茶餐廳 (cha chaan teng, "tea restaurants") are the Hong Kong equivalent of a quick and dirty greasy spoon diner experience, endearingly brusque service included. Their menus reflect the mesh of traditional Cantonese cooking with Western ingredients from the British colonial period which only ended in 1997.
Elbow macaroni is usually tied to thick and creamy mac n' cheese in North America, whereas in Hong Kong diners it is more likely found in soups, topped with slightly browned Chinese spam and the perfectly fried egg. In the very same diner, you can order freshly baked sweet "pineapple buns" with a thick, cold slab of butter sandwiched in the middle. (How these places hide a running bakery behind a crowded active restaurant in the middle of the busiest narrow streets is always beyond me.)
Oh, and don't ever miss out on trying Hong Kong style milk tea. Creamy, luscious, with a slightly deep-set savouriness, it coats your tongue with a warm, roasted aroma that brings a well-sought comfort in any weather. Even under 38C. But to be honest, I would probably opt for the iced version, which is a thrilling treat with the signature sweet and bitter taste.
Be a local: save one of the complimentary sit-down hot teas for soaking your utensils! Yes, we love to drink hot tea no matter what the temperature.
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