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“Quick while it's semi real!”

Lin Heung Tea House
Ranked #402 of 10,582 Restaurants in Hong Kong
Price range: $10 - $15
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Restaurant details
Good for: Local cuisine
Dining options: Lunch, Breakfast, Dinner
Neighborhood: Sheung Wan
Reviewed April 14, 2013

Loud, rude, real and that's just Hong Kong, Lin Heung is the same, but catch it while you can as it must be doomed, oh no! Time Magazine has it as one of the HK top ten sights. As always what is local and interesting becomes a Disney theme park with the invasion of all us tourists, but Lin Heung is still good. Charmless service, patchy but authentic food, fantastic spartan decor and an overwhelmingly Chinese clientele. Enjoy!

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1  Thank Chris W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed March 3, 2013

My foodie son and I visited at this traditional Hong Kong dim sum restaurant on our last day of visit in February 2013. We arrived at 10:45am on a friday, hoping to get 2 seats. We had to peruse and hunt down two vacant seats for 15 minutes, sharing at a round communal table with four other parties of 2 people each. We were offered a choice of tea and given a sheet of paper that was the basis of our tab, no dim sum offered to the table, but we had to hunt down trolley carts of different dim sum offering with 15 to 20 other hungry people, very noisy and crazy, and a bit chaotic. The quality of dim sum was good, comparable to other decent Chinese American or Chinese Canadian dim sum restaurants. We don't know if we might be back, but for that impressionable old Hong Kong experience it is worthwhile.

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Thank cliothefeline
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 1, 2013

My friend and I spent a few hours here one afternoon, eating more than our fair share of dumplings, drinking pot after pot of tea and people watching.
The teahouse was fairly busy when we arrived, but we managed to score ourselves a couple of spots sharing a table with a cute elderly gentleman who took it upon himself to advise us on how and wat we should order in his broken English. He suggested we order "Hermpee" tea, which he explained meant "Good Smell Tea" (Jasmine, I believe). He also explained to us that we were lucky to get a seat and we soon found that to be very true as the place got even busier, with people lining up in the entrance and remained packed for hours!
When we picked some dumplings from the vendor he exclaimed that it was the "Hot Item!" - so cute! The process of dining here was that you would approach a lady with a cart of dumplings, point to one and then have her stamp your coupon appropriately. The place was so busy that you had to line up to get to her and people would elbow their way to the front to get the most popular items while they were still available. We took turns in collecting something from the cart. Apparently, when it was my turn, our kind companion told my friend: "Your friend is too polite, she will go hungry." :) So, you do have to be a little pushy to get something...
Lovely way to spend our afternoon. Highly recommended.

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1  Thank SerendipitousNomads
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 12, 2013

At the risk of making my favorite breakfast restaurant in Hong Kong even more crowded, I should correct the incorrectly spelled name in the tripadvisor entry for this famous Hong Kong eatery. Tripadvisor lists it as "Lie Heung" at 160-164 Wellington but as can be seen from the attached photo it is really "Lin Heung" at 162-164 Wellington Street. I hate making it any easier for tourists to find it, but what the heck... I love this place and it deserves to be known.

The Lin Heung "tea house" is a dim sum restaurant in the morning and a menu oriented restaurant at night. I am frequently in Hong Kong with an apartment nearby so I eat breakfast here almost every day when in Hong Kong. Lin Heung is one of the few remaining old-style Cantonese dim sum places in HK. From early morning (I've been there at 6:30 AM) on it is jammed with Chinese local residents enjoying their tea and dim sum while reading papers. Westerners are rare since there is no English menu and the Chinese only spoken scene is somewhat daunting. Don't let that stop you from enjoying a great cultural scene and Chinese breakfast comfort food. Some westerners and quite a few expat locals think of this as way too scruffy but I love it for being authentic and down to earth. If you are a visitor to Hong Kong it is a wonderful break from the five star breakfast buffets at the Mandarin Oriental and other international super-hotels.

From the characteristically Hong Kong grubby ground floor entry on the corner of Wellington Street (cross street Aberdeen) one walks up a flight of stairs to the characteristically even more grubby dining room, full of chaos and people talking at each other and shouting at waiters and waiters shouting back. A few ladies are navigating the chaos with carts piled high with round dim sum baskets while waiters rush around with large kettles of boiling water, splashing it down more or less into tea bowls on the tables.

All around elderly Chinese men and women read their papers and talk and laugh and argue with each other. Tucked away at one of the tables you may see me, wolfing down yet another helping of pig innards dim sum while reading that morning's Wall Street Journal on my Kindle. Every now and then there is a rush as a new cart comes out of the kitchen bearing a crowd favorite and a scrum of regulars gathers round the cart to grab one of the treats before it is gone.

The system at Lin Heung is simple: find any empty seat at any table and sit down. All are welcome and if a seat is being held for someone the other occupants will wave you off. The tables are covered with glass and will seem remarkably dirty. That's OK as you will be eating off plates and not off the table. There are no napkins to be seen.

A waiter will slap down a bowl and a teacup with a Chinese soup spoon and some plastic chopsticks and will then pour boiling hot water into the bowl. The purpose of this hot water is to allow you to clean your soup spoon, chopsticks and tea cup by rinsing them in the hot water. Look around and you'll see how the Chinese do this. The waiter will also give you a paper check that will be used to total up the food you choose.

If you don't say anything the waiter will bring a teapot of tea. That's the default for Westerners who are assumed not to know how to prepare pu er tea the Chinese way. Ideally, at the very first contact with the waiter, before he can bring you a teapot, you'll say in a loud, clear voice "Poo air tea please" so he'll bring you the real stuff, which is always part of the cultural treat at Lin Heung.

Pu er tea is loose, strong leaves in a bowl covered by a lid. The waiter slops boiling hot water into the tea bowl and pours it out immediately to rinse the leaves and then he adds a fresh dollop of boiling hot water to the bowl, splashing a bit onto the glass table top, and covers it with the lid to let the tea steep. When you decide the tea has steeped enough to be strong enough for your taste (better like very strong tea), you pour out some of the tea from the bowl into your tea cup. This takes a bit of skill to keep the tea bowl mostly covered by the lid so the leaves don't pour out but are strained out through the small gap between the tea bowl and the lid. Doing this without pouring hot tea all over the table or scalding your fingers that are holding the tea cup is an acquired skill, easily mastered with just a few tea cups worth of practice and mess. I've always found the Chinese cursed with having me at their table very patient with anything inept that I do. Almost always someone at the table will patiently show me the right way with gestures.

Waiters will walk nearby the tables carrying large kettles of boiling hot water. As you drink down the tea and your tea bowl runs down to just a mass of tea leaves, when the waiter with the kettle comes by you remove the lid from the tea bowl so he knows your tea bowl needs more water. He'll pour a fresh dollop of hot water into the bowl to steep more tea out of the leaves. Pu er tea is so strong this can be done many times, certainly throughout even a long and leisurely breakfast.

Getting food: If you speak good Cantonese you can order what you want a la carte. Most people just grab dim sum off the carts. To do this, take your paper check with you and walk over to a cart. You can lift off the lids from the dim sum baskets to see what they contain. When you see something you want, point at it and the lady manning the cart will put it on a plate for you and will stamp your paper check with the item. You can now go back ot your table and eat that item, storing the paper check just underneath the glass table top in the slot that it makes with the wooden table structure, as seen in the accompanying photo.

Despite eating here for years I have no idea what most of this stuff is called or, even, what much of it is. But I do have my favorites by sight, for example, what seems to be pig intestines or other innards, which I like with soy sauce. It's true that the semi-random nature of what dim sum is issued on new carts from the kitchen may mean that you'll have to wait a while before an old favorite like pork buns appears. Some days you might even have to do without if you fill up on other items while waiting for a favorite. It's all part of the scene and all good.

I'm impatient so I usually get up and walk over to the carts to see what is available but many people prefer a more leisurely breakfast and will wait for the carts to meander over to them. One exception to the rule of getting food from the carts is that some Westerners will order congee for breakfast. If you get to Lin Heung early enough, say, before 7:30 or 8, when you ask the waiter for your pu er tea you can also say "Con Gee please." If they have any congee left they'll bring you a bowl. Congee is a Hong Kong breakfast favorite, a sort of rice gruel that strikes many Westerners as utterly bland unless supplemented with richer admixtures of roast meats or various dim sum items.

When it's time to go you pick up your check and go to the cashier and pay. They have no trouble dealing with Westerners. Lin Heung has credit card logos on the entry door but I think that for breakfast they strongly prefer either cash or an Octopus card. I always use my Octopus card, just touching it to the pad and we're done. No tipping.

Lin Heung is also open for dinner as a more typical menu-oriented restaurant. For some strange reason although I have breakfast there all the time I've never been there for dinner, so I can't say how it is for dinner.

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12  Thank DimitriDonskoi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 6, 2013

too manny peopole. you have to serve yourself. no fried items on steamed. i don't like. will go somehwere nicer. good for classic toursit expereinces. one of oldest tea houses out there

Thank wangerkent
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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