Having closed its doors on September 13, longstanding Scandinavian lounge and restaurant The Pawn has reemerged after three months of renovations as Woo Cheong Tea House, a contemporary Chinese restaurant that—while still thoroughly modern—brings its 134-year-old surroundings a bit closer to their roots.
Taking up two floors within the four-storey Grade II listed Woo Cheong Pawn Shop, Woo Cheong Tea House continues to be operated by the Classified Group, this time under the mantra of "innovating with tradition". Gone are the Nordic-inspired interiors awash in forest greens and greys, replaced by bright and zingy fixtures, lush patterned wallpapers and colonial-chic furniture that are a nod towards the East-meets-West character of the Wan Chai neighbourhood.
On the first floor resides a tea and cocktail bar serving premium teas, signature tea-infused cocktails, and dim sum items that are prepared fresh to order by dim sum chef Eric Sun. Curated by an in-house tea sommelier, the tea menu features close to 20 types of artisanal brews, including cold-brew agarwood tea and ganpu tea, the latter a specialty from the Xinhui region of Guangdong province that consists of a whole mandarin stuffed with pu-erh tea.
Just upstairs is the main dining area, where chef Edmond Ip, previously of Canton Room at the nearby Gloucester Luk Kwok Hotel, helms the kitchen. Craftsmanship, seasonality, and flavour are the tenets of the menu at Woo Cheong Tea House, with signatures like deep-fried crispy baby pigeon with tea-smoked pigeon egg; stir-fried pork spare ribs elevated with Zhejiang black vinegar and Xinhui dried mandarin peel; three-yellow tea-smoked chicken; and sautéed wild kuruma prawn that showcases the chef's knifework and fine control of cooking time and temperature.