In the classic Hong Kong film The Hero one of the classic lines spoken by Stephen Chow is “You drink milk tea. You eat a butter roll. Life goes on.”
Anyone who has lived in Hainan for any length of time knows that “let’s get some tea together” is a polite way of saying “I hope to see you again.” The pleasure of getting some tea and snacks is less about the food and drink and more about chatting and gathering with friends. Of course, to be done right, the tea and snacks also have to be good.
Very Retro, Very Hong Kong
Ages back I was at a friend’s place when he ordered delivery from this traditional shop, so I wasn’t unfamiliar with its offerings, but I’d never visited the store before today.
They have five locations in Hainan. I went to the one in Haikou's Guomao. You can find it by the side of Qiaozhong Road near the Guomao Tunnel. Just look for the big black sign with the red characters.
The shop is quite small with a bright, clean atmosphere. Big windows let a lot of sunlight in on the small square tables and chairs. The walls are covered with murals with scenes from a bygone Hong Kong. It feels a little like something out of a movie from the 80s or 90s.
The kitchen and order counter are at the far back of the establishment with a clear and concise menu. Their main products are all old fashioned Hong Kong type tea and snacks.
The owners of Yuhualin are intentionally trying to recreate the classic tea culture of Hong Kong’s traditional cafes and bakeries. They claim to have gotten all of their recipes from a master pastry cook who spent 53 years working in Hong Kong bakeries. I haven’t spent enough time in Hong Kong to say for sure that they got it perfect, but I definitely think the flavor is incredible.
Today, in exploring the restaurants of Hainan, we’ve decided to take a look at Yuhualin's lineup of hot foods along with some of their newer goods. Being as I've only had their take-out before, I’m excited to see how different the fresh baked in-store experience is.
Original Tea (Black, Green or Oolong) RMB9 per cup
While I was waiting for my bread, I had three cups of tea. One each of the black, the green, and the oolong. At first glance, they looked no different from that kind of light and tasteless tea found in ordinary street-side tea shops. I was pleasantly surprised though that each cup of tea was fragrant and refreshing with a strong tea flavor.
Pomelo Orange Tea RMB9 per cup
This is one of the store's new products. Compared with the refreshing taste of my first three cups of tea, it is sweeter and fruitier. I like the combination of sweet and sour. On a hot day, this would be an excellent thirst quencher. From these four cups, I'd say that they are definitely serious about making a good drink at a good price point.
Signature Pineapple Bun RMB6
Signature Pineapple Bun With Butter RMB9
Because they expect them to have pineapples, people from the north are always a bit confused by pineapple buns. However, the name comes not from the ingredients but their golden yellow appearance. We ordered one Bun plain and one with butter. The only difference between the two is that one came sliced with a generous pat of butter in the middle.
The plain bun is a soft round white roll with a crispy yellow glaze. The bread is appropriately savory and the topping appropriately sweet.
I like it. A lot. The feel of the freshly baked pineapple bun with its crispy sweet topping is just the thing for breakfast or an afternoon pick-me-up. One can understand why this is considered part of Hong Kong’s intangible cultural heritage. Although I usually prefer to eat pineapple buns with butter, the buns here are good enough that they can be eaten plain!
Look at that massive slice of butter sandwiched in the middle of the sliced bun. Just look at it. Doesn’t it make your mouth water? You can decide for yourself whether you want to eat it with butter or without but I know which way I’m going to choose.
Fresh from the refrigerator, the cold butter hasn’t yet begun to melt into the heat of the pineapple bun. As the ice and fire combine, the butter melts into the bread and the already awesome flavor of the bread becomes even yummier. That’s why I always get my pineapple buns with butter. Always.
Ham and Spam Pineapple Bun Sandwich RMB14
When you look at this sandwich, your first impression is that it must be the Chinese “hamburger”. The bun cut neatly across the middle has had a bit of lettuce, some mayonnaise, a fried egg, a slice of ham, and a slice of cooked spam added to it to make a hefty sandwich you’ll want to use both hands to pick up.
The multi-layered combination of sweet and salty and greasy is very filling. The lettuce, in particular, adds a nice crunch. After eating one, I have to say that this is definitely something I could see myself getting again in the future.
Yuhualin #1 Roll RMB 12 for three
The name #1 Roll really makes me think of Hong Kong. These three little rolls are soft and cute with a nice glaze across the top but I wonder if they can live up to their name.
Experience is the mother of wisdom and real knowledge comes from practice. Don’t be blinded by the common appearance of these rolls. The taste is really good. Really first class. The aroma of the fresh baked bread combined with the slippery pork filling create a flavor that definitely makes you understand the reason they gave it this name!
Mong Kok Club Sandwich RMB18
This is a very old fashioned type of Hong Kong sandwich. Cut into four corners, each piece is held together with a colorful toothpick. I think it’s adorable.
The flavor is also quite nice. I’m rather surprised by how many different tastes can be found in one small sandwhich. I didn’t count but there have to be at least 8 or 9 layers.
Ham, spam, fried egg, pork floss, cucumber, mayonnaise... bread. Yum yum yum.
Hot Milk Tea RMB16 per cup
I'd heard that the milk tea here was one of their specialties so, of course, I wanted to try it out. Rather than reheating already brewed tea or using an instant mix, they brew the tea fresh. Just smelling the steam coming off the cup, you know it's going to be yum. I particularly like the way that the shop has branded their cups.
The strong tea base and the milk combine together like a dancer and music. It’s probably one of the best milk teas I’ve had in Haikou.
Known in Hong Kong as Iced Mandarin Duck, this is a great drink for a hot day. For the best experience, make sure to stir well after it arrives at the table.
The ice cubes bring the coffee down to a quickly drinkable temperature and the milk and sugar make it something you can drink up in a few big gulps.
Shop Summary: Authentic Hong Kong Style Tea Experience
The average person can manage to have a very satisfying afternoon tea for around RMB 20. I have to say that I really am quite pleased with this store’s dedication to only serve Hong Kong style products. I was really surprised. They claim to have the best pineapple buns you've ever eaten and while that's maybe a bit of an exaggeration, they are definitely the best I’ve had in Haikou.
Although Hong Kong style décor has been all the rage the past few years, rarely do you see the simple style of the average man. This shop doesn’t go in for any of that insta-famous blah di dah. Instead, it's just like an actual Hong Kong alley tea shop. It’s just a quiet place to eat and drink without the click click click of people taking photos.
From decor to cooking, they continue to avoid having too many bells and whistles. Their food is tasty and authentic. Whether it’s the milk tea or the regular tea, the flavor is good and you get the real impression that they are sincere about what they are doing.
RMB 15.9 Yuhualin Pineapple Bun and Drink Set
A Pineapple Bun and Drink Set that ordinarily would cost RMB38 can be purchased through Freeter for only RMB15.9 at more than half-off. You can search for their mini-program, click on the original story or join the That’s Sanya Insiders group for the link. The special offer that Freeter had at the time of Chinese publication is almost expired, but join the That’s Sanya Insiders group and we'll let you know when this restaurant has a new offer either on their platform or another one.
This set includes
Ham and Spam Pineapple Bun Sandwich RMB14
Signature Pineapple Bun RMB6
2 drinks RMB18
Original Oolong RMB9
Original Green Tea RMB9
Original Black Tea RMB9
Yuhualin Hong Kong Traditional Refreshments
Daily, 8am-9pm. Industrial Bank Building, 1st Floor, Qiaozhong Road. See listing.
Hainan Normal University Store
Daily, 8am-10pm. Shop 2, 1st Floor, Huasheng Hot Spring Hotel, 105 Longkun South Lu. See listing.
Haidian Island Store
Daily, 8am-10pm. No.113, 13 / F, West Creek Lane, Jinyu Dacheng, No.16 East Haidian Lu. See listing.
Daily, 8am-10pm. No.7, Shangdan Road, Fucheng Town. See listing.
Daily,10am-10pm. 615 Xiaxian Er Cun, Meiyuan Lu, Bailong Jie. See listing.
Original story can be found here.
translator living in Hainan for 17 of her 19 years in China, Marian
Rosenberg is best known for her annual cycling trips through rural
China. These trips not only have her blogging on Cycleblaze (username:
brucianna) and helping people out on the Travel in China During Covid
groups (Cyclist Translator), they've also landed her in the Washington
Post's travel section and are the reason she has more than 40,000
followers on Douyin (我是凡一).
Would you like to promote your business, organization or product? Contact Vanessa Jencks via email at email@example.com and on
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[Images via Freeter]
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