bros here. Old guys reading newspapers are a common sight at Lin Heung (and Hong Kong in general).
Apparently this place gets so hectic at lunchtime that diners resort to getting up from their table as soon as they see a trolley arrive and grabbing items off the trolley while shoving order sheets at the poor trolley ladies’ faces. Thankfully, breakfast is a more dignified affair and the trolleys cruise casually through what little space there was between the tables.
These were the first dim sum I saw so I immediately grabbed them. Each thick-skinned parcel was filled with fresh scallops and prawns with a sprinkling of chives and lots of flavour from the pork fat. While the skins were thicker than what I was used to, I loved them nevertheless.
I then ordered a lo mai gai.
Lin Heung’s version was pretty good – it had both pork and chicken in it, with bits of liver sneakily thrown in. I’m not a fan of cooked liver but I found that it added a bit of oomph to what was already a flavoursome dish. Two thumbs up.
Because of the lo mai gai, I was too full to even try some rice noodle rolls or Lin Heung’s famous steamed sponge cakes. It also didn’t help that I went on my own too. Oh well, next time. The bill came to AUD$6 or thereabouts – that would have got me one yum cha dish back in Melbourne. Not bad. In a busy modern metropolis like Hong Kong, it’s good to know that old school places like Lin Heung still exist. I’ll be back on my next trip.