Long Wa Teahouse
Located right beside Red Market, Long Wa is quite close to the park, only 10 or 15 minutes away down Avenue Horta e Costa.
Long Wa opened the year John Kennedy died, and I doubt the place has changed one bit since then. There are no air conditioners, just ceiling fans and wide open windows instead.
Looking for some Wifi? They don’t even know what a Commodore 64 is. Cell phones? No way, they go with a classic rotary phone I haven’t seen since 1988, and which might not even be plugged in.
The teahouse is filled with so much artwork, vases and old furniture that it could possibly double as a museum, and perhaps it does, since it’s the only one of its kind still open in Macau.
During lunch Mu Yi asked the manager why that was the case, why have all the old teahouses gone away? We didn’t get much of an answer, only that it’s a different time now, before he walked away. Indeed that seems to be the case everywhere in China these days. The great birthplace of tea is more interested in coffee now, and coffee shops have become far more popular than teahouses. The kids today don’t want to go to a place like Long Wa where their grandmothers went, they want to go to Starbucks and be seen.
Such is the way things are I guess, but they’re missing out on a place far deeper and more atmospheric than any Starbucks could ever be.
Long Wa serves a dim sum lunch, along with other dishes you can order from the menu. For those of you who don’t know what dim sum is exactly, let me clear it up a little. It’s a type of finger type food popular in southern China that costs a surprising amount of money, given the small serving size. If you want me to be more exact than that I can’t, because that’s all I know, and I’ve lived in China for a long time. Dim sum can be spicy, sweet, or salty, or have very little taste at all. It all depends on which one you order. Each dim sum at Long Wa costs $30 and they’re all set aside on a table beside the stairs. You just need to walk over and pick which ones you want.
A la carte menu selections are mostly between $82 and $96, which is a touch higher than I expected, but still cheaper than what you pay in the casinos. For tea, they have 8 different kinds, and the price is very good, only $20 a person. They don’t skimp on the tea leaves either, filling your kettle up with twice as much as other places normally give you.
I should make it clear that there is no English menu there, so non Chinese speakers are going to be in for a world of hurt. Don’t let that dissuade you though, take a walk on the wild side and sort things out once you’re there. Places like Long Wa should be the reason why people travel, to get out and experience something they’ve never done before. It might not always be easy, but that only adds to the reward at the end.
(Update: The Maven is here for you. Full menus translated here: Long Wa Teahouse)
Mu Yi and I tried five kinds of dim sum and two things from the a la carte menu. For dim sum, we went with steamed pork dumplings (鲜肉烧卖), steamed pork ribs (蒜香蒸排骨), chicken feet (酱汁炸凤爪), rice meat dumplings (陈皮牛肉球), and lotus paste bun (莲蓉包).
As for a la carte, we had soft boiled chicken (白切鸡) and stir fried noodles with vegetables (炒面).
As you’d expect, Long Wa is a blue collar establishment all the way, and the food reflects it. The O Santos of Chinese restaurants, nothing there is going to wow you, but you won’t be disappointed by anything either. Overall I’d grade the food a solid 3.5 stars, well worth the price we paid ($345).
The best part of our lunch of course was just being there, sitting amongst all the artwork and plants, chatting over tea, sampling the different dim sum, doing it as the locals do.
Just before we left, we came across a young Macanese family at the back of the restaurant.
I thought the way the youngest daughter was sitting on the table would make for a great photo, and the mother thought so too.
The little one was in a great mood that day she said, most of the time she never smiled.
It’s scenes like this that almost make me wish I had a family and this set of photos were among my favourite ones of the trip.