"It really belongs to the people," shares the soft-spoken Julius Chin Yee as he shows us around The Tea House restaurant elegantly set amidst the lush tropical oasis of Hope Botanical Gardens. Chin Yee, whose culinary prowess as a private caterer is applauded by food connoisseurs, has taken, along with business partner Simon Duquesnay, general manager of Lithographic Printers, the bold decison to fuse social awareness with affordable gastronome.
Dumplin is the unique lunch menu conceptualised by Chin Yee for both the meat lover and vegetarian. Indeed, the tasty dumplings topped with curried, roast chicken or seasoned rice, chickpeas, curry potatoes or pumpkin, for non-meat eaters, is Chin Yee's way of introducing an affordable and nutritious dining option for the customer in search of value for money.
Having had a soft opening on December 12, The Tea House is not yet filled with the clanging of cookware or the chatter of hungry customers. Instead, there is the Hope Gardens vendor who has stopped by for soup, a foreign couple who popped in for a quick bite, and two locals. "We are still in test mode," explains Chin Yee. "And we invite the staff in the area to enjoy lunch at a much reduced rate."
Dumplins aside, it's impossible to feign indifference to the cultural motif of the Tea House's interior décor, with imposing prints of Hope Gardens and gorgeous vistas of Jamaica's rural areas — the work of celebrated photographer Maria LaYacona. Along with the water features, wooden fixtures and palm trees, these duplicates add to the already organic feel of Hope Gardens and serve as a poignant reminder of Jamaica of old.
Evenings at The Tea House allow Chin Yee to expand his repertoire and create intimate dining experiences by offering an array of seafood dishes, salads and pastas.
Buoyed by the positive feedback and mindful of the city's many dining options, Chin Yee believes that he can carve out a niche and will fully open this week. " What I provide here is Jamaican. Whatever Jamaica has the best of, that's what I am going to use. Our offerings must be as good as Hong Kong — maybe it's not the same flavour, but it must be at the same level."
Tea House at Hope Gardens opens daily for lunch
12:00 noon- 5:00pm
For special occasions: Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings 8:00pm-12:00 midnight By Reservation Only
Prices range from a low of $100 - $3,200 for a seafood platter.
Call 383-9488 for reservations or email email@example.com