Behind the Scenes at Sam Hai Yat, Hong Kong

Behind the Scenes at Sam Hai Yat, Hong Kong

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Want to open a dim sum restaurant? Students at the University of Hong Kong’s Journalism and Media Studies Centre share a pretty awesome short documentary about the operations at Sam Hai Yat, an old school dim sum tea house in Hong Kong.

First of all, what an incredible documentary. It reminds me how much hard work goes into making dim sum, and also how amazing its older practitioners (the “sifus”) are. I think this video does great justice to the decades of hard work these partners have put in learning their craft.

Can you believe it? The proprietor has been making dim sum for over 50 years and he’s been operating the same shop on Hong Kong Island for more than 25 years. He and his partners, who he’s also known for more than 20 years, all come into the restaurant at 3AM. By 5AM, the day’s dim sum is ready to be served. I laughed when the tea house’s first customer practically kicked the door open at that early hour.

It’s the same routine every day. Practice makes perfect.

The proprietor references the “Guangdong Big Three”: Shrimp Dumplings, Siu Mai and Steamed Pork Buns. I think we may use these three classic dishes as the basis for our dim sum restaurant reviews moving forward.

Sam Hai Yat is at 11 Pokfulam Road, just a few paces from the Sai Ying Pun Post office, on Hong Kong Island. Another reviewer notes that the restaurant closes at 2:30PM. The easiest way to get there is to take the tram west from Central. Then walk up the slope on Western Street until you get to Pokfulam Road.

The proprietor mentions retiring in 2015 when he is 65. I’m hoping I get to visit Sam Hai Yat before they close.

HT: Photo by Cedric Sam via Comme Les Chinois.

7 Responses

  1. chefjewelry

    This video makes me want to run out and buy a plane ticket! Very Inspiring! It reminds me a little of Nom Wah, the oldest dim sum shop in NYC, that my family went to every week. Luckily for them, their grandson took it over and it’s still open.

  2. Brenda Chan

    I was back in Hong Kong visiting in 2014 I wanted to take some cooking classes particuLarly in dim Sim But I did not have time .Iam trying very hard to find a dim Sim cook book written by a real dim Sim chef can you help! My email address is Thanks . I am from Hamilton Ontario Canada

    • Dim Sum Central

      Hi Brenda, thanks for your note. I’ll send you an email with a recommendation shortly.

    • Game Artist Manager

      why not just go to Sam Hai Yat and ask him to teach you and you work there for free?

      • Dim Sum Central

        That’s certainly the way it worked in the old days. Apprenticeships passed the traditions and techniques along to the next generation. In fact, in the video, the old sifus talk about how fewer people in the younger generation are ready to take the baton these days. ~Wes

  3. Serge Bensa

    Hello Dim Sum lovers!
    Does anyone know whether this place is still in business or how to get in touch with them?
    Thank you!

    • Dim Sum Central

      Serge, the documentary notes that the shop would soon close and that was in 2012. However, Google Maps still shows them in business at 11 Pokfulam Road, Western District, Hong Kong. Phone number 852 2547 3917. Could you let us know if it’s still operating?

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