Hong Kong dim sum favorite faces uncertain future

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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)
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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)
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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)
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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)
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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)
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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
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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.


Australia offers reward amid mystery strawberry needle scare

wholesale prices had fallen by half to 50 Australian cents per punnet, below the cost of production. (Supplied)
Updated 17 September 2018
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Australia offers reward amid mystery strawberry needle scare

  • Several brands grown in Queensland have been withdrawn from supermarkets, and there have been multiple reports of other cases in the states of New South Wales and Victoria

SYDNEY: An Australian state has offered a large reward for information after sewing needles were found in strawberries sold in supermarkets, in what the federal health minister described as a “vicious crime.”
The issue came to light last week when a man was taken to hospital with stomach pains after eating the fresh produce bought at a supermarket in Queensland state.
Since then, people have posted on social media photos of other strawberries with small metal pins stuck into them.
Several brands grown in Queensland have been withdrawn from supermarkets, and there have been multiple reports of other cases in the states of New South Wales and Victoria.
“Whoever is behind this is not just putting families at risk across Queensland and the rest of Australia — they are putting an entire industry at risk,” Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said Saturday.
Her government is offering a Aus$100,000 ($71,500) reward for any information that leads to the capture and conviction of those responsible.
“I would urge anyone with information that may be relevant to this incident in any way to contact police as soon as possible,” she added.
Queensland Police told national broadcaster ABC the contamination of the strawberries — usually sold in small plastic boxes called punnets — was done “obviously to injure somebody.”
They have yet to reveal possible motives but the Queensland Strawberry Growers Association said a disgruntled former worker might be responsible.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said Sunday he had ordered the national food safety watchdog to assess the handling of the cases, calling the sabotage a “very vicious crime.”
The Queensland strawberry industry is valued at about Aus$160 million ($114 million). The ABC said Saturday wholesale prices had fallen by half to 50 Australian cents per punnet, below the cost of production.
Consumers have been urged to cut up their strawberries before eating.