Another day off, and more exploring to be done. Wednesday dawned and it was quite a clear day. We’ve had lots of humidty, clouds and pollution over the last few days and then suddenly, after a rain storm that was coded at amber, the pollution had briefly disappeared and the sky was blue.
I had arranged to meet Jasmine for lunch in Central. She was taking me to one of the last traditional places in Hong Kong to have dim sum; Lin Heung Tea House, which means Fragrant Lotus. They say that if you are going to have dim sum just once whilst in Hong Kong, then this is the place to go.
We climbed up the stairs and we were greeted by the hum of conversation. Lots of circular tables were stuffed into the room, with enough seating around for 6-8 people.
Bird cages hung from the ceiling in places, not with live birds in them. Stuffed birds. The Hong Kong people are bird lovers and its not the dogs that are taken out to be aired. There is an ancient ritual of heading to the parks at 6am each day with your bird – the feathered variety. The bird lovers believe that birds cooped up indoors in the city’s crowded apartments become depressed and lose their will to sing. So they head to the parks with their caged companions to make the bird’s day brighter or go to one of the many “bird restaurants” to compare pets and discuss the finer points of care and feeding. I digress.
J had pre-warned me that we would possibly have to share a table, so we walked along the aisle, keeping an eye out for a place; waiting to see if anyone was just about to leave. We were in luck. Within a few minutes, a couple of men stood up to leave on our right, two stools were presented to us and we joined the table where there were already four men of differing ages, enjoying their food.
The table was quickly wiped and then bowls, chopsticks and tea cups were placed in front of us. The man who had placed our cutlery then proceeded to pour hot water into the two bowls that were stuffed with green leaves, and then pour out the water into the bowl. He did this a couple of times. J rinsed our cups and chopsticks in the weak green tea water (that’s what everyone else was doing) and then we waited for one of the many trolleys to be wheeled past our table.
Jasmine admitted that this place was so traditional that she was unsure of the procedure, but luckily, there was help on our table. The idea was that we flag down the trolley, then J would ask what was in the pots or we would look in side the pots. Then, if we wanted it, it was placed in front of us and a number would be ticked off on our slip of paper.
We had prawns, barbecued buns, a type of glutinous rice that had pork inside and was wrapped in vine leaves and to finish, something that tasted like a muffin. One of the gentlemen on our table went to join the throng of people that surrounded the cart for us (it was very popular) as he insisted that this was something that we had to try. At the bottom of the cake was a syrup that was apparently lotus leaf flavoured.
We also had copious amounts of green tea. There was a certain way to pour the tea from bowl where it was brewing, into our tea cups. Each time J and I did it, we made a huge mess of it, pouring down the back of the bowl. Luckily, we had helpful people on our table who insisted that the trick was to do it fast.
And with one hand. Our cups were filled many times and then finally success! I do have a small video of me doing it, but you’ll have to take my word for it, as its apparently too large to upload.
Finally, stuffed to the gills we left the tea house. Our table companions said that they came every day to that table (52) and we were welcome to join. Who knows, I might just take them up on the offer…. Now I know what to do 🙂