Cha chaan tengs (茶餐廳) are small, local cafes that are culturally infused in the fabric of the eating scene in Hong Kong. A peculiar fusion of Cantonese and Western cuisine, these ‘tea restaurants’ came about as a way to fill the desire for Western cuisine whilst furthering its appeal by adapting it to a Cantonese palette. From ‘Russian’ borsch and ‘Swiss’ wings to macaroni soup with ham and fried pork-chop over a bed of spaghetti, these seemingly bizarre concoctions are beloved go-to’s for many a local.
The epitome of casualness, these simple and unpretentious cafes combine Hong Kong’s love for good, inexpensive food with the city’s typical hectic and bustling atmosphere. Don’t expect to mull over life with a cup of tea for a few hours at a cha chaan teng – instead, anticipate rushed, snappy service in a rather crammed, chaotic setting. But do not let the no-frills experience daunt you. The classic fare served is nostalgic, reliable and filling. We recommend you treat the less-than-serene atmosphere as a part of your authentic cha chaan teng experience.
Australian Dairy Company
Australian Dairy Company is one of Hong Kong’s most popular cha chaan tengs, and for good reason. Their renowned scrambled eggs are every bit as creamy and fluffy as they are praised to be, and are especially satisfying enjoyed with the accompanying slice of buttered toast. Given the hype, long queues are the norm and service is quite rushed with notoriously impatient servers.
G/F, 47-49 Parkes Street, Jordan; 2730 1356
Capital Café is also a top contender for the title of best scrambled eggs, which are made especially creamy with the addition of Hokkaido milk. The condensed milk bun (奶油豬仔包) is a classic indulgence, or you can opt for the “Principal’s Toast” (校長多士) for truffles and cheese on toast – a rather unexpected choice for a cha chaan tang but a very enjoyable dish nonetheless.
Shop B1, G/F, Kwong Sang Hong Building, 6 Heard Street, Wan Chai; 2666 7766
Cheung Heung Yuen Restaurant
Allegedly serving one of the best egg tarts in town, Cheung Heung Yuen Restaurant has been offering the pastry for over 50 years and is said to sell thousands per day. Enjoy a selection of baked goods with the restaurant’s milk tea (港式奶茶), a silky smooth concoction that is the perfect balance of bitter and sweet and served in the original ‘Black & White’ brand mugs.
107 Belcher’s St, Kennedy Town; 2855 7911
Kam Fung Café
Kam Fung Café is known for its selection of freshly-baked Cantonese pastries. Its chicken pie and egg tart (蛋撻) are local favourites with their rich, buttery crusts and piping hot fillings, and the pineapple buns (菠蘿油) are an unmissable choice with their thick, crunchy crust and warm, pillowy insides complimented with a chunk of butter.
41 Spring Garden Lane, Wan Chai; +852 2572 0526
Kam Wah Cafe & Bakery
Kam Wah Cafe is another great option for Hong Kong’s renowned pineapple bun. The crust here is perfectly crumbly, and convenient to grab from the bakery at the front of the café as a midday pick-me-up. Make sure to order a ‘bo lo yau’ for the pineapple bun with butter, or ‘bo lo bao’ for the unbuttered version. For those that haven’t tried either, we recommend with butter for a delightful contrast of textures and temperatures between crunchy and fluffy and hot and cold.
47 Bute St, Prince Edward; 2392 6830
Mon Kee Café
Although only established in 2016, Mon Kee is an underrated cha chaan teng in Wan Chai that has cemented its claim to fame with a silky scrambled eggs over rice. Its eggs are served with barbecue pork (叉烧) and/or prawns over a bed of rice, an alternative from the typical Hong Kong scrambled eggs and buttered toast. Its ham macaroni soup is elevated with shredded squid, but remains true to the classic macaroni soup flavours for an ideal breakfast choice.
G/F, Kowloon Centre, 29-39 Ashley Road, Tsim Sha Tsui; +852 2617 2616
Mrs Tang Café
Tang Café is most famously known for its savoury twist on the classic pineapple bun, for which egg and tomato are added alongside a slab of butter for a pineapple ‘sandwich’ bun. Its macaroni tomato soup is another popular choice, a rich and tangy broth accompanied by tender and juicy pork chops and chicken wings.
Hang Tau Tsuen, Ping Shan, Yuen Long; 2617 2232