Visiting Hong Kong – Ling Heung Kui’s One Century of Tea Serving

My feeling about this century-old tea house Lin Heung has truly been a big transformation. From being frightened to everything I see (clustered tables, big grumpy crowds, loud noises, banging boiling kettles and the fact that I can’t make myself being understood, speaking no Cantonese nor Mandarin), I have gradually cosied up to the place that I can now come here and feel right at home.

Lin Heung Kui – the one featured here – is a branch of the classic Lin Heung on Central’s Wellington Street. This place, although not all modern, is newer and brighter. Occupying the whole second and third floors of a corner building on Des Voeux street, this Lin Heung Kui has a good vibe and view that may contribute also to the friendlier atmosphere I sense around here.

Lin Heung and Lin Heung Kui have always been about Hong Kong’s classic no-nonsense dim sum – served heartily from the trolleys by veteran waiters who sing the tunes of the food they are carrying as a way to attract your attention. Dim sum here are packed with varieties and I love the fact that they still prepare everything heartily old-fashioned – mouthful and tasty and filling and scrumptious. All these qualities just make my Bangkok’s favorite Chef Man a pretentious little baby ^^.

Lin Heung Kui' delicious ha sheung fan. #ig_hongkong #dimsum #foodporn #delicious

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Coming to Lin Heung means you get to spend your time lingering on food and tea. You might bring your own newspaper, or an iPAD and read your heart out with one or two baskets of food on the table and still no one will throw you out. In that case, be prepared to share a table with strangers. But unlike its old branch, Lin Heung Kui has more tables and most are smaller than the ones on Wellington Street, making it less likely for you to share the table with anyone. Given that you come here may be 4 of you.

Stuffed tofu skin with fish maw and pork

First, you choose from their available teas. Since I do not speak Cantonese, I just memorize my favorites – from Ti Guan Im (green tea) to Sao Mei (brown tea) and Po Loey (dark fermented tea). You can each pick different kinds of tea or just share the same, the price is still per head at HK$10 per person. Then, when you get the steaming hot water and the tea, you do what other people here do – rinsing the eating tools and the tea cups with this first pour of hot tea. When you are ready, it is time to choose from the rolling trolleys.

Thing is, this is what I learnt from being there twice the last time we were in Hong Kong. You can either sit back and relax waiting for the trolleys to come to you. Or you can walk over to them as soon as each comes out of the elevator (bringing the stamping slip with you, too). Sitting on the second floor means you get the first serving of everything because, as far as I noticed, the waiters roll their trolleys on the second floor first and if there’re something left to bother, they will then push the elevator up to the third floor.

Baked rice with pork, salty fish and ginger

I love everything I eat here. So I just give you a brief, loud and clear review. THEY ARE ALL DELICIOUS. The first picture is their famous chicken bun – the giant bun as it is known among the locals here. And the name is no surprise given that the size of one is really even bigger than the eating bowl. What I like best about their bun here is the delicious taste and hearty texture of bun and not as much the stuffing – although the stuffing is also very good and scrumptious. Unlike the modern tasteless and evenly porous bun widely prepared now in modern dim sum restaurants, Lin Heung’s thick, mouthful and aromatic bun readily transports me back to the old days when the flour is slightly fermented and renders out a faint fermented aroma, making the BBQ buns much more delicious and hearty than the ordinary commonly widely found ones around here.

The bun aside, all dim sums here are prepared old styles. Ha gaw, which in many places are now made bigger with slippery and translucent wrap, is still very old-fashioned, meaning small enough in size to fit one graceful bite with the wrap containing a delicious chewy body and the stuffed shrimp fresh and tasting like shrimp and nothing else. Love it very very very much.

Old-style ha gaw are small and dainty with the wrappers tender but enough chew

My favorite ‘sheung fan’ or the rolled rice noodle with shrimp is also thick and tender. Most of the time in other restaurants, sheung fan’s wrapping is just like a big flat rice noodle – slippery, tasteless and boring. But here, the wrapping is a cloudy pillow of masterly made tender rice sheet with stuffing folded neatly inside, making each bite feels like eating a tenderly stewed pork fat. Eating sheung fan here might mean we are enjoying the dying skill of the old-fashioned chef, I guess, because not so many people are still taking the trouble of preparing sheung fan the way they do here at Lin Heung anymore.

I can go on forever about the food at Lin Heung Kui. But I will let you look at the pictures and be your own judge. I am still craving all these delicacies even now, especially for the rich and so delicious sa yong doughnuts which are sweet eggy puffy doughnuts that are so gorgeously perfect with any tea.

We are now preparing to launch the first E Scrapbook about Hong Kong. Please stay tuned for the free download later on this year.

Lin Heung Kui, 2-3/F, 46-50 Des Voeux Road West, Sheung Wan, T: 2156-9328

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