Everyone's cup of tea?
By Ye Jun ,Beijing Weekend
Updated: 2004-03-11 14:41
In Beijing, most of the people who frequent Hong Kong-style
tea cafes are either from Hong Kong or Canton, or white-collar workers who
favour food with a South China flavour.
Yet when they first appeared in
the 1930s in Hong Kong, they were designed to be a cheaper option to
The origin of Hong Kong-style tea cafes, or cha can
ting, dates back to the end of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), when the island was
still a British colony.
People in Hong Kong, influenced by the British
lifestyle, started drinking English black tea and coffee with milk.
styles of restaurant, the Chinese and Western, co-existed at the time. But as
restaurants catering to the taste of Westerners tend to be expensive, a kind of
restaurant combining the styles of Chinese and Western food appeared.
first, these restaurants were called Coffee Houses or Ice Rooms. Later, they
became known as cha can ting.
Some say all Hong Kong people grow up
eating at such places.
Tea cafes offer cheap, fast food, with a great
variety of choice. Usually noodles, either fried or boiled, rice with dishes,
and dim sum are offered here. Sandwiches, spaghetti, toast, salad, soup, tea and
coffee are all on the menu.
Such tea places are typically open from morning until
Much of the food is typically Hong Kong or a combination of
Hong Kong and Western food.
Yuanyang (which means mandarin duck), for
example, is a mixture of coffee and milk tea.
Typically a diner might
have a cup of coffee right after a bowl of fish-ball noodles and an egg
With this combination of Hong Kong and Western styles, tea cafes
have become such an important part of life in Hong Kong that tourist agencies
now promote them as one of the attractions of the city.
There are a dozen
Hong Kong-style tea cafes in Beijing. According to Bian Jiang, deputy
secretary-general of the China Cookery Association, cafes are designed for
ordinary people in Hong Kong. But many of these cafes in Beijing target
white-collar workers as their main customers, setting their price at medium and
He believes that is why there are still a quite limited
number of tea cafes in Beijing.
Where to go
One of the most popular tea restaurants in
Beijing, it is not big and the decor is simple. But the quality of food
frequently has customers queuing up.
Details of more than 300
Cantonese-style dishes available in the restaurant are hung on the walls.
The most popular are the Bifengtan dish series and the Bozai rice
* Chaoyang branch location: West gate of Chaoyang
*Dongdan branch location: 72 Dongdan Beidajie,
call to make reservation.
Opening hours/cost: 10
am-3 am, under 99 yuan (US$12)
One of the oldest Hong Kong-style tea restaurants in Beijing, this
one provides a big variety of dishes, both Cantonese and Western flavours
Besides dishes, porridge, dim sum and milk tea are also
*Jianguomen branch location 1: 21 Jianguomenwai
Dajie, (beside St. Regis)
*World Trade Centre branch
location 2: 1 China World Trade Centre
Opening hours/cost: 24 hours,
100-199 yuan (US$12-24)
|People Mountain People Sea (ren shan ren hai) |
lit and arranged in single tables for four with train-style high-back soft
cushion seats, the 200-sqm restaurant is a good option if you want to go
at any time.
Some of the most popular choices are fish-ball noodles
fresh shrimp wontons with noodles in soup (20 yuan/US$2.4), fukien-style
fried rice (26 yuan/US$3.1) .
The menu also offers a variety of Chinese
and Western choices which include beef steak, congee, spaghetti and BBQ
Location: G/F Somerset Fortune Garden Beijing, 46
Opening hours/cost: 7 am-11:30 pm;
under 99 yuan (US$12)
|Be There or Be Square (bu jian bu san) |
Opening hours: 24 hours
|Bifengtang Chacanting |
Location: A1 Xinzhongjie,
Dongzhimenwai, Dongcheng District
Opening hours: 9
|Urban Forest (du shi cong lin cha can ting)|
5th floor Huapu Club, Huapu Mansion, No 19 Chaoyangmenwai Dajie, Chaoyang
Opening hours: 10 am- 10 pm
|Jinggang Zaixian Chacanting |
Location: 3rd floor,
Capital Times Square, L326 No 88 West Chang'an Avenue, Xicheng District
Opening hours: 10 am-10