TeaWood (Hong Kong, December 2018)

I’d said I had only two food reports left to come from my Hong Kong trip but I lied. I’d planned to post a single compendium of my smaller meals and quick bites but there were just too many pictures to resize. And so I’ve split them into two posts. This one will give you a brief look at TeaWood, a Taiwanese restaurant; the next will cover my random dumpling eating etc.

Like pretty much every successful restaurant in Hong Kong, TeaWood is a chain. The majority of their branches are in Kowloon. As it happens, I had spent the entire morning in Kowloon that day but the branch I ate at is in Central, very close to my hotel. I’d had a very large breakfast—or rather three of them, beginning at Law Fu Kee, going on to the dumpling restaurant next to them and then finishing with an egg tart across the street. This is why I did not eat lunch in Kowloon. But after walking for almost 8 miles I was ready for a bite when I got back to Central; and as that branch of TeaWood is right next to where I got off the Mid-Levels escalator at Wellington St. I felt it was futile to resist. 

At first it felt like my attempt to gain entry was going to be futile as well. They are located on the first floor (second floor in the US) but while the restaurant itself is visible from the street, the way to get up there is not. If I were a nice person I’d tell you how to find it but I am not: why should you not flounder like a jackass as I did? Once found, I took the elevator up and it disgorged me right in front of the entrance. The restaurant turned out to be larger than I’d expected, with a large interior dining room and another section overlooking the escalator and Wellington St. This smaller section is much brighter with natural light coming in through the large windows but when I got there it was completely full and so I was given a table in the darker interior.

Oh yes, unlike at the more casual noodle soup places, you will have your table to yourself here. It’s a far more formal affair, if only by comparison. This extends to branded napkins and, most startlingly, free water and lots of it for the asking. At this point in my Hong Kong experience I did not expect to find water offered anywhere except in expensive restaurants. They also—again, unlike the smaller noodle-soup places—take credit cards and if you’re paying cash you will not be at risk of being disemboweled if you present a $1000 HKD bill (I took the opportunity to break it). The overall milieu is also far more relaxed. While I quite enjoyed the bustle of the smaller places, being exhausted, I also appreciated being able to occupy space and take my time at TeaWood.

The menu is large and seems to cover a lot of ground with Taiwanese snacks and noodle soups and the like. I am no expert on the cuisine; indeed, I am not even a novice, and so I cannot tell you how comprehensive the menu is in the genres it covers or how well they execute their dishes. I can tell you that I liked both things I got: a bowl of noodle soup with beef brisket, tendon and tripe, and an order of spicy strips of pig’s ear (I knew this was going to be too much food but I wanted some textural contrast). I liked both well enough to bemoan the fact that I was not eating with a large group and sampling more of their offerings. They’re apparently especially known for their desserts but I was too stuffed at that point.

For pictures of the restaurant, menu and the things I ate, please launch the slideshow below. Scroll down for thoughts on service, relative value and so forth. (The pictures of the menu are in fact much larger than they appear in the slideshow; if you want a closer look at the descriptions of the dishes, click on the link at the bottom left of the image in the slideshow to pop out a larger image.)

This bowl of noodle soup was $82 HKD to the $60 HKD bowl of beef tendon and noodle in curry at Kau Kee, but it was a larger bowl. It’s not exactly the same genre of soup—this one is more of a stew with the carrots and generally heartier. That said, if I had to pick a bowl of beef and noodles in a curry’ish broth, I guess I would choose Kau Kee. On the other hand, no one is going to yell at you at TeaWood. At least, the staff at this branch were all personable and solicitous. Certainly worth a look if you’re in Central.

Coming tomorrow, as I said, will be my round-up post; and that will leave just my departure meal at Tim Ho Wan at Hong Kong Station before I’m finally done on reporting on my gluttony in Hong Kong.

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