Most people in Hong Kong tend to lead fast paced lives, running daily work and family routines around the clock. Hong Kong tea restaurants cater well to people with busy lifestyle. Known for fast service and cost efficient, yet tasty items, Hong Kong tea restaurants, or pronounced as cha chaang teng are typical, popular restaurants in Hong Kong that people like to visit for breakfast, lunch, brunch, dinner, or just whenever there is a break from working! These restaurants are good spots to get a quick meal alone or with family and friends.
Hong Kong tea restaurants have special historical roots in the Hong Kong culture. In the 1950s, western cuisine was available and was starting to appeal to the middle class in Hong Kong. Sensing the interest in Western cuisine and noting the middle class’s familiarity with traditional cuisine, locals set up tea restaurants during that time to combine both western and Cantonese cuisine. The menu offered is often broad, offering variety of special drink and food items at relatively inexpensive prices to attract the middle class.
Below are 9 items one would most likely have ordered at least once at a Hong Kong tea restaurant. Try them out if you have not yet!
1. HK Style Milk Tea
Served hot or cold with ice (preferably), it’s the drink that keeps people going back to Hong Kong tea restaurants! The strong, bold tea flavor intermixes with condensed or evaporated milk and sugar syrup, giving a slightly bitter and sweet flavor as one gulps down the drink.
2.HK Style French Toast
The HK style of fresh toast is not very sweet. The outside texture is more crispy than the usual french toast that western cuisine offers. Another difference is the sandwich form rather than rectangular form that most would see at breakfast restaurants like Denny’s or Ihop
3. HK Style Coffee Milk Tea
Pronounced as Yinyeung in Cantonese, it’s another popular drink for tea restaurant visitors. Like HK style milk tea, it can be served hot or cold. For those wanting to try something different, the coffee milk tea mixes coffee and the HK Style milk tea together to give a strong boost of energy and flavor. It’s not for everyone but its worth trying!
4. Coconut tarts
The top of the tarts is rather more crunchy like the feel of cookies, while the bottom parts retained a more softer feel similar to a muffin, but also filled with coconut bits texture.
Sandwiches are common at Hong Kong tea restaurants. Fast and easy to make at the restaurant, it is an effective option busy office workers on the go or stuck at their offices to finish up work assignments. A variety of sandwiches are offered, but sandwiches with eggs and ham tend to be most popular. The crust is often not on the sandwich breads.
6. Lemon Tea
HK Style lemon tea has a unique taste as I find the lemon and tea base do not overpower each other but rather one can taste both fairly like a natural balance.To get more lemon flavor, some would use the spoon and straw to poke the lemon slices to get more juicy pulp to mix it with the tea. It’s not quite as sweet although you can add sugar or syrup to make it sweeter.
One of the staples at the cafes, pronounced as Po Lor Bau, resembles nothing like a pineapple in looks, taste, or feel. The top of the buns are the sweet flavorings,having slight crevices on the top, while the bottom portion is soft. Every time I eat one, I want to slowly chew to taste the sweet topping.
8. Noodles or Spaghetti
These are choices at the restaurant that offer a savory, hot, and full sized dish that can settle any hunger rages one might have! Like sandwiches, a variety of noodle and spaghetti dish options are available to choose from including meat options like fish ball, chicken, pork, and beef and noodle options like flat-noodle, egg noodle, and spaghetti noodle. The most basic on the menu may just have egg, ham, and ramen noodles!
9. Egg Tarts
The middle consists of oven-baked egg yolks surrounded by a buttery, thin crust. Taking a bite of a warm egg tart is oh-so-delicious as the crust kind of melts in your mouth along with the sweet taste of the egg yolk in the middle.
Although Hong Kong tea restaurants are mostly popular in Hong Kong and parts of Asia, some can also be found in Chinatowns around the world. If you happen to find yourself in front of one, go inside, experience the culture, and try some of the above specialties!