The Travelling Pixie in Hong Kong
西苑 West Villa Restaurant
YumCha (the literal translation being: drink tea) is such a signature tradition in Hong Kong. YumCha is usually offered from early in the morning to three in the afternoon, with little push trolleys circulating the diner’s floor and some booths out in the middle for you to choose your dimsum. If you’re coming to Hong Kong for the first time, you simply must indulge in the tea and dimsum offered at these local restaurants. But truthfully speaking, not a lot of these restaurants taste nice (in fact, some of them are horrendous!), so its important for you to try out an authentic (let’s not forget, YUMMY!) YumCha restaurant on your first experience.
Ever since my family and I moved to the Hong Kong Island side, we frequently visited the West Villa Restaurant at Lee Garden One in Causeway Bay. My parents could only spare Saturdays and Sundays to have lunch together due to their busy work schedule, and due to the fact that both my mum and I have the Weekend-Lie-In Syndrome, we don’t usually get up until 11:30. By the time we get out of bed and got ready to leave the house, another hour would’ve flown by, and there would be a huge queue in front of West Villa Restaurant.
West Villa Restaurant takes up the whole of the fifth floor of Lee Garden One, so despite the massive queue, the wait is usually just 20 minutes (30 on a really busy day!) It’s definitely less busy on a weekday, so if you’re able to fit in lunch on a weekday during your visit to Hong Kong, it’d be perfect!
So after you’re seated, the first thing you’ll notice is that the staff would ask about your tea preference. Our family’s favourite is the Pu-Er, we call it a ‘neutral’ tea because it’s suitable for all body types (cold or hot based on Chinese medicine practitioners). Another common choice would be the Heung-Peen – the literal translation being ‘fragrant leaves’, a very classic tea to go for during YumCha. It’s a green tea, so it’s not the perfect choice for those with ‘cold-based bodytypes’, it’s light and fragrant, just make sure that it doesn’t get too concentrated, otherwise it’d start to taste bitter!
One of the other traditions of YumCha restaurants is that they take an extra charge for the tea and sauces per head, so don’t be surprised when you see an extra charge on your bill. West Villa Restaurant is an expensive place for YumCha compared to the average restaurant in Hong Kong, so the extra charge is about HKD20 (less than 2 pounds) per person.
So what’s next? It’s CHOOSE YOUR DIMSUM time!!!
Usually, all YumCha restaurants would include a ‘DimSum Ordering Sheet‘ on your table, but unfortunately they don’t offer English translations of the dimsum offered. Don’t fret! Here are a few of the signature Hong Kong dimsum that I’d recommend (plus their Cantonese pronunciations!) (One portion of dimsum usually has 3-4 pieces, if you’re unsure on how much to order, its best to ask the staff.)
蝦餃 (ha-gaau) Prawn dumplings – One of my favourite dimsum choices! It goes perfectly with the Chinese Chilli Oil too, perfect for those who love a little spice on their tongue.
燒賣 (siu-mai) Pork or fish dumplings – Another one of my favourite dimsum choices. The siu-mai at West Villa are slightly larger than those you get elsewhere, yumyum!
鮮竹牛肉球 (seen-juk-ngau-yuk-kau) Minced beef meatballs with beancurd sheet – I’ve never had better minced beef meatballs ever since I tried the ones in West Villa Restaurant! The beef is so tender and steamed to perfection!
腸粉 (cheung-fun) [Ingredients] wrapped in flour sheets – There’s a wide variety of choice of what the ingredients could be, from prawns to duck! Ask the staff for a recommendation!
蘿蔔糕 (lor-bak-go) Radish cake – Another dimsum that I must have whenever I’m back to Hong Kong, radish cake goes well with chilli and xo-sauce!
鮮竹卷 (seen-juk-guen) Prawns wrapped in beancurd sheet – Unique to West Villa, their prawns in beancurd sheet is cooked with a lobster bisque!
豆腐花 (dau-fu-fa) Tofu in a ginger-sugar soup – served hot in West Villa, this dessert could be quite filling! So don’t forget to leave some room in your stomach!
菊花糕 (gook-fa-go) Chrysanthemum jelly – My favourite dessert at West Villa, the fragrant chrysanthemum is the perfect closure to a filling lunch!
Don’t worry if you find trying to pronounce these Cantonese names of dimsum intimidating! You could always just show them my blog if you’re in question! :)
Enjoy your dimsum!
西苑 West Villa Restaurant
5/F Lee Garden One, 33 Hysan Avenue, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Yum Factor: 9/10