During my search for the best Niu Rou Mein recipe a couple of years ago, I came across this video by the lovely Nana Chan (a.k.a. Nanamoose, or “Beef Noodle Soup Lady”). The recipe turned out to be so delicious that when my Taiwanese friend tasted a spoonful, she burst into tears and exclaimed, “it tastes like home, but better!” It’s been one of my go-to recipes ever since.
When I heard that Nana was opening her own cafe, my first reaction was, “What? Not a noodle soup restaurant?!”
Still, I knew it would be something special.
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Before we talk about the cafe, let’s put the Hong Kong restaurant scene into perspective.
For the most part, Hong Kong is dominated by restaurant chains that exist solely to maximize profit by following whatever trend happens to be ‘in’. So you get a lot of: “Hey, ramen is really popular this season! If we open a ramen joint, we could make a lot of money too!” says some guy (or corporation) who doesn’t care about ramen. So he opens yet another “ramen” restaurant in HK. But no, it’s not ramen. But that doesn’t matter, because it was never about ramen in the first place; it was about business. So now we have a hundred “ramen” shops that all taste bland, like just another generic Hong Kong bowl, inauthentic, neutered of integrity, bereft of soul, a disgrace to all that’s good and true.
See, real food isn’t about profit. Real food is about love.
Which brings us to Teakha.
Teakha is the real thing. The folks here put a lot of love into what they do, and you can taste it. They recognize that love is the essential ingredient. Teakha is one of my happy places, a place of nourishment and rest, an oasis in a land of drought, a place I tell everyone about.
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Now, let’s talk about milk tea.
Truth be told, I’ve always been a coffee person. I love the complexity of great coffee– the way the acidity counters the bitterness; how the milk lends richness to the tannins; the fruity and floral high notes; the spicy, earthy, resonant low notes. I love the way it undresses each flavor, slowly, distinctly, and seemingly without end.
Milk tea generally lacks that complexity. In fact, its simplicity has allowed it to become Hong Kong’s daily cup. It is simply rich, warm, and creamy.
Teakha’s milk tea, however, does have distinct layers. It’s the only milk tea I’ve tasted that offers coffee-like complexity. But Teakha’s drinks also tend to be very balanced. In fact, I didn’t realize how heavy HK milk tea usually is until I tried Teakha’s. They are almost completely different drinks– and in my mind, there’s no comparison: Teakha serves the best milk tea in Hong Kong.
Their pastries are also incredibly good. The first time I ordered a scone, I was asked to wait as they took a batch of raw dough, formed it, and put it in the oven. Literally baked fresh on the spot. It was softer and lighter than any scone I’d ever tried, with a perfect texture and bursting with fresh ginger flavor.
Teakha is Hong Kong’s embodiment of Hemingway’s “Clean, Well-Lighted Place.” Every item on the menu is exceptional, given attention to detail, and served with care– a true artisanal cafe.
For these reasons, I give Teakha my highest recommendations.
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18 Tai Ping Shan St., Sheung Wan