Tuesday, October 18, 2011

This place requires a higher NQ (noise quotient). - 蓮香樓

Was here one Saturday afternoon at around 1pm. You could start hearing the noise from the place right from the moment you step into the restaurant. That's what Lin Heung Tea House features as one of its specialities: a cosy, casual eating environment where you can also get the best tea and the best dim sum.

Yeah, they are probably right with the part about dim sum. Theres little doubt about the dim sum here. But you would be wrong if you describe the environment at Lin Heung as 'cosy'.

I used to go to Lin Heung early in the morning (say, six a.m.?) for the steamed rice. Lin Heung used to be a quieter place, although not 'quiet' enough for you to sit back and relax during breakfast hours. The place is never quiet. But things just get crazier and crazier as time goes by. Lin Heung has become a place so popular among the local neighbourhood and also tourists. As more people burst in for the food, the tea place just get noisier and busier. Chairs touch each other and your elbow can easily hit someone else's jaw, as it is almost certain that you have to share a table. That's why I stopped going to Lin Heung. Still i am seduced by its dim sum-which, perhaps are too huge in portion, and too filling for greedy people like me to get to try several kinds of them, tastes undoubtedly good. I realized that after having too much disappointing dim sums and steamed buns (including the birthday peach from Bao Dim Sin Sang). If I were to have dim sum, I would go to either Sun Hing(in Western district) or Lin Heung.

Just a quick review on some of the dim sums we had: 

Siu-mai. The pork was full of juice and flavour, while the yellowish wrap was also tasty. It was probably one of the best I have had in Hong Kong - there are way too many siu-mai with flour and water added out there.

Fu-pei roll.Some chicken, yue-to and mushroom are wrapped in a plece of fu-pei. The wrap was not deep-fried and thus was tender and nice to have as it had soaked up the soup and sauce, as well as the flavour of its fillings. The piece of yue-to was delicious as it had completely taken up the juice and flavour. Excellent!

Loh-mai guen. The bun vaguely held some glutinous rice in place, and they immediately fell off as we tried to separate the rolls apart. The bun was quite thin, while the stir-fried rice was somehow bland in taste, although a lot less compact than what you usually find in loh-mai rolls.

Lin-yung bau.Who eats at Lin Heung without trying their famous lotus seed paste bun? The buns have become slighter smaller and it was actually good for me, as I could not eat too much and be stuffed with just a bun. The white bread was slightly sweetened and tender-like man-tou.

The paste was darker in colour and was full of the natural sweetness of lotus seed paste - absolutely gorgeous. The salted egg yolk gave a tint of saltiness and buttery taste to the filling. It was just so good and i think its literally the best you could find in hong kong.

Steamed spare-ribs. It was okay, the sauce was quite tasty and the meat was tender. Love chewing on the soft bones tho!

Ma-lai jaan. Practically a miniature of the Ma-lai go which was sold in brick-sized squares.

When compared to the others I had had in Sheung Wan and Man-Fa lau, the version here clearly lacks flavour. There was no sweetness of the brown sugar (mak-ah-tong). Its just a piece of soft steamed cake, period, and the filling of lotus seed paste was pitifully little.

Ha-gau. The koreans came here for the shrimp dumplings, so they said. I cannot deny that the shrimp was quite tangy and tasty, but the wrap was just TOO sticky and thick. Some other dim sums that i didnt eat include the Steamed beefballs as well as the Steamed liver and siu mai.

My dad also ordered a place of stir-fried noodles with beef. I didnt eat as it was way too oily to me-the noodles basically shone with the oil sticking on each and every of them. ew.

Now enough talk about the dim sum and back to the environment issue. The place was so noisy that I had to shout. People were always on the move, either moving their asses around on their seats, turning their heads and loooking lost in the tea place, and more are always on their feet chasing after trolleys for fresh dim-sums. IT was too much for me to bear. The noise, the people, and everything were pressing on me, putting me on my nerves. Some may find such eating experience exciting but i found that completely unbearable and stressful. I guess that if you had to literally struggle through the crowd for just a bun, it would not be pleasant no matter how delicious the bun might be.

Yes, the dim sum is undeniably delicious, but i just cant stand eating in an environment as stressful as this. I eat slow, and i wish to eat somewhere i can relax and enjoy myself. If i had to follow the nerve-putting rules (which i can actually avoid, i dont have to go on weekends basically...) to eat, id rather not to.

There will be future returns to this tea place, this im pretty sure; but i dont think i would be going at such peak hours/days. Perhaps a round of slow tea-sipping and dim-sum eating/hunting in a lazy weekday afternoon? Now that sounds a lot less hectic to me.


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