9 Oct 2014
Traditional Hong Kong Fine Fare Finds Ready Market in Taiwan
With Hong Kong long welcoming Taiwanese restaurants, it seems the territory is now reciprocating.
Hong Kong has a number of signature dishes – dim sum, hawker-stall beef offal, as well as certain varieties of milk and iced lemon tea. While visitors to Hong Kong have long been keen to try such delicacies, they may soon be able to enjoy them in their own cities and towns. Taiwan, in particular, is proving particularly adept at importing Hong Kong's finest fare.
Tim Ho Wan the Dim Sum Specialists, a Michelin-starred Hong Kong dim sum restaurant, is just one of many that has made a foray into Taiwan's catering market. As part of a joint venture with Taiwan's Tai Ji Food & Beverage Co, the first Taipei-based Tim Ho Wan outlet recently opened in the city's bustling Railway Station commercial district.
A Hong Kong stalwart, Tim Ho Wan earned its first Michelin star some six years ago and has retained it ever since. It currently has five outlets in Hong Kong and has proved extremely popular with visiting Taiwanese tourists. According to the company, many such visitors make a point of visiting one its outlets, despite the inevitably long queues.
Taiwan is the third territory – after Singapore and the Philippines – that Tim Ho Wan has targetted for its overseas expansion. Its new Railway Station outlet is said to be already proving popular in Taipei, with many keen to try the company's award-winning Hong Kong dim sum.
Block 13 Beef Offal, another traditional Hong Kong eatery, has also launched in Taiwan. Operating from Taipei's popular Shilin Night Market, the restaurant offers siu mai (pork dumplings), Hong Kong-style milk tea and iced lemon tea, as well as its signature range of beef offal dishes.
Explaining the move, Tong Kin-yip, Block 13's owner, said as rents in Hong Kong kept soaring every year, it had proved difficult for him to continue operating in the city. This led him to close his Hong Kong outlet and relocate – together with his Taiwanese wife – to Taipei.
Compared with his former premises in Hong Kong, he now has twice as much space, yet his rent is only one-third of what he was paying in Hong Kong. Trade has been brisk since the new outlet opened, with many Hong Kong tourists, as well as locals, visiting the restaurant.
Over recent years, a number of traditional Taiwanese eateries have opened up in Hong Kong, notably bubble tea chain stores and steamed dumpling outlets. Now, it looks like the trend is being reciprocated, with many Hong Kong catering establishments targetting the Taiwanese market, either by opening outlets or through franchising.
Sylvia Yeh, Taiwan Office