'pantyhose' perk-me-up

it was actually a cloth strainer that, after having countless cups of tea poured through it, turned a murky brown and at a glance, resembled nude pantyhose. customers began calling the beverage it produced si met nai cha or pantyhose milk tea. now a ubiquitous offering in the city and hong kong-style restaurants outside the country, it was at this 50-year-old bing sutt that the creamy, velvety drink was invented and is still one of its main crowd pullers.

lan fong yuen started as a dai pai tong (street stall), which now stands as the facade of the tiny shoplot they later expanded into, next to a fresh fruits shop that’s part of a lively produce market. you can choose to sit on the low stools at the stall, like the old times, or squeeze into one of the small tables inside where a feature wall is plastered with photos of alan tam. like any bing sutt worth its nai cha, there’s the usual offerings of macaroni in soup with ham and mixed vegetables; egg and luncheon meat sandwiches; thick, buttery french toast. breakfast ends at 11am and then lunch service begins; they watch the clock closely but if you ask nicely, they might be willing to whip up a lunch dish ahead of time.

their pork chop bun is popular, but the salted beef sandwich really takes the cake: two thick slices of pan-fried tongue over cheese, snuggled in between a sesame bun. another good choice is the instant noodles with chicken chop – tender meat and beautifully caramelised skin – with a side of salted vegetables. service is quick, efficient and the good-natured staff loves to throw in a few english words when taking orders.

2 gage street, central opens 7am-6pm daily