It's not an unheard of place. In fact, it's an institution (it's even got its own old-style logo on all of its tablewares). Step into Lin Heung Lau and it's like stepping into old Hong Kong, just table after table of people tucking into old-fashioned food.
Most reviews rave about the great dim sum it serves. But as I found out, Lin Heung Lau also does a mean repertoire of traditional home-style Cantonese cuisine. Although it stays open to fairly late (about 11pm), we realised very quickly that all the specials are sold out by then. The old waiter who served us tapped his feet with a wry smile while we desperately pored the menu, pointing to one after another "sold out" dish, and him responding with shake after shake of his grey head. He probably does this every night at the same hour.
So we thought.. ok, we're here for leftovers... finally, we managed to create a dinner of 3 dishes and a Vegetable. No soup even. Sigh..
Starters of the shrimp and squid colloid balls were a great appetiser. Fried to a golden brown, with bits of garlic and chillies, pepper and salt, there was a smoky taste which balanced the flavours of the sea well.
Bite into it, and you see honest to goodness shrimp and squids. The real McCoy.
The simple silver fish omellete was a beautiful yellow - such was the quality of the eggs used. Pan fried with fresh silver fish, they omellette was fragrant and not oily - difficult to do in an industrial wok.
I rarely snap Chinese vegetables since I usually order mine sans oil and sauce but the Chinese spinach with 3 eggs (regular, salted and century) with whole garlic bulbs, was fresh in its taste and was accompanied rather than overpowered by the condiments, as is traditionally intended to be the case.
Our final dish of lemon chicken was reminiscent of the old restaurants I grew up with and the use of dark meat was a pleasure to savour. None of that chewiness but a succulent, juicy meat, coated in a crisp flour coating and drizzled generously with the lemon sauce. Even the leftovers I heated up in the oven 2 days later managed to retain 80% of the crispness - that's a real measure of how good the deep frying was. The lemon sauce here is not my favourite but it was definitely not poor by any standard.
If the above were indeed leftovers, I could definitely eat leftovers everyday! Also, my very pleasant surprise at the quality of the food here could just find me dragging myself out of bed on a Sunday morning to jostle with the crowds for their famous dim-sum.
Lin Heung Tea House
160-164 Wellington Street,
Tel: +852-2544 4556