Before the ubiquitous cha chaan teng (“tea restaurant”) was on every street corner, ready for diners to quickly refuel with macaroni soup, French toast or milk tea, Western food was enjoyed only at luxurious restaurants. After the end of World War Two, the influence of British colonialism began seeping into Hong Kong cuisine, leading to Hongkongers adding milk to their tea and snacking on pastries. And with the rise of industrialization, more people went to work in factories and needed affordable, convenient spots to go for lunch. Thus, the humble cha chaan teng was born: a cheap and cheerful cafe serving up Western dishes with a uniquely Canto spin.
Interested in traditional Hong Kong food culture? Check out our book all about the subject here.