Sun Hing restaurant Kennedy Town, traditional art of handmaking dim sum dying?

HF: The SCMP of 25th December 2015 contained the article, Saving dim sum: How a determined group of Hong Kong chefs are refusing to let the city’s culinary traditions die.

The article begins: For the past 60 years, Chui Hoi has risen in the early hours of the morning to prepare bite-size steamed morsels for his small but popular dim sum restaurant in Hong Kong.

Sun Hing opens its doors at 3am, seven days a week, with a loyal clientele of students to the elderly filling the 60-seat restaurant in the western district of Kennedy Town.

At 85 years old, Chui is committed to hand-making his dim sum, saying that freshness is key to their success.

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Chui Hoi stands at the front counter of his Sun Hing dim sum restaurant in Kennedy Town, Hong Kong. Photo: AFP Courtesy: SCMP

But many in the industry fear the traditional art of making dim sum is dying as restaurants choose factory-made versions to save money and meet demand.

“Fresh handmade foods are beautiful after they are steamed, but many are made in factories now,” Chui says.

Younger chefs are less interested in the hard graft it takes to prepare dim sum, he adds – it is usually eaten in the morning, so cooks must get up in the night to prepare…

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A cook works the steamer in Sun Hing’s kitchen. Photo: AFP Courtesy: SCMP

Back at Sun Hing, the elder Chui’s 48-year-old son Chui Kwok-hing is following in his father’s footsteps.

“I come in at 1:30am. Sometimes I feel like I have migrated to another country as the hours are upside down,” he says of the exhausting routine.

But he sees a reason for waking up in the dark.

“People like to have dim sum in the morning, to be energised with some tea before going to work,” he said.

“I feel happy when people think the food is delicious.”

He adds that he wants to preserve the restaurant’s hard-won reputation, saying: “My dad is already 85 years old but he still works here – as the young generation, we should try to be even better.”

Source: Saving dim sum – SCMP article 25th December 2015

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