What To Order At A Cha Chaan Teng
In Hong Kong
Hong Kong is undoubtedly a foodie’s city, offering a diverse range of international and Michelin star dining options. But if you're looking for a more local experience, than look no further than visiting a cha chaan teng, Cantonese for a tea restaurant. These local diners are known for their cheap and eclectic range of Chinese and Western-style dishes, ranging from French toast to macaroni soup with ham. Here are 10 must-try foods and drinks when visiting a cha chaan teng in Hong Kong!
A local spin on a Western classic, Hong Kong-style French toast is made with two layers of bread either on its own or with a peanut butter or kaya (coconut jam) filling. Kam Wah Cafe (Prince Edward) serves a delicious one. After being soaked in egg batter and fried to crispy golden-brown perfection, the slices of toast are served with a generous slathering of butter and syrup or condensed milk. Are you drooling yet?
Soft, fluffy buns with a sweet, crusty, and flaky topping, pineapple buns or bo lo baos make a delicious breakfast or afternoon snack. Misleadingly, there is no pineapple in the bun and these buns acquired their name because the patterns on the golden topping are similar to those on pineapples. Give the ones at Kam Wah Cafe in Kowloon a try - they’re some of the best in the city. For something more decadent, try a bo lo yau which includes a generous slab of butter.
Macaroni Soup With Ham/Spam
Similar to Western chicken noodle soup, macaroni pasta is cooked in a light savoury broth and topped with slices of ham or spam. A popular breakfast staple, it's often served alongside eggs and toast, and balances out the heavier dishes you normally find at cha chaan tengs. Find it at Capital Cafe in Wanchai.
Hong Kong-style Milk Tea
A classic cha chaan teng beverage, Hong Kong-style milk teas are nicknamed “pantyhose” or “silk stocking” milk teas, for the cloth filters used to strain the tea. Condensed or evaporated milk is added to strong brewed black tea to give it its distinctive taste and velvety, creamy consistency. Lan Fong Yuen 蘭芳園 (Central) is known for theirs.
Scrambled Eggs On Toast
Sounds simple, but notoriously difficult to make well. Australian Dairy Company in Jordan makes a perfect rendition that has locals and travellers alike revisiting constantly. Imagine fluffy, creamy, and oh-so-tasty scrambled eggs served alongside toast and paired with a side of ham macaroni soup - you won’t be disappointed with a breakfast set like theirs. For something a little bit more luxurious, Capital Cafe in Wanchai does an equally good truffled version of scrambled eggs.
There are two versions of egg tarts in Hong Kong; one with a soft and crumbly shortcrust base, and the other with a flaky and crispy pastry base. They're both filled with a soft, eggy custard and will make for a perfect ending to your meal. Can't decide which you prefer? Try them both at Sakurashima Bakery in Mongkok!
If you love tomato soup, you'll love this dish! What you get is noodles mixed with soft chunks of tomatoes, meat(s) of your choice - or a sunny-side egg if you choose meatless noodles - in a tangy tomato-based soup that's prepared right on the spot. This is the speciality of Star Cafe (星座冰室) in Tsim Sha Tsui. Another spot to find this dish is at Sing Heung Yuen in Central, which requires some climbing up steps and slopes, but it's definitely worth the journey!
Satay Beef Noodles
You can’t go wrong with a bowl of savoury satay beef noodles at a cha chaan teng. Tender slices of beef are cooked with instant noodles in a rich, sweet, and nutty satay broth and is simply divine. Try the one at 誠記 in Kennedy Town.
Scrambled Egg Char Siu Rice
Imagine sweet and succulent char siu with moist and fluffy scrambled eggs on a bed of steaming rice. Hungry yet? Rain or shine, this is Hong Kong-style comfort food at its finest. 順興車仔麵茶餐廳 in Tai Hang - which is actually a dai pai dong street stall - does a stellar version.
Yuan Yang (Yin Yeung) Tea
Get the best of both worlds with this drink! When Hong Kong-style milk tea meets coffee, you get Yuan Yang tea. This is a must-have for coffee lovers when visiting cha chaan tengs. Head over to The Match Box 喜喜冰室 in Causeway Bay when you need a yuan yang pick me up.