For the past one year since it opened back in Sep 2020, and despite the on-again-off-again COVID lockdowns subsequently, Bao Teck Tea House has managed to remain one of the hottest spots in Penang for yum cha, especially among the ‘ladies who lunch’ crowd.
We’d never bothered to try this place, as (1) it required at least a few days’ advance booking, just to imbibe some Chinese tea and pick at its selection of dim sum which one can get almost anywhere in town; and (2) there are dozens of dim sum spots one can go to in George Town, without stressing oneself out in trying to snare a hard-to-get table in this place.
Anyhoo, a foodie friend did decide to make an advance booking one week ahead for a lunch spot here yesterday! So here we are.
First the tea: a special blend of Tieguanyin, one of the most expensive in the world. There are several different grades for this tea, and the highest one fetch upwards of US$3,000 per kg.
Ours was only MYR38 (US$9) for a pot.
Our lunch spread:
𝗦𝗶𝗲𝘄 𝗺𝗮𝗶 - steamed pork-and-shrimp dumplings
𝗟𝗼 𝗽𝗮𝘁 𝗸𝗼𝘂 - pan-fried radish cakes
𝗦𝘂𝗶 𝗸𝗮𝗼 - large pork-shrimp dumplings in soup - this was a deluxe version, as copious amounts of fish maw was also included in the consommé , perhaps to justify its price tag.
Deep-fried pork balls filled with salted duck’s egg - this is an old favourite at wedding dinners in Malaysia and Singapore back in the 1950s-70s, a retro dish which I’d almost forgotten about, but somehow resurrected here.
Steamed scallop dumplings - these are very delicate & juicy, and came in their own individual serving spoons.
Hanging pork-ball skewers - these were skewers of minced pork-balls slathered with a unctuous brown sauce (which didn’t really taste of anything) then covered with bonito shavings, and served suspended - more for the theatrics than anything. I didn’t quite like this blandish dish. A pity, since I love pork, and especially pork meatballs.
Steamed buns filled with grated coconut
Cantonese egg tarts - my fave item at this lunch, actually: buttery-flaky pastry shells, and wobbly eggy filling.
I felt the dim sum didn’t taste any better than those one can find elsewhere in George Town. In fact, some didn’t quite make the grade, as far as I’m concerned. But the service here was exemplary, though the décor seemed, to me, quite kitsch and over-the-top.
Bao Teck Tea House (包德館)
25, Lebuh Melayu (Malay Street), 10100 George Town, Penang, Malaysia
Tel: +60 4-263 1100
Opening hours: 8am-8 pm daily, except Wed (closed).