top of page

Hong Kong Cha Chaan Teng Culture: Exploring Sheung Wan 🍵🫖

Nestled amidst the bustling streets of Hong Kong, a treasure trove of culinary delights awaits those who seek an authentic taste of the city's vibrant culture. Among the myriad of culinary experiences, Cha Chaan Tengs, the traditional coffee stores of Hong Kong, stand as enduring symbols of the city's rich heritage and unique fusion of East and West. The origins of Cha Chaan Tengs can be traced back to the early 20th century when Western influences began to permeate Hong Kong's culinary landscape. These unassuming establishments emerged as a result of the city's cosmopolitan nature, blending Chinese traditions with Western flavours to create a culinary phenomenon that has stood the test of time.

In this article, our Localhood Website Team Volunteers, Renee and Saravanan embark on a journey to explore the hidden gems that lie within the Cha Chaan Tengs of Hong Kong: starting off- a shoutout to a few standout establishments in the hip yet historical neighbourhood of Sheung Wan. They delve into the history, culture, and culinary delights that define these establishments, shedding light on the remarkable stories behind their enduring popularity. Prepare to be captivated by the nostalgia, flavours, and vibrant ambience of Hong Kong's Cha Chaan Tengs, as we embark on a tantalising adventure that will leave you yearning to experience the true essence of this remarkable culinary tradition.

Cha Chaan Teng 101

Cha Chaan Teng offer a captivating glimpse into the daily lives of Hong Kong locals. From early mornings to late nights, these bustling establishments serve as social hubs, where residents gather to savour a cup of silky-smooth milk tea, indulge in a hearty plate of crispy French toast, or relish a bowl of steaming hot noodles. The tantalising aromas that waft through the air, accompanied by the captivating symphony of clinking teacups and lively conversations, create an ambience that is distinctly Hong Kong.

郁鍵快餐 Yuk Kin Fast Food

Address: Shop A, G/F, Po Wan Building, 6 Tai Ping Shan Street, Sheung Wan

 Yuk Kin is a somewhat non-traditional Cha Chaan Teng gem, located in the small streets of Tai Ping Shan. This “cute” place gets crowded during the peak lunch hours and be warned, it is definitely not for those who need air conditioning to “survive”!

If you do see the tables are fully occupied, fret not: the waitresses are more than happy to pop a new table up for you, similar to when mushrooms pop out post rainy season. Their menu is relatively extensive and of course their customer experience is above average, having said that, the dishes are truly worth the buzz and the must try “curry fried rice” is definitely worth ordering.

This establishment has survived trials and time as it withstood the pandemic as well, shows how rooted it is within the community and neighbourhood. Tried and tested, this small neighbourhood Cha Chaan Teng is highly recommended to locals and non-locals who wishes to experience the local feeling. As a repeat customer, LocalHood volunteer Saravanan’s go-to is the curry fried rice of course. This dish has just the right amount of curry flavour and “wok hei” (smoky wok flavour) that makes the dish stand out.

興記咖啡 Hing Kee Cafe

Address: G/F, 182 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan

Best known for its Hong Kong-style French toast, slathered with condensed milk and butter, and served with a side of silky milk tea: Hing Kee has served this ‘soy sauce Western’ dish for over 60 years. French toast, a dish with a long and storied history dating all the way back to Ancient Rome where stale bread was served with a topping of milk and eggs, may seem to be an unlikely dish to be found in Hong Kong neighbourhood restaurants… but as LocalHood volunteer Renee found out (thanks to some informative articles on the door of Hing Kee!), the dish has made its own impact on the Hong Kong dining scene since the 1950s.

French toast was originally a high-end luxury for Hong Kong people, due to the use of imported ingredients such as French baguettes and imported butter. Hong Kong street hawkers brought this dish to the local people by replacing the baguettes with thick-cut white toast bread and the butter with canned condensed milk. One of these street hawkers (or Dai Pai Dongs) just happened to be the owner of Hing Kee: they were forced to move into this brick-and-mortar location after the government cracked down on local street food in the 1970s, in an attempt to improve the hygiene situation of the city.

Luckily, Hing Kee is still going strong today: as the high number of Instagrammers crowding their tables to get a shot at their French Toast proves.

龍邦燒味小廚茶餐廳  Dragon State Kitchen RestaurantAddress: Shop B, G/F, 38 Bonham Strand, Sheung Wan

Our final featured Sheung Wan Cha Chaan Teng features one of LocalHood volunteer Renee’s most favourite Hong Kong dishes: barbecued pork (char siu) on rice!

Dragon State Kitchen is one of Hong Kong’s worst kept foodie secrets: as the constant long line out the door every single day attests to. For just HK$60, visitors to this local restaurant can enjoy one of Hong Kong’s best renditions of char siu on rice with a side of boiled veggies. With a signature char siu recipe that features chunks of juicy pork meat slathered in honey before being barbecued to crispy-outside, tender-inside perfection: Dragon State Kitchen is a must-visit for anyone that wants to try locally prepared meats done well. Those who do not eat pork will be pleased to know that they also serve roast chicken done to a similarly high standard (at a similarly low price point!).

Beyond the delectable culinary offerings, Cha Chaan Tengs embody the spirit of resilience and adaptability ingrained in the Hong Kong people. In an ever-changing world, these cherished establishments have managed to retain their essence, serving as a nostalgic reminder of the city's past while embracing the demands of the modern era. Visit a Cha Chaan Teng in your neighbourhood today, to enjoy a delicious piece of Hong Kong history!


Featured Posts
Recent Posts
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Instagram
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square
Search By Tags
Follow Us
bottom of page