All Tea No Shade with Andrea Lo.
I’m a lifestyle journalist who writes a lot about Hong Kong’s dining and nightlife trends. I get to go to cool new restaurants and bars, try out their offerings, speak to the masterminds behind the creations: you get the picture.
The downside is that even though I’m lucky enough to do this on the regular, I never really get to share these experiences with my family. Most of my immediate family — my por por in particular — are creatures of habit who aren’t open to trying out new things. We rarely go anywhere for dinner other than places she’s familiar with, and family meals tend to take place at Chinese restaurants with average food — the kind that’s decked out in gold, with mounted monitors blasting TVB dramas.
Back to my point about por por’s specific eating habits. She only ever visits the handful of restaurants that she’s been going to forever. She always has dim sum at 6am and orders some sort of carb dish. Aside from the fact that she likes to stick to what she knows, there’s also a language barrier — sometimes staff at trendy western restaurants don’t speak Cantonese.
It’s something I’m working on changing. My mission is to take her to great restaurants I come across in my work, as well as discover new places I haven’t tried yet with her by my side. Over the last year or two, we have been to a variety of non-Chinese restaurants in and around the Kennedy Town neighborhood. It’s nice to be able to see her experience a different side to her turf, and have her try different cuisines.
Along the way, I’ve found that she’s a lot more open to foods besides her regular steamed fish and white cut chicken. So far, we’ve had pub food, Spanish, Italian and Middle Eastern. Her only requirement? That there has to be something hot, and some rice.
My por por has been living in the Western District ever since she came down to Hong Kong in the 1940s. During our meals, she constantly marvels at the rapid gentrification of Kennedy Town and its surrounding neighborhoods over the last few years.
I feel like I’m finally getting to share with her one of the most exciting aspects of my work — which happens to be consuming great food and drink — and in a way, an unknown side to somewhere she’s so familiar with.
So much of our culture is about sitting around a table and breaking bread together. And so naturally, my favorite part of it all is when she can’t get enough of the food.
I usually study the menu carefully before a visit to figure out if a restaurant caters to her palate. The only time I’ve ever slipped up was when we went to brunch. “There’s a bunch of raw vegetables over there,” she pointed at the salad bar. “Can you get them to boil it or something?”
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