Lin Heung Tea House, whose name means Fragrant Lotus in Cantonese, sits on Wellington Street in Central. Grab some friends and come along with me for lunch.
Step inside past the counter ladies selling sweet almond cakes and the sad, slow fish swimming in massive tanks, up the staircase and into the big, old room with fans whirring and fluorescent lights illuminating every white inch. Watch the throng press in on the harried servers pushing carts of treats buried in stacks of steamer baskets.
Gather your courage and push your way to the front of the next group that forms. Try a selection of items you don’t often eat. Curried seafood and chicken feet? The tentacles may be chewy, but their flavour is exquisite, isn’t it?
Next, how about some random buns stuffed with bits of savoury meat and vegetables? They’re big enough to share so we only need one.
Drink your strong, dark tea as you sit. Keep your eyes and ears open. Hunt for the treasure and you just might find it…
Char Sui Bao. Bit and by bit it disappears from your eager fingers.
Perhaps you fancy four neat little ha gao, all pork and gristle, or unknown meats, drenched in an oily sauce and wrapped in starchy yucca-like strips which challenge even the best chopstick wielders to a mental and physical battle of wills? (Shhh, it’s ok, you can use your serving spoon or rice bowl to cheat.)
Or maybe you’d like a few tofu skin packages, cheung fun with shrimp, or steamed chicken meat with fish maw and mushroom? None of these promises a much easier ride to your mouth on your chopsticks, but it’s worth the effort.
Drink some more tea and watch the old gweilo being too aggressive at the food carts, standing out like a sore kneecap. Oh, and make sure you get your ticket stamped!
Finally, when you spot the wobbling golden slices and smell the brown sugar scent, nab a piece of Ma La Gao (also called Ma Lai Gao after its Malaysian origin.) Tip it on its side and dig in with your much-used chopsticks.
As Anthony Bourdain would say “Oh, that’s good.”