By Jazmin Kelly Six
IN A city which never stops eating, eager diners can expect a plethora of gourmet cuisines and choices in Hong Kong.
But any mad dash to 'eat up' Hong Kong will never be complete without digging into small morsels better known as dim sum.
A perennial staple hailed as its national dish, dim sum is probably the top item on every visitor's 'must-eat' list.
So in my attempt to devour this city, I chased carts, survived the impatient gaze of diners eyeing my table and got elbowed in the eye by my neighbour picking his teeth, just to present the lowdown on four impressive eateries that had me hankering for more.
WHAT: Luk Yu Tea House
WHERE: 24-26 Stanley Street, Central
Tel: (852) 25235464
WHEN: Opening Hours: 7am to 10pm daily
DIRECTIONS: Central MTR Station Exit D2
Past the welcoming smile of the Indian doorman, you will be transported back in time.
Renowned for its dim sum (served till 6pm), this venerable institution has retained its 1930s colonial charm with art deco stained-glass murals, decorative black ceiling fans and marble tabletops, making it a highly nostalgic destination.
Best experienced after the breakfast and lunch rush hours, you will be tempted with a vast selection of must-try specialities including the jumbo-size chicken bun for HK$28 ($5.30), Chinese sausages & chicken in glutinous rice roll (HK$35), and crispy sesame dough (HK$28) - all served to you by dim sum ladies with food trays slung over their shoulders.
Book your own private wooden booth for added cosiness!
WHAT: Lin Heung Tea House
WHERE: G/F, 160-164 Wellington Street, Central. Tel: (852) 25444556
WHEN: Opening Hours: 5am to 10pm daily
DIRECTIONS: Sheung Wan MTR Station Exit A2
Before you walk up the flight of stairs to this gourmet mayhem that is Lin Heung, don't be fooled by the quaint confectionery counter at the storefront.
Enter the dining hall and it's non-stop dim sum drama.
Served only till 3pm, demand for these exquisite savouries is so great, hungry customers rob the entire dim sum cart barely before the lady servers can make their rounds.
Definitely a game of speed. One step too slow and you can kiss your breakfast goodbye.
Despite the madness, the Lin Heung experience is truly an attraction in itself. If you are quick to sink your teeth however, be sure to bite into the juicy big chicken bun (HK$20) - only 100 are made each day!
WHAT: Sweet Dynasty
WHERE: G/F, 100 Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui. Tel: (852) 21997799
WHEN: Opening Hours: 10am to midnight (Mon-Thu); 10am to 1am (Fri); 7.30am to 1am (Sat); 7.30am to midnight (Sun)
DIRECTIONS: Tsim Sha Tsui MTR Station Exit E
With branches in Japan, Taiwan and China, Sweet Dynasty prides itself as the tong shui (sweet soup) specialist.
Decked out in bronzy floral motifs and low lighting, Sweet Dynasty exudes an inviting opulence that is strangely undisturbed by the perpetually clattering crowd.
You may need to raise the decibels just to hold a conversation, but this restaurant retains a dignified sense of style.
Given its extensive 300-item menu, service is fast with an average five-to seven-minute waiting time.
Particularly impressive was the tofu pudding mini-barrel (HK$80), which will keep three to five beancurd lovers happy, strawberry sago (HK$18) and pancake with fresh mango (HK$21).
WHAT: Your Restaurant
WHERE: G/F, 3 Tai Wong Street East, Wan Chai. Tel: (852) 25293806
WHEN: Opening Hours: 11am to 11pm daily
DIRECTIONS: Wan Chai MTR Station Exit B2
Better known by its Cantonese name Kam Yuen Siu Goon, this unpretentious joint can be difficult to spot, but you'll be in for a real treat once inside.
Housed in a simple shophouse spanning three levels, Your Restaurant is a haven for authentic Cantonese dishes in a down-to-earth setting reminiscent of a typical suburban home.
Boasting an exciting dessert menu, its signature has to be the wood husks pudding (HK$12) - a vanilla-rich, creamy mousse topped with fragrant biscuit crumbs, in Portuguese, milk tea, and coffee flavours.
For all sweet-toothed punters looking for the perfect treat after a meal, don't leave without trying the durian mousse (HK$12), Italian cheese cup (HK$15) and home-made durian ice cream (HK$10).
Jazmin Kelly Six is a marketing copywriter and lifestyle writer.
This article was first published in The New Paper on Jan 9, 2009.