Whether you prefer colonial interiors, old-school trolleys, rattling china or quiet formality, there’s a Hong Kong dim sum venue to suit everyone. But the best of them are surely the ones the locals frequent. Here are six Hongkonger hangouts where dumplings are the order of the day.
1. Dim Sum
Dim Sum, or Yu Man Fang to the locals, sits at the top end of Sing Woo Road in a strip occupied by mechanics, pet shops and stationers. You’d likely miss it if you didn’t know better. The family-run place has a homely interior with colonial nostalgia – think high ceilings, fans and wood carved booths, making it a favourite for Happy Valley families keen on leisurely dining. Dim sum, or “the art of Chinese titbits” according to the menu, is available day and night and includes favourites such as deliciously slippery cheung fan (steamed rice noodle rolls) served with sesame dipping sauce. Coke comes in chilled retro glass bottles and there’s Tsingtao beer, but bring your own wine.
63 Sing Woo Rd, Happy Valley
2. Ling Heung Tea House
With the chaos and cacophony of a marketplace, this is one of Hong Kong’s oldest dim sum restaurants with an elbow-to-elbow local crowd that has been coming here for decades. It has oodles of character – one old man’s chief job is to keep teacups full while a team of aproned ladies proffer trolleys piled high with bamboo steamers. The fare is old-school and includes overstuffed pork siu mai with bright yellow pastry, abalone sauce-soaked chicken feet and steamed fish head. To get a table, wait behind the seat of a diner who is almost finished. Prepare to be ignored by staff until you’re seated.
160-164 Wellington St, Central
3. Dim Dim Sum
Straddling Wan Chai and Causeway Bay, this no-nonsense eatery with cool stylised neon signage packs in a hungry mix of wet market shoppers, Times Square office workers and students. The tick-box menus list favourites such as prawn and crab dumplings, but it’s the creative dishes that tickle the taste buds. Try deep-fried dumplings with wasabi filling, tofu pouches with chive and jicama stuffing and siu mai topped with quail egg. For dessert, go for the pineapple bun with custard. All dishes are cooked to order, and it’s open till late.
7 Tin Lok Lane, Wan Chai
4. Luk Yu Tea House
Stories abound about the gangland characters that used to frequent this place, but these days it’s more about the remnant colonial ambience and white-jacketed staff. The traditional shopfront terrace has three floors. The first, with teak furniture, mirrored walls and white tablecloths attracts a well-heeled, well-connected crowd (who are so regular it’s impossible to book between 12.30pm and 1.30pm). Everyone else can enjoy being ushered upstairs for a little less style and attention, but the same fab fare. Traditionalists will love the soft white pork buns, crispy-topped turnip cakes and translucent-skinned prawn dumplings.
24-26 Stanley Street, Central
5. Peking Garden
It can be hard to distinguish between dim sum restaurants in shopping malls when all of them have lunchtime queues. In the basement of Alexander House in Central, Peking Garden’s age (it opened in 1978) and proliferation (there are five other restaurants in Hong Kong) should hint enough at its quality. The Central store is the best, fitted out with stylish Chinese accents to attract well-to-do families and wheeling dealing businessmen. Crowd aside, it’s the food that sings. Pair the much-loved Peking duck with made-to-order dim sum delicacies such as pork and herb dumplings and xiao long bao (soup dumplings).
Shop B1, Basement 1, Alexandra House, Central
6. Lock Cha Tea Shop
In a grandiose colonial building, this speciality boutique teahouse and shop, adorned with carved teak wall panels and calligraphy paintings, also serves dim sum. It’s the domain of Hong Kong’s well-to-do ladies, known as tai-tais, no doubt attracted to the fastidious service, delicate china and feminine Chinese aesthetic. The menu is traditional but uniquely vegetarian with popular dishes including vegetable buns, spinach and garlic chive dumplings and lotus leaf-wrapped sticky rice. Drinks include tea with healing properties such as rose with pu’er, for healthy skin and circulation. Bookings are highly recommended.
KS Lo Gallery, Cotton Tree Dr, Hong Kong Park, Admiralty
This story was originally published in SilverKris.