UPDATE: Lin Heung has been saved by an employee buyout! But the sentiment below still stands!
One of the things I like(d) most about Hong Kong is that you can walk back in time, sometimes city block by city block. Many restaurants and hotels not only from my decade of the 1990s, but also my mom and her family’s trips in the 60s, are still going strong. So when I travel there with family and friends, it often feels like I never left.
Sadly, this phenomenon is quickly changing. Take the most current issue of Bon Appetite magazine. This gorgeous photo of Lin Heung tea house is enticing, right? Even the caption suggests readers head right to Lin Heung if they ever get to Hong Kong. That was my mantra, too, since I started going only four years ago. (The restaurant has been in operation for 100 years, but I was late to the party.)
Property in Hong Kong is so valuable, rent is out of control, and the younger generations aren’t always into keeping up family businesses. So Lin Heung is closing.
I first went there with author Elsie Sze. I was on layover to Shanghai and she had a full schedule while she was in town, but the time we spent at Lin Heung was magical. I’ll always remember it.
This is the interior of the restaurant the morning Elsie and I met at Lin Heung. Things hadn’t changed much over the century it’s been in business. Communal tables used to be the norm in Hong Kong and Lin Heung was one of the few places where that still happened. It bugged me to no end when I lived in Hong Kong, but it’s now one of my favorite memories of my years there. There’s something so calming about talking to strangers I’ll never see again.
The following weekend I was back in Hong Kong and returned to Lin Heung with my mom and friends Mary and Rita. Although I don’t eat pork, here’s a steamer of siu mai at our table.
I love the old gaiwan bowls of tea above. There’s an art to pouring tea from these covered bowls.
I was back a couple years later in 2017 with my friends Tiffany and Kara. Lin Heung was the scene of our first meal in Hong Kong and we shared a table with Mandarin speakers.
Another view of the restaurant.
And here’s the tea kettle of water waiters use to refill our teapots. We drank about 10 pots of tea that morning. Shou mei is one of my favorite teas and it was standard at Lin Heung.
On my most recent trip to Hong Kong this past November, I took my kids to Lin Heung with my friend Rita and her parents. She and my youngest son are at the cart in the background, picking out more dim sum.
Lin Heung isn’t the only classic Hong Kong institution to close soon. The Excelsior Hotel will shut its doors at the end of March to make room for a horrible new high rise. Don’t get me started on that.