So for our fifth day in Hong Kong spent exploring Central, we just had to eat in possibly one of the most famous cha chaan teng (“tea restaurant”) in Hong Kong, Lan Fong Yuen. From the first glance of its storefront, it really epitomizes the word “hole in the wall”. Which is not surprising, since Lan Fong Yuen started out as a dai pai dong (street side food stall) and has now become a tea cafe.
So there’s a small cart/stall in front where people can buy Lan Fong Yuen’s famous “pantyhose milk tea” right off the street (because the tea is sifted with a sackcloth bag and over time, the tea stains on the sackcloth make it look like pantyhose) while at the back of the stall, there’s the area where the restaurant is actually located. (They also have a second branch right next to this original branch which is supposedly bigger and another branch in Tsim Sha Tsui, but we tried the original branch for more authenticity!)
|Lan Fong Yuen famous tea being brewed and filtered using “pantyhose”|
|The famous pantyhose milk tea being prepared outside by the food stall and brought in to Lan Fong Yuen’s dining area|
And inside, it still looks very much hole-in-the-wall. But it was precisely the authentic Hong Kong cha chaan teng experience we were looking for, and that’s exactly what we got!
We were there at around 11 in the morning so the lunch hour crowd was not yet too thick so we didn’t have to wait in line to get a table.
The sign at our table says that there’s a minimum order of HK$20 per person, which was not exactly hard to meet. It also didn’t seem that there’s an English-language menu but good thing their menu had pictures of their best-sellers.
Of course, we ordered the cold pantyhose milk tea (hot version is also available), which was simply the perfect drink after all the walking we did. The difference between the milk tea in Hong Kong as opposed to the milk tea we’re used to here in Manila is that the tea flavor in Hong Kong milk tea is really strong and the milk quite creamy. As a milk tea lover, Lan Fong Yuen’s version was really something I appreciated.
We also ordered three of their other best-sellers, the pork chop bun, the noodles with chicken fillet topping, and a Hong Kong style french toast.
The food may look a tad bit ordinary. But believe me, they were good. I especially liked the instant noodle dish (called lo ding). Like Australian Dairy Co., what’s so special about seemingly ordinary food that looks like we can make them at home? But these instant noodles really taste better and out of the ordinary. Lan Fong Yuen has comfort food but remixed with a Cantonese twist and taken to a higher level (and was the perfect place to get breakfast). And I think that’s what makes it a crowd-drawer and what’s made it into a bona fide Hong Kong establishment.
Just don’t let the cramped space and the lack of high end “ambiance” discourage you—remember that Hong Kong’s real estate is among the most expensive in the world so don’t be surprised with how little the place looks. It looks like a Philippine version of a carinderia and not to be too snobbish about it, but come on, when did you ever really eat in a carinderia here in Manila even just for thrills? I know I never do 🙁
For health and hygiene concerns, we have been warned against eating in them by no less than our own parents, right? But in Hong Kong, I didn’t mind eating in the carinderia-looking Lan Fong Yuen, mainly because their food and milk tea are good (cheap too!) and their established reputation. I thought, why not try something out of the ordinary while I’m in another country? T
And I’m glad I did and in doing so, allowed travel to broaden my comfort zone.
Fabulous travels! Cheers!
Lan Fong Yuen
2 Gage Street, Central, Hong Kong
Open from Monday to Saturday
8 AM to 8 PM
Cash payments only
4-6 Gage Street, Central, Hong Kong
26 Chung King Mansion, No. 36-44, Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong