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On Friday We Eat Dim Sum: 7 Tips for Hong Kong Tea Houses

Where: Hong Kong
March 14, 2014 at 4:32 PM | by | ()

Call it what you want: dim sum, yum cha, appetizers or small plates. Regardless of what rolls off your tongue when talking about it, Hong Kong's national dim sum dishes can be found all around the city and Tea Houses are where you'll want to go first to dig in.

One very popular and well-located tea house in the city is Lin Heung on Wellington Street in the Central District.

Now, this isn't your typical Chinese restaurant; it takes some subtle (and not so subtle) tips to navigate around the establishment. Walk into the corner building's ground floor bakery and head upstairs for a sit-down meal. Once you've made it this far, all you'll need are our Hong Kong tea house tips to finish out the meal:

· No reservations
Don't even think about asking your concierge to make a reservation; it won't work. This is truly a 'first come, first served' establishment. Just rock up and hope for the best, since this place will always be busy from 8am straight through to about mid-afternoon.

· Be assertive
Leave your passivity at the hotel. If you want to make sure you get a table, you need to get a little pushy without overdoing the assertiveness. Once you get upstairs to find an available seat, ask if it's actually available! The rest is up to the waiters to acknowledge your presence.

· Drink the tea
It comes with the meal, so start tipping that teapot. A refresh of hot water is part of the service, so don't be afraid to gesture to your empty teapot for a top-up.

· Don't expect an English menu
Service in perfect English just isn't on the menu here. The waiters are curt and don't have time to translate. You might just get lucky with table mates who will happily walk you through the process.

· Watch for the trolley pushers
The food comes from the kitchen and gets wheeled around on heated carts. If you are starving, waive one down and see what it has to offer. Point to what you want, hand over your slip for marking, and then tuck in. Best to ambush the servers to ensure you get fed as everyone is hungry here.

· Don't be a picky eater
It's best not to turn your nose up and act disgusted if a cart comes around with chicken feet or similarly interesting offerings. Ultimately, it all tastes great, and every item should be tried at least once.

· Search for the specialties
If you can, ask around for either the lotus paste buns or the glutinous rice dumplings; these are the famous dishes of the kitchen. If you don't happen upon them, find your own favorite and sniff it out again when the steaming cart rolls by for a second time. If you don't get lucky, stop by the bakery on the way out for some buns.

Of course each tea house and dim sum restaurant in Hong Kong has its differences but, if you follow these basic guidelines, you'll be well on your way to dim sum mastery.

[Photos: Rayme Gorniak/Jaunted]

Archived Comments:

Love Love Love this place

and also, to dine here you need to be comfortable with your random table mates gnawing on bones and spitting them plus bits of gristle onto the table next to you.

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