Lan Fong Yuen is one of Hong Kong’s oldest and most famous cha chaan teng. They are said to be the inventors of the ‘silk stockings milk tea’ (絲襪奶茶 sī wà nǎi chá) and they have a famously delicious pork chop bun to boot. A must visit for anyone in Hong Kong.
Lan Fong Yuen is one of those food places that exemplifies hard work and persistence. They have a long heritage, they are famous and you will never find seats there. Yet when you review the Lan Fong Yuen listing on OpenRice (Hong Kong’s equivalent of hungrygowhere.com), the ratings fall surprisingly short of its incredible reputation. Granted, 40% thumbs up, 34% okays and 23% thumbs down is a pretty good rating for any food place, there were many places with far superior ratings. So does Lan Fong Yuen live up to its incredible reputation, or is it just another good cha chaan teng?
Lan Fong Yuen is easy to miss, so make sure that you do lots of planning with Google Street View before making your way down. If you take the correct steps down from the elevated walkway with the travelators, Lan Fong Yuen will be right in front of you. It is right at the corner between Gage St and Lyndhurst Terrace.
Service and Ordering
The service is good by Hong Kong standards, the Auntie greeted us with a smile as she brought us to our table. It was a table outside the main air conditioned dining area but we did not mind as we had a tight schedule. We did not feel like we were getting rushed and we were able to take our time to browse the menu and take plenty of photos. Do note that a minimum charge of HK$25 per person applies. So if you intended this place to be half a meal with a tight schedule in Hong Kong, do plan accordingly.[box type=”note”]Minimum charge of HK$25 per person applies[/box]
As we were pigs that day we only arrived at Lan Fong Yuen just after 11am. Perfect timing, we would have missed out on the pan fried chicken instant noodles if we had arrived earlier. You could try any of their sets, but as we had repeatedly busted our calorie-limits in Hong Kong, we decided to stick to just their bare signature items. We ordered one pork chop bun, one pan fried chicken instant noodles and one iced milk tea (凍奶茶 dòng nǎi chá). This set us back HK$75 – it’s not the cheapest compared to the breakfast sets at cha chaan tengs but for lunch at a famous one the price was fine. Just like any other typical cha chaan teng in Hong Kong, they would take your order and only write the total cost on a small piece of paper, leaving it somewhere on your table.
Lan Fong Yuen Pork Chop Bun
Ooh la la~ Check out that nice bokeh. This was our second pork chop bun experience in Hong Kong. Our first taste was at For Kee and it wasn’t super outstanding so we were really hoping for something magical this time. The bun has a slice of tomato inside it. One bite into the bun and yes – the pork chop flavour and juices started to engulf my taste buds, with the slice of tomato nicely complementing the taste. You may prefer yours without the tomato slice. The pork chop was nicely tender and springy. This is one delicious pork chop bun. We rate it 4.2/5.
Pan Fried Chicken with Instant Noodles
This was a very popular dish amongst the reviewers at OpenRice so we really had to try it. In the menu this item is listed as 蔥油雞扒撈丁 (cōng yóu jī bā lāo dīng), or literally ‘fried onion chicken chop dry instant noodles’. Sinking my teeth into the chicken I immediately noticed it was springy and tender. You can tell that the people at Lan Fong Yuen have really got the timing down on their pork and chicken. The instant noodles had the usual soy sauce-based seasoning, and it went well together with the chicken. Eat the chicken together with the spring onions for the best kick.
Back in Singapore we always took the regular chicken chop at western food stalls for granted, thinking that its simply the minimum accepted average. After my chicken experience at Lan Fong Yuen, I think chicken chop in Singapore with the usual unhealthily delicious gravy is one of the most underrated food items. While Lan Fong Yuen’s pan fried chicken instant noodles was nice and well prepared, the comparison with my usual chicken chop made me realise that when we eat nice food all the time, we take it for granted. Perhaps if we had never tasted chicken chop with delicious gravy we would have given this a higher rating, but for now it stands at 4/5.
Silk Stocking Milk Tea
A visit to Lan Fong Yuen is not complete without a taste of their famous silk stocking milk tea (絲襪奶茶 sī wà nǎi chá). Do not be confused by the fancy name of the drink, it is just the typical Hong Kong milk tea, and it is also known as ‘pantyhose’ milk tea. The special thing about Lan Fong Yuen’s iteration is that they invented it.
As it was a hot day, we tried the iced version of the drink – iced milk tea or 凍奶茶 (dòng nǎi chá). Having sampled iced milk tea from most of the famous cha chaan tengs in Hong Kong, we can say that this is the best of them! The taste overload is instantaneous when the milk tea hits your mouth. There is a very strong and delicious black tea aroma with the perfect balance of milk. This was simply a shiok experience! We ordered another cup for good measure. This is a delicious and satisfying 4.5/5.
Back in Singapore we are used to expecting sub-standard teh peng (hokkien dialect for iced milk tea), which may be too diluted or with too little or too much ice. I’m pleased to say that in Hong Kong we have never had this problem with their iced milk tea. There is always an exploding tea aroma with ample milk, and the question was simply who got the perfect balance of the ingredients. There is definitely a stronger tea aroma than we are used to, but it’s still super delicious.
A lot of the negative reviews on OpenRice were from tourists complaining about their bad service, or from locals complaining about the expensive prices. Apparently there is also some variation in the standard of the milk tea depending on the staff that prepares it. But I have to say, Hong Kong in general has bad service by western standards, so the rage should be directed against the service culture in the city rather than one particular dining establishment. As to the price, if famous and established eating places can’t charge a premium over the ordinary, food culture is doomed.
Superb milk tea, great pork chop bun and decent chicken instant noodles. If you come to Hong Kong for a short trip, you have to drop by this cha chaan teng to try their milk tea.