A mandatory weekend brunch in Hong Kong is Dim Sum, a traditional and culture-filled meal that cannot be missed. There are hundreds of dim sum restaurants all over Hong Kong, most of which include a delicious meal with a vast selection of small dishes chosen from carts. In most modern restaurants, you can simply order your preferred dim sum from the menu, while in some traditional ones you still get the full dim sum experience.
After 4 years in Hong Kong, I finally visited one of the most well-know dim sum restaurants on the island, Lin Heung Tea House. The branch has been up and running since 1918 and I doubt it has changed much since then.
Although the hot, crowded and competitive atmosphere, I managed to love this place simply for their delicious dim sum. Their char siu bao, quail egg and meat dumpling (absolutely mind-blowing), siu mai and lo mai gai (sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaf) were my absolute favourites. We also tried their flour rolls with veggies, vegetable dumplings and red bean buns, which also tasted good. We didn’t manage to get custard buns and were too full to try their sponge cake (which also looked amazing). Because the food comes slower, as soon as each batch is ready, you can tell the dim sum is absolutely fresh, steamy and tasty, but it also means you might wait a while before you get your next dish.
Things to keep in mind that might influence your experience:
- Do not expect a good service, in fact, there is no service at all. If you want spicy sauce, you will find it at the entrance, on the counter on the right, so simply help yourself.
- You are expected to find your own seat (which is a complete nightmare). There are small, medium and large roundtables and whether you come as a couple or a group you have to hunt your seats down while competing with other 20 or so people that are doing the same. We were lucky enough to find 2 crammed seats in a corner table, squished between a Chinese family and an older cantonese couple after about 15 minutes (not too bad).
- Getting your food will require patience, hassling and determination (so stay strong and don’t give up). The carts come out slowly with just a dozen of each dim sum, and you never know what they have until you push your way to the front of the cart and see for yourself. If you are shy, you will most likely not eat anything, because people will literally fight to get their food. You might be unlucky, and not get any of the dim sum you wanted because it runs out so fast (us, however, got lucky and managed to try almost all the dishes we wanted).
- Do not expect anyone to understand English.
Overall, Lin Heung Tea House is definitely a once in a lifetime dim sum experience that should not be missed. Try to overlook the sour service and war-like environment to fully enjoy their amazing dim sum.
Where: Lin Heung Tea House (蓮香樓), 160-164 Wellington Street, Central
Personal favourite: lo mai gai and quail egg dumpling
How Much: Tea is $12. Small, medium, large and special dim sum are $17, $22, $24, $26 respectively.