Working in western Central/Sheung Wan and looking for a relaxing lunchtime getaway? Try this place. Having bought a voucher via Valuup (a lesser-known competitor to Groupon/uBuyiBuy), I gave it a go. I think there’s been more new places of note in Sheung Wan recently, as they get pushed out of Soho by high rent. The deal was $40 for a panini, drink and $20 cash voucher, worth $90 total (roughly).
Sinmei Tea is near the food-laden Hillier St, just off the main artery of Des Voeux Road.
The layout was very spacious, with only about ten seats scattered about. At 1pm we were the only customers until another pair came at 2pm. Their decor was traditional Chinese with an injection of modern, with two “invisible” plastic chairs and a low table outside, and two plush European style chairs. There was also a living room table set up. Basically very homey, with soft Spanish guitar music in the background and rare quiet outside. Tea products were displayed on the shelves. There were two very nice staff members, a South Asian guy and a Chinese lady. Support small business!
Onto the food. Being a tea place the menu boasted some related innovations, and we went for the matcha mojito (green tea powder, lime and soda)($38) and chai chai (green tea powder, Kenyan chai spices and milk)($30).
I didn’t try the matcha mojito but it was reported to be “refreshing”. I trust my friend on that one.
The chai chai was a smooth, warm little treat which was just sweet enough, not like say the Starbucks chai latte which can leave you satiated. As you can see, both drinks were also aesthetically pleasing, which definitely adds to the flavour.
We (kind of stupidly) both ordered the same thing, the hummus, lettuce and tomato panini ($33). Other choices included egg and tomato, tuna and lettuce, and mozzarella, tomato and pesto. It was very lightly grilled so it was warm as opposed to hot, which suited me fine and allowed the simple, fresh flavours of the ingredients to come out. Accompanying the panini were slices of cucumber and pumpkin, both cold. The cucumber was fine but something about eating cold, somewhat stiff and rather bland pumpkin threw me off a bit.
After leisurely finishing our paninis, the owner guy brought out some complimentary Chinese tea; I think it was pu’er (普洱茶). Nice touch.
We got $20 credit with our deal which had to be spent immediately, so naturally that meant dessert (which were all under $20)! They also all looked very deliciously original, or originally delicious, but in the end the tough choice was made and we chose the German apple cake (vegan)($20) and orange, lemon and organic Japanese tea loaf cake ($18). The desserts arrived with new forks and napkins.
Again both had slightly understated flavours, which suited me fine (better than the alternative). The German apple cake (guess it was meant to be reminiscent of an apple strudel but in cake form?) was soft, warm and went well with the smear of applesauce.
The loaf cake was also great fun to have, giving off a fragrant baked smell as soon as it was set on the table, with the crust just a bit firmer than the fluffy middle. The fact that it was also the last piece in the shop gave a certain sense of satisfaction. Refreshing applesauce for the loaf cake as well. After this we were again given free drinks, this time warm water.
Maybe because we were the only customers, or maybe just because they were generally friendly, service was spot on and all smiles. As a final freebie we were offered “VIP cards” with 10% off everything. The Valuup deal which gave us 56% off meant that obviously it was great value, but even at full price I think this place is worth a go.
As an opening special on their menu, they offer a takeaway-only panini with coffee/tea for…$39.99 (the smallest monetary unit in HK is 10 cents)?
The culinary equivalent of the girl/guy next door. The flavours won’t pop out at you like “THIS IS THE BEST ____ I’VE EVER EATEN!”, but it’s quiet, unassuming home-style cooking, with steady character and a hidden flair. Great if you like tea, and especially green tea (matcha). A healthy yet satisfying meal. Give them a try.
P.S. According to their website (below), they also teach the art of tea and Chinese tea ceremony!
Restaurant rating: NOM NOM NOM NOM (out of five).
Address: 5/F, CS Tower, 50 Wing Lok Street, Sheung Wan 上環永樂街50號昌盛大廈5樓 (Google map here.)
Tel: 3690 8238
Opening hours: Mon – Sun, 8:45am – 7:30pm