The morning catching up, small plates sharing and tea drinking ritual of yum cha is part of Hong Kong’s culture and identity. Back in the 80s and early 90s, old ladies would circle around buzzing dining rooms with pushcarts and shout out for attention. While dim sum carts are increasingly hard to spot in Hong Kong, even more so is an ad hoc seating system where diners waiting to be seated have to eyeball finishing tables and grab them once they’re vacated. This is the case at one of Hong Kong’s oldest dim sum establishments: Lin Heung Kui. During peak hours, you’d have to fight for a seat. If you are unlucky and fail to gauge timing, someone who arrives later might even sit and eat before you do. My strategy was to politely check with diners who seem to be finishing and then standing by, which worked as quite a few were friendly enough and accustomed to the system. Alternatively, a separate room opens up at 12 in the rear of the restaurant where tables are clothed and you won’t have to sit with strangers. That room would be much quieter but a 10% service fee is charged. Pushcarts would still come in so not to worry about missing out on the experience.
Food was for the most part excellent, with some old school favorites that I’ve only seen for the first time. Pricing is on the extreme low end and much to our delight, busy servers do maintain a more than decent level of friendliness and helpfulness, making for a pleasant and memorable experience for us. If you just want your dim sum in a relatively quiet setting with shiny plates and beautiful furniture, and especially if you want to be able to book in advance, this might not be the ideal place to go during brunch hours any day of the week. But if you or your guest is looking to experience old-style dim sum culture, this would definitely be worth checking out.
P.S. Lin Heung Kui (蓮香居) is not to be confused with Lin Heung Tea House (蓮香樓). The latter is located in Central (Wellington Street). The first ever Lin Heung Tea House was founded in 1889 in Guangzhou, while Central’s Lin Heung Tea House opened its doors in 1926 in Hong Kong. Despite being a newer outlet, Lin Heung Kui was the branch that was awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand. “Lin Heung” means fragrant lotus, and the restaurant was named after their famous lotus paste based delicacies such as lotus seed paste buns and mooncakes.
Chinese Steamed Cake 香滑馬拉糕 $21
Super moist and fluffy.
Fish Shumai with Dried Scallops 瑤柱燒賣王 $36
This was especially good—it was flavorful with bits of dried shredded scallop in every bite.
Beef Rice Rolls 香茜牛肉腸粉 $35
Freshly made. Nice and meaty.
Radish cake and Taro cake 蘿蔔糕 / 芋頭糕 ~$50
This was made to order and the sizzling pan filled the room with smokey goodness. Unfortunately it smelled better than it tasted: we thought that both were quite disappointing.
“Gold Coin Chicken” 串燒金錢雞 $60
This is old school stuff that’s rarely seen nowadays. Gold Coin Chicken is made of pork loin, pork lard and chicken liver threaded on a skewer. The whole dish is extremely fatty with deep and sweet flavors. Apparently, the skewer is first roasted for ten minutes before being drizzled with maltrose sugar, and this roasting and coating process is repeated up to four times.
Marinated Beef Shank in Five Spices 五香牛展 $50
Very much on the sweet side in terms of flavor (I believe this is due to it being over-marinated), but the beef was very tasty and tender.
Bean Curd Rolls with Fresh Prawns 鮮蝦腐皮夾 $30
This was just OK. The bean curd had become a bit too soggy for my liking (I prefer chewy ones that are harder to bite) but flavor-wise it was good. There were bits of meat and some prawns in there as well.
Prawn Dumplings 地魚蝦餃王 $38
Very thin and delicate layer of flour there and the prawn was big and juicy. I liked the savory-sweet flavor balance as well which was a little bit different from elsewhere but I couldn’t exactly pinpoint what it was.
Lin Heung Special Duck 蓮香霸王鴨 $298
Really quite liked this. It was supposed to be their most signature dish (they have many, but this is supposed to be the dish). There were lots of stuffing in the duck and the dish takes hours to prepare. The stuffing includes fresh lotus seeds, diced mushrooms, diced pork, gingko, barley and salted egg yolk. The bird is initially deep-fried and then steamed to tenderize it and allow its flavors to immerse fully in the stuffing. A must-try dish.
Good and fresh. Love the quasi deep fried garlic as always.
Lotus Seed Paste Pudding with Sago 蓮茸焗布甸 ~$80
This was a highlight. It wasn’t very sweet, and on top of super smooth lotus seed paste there was milk and a tiny bit of butter in there that really made it super aromatic and creamy. The little sago pearls in there gave the hot baked custard some extra chewiness. This kind of dessert is not my thing, but it was still worthwhile trying it once.
Lin Heung Kui
2-3/F, 46-50 Des Voeux Road West, Sheung Wan
2/F: open daily at 06:00-23:00 (dim sum ends at 16:00)
3/F: open from 08:00 Mon-Fri, and from 11:00 on weekends