The One With Lan Fong Yuen (蘭芳園) At Central

Char chan teng is but a culture that is somewhat inherent to Hong Kong. Everywhere you go, if you are craving for a simple local meal, just look out for any cafe-like but Chinese-run eateries around you. The culture is so pervasive that you can hardly distinguish one from another. A good one, a bad one, and everything in between melt into one big dizzying array of food to choose from.

That is until you come across Lan Fong Yuen (蘭芳園) located at Central.

Lan Fong Yuen @ Central

It was late one Sunday afternoon when my friends called me up for a spot of afternoon tea. I have heard of Lan Fong Yuen mainly from my friends’ Foursquare check-ins. Since it was a mild autumnal afternoon, the day was perfect for me to take a stroll from my house to Gage Street where Lan Fong Yuen is located at.

Needless to say, I was late. So we ordered in a haste what the locals would typically order. You won’t go wrong with that rule of thumb!

Lan Fong Yuen @ Central

If I have to choose a word to describe the French toast, it would be fattening. But oh my God, it was so good. The butter seemed to melt right in front of my eyes, and biting into the bread was pure ecstasy. I would have loved the bread to be a bit more on the crunchy side though.

Lan Fong Yuen @ Central

The chu chye bao, literally translated as porky bun has but no pork in it. Instead, it was a pair of toasted buns, slathered generously with (again) butter and then drizzled with a delightful addition of condensed milk. A calories bomb? You bet. But porky bun is a signature dish to the char chan teng culture and here at Lan Fong Yuen they have perfected it to an art. Maybe it is just the health freak in me that found it a little overwhelming, but my tea companions certainly didn’t think so.

Lan Fong Yuen @ Central

Another part of the char chan teng culture in Hong Kong is how you create endless permutations of dishes by combining meat (chicken, pork, beef but surprisingly rarely fish) with any carbs (rice, rice noodles, instant noodles… you get the drift). Add some steamed vege and tada! You got yourself a main dish. Therefore you can hardly find a great combi at Hong Kong char chan teng, but my choice of roast chicken with instant noodle was delightfully good. Perhaps it was my personal preference for instant noodle cooked normally (as in not using the prepacked MSG but with other soup base or just soya sauce), I slurped every single last strand.

A word about the place. Lan Fong Yuen is somewhat middle-sized for a char chan teng and therefore I can imagine it to be absolutely packed during peak hours. In fact, there was a notice on the wall to say that you must spend at least HKD20 to have a seat. I couldn’t even begin to imagine how someone could spend less than that for a meal. Perhaps they buy themselves a glass of iced milk tea (yet another char chan teng signature) and then spend hours reading newspapers?

Loved the place for its un-pretentiousness and simple but great food.

Reviewed Elsewhere: Kampong Boy City Gal, The Puff List & Sesame Tea Eats.

Lan Fong Yuen (蘭芳園)
2 Gage Street, Central
2544 3895 / 2854 0731

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