Tea Room – 1960s Hong Kong in London’s Soho

14th August 2017

As hidden speakeasy-type establishments go, you couldn't get a greater contrast than Bun House and Tea Room on the ever-popular part of Soho that is Greek Street. Upstairs, Bun House is welcoming, bright and about a fast turnover, whereas Tea Room is dark, secretive, sensuous and a corner of Soho where time has stood still. In particular, it references the glory days of 1960s Hong Kong and the interior is inspired by the classic film In the Mood for Love by cult Chinese director Wong Kar-wai.

The neon signs in Chinese will instantly attract your attention but there is plenty to admire here from antique furniture to their impressive bar with an unwavering focus on Chinese ingredients, including Baijiu by the bottle, which is China's national drink. We tried one of their signature cocktails: Cigarette and Palm, which contained Baijiu mixed with palm syrup, tobacco liqueur and tobacco smoke, served with a ‘cigarette' candy.

In keeping with the style of these popular haunts in Hong Kong, you are given an order sheet to tick your selection with a pencil. We were too squeamish to try their signature duck tongue fries, instead, we opted for the safety of the sweet, charred corn-not-on-the-cob. It was presented in a fascinating pancake style, which looked deceptively simple to make with each bite offering an explosive crunchiness.

Lacey dumplings were fabulously juicy inside although the skin could have been marginally thinner. You couldn't criticise the crispy tofu with the delicate, thin fried outer layer with a vibrant herbal sauce as a dip.

For the coal grill skewer section, we tried some pork neck and chicken heart. They both had a light, gentle char with a subtle hint of soy sauce marination. They were tasty if not particularly satisfying dishes; they are more suited for bar snacks along with their extensive list of specialty beers from Hong Kong.

If you are looking for a more substantial dish, then head right for their clay pot rice section. We tried the hearty and meaty Iberico char siu rice pot, which was layered with prime Spanish premium pork, pak choi and a perfectly cooked egg with a runny egg yolk. Their expert chefs clearly understand how to cook the ideal clay pot rice dish, as there were decent amounts of crispy rice at the bottom of the pot.
To finish, we had some classic Hong Kong desserts – a light, chilled soya custard and a sticky milk donut with condensed milk inside.

From the decor to the menu to the service, Tea Room is a clearly a labour of love for the owners who have a keen appreciation of a bygone era in Hong Kong's illustrious history, and thankfully we can all revisit it with a trip down memory lane at Tea Room.
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