Hong Kong’s greasy cafes

Bourdain also sampled a pineapple bun — an inexpensive cha chaan teng snack that Jung revealed actually doesn’t contain pineapple. “It’s an unfilled bun with a sweet, crumbly filling that’s supposed to be marked in a pattern that looks like the marks on a pineapple, but a lot of places don’t care anymore,” she said. . “It’s especially delicious when you have the pineapple bread cut in half, with a thick slice of fresh butter inside. It goes wonderfully with hot or cold milk tea, depending on the weather.”

And when young Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong was interviewed for the Financial Times’ regular “Lunch with the FT” slot, as Hong Kong’s anti-government protests were about to reach their Peaking in November 2019, it was no surprise that the PR-savvy activist took a plastic stool from Tak Yu, a popular cafe tucked away on a run-down, dirty street in Wanchai. Wong accompanied his fried rice with a cup of Hong Kong-style milk tea, a silky and aromatic cha chaan teng specialty.

“As you can probably guess from the price of a cup [usually about HK$20]the tea leaves are not of the best quality, so the preparation is very important to make a good milk tea, ”said Jung, explaining that the drink from Hong Kong is steeped strong and filtered several times – often through a long strainer in the form of a stocking. – to make it smoother.

“Sweetness is the most important part of a good milk tea. It shouldn’t be coarse or astringent,” she added. “It’s served with evaporated milk, which also smoothens the tea and makes it richer than it would be with fresh milk.”

Drinks are central to the cha chaan teng experience, Jung said. Other popular drinks include yuenyeung, an acquired-tasting concoction made with two-part milk tea and one-part black coffee. Then there’s hot Coca-Cola with lemon and ginger; hot water with raw egg and sugar; and 7-Up with salt-marinated lemon slices (good for sore throats apparently). And “red bean ice cream”, a signature cha chaan teng drink made with sweet red beans, evaporated milk, vanilla ice cream and crushed ice.

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