Why Restaurants in Hong Kong Serve Hot, Not Cold Water

Restaurants in Hong Kong have the tradition of greeting you with a glass of hot water instead of tap water or cold water.

If you have been living in Hong Kong for a long time it probably is something you’ve become used to but expats and tourists will fail to understand the reason behind this weird phenomenon. That is why many a times the local owners especially ask their staff to prepare iced water if a foreigner arrives to eat at their restaurant because they know that they prefer cold water more.

There basically are two main reasons why you are given hot water in the restaurants of Hong Kong.

  1. Utensil Washing Tradition

Hong Kong’s rich cultural heritage has it has many restaurant goers have the habit of washing the plates and utensils before they eat the food there. This is a special practice done at places that serve dim sums.

The staff therefore gives its customers a big bowl of hot water so that they can wash their utensils. They are also given a separate empty bowl to discard the water once they’re done washing.

The washing tradition has nothing to do with the hygiene or cleanliness of the restaurant. They’re always clean but people of Hong Kong perhaps want to feel more in charge of their hygiene.

So irrespective of which restaurant in Hong Kong you go to, whether the utensils need washing or not, you will always be served with hot water or sometimes even hot tea.

  1. Iced Drinks Cost More

The tea restaurants in Hong Kong, popularly known as Cha Caan Tangs charge you extra HK$ 2-3 for serving you iced drinks. Infact any canteen, cafeteria and western restaurant owned by Hong Kongers will do that.

The reason for charging extra is just a norm that iced water is charged more because operating costs are anyways involved in both the freezer and the water boiling machine.

So if you want to drink iced water instead of hot water then you will have to especially order it. No restaurant in Hong Kong will give it to you for free as they don’t want to give up the opportunity of charging you more for iced water.

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