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I went to Hong Kong for the first time in 5 years in November. It was the 6th time that I visited there and I didn’t realize how much I missed this place till I got there. To be honest, I was a bit worried about how Hong Kong changed after the protests and COVID. But I did not see any downsides. From the optimistic perspective of the tourist, I can say that Hong Kong is still one of my favorite cities.
My favorite things to do in Hong Kong are simple. Eating dim sum as much as I want, going to cha chaan teng, which is a traditional style of diner or a café, and just wandering around the streets. As you can easily imagine, there are many dim sum restaurants in Hong Kong. I revisited the most chaotic dim sum spot called 蓮香居, Lin Heung Kui, this time. This place is famous for its authentic style. It was Sunday and packed with local elderly people. The first thing you need to do is to find your seat by yourself because there are no servers to show you the table although many servers are working. The last time I visited here, I had no problem finding a seat, but this time they gave me a really hard time. Every time I spotted an empty seat and tried to sit, the servers or the grandpas sitting next to the seat would give me a side eye and shake their heads. After walking around in the restaurant like a loser of musical chairs, I challenged the server again who said no to me a few minutes ago. I pointed out the empty seat with my index finger and said loudly “ONE PERSON, OKAY ?” The server, who looked as old and grumpy as the others, nodded silently. That was the epic victory moment in my life.
When I sat down, plates, teapots and teacups were all set up. And there was a big bowl as well. In a traditional dim sum place, you need to wash your plates and teacup with tea in the bowl even though the dishes are already clean. I think it is a Hong Kong custom and I happened to know that from reading an article. As I was trying to wash them, suddenly the man sitting next started talking to me, “Do you know what this bowl is for?” I said, “Yeah, this is for washing dishes with tea.” “Oh really? I thought it was another plate for a big dim sum.” he laughed. We started talking. His name was Jim, he was originally from New York and living in Seoul. He came to visit here for work. The carts carrying the dim sum were moving around in the restaurant and people rushed to the cart and grabbed steamers that they were looking for. Jim and I started to share plates and both of us rushed to the cart and grabbed whatever was on there. We enjoyed the dim sum and conversation in the chaotic place. In the moment I was thinking “Wait, this could be a great meet-cute story about how I met my future husband in a dim sum restaurant in Hong Kong ! ” but then I saw the ring on his wedding finger. My rom-com story ended so quickly. After sharing several plates, Jim left for a business meeting and we said goodbye to each other. Although it didn’t make it into a rom-com, it was a fun encounter where I could share an amazing dim sum with a stranger.
I stayed there for a while and watched elderly people at the same table eating and chatting. One grandma asked me with a very strong Chinese accent, pointing at the empty seat next to me “Where is he?” and I said, “He left.” And the group of grandmas were asking me together “He left? He left?”, and they were looking at me with pitying eyes as if I was abandoned by my boyfriend and left alone. I was trying to explain that we just met here, but they looked all confused so I gave up. I said goodbye to the grandma and left the place. It felt like too many things happened in only 2 hours and I just could not get enough of it. I am still dreaming about the next time I come back to this lovable chaotic dim sum place.
Tomoko Nishita
Tomoko Nishita has been a student at the English School for 10 years. After working as an editor and at an advertising agency, she is now enjoying a laid-back lifestyle in Kyoto. Her hobbies include American gossip patrol, travelling, and enjoying food.