Nostalgia tastes moist and slightly gamey at Lung Wah Hotel

Nostalgia tastes moist and slightly gamey at Lung Wah Hotel

A restaurant where the roast pigeon is so good, diners are willing to pay for it -- with their pride
Lung Wah Hotel
Endure the slow, surly wait staff -- Lung Wah Hotel's pigeon is worth losing your dignity for.

At the Lung Wah Hotel in Shatin, you will have either roast pigeon or a very long wait for dinner. That's because the restaurant serves so many orders of its famed roast pigeon -- a Lung Wah tradition since the 1950s -- that the kitchen preps in advance for no other dish on its otherwise good and lengthy menu.

The crackling skin of the pigeon shields juicy, slightly gamey meat. Flavor and tenderness are assured by the selection of pigeons that have not yet reached the ripe "old" age of 30 days. Pigeon fat is used in the cooking process to yield the utmost pigeon-y pungency.

Mean waiters

Once a thriving hotel that opened in the 1950s, Lung Wah shuttered the hotel side of its operation in the 1980s. But the alfresco restaurant endured and remains popular to this day, especially with fans of kitsch culture who appreciate the mid-century modern feel of checkered tablecloths and lawn furniture made of woven vinyl.

As with most of Hong Kong’s old dining institutions -- Luk Yu Teahouse and Tai Ping Koon come to mind -- the service at Lung Wah Hotel is almost comically bad, a theater of slow, surly waiters who pretty much ignore anyone who isn't ordering pigeon.

For aficionados, a visit to Lung Wah Hotel simply isn't complete until the palpable tension between hungry diners and neglectful waiters inevitably erupts into screaming matches, an impromptu floorshow that makes the wait for food pass that much faster and the pigeon taste that much better when it finally arrives.

Lung Wah Hotel, 22 Ha Wo Che, Shatin, New Territories, Hong Kong, +852 2691 1594

When she’s not working, playing, blogging, tweeting, facebooking or twining (she’s always looking for social enterprises to add to her Goodwill Shopping twine), Winnie works on her book, No Clue Yet, a journey through the realms of philosophy, psychology, cognitive and affective neuroscience, spirituality and whatever inspires her to ponder the question: What does it mean to be human and happy?

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