Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Hong Kong tea cafes - 茶餐廳, cha can ting

Australia Dairy Co. (澳洲牛奶公司) in Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong. It sells milk and dairies. No. Partially, perhaps. At least, one of their famed, is steamed MILK pudding.

Picture left: steamed milk pudding with egg white - a hot dessert. On the right: a similar steamed milk pudding - egg yoks added.

Steamed milk pudding - a famous dessert that deserves an almost-full-length window showcase, as an attraction, or rather temptation. Should I say this steamed milk pudding is really an acquired taste ? I found it on the sweet side and the texture is almost like yogurt. Maybe you can imagine yourself heating up a whole bowl of yogurt, and enjoying it without the tartness.


Don't ask me why a Hong Kong-style tea cafe, or cha can ting-茶餐廳 calls itself a "dairy" company when there is an eclectic and affordable menu of desserts, sandwiches/toasts, pasta, tea and coffee.

We were here twice. Once, for supper dessert, and another for breakfast. On both separate days, you see the same images of people packs in cramped aisles, and hear the same clutter chaos and noise, in this small-size cafe. If you do visit, do not be intimidated by the long queue of people waiting outside. Their turn-over is super-quick so you will be seated shortly. Once a customer is seated, the order is taken and you will be served in a matter of minutes (or seconds, depending on what you order). You will feel the adrenalin around - and this will affect you so much that you will just eat and go. No slow-munching, no laid-back-sipping. Eyes looking at you. Eager stares telling you - you're done! You won't have enough time or rather, they don't have sufficient time for you to have a slow relaxing breakfast. A reflection of how fast-pace is life in Hong Kong, once you wake up from bed.

For moments, you might even feel stressed up, eating in this cafe since they take orders so quick (as if they expected you to know what you want even before you step into the cafe). Finally, set meals saved our day. The HKD22 (USD2.80 or SGD4.00). breakfast set feeds you(one) well with macaroni soup + toast/soft bread with eggs + tea/coffee.

Macaroni soup, topped with thin strips of picnic ham

The origin of Hong Kong-style tea cafes dates back to the times of the British colony. Then, people in Hong Kong, influenced by the British lifestyle, started drinking English black tea and coffee with milk. Thereafter,the styles of the Chinese(Hong Kong) and Western, co-existed and you have a kind of eatery restaurant which combines the styles of Chinese(Hong Kong) and Western food. The Hong Kong-style tea cafe trend only started in Singapore late 2005-early 2006. There were just one or two of such Hong Kong tea cafes in Singapore back in 2005-2006. To-date, there are more. Similarly a British colony, the Hong-Kong tea cafe culture did not reach Singapore till of late. I wonder why.


Toast with fried eggs

The practice of sharing table is quite common in Hong Kong, due to lack of space and prime land. Don't be shy if you want good food. Most widely and postively reviewed eateries and restaurants are crowded. The chance of sharing table is high. On both occasions to Australian Dairy Company, we(group of two) shared seating at a four-seat table. On visits to another famous Chinese reataurant, we even shared seating at a 10-seat round table. Well, in Hong Kong...time is money. Space is money too. Prime space is so precious that they don't even want to have one seat left vacant! :O

Toast with their famous scrambles

Many reviews out there puts an absolute tick on their scrambled eggs. A must-try. Well, comparing their fried eggs with scrambles, the latter is really up to that mark. A very light and fluffy scrambled egg.

Rounding up our breakfast came the Yuanyang - a combination mixture of coffee and milk tea. Some say there is something addictive to this coffee-tea beverage. Makes me wonder the secret "ingredient" behind this famed beverage in Hong Kong. Personally, I suspect the proportion of each "liquid mixture" lies the secret. :P

No website, no formal receipts - there must be something magic about Australia Dairy Co. that earns its raves, either as good food "must-try" in Hong Kong, or as an attraction "must-visit". Service was not particularly impressive (some may even consider it rude) but again, this is a place (I am definite) where local Hong Kongers and tourists visit for their food, and "just go" - living up to the public given motto "just eat and go" :D



















Bill totalling breakfast for two. Cheap or just reasonable ?

Australia Dairy Co. (澳洲牛奶公司)
47-49 Parkes Street, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
Open from morning ~700hrs until late ~ 2300hrs

Check it out! I don't think they have any other branches in Hong Kong and rest of the world. Definitely not a cookie-cutter among the sprawling many Hong Kong style tea cafes all over the world.

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