I have not written a post of Lin Heung because it was well-known and well-covered by all. Also I would not recommend my gentle friends to go because you have to fight for your dimsum. Never would I expect, this would be an announcement of their closure.
The current owners, the Yim family, opened Lin Heung HK in 1927 and had since served traditional Cantonese dimsum. The main differentiator from other dimsum restaurants in HK – they only serve steamed items and they continue to sell tea by 茶盅 traditional tea cup with cover.
There’s a twin brother in Guangzhou also called Lin Heung. However, the two were separated when the Communists took over and nationalised the Guangzhou Lin Heung Restaurant in 1949. Henceforth, there’re two Lin Heung, same root different paths.
Lin Heung has a very colourful history – children of the founders fighting for inheritance, mistress of the founder fighting for inheritance, HK Lin Heung suing the Guangzhou Lin Heung for copyright infringement, etc. All these drama only added to the mystic of the venerable Lin Heung brand among the Hongkongers. Foreigners like me were only interested in the food and old world charm.
Lin Heung served very old school Cantonese dimsum. While there are better places in recent years like 三希樓, the dimsum was still above average standards and worth the effort to go and try.
Highly recommended were the really old school dimsum like pig liver siumai, pig kidney siumai, pig stomach siumai, cow tripe roll, etc. These dim sums had almost disappeared from the menus. Because of the recent influx of Chinese tourists for these dim sums, some others have started to reintroduce some of them in the menu. But it was all traceable to Lin Heung. And the pig liver and kidney siumais were so good, there’s not equivalent anywhere else.
But what stood out was the charm of the place. It was as if time has stood still in this shop. All the workers were above 60s, the clientele was mainly that range too. In recent, due to the Internet and social media, the median age of the place had dropped a couple of notches. However, gone were the friendly and loud banter between staff and customers, the yelling for food and the general buzz of the place. In its place, Mandarin speaking customers shouting without getting any response, sour-faced people and general chaos.
You have to share a table and because of the crowd, it was impossible to push the dimsum around with carts. Instead, one had to go to the kitchen entrance and “fight” for the really popular items. That’s why all those shouting and sour-faced because the Mainlanders were really good at this.
Finally, it’s time to say goodbye. The last operator from the Yim family 顏尊輝 passed away in 2018, and the real-estate company of the property decided to take back the lot for redevelopment. The family decided to close the current shop and operate just the franchises in Sheung Wan.
蓮香樓 Lin Heung Tea House
160-164 Wellington Street, Central
[Update 26 Feb 2018 : The employees of Lien Heung decided to pool their money together to takeover the restaurant and continue to operate the morning/afternoon dimsum restaurant, as well as the cake shop, as a franchisee. It will be renamed as 蓮香茶室 on 1 Mar. Go before that close too, because the building will be demolished.]