Hong Kong dim sum favorite faces uncertain future

1 / 6
In this photo taken on August 7, 2018, a waiter pours freshly boiled water into a tea pot for diners eating dim sum at the Lin Heung Tea House in Hong Kong.(AFP)
2 / 6
In this photo taken on August 7, 2018, diners watch as a trolley lady as she passes them with bamboo steamers containing dim sum dishes at the Lin Heung Tea House in Hong Kong. (AFP)
3 / 6
In this photo taken on August 7, 2018, diners share tables as they eat dim sum at the Lin Heung Tea House in Hong Kong.(AFP)
4 / 6
In this photo taken on August 7, 2018, a customer (C) gestures to choose her dish as other diners hold their order sheets in order to catch the attention of an employee (R) while they crowd around her trolley of bamboo steamers containing freshly steamed dim sum dishes at the Lin Heung Tea House in Hong Kong. (AFP)
5 / 6
In this photo taken on August 7, 2018, diners stand around a trolley of bamboo steamers containing freshly steamed dim sum dishes at the Lin Heung Tea House in Hong Kong. (AFP)
6 / 6
In this photo taken on August 7, 2018, bamboo steamers containing raw dim sum are taken out of a fridge before being steamed in the kitchen of the Lin Heung Tea House in Hong Kong. (AFP)
Updated 02 September 2018
0

Hong Kong dim sum favorite faces uncertain future

  • It’s my habit to sip a cup of Chinese tea and greet everyone here every week
  • It now has three outlets in Hong Kong and has moved its restaurants around over the decades

HONG KONG: Impatient diners crowd around carts of steaming dim sum steered by fierce “trolley aunties” at Hong Kong’s Lin Heung Tea House, one of the city’s most famous restaurants, now fearing for its future.
Lin Heung’s traditional homemade dishes, including cha siu bao (barbecue pork buns), har gow (shrimp dumplings) and ma lai go (Cantonese sponge cake), have earned a loyal following from locals with a taste for nostalgia, as well as inquisitive tourists.
The two-story restaurant in the bustling Central district has multiple top listings in global travel guides and serves customers from 6:00 am until 10:00 pm, seven days a week.
Diners sit elbow-to-elbow at shared round tables, metal spittoons still tucked beside them, the walls hung with decorative bird cages and traditional Chinese numerals used for menu prices.
But the restaurant says the building’s new owner has not yet contacted them about renewing their lease, despite it expiring early next year, and they feel in the dark about the landlord’s intentions.
That has sparked fears that Lin Heung will be the latest Hong Kong culinary treasure to fall foul of the city’s thirst for redevelopment.
The building’s landlord, CSI Properties, told AFP it could not comment on the case.
Lin Heung’s possible demise has been widely reported by local media and worried regulars say they are visiting as much as they can in case it closes.
Retiree Mr.Yip, 80, says he is coming more often to enjoy his favorite dish of pork liver siu mai — a kind of dumpling — and freshly made tea.
Dim sum is often paired with a cup of Chinese tea in a tradition known as “yum cha,” literally “drink tea.”
“It’s my habit to sip a cup of Chinese tea and greet everyone here every week. The tea is special and the people too,” Yip told AFP.
“I feel comforted when I see the staff. It feels like home.”

The city’s housing market was crowned the most expensive in the world in 2017 — the most recent figures available — according to US-based Demographia and developers clamour for prime real estate.
The selling off of older buildings, as well as spiralling rents, has spelled the end for a number of family-run neighborhood favorites across Hong Kong.
Lin Heung is one of the city’s oldest Cantonese restaurant businesses and is run by the Ngan family, who arrived from the southern Chinese province of Guangdong and set it up in 1926.
It now has three outlets in Hong Kong and has moved its restaurants around over the decades.
The Central venue on Wellington Street is its main restaurant and has been in the same spot for 22 years.
Restaurant spokesman Terence Lam said the current lease would end in March 2019 and he hoped the restaurant would not have to close.
“It’s not only a business. It embodies the legacy of the past,” Lam told AFP. “It represents the hardship of our ancestors.”
Local food writer Wilson Fok said the evolution of “yum cha” culture was intertwined with Hong Kong’s history as numerous mainland dim sum chefs fled to the former British colony in the 1950s after civil war ravaged China.
He describes the atmosphere inside restaurants like Lin Heung as a “piece of history.”
“Going to ‘yum cha’ is not just a cultural habit where people consume food, but also a way of life that shapes our identity,” said Fok.
“Some of these old traditions are often lost in our fast-paced society,” he added.
Tourists visiting the tea house said they appreciated the restaurant’s traditional approach — a rarity now in Hong Kong.
“We usually sit with family or friends in China. But here, we share tables with people we don’t know,” said 20-year-old mainland Chinese visitor Wu Yutung.
Brazilian tourist Marcelo Garcia, 47, who said he had never before eaten dim sum, described Lin Heung as “an environment with a huge amount of energy.”
“People probably come here again because they feel a sense of belonging,” he said.


Baking contest to whisk up golden business opportunity in Saudi Arabia

Updated 15 min 35 sec ago
0

Baking contest to whisk up golden business opportunity in Saudi Arabia

  • Jeddah-based concept store Crate teams up with online bake-house Bakery M to find the next top baker
  • The winner of The Golden Whisk competition will receive an all-inclusive brand-building package

JEDDAH: A Saudi baking competition offering a golden business opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs has been launched.

Crate, a Jeddah-based concept store which aims to empower enterprising locals, has teamed up with acclaimed online bake-house Bakery M, to find the next top baker through The Golden Whisk contest. 

High startup costs have led many new businesses to operate exclusively online through social media platforms such as Instagram. 

However, Crate, through its flagship store in Jeddah’s Al-Salamah, offers new businesses a retail location to showcase their products to local consumers.

The winner of The Golden Whisk competition will receive an all-inclusive brand-building package created by Crate, Bakery M, and graphic design firm LOUD.

“We proposed the idea to Mariam (Bakery M founder Mariam Alhaddad), and she fell in love with it instantly,” said Crate co-founder and CEO, Rayan Fadul. “Our goal is to provide the winning home-baker with all the right tools to establish their independent brand in the market.”

 

Finalists

Aspiring bakers can register for The Golden Whisk by visiting Crate’s Instagram page (@crate.ksa), where a link to the application form can be found in the company’s bio section. Registration is open through Feb. 26.

Finalists will be narrowed down to a pool of 20 candidates and these bakers will present their dessert samples to an esteemed panel of three judges: Mariam Alhaddad (@bakerym), Basma Elkhereiji (@basmaelkhereiji), and Raneen Joudah (@raneens.table). Judging will be based on taste, presentation, quality, originality, and the passion of bakers during their dessert presentations.

Ten lucky bakers will then go through to a grand final on March 17.

 

Marketing exposure

The winning contestant will be hosted by Bakery M at its booth at Crate, where their winning dessert will be showcased for an entire month to help with initial marketing exposure.

During the month, LOUD, a sister company of Crate, will conduct branding services such as logo designs, photography sessions, and professional packaging services. 

Crate will then offer a complimentary three-month package to the winner, where they will be allocated their own independent space within Crate to further establish their bakery brand.

“We want to bring the talent out from within you and give you a head start on your bakery brand,” said Alhaddad. “This competition is meant to help you shine. Keep in mind, individualism is key. You want to be recognized? Be original. Refuse ordinary,” she added.

Online bake-houses in the Kingdom have been a growing trend in recent years, and The Golden Whisk contest aims to capitalize on this by stirring up competition among them and in the process cooking up some delicious innovative treats. 

“We are so happy to create this opportunity through this competition,” said Fadul. “We are moving an unknown baker from their home, to their own space in an established storefront, having their business brand properly formed, and offering them great marketing exposure — with the seal of approval from Bakery M herself.”