February is always the time of “lucky foods” for me.
With the lunar new year typically beginning at around this time, my family — a rather superstitious lot of folks — tends to turn its attention to eating specific foods that have special significance. Noodles, for example, are a must as they represent longevity. Fish is a compulsory, too, as the Chinese word for it — yu — sounds like the word for abundance. Of all the lucky foods eaten at this time, yu sheng, a Singaporean tossed salad that combines fish with a melange of ingredients like plum sauce (added for sweetness) and chopped peanuts (which resemble bits of gold), is supreme. (Big kudos to Cathy over at Show Food Chef for putting this incredibly complex dish together!)
When my Let’s Lunch bunch decided to do lucky foods for our February virtual lunch date, several of the dishes I’ve celebrated past lunar new years with immediately came to mind. Of them all, though, I have a soft spot for one that I only rather recently learned: Lo Bak Go, a steamed turnip cake that I adore at dim sum — one that my Auntie Hon Tim took the time to teach me last Chinese new year.
My dear friend Jeanette and I — two women who have been driven by our stomachs in the 20 years that we have been the best of friends — we wake up in the cool grayness of Hong Kong bleary-eyed and starving.
Even in the fog of sleepiness, our mission is clear — we stumble out into the dusty bustle of mid-morning Hong Kong and make our way toward Central. On a corner of narrow Wellington Street lies our destination: Lin Heung Tea House, a dim sum place that has been around since 1928 and is packed most mornings with regulars who head there for a morning dumpling fix, strong pu erh (or po lei as it is known in these parts) and some quality time with the day's newspaper …