Just like fish and chips in London, ‘yum cha’, is definitely one of the signature dishes of Hong Kong. Simply translated as “drinking tea” it is in fact the dim sum dishes that are eaten with the tea that have become the lead character in this favourite Hong Kong past time. It is essentially breakfast that can be eaten all day.
Growing up in Hong Kong has made me appreciate and love most of the local food, and those of you that know me well, you will have been forced to eat at my favourite ‘cheung fan’ and ‘yu dan’ lady in Jordan. When I was growing up, there seemed to be many more tea houses around (and less 7 11s!) There is infact one tea house on Wellington Street that is still in existence from when I was young – definitely an authentic experience can be had there.
So what are the secrets for a good ‘yum cha’?
Firstly, there is no right or wrong way to order these dishes but I would suggest trying to get a big group together. AS table of 8 – 10 is best – the secret is that you can order more! I love the sharing concept of Chinese food in general but in particular at dim sum. I love that I never have ‘plate envy’ and I like being able to have dessert in the middle of the meal. Once, when ordering, I remember a friend telling me to drink more tea. Her rationale was so that I would get ‘full’ before placing my massive order. Hmmmmm – I am not sure how much that would help me but I admit I do have a tendency to over order! They say that 3 dishes per person is more than enough? How many do you order?
The are so many dim sum restaurants in Hong Kong now but here are some of my favourites:
Tim Ho Wan – Central, Sham Shui Po, North Point, Tseung Kwan O and Olympic
Rock-bottom prices with world-class quality! This Michelin-starred restaurant started life as a hole in the wall style service hatch, but now has multiple locations across Hong Kong.
The choices of dim sum are relatively narrow, but this is pretty much why the quality stays consistent across all of the branches. Prices range from $12-20 per dish, so sometimes queuing for this acclaimed restaurant seems legit!
What to order: Cha siu pineapple buns, pork cheung fun & shrimp dumplings
Lin Heung Teahouse, 160-164 Wellington Street, Central
You won’t be surprised to hear that this place hasn’t changed much since it opened in 1926 (and no Mr H, I wasn’t born then!) This place has a great community atmosphere and is a real treat if you want to experience a bit of authentic Hong Kong. I do enjoy dim sum with the trolleys and restaurants that still use them are now far and few between.
What to order (or look out for!): Siu mai, Chinese sausage rolls & chicken buns
Maxim’s Palace City Hall, City Hall, 5 Edinburgh Place, Central
It is called Maxim’s Palace for a reason – the gold interior inside certainly looks and feels grand, and the old practice of the roving dim sum trolley still exists here as well. This, coupled with the stunning Victoria Harbour view, is what draws the crowds, tourists and locals alike.
What to order (or look out for!): Beef balls, spring rolls & shrimp dumplings
Social Place, The L Place 139 Queen’s Road Central
A modern, but affordable take on the traditional yum cha. I love the brightly coloured restaurant and it reminds me of the Chinese version of Jamie’s Italian in style. The food is delicious – they use only fresh in season ingredients with no MSG! Chu San and I recently took the whole family here and it was a favourite.
What to order: Truffle shiitake buns, steamed custard buns and crispy beef rolls
Lung King Heen, Four Seasons Hotel, 8 Finance Street, Central
Now if you want some seriously high-end dim sum this is the place to go. The very first Chinese restaurant in the world to be bestowed with not one, not two but THREE Michelin Stars. Here they replace the usual ingredients with delicacies like lobster and scallops.
What to order: Siu mai, Chinese sausage rolls & dumplings
The team and I here at JLL love going to dim sum – so much so that we have a team lunch together tomorrow to celebrate the end of the Chinese New Year – it is back to work for us all!
What are your favourite restaurants and dishes? Does anyone come over to the darkside? I look forward to hearing from you.
Have a good week everyone.