Department of Anthropology and Sociology

Samuel Dic Sum Lai

Key information

Department of Anthropology and Sociology PhD researcher
MA Social Anthropology (London), BA (HKU)
Email address
Thesis title
Jancingmei in Caacaanteng: A Sinophone Notion via a Hong Kong Foodway
Internal Supervisors
Dr Jakob Klein & Dr Elizabeth Hull


Samuel Lai is a PhD candidate supervised by Dr Jakob Klein. His research project, titled ‘Jancingmei in Caacaanteng: A Sinophone Notion via a Hong Kong Foodway,’ examines the relationship between the most common kind of grassroots restaurant in Hong Kong serving an eclectic menu of hybrid cuisines at a relatively cheap price, and the Sinophone notion, affect or relationship of Jancingmei, ‘a taste of human warmth’. This project explores issues of Hong Kong cuisine, server-customer relationship, feminisation and masculinisation of services in an Asian context. It wishes to understand the Sinophone Jancingmei from the vantage point of Chinese social relations, memory and embodiment. It seeks to contribute to discussions on Hong Kong foodways, anthropology of restaurants and anthropology of China.  Prior to his PhD study, Samuel completed his BA at the University of Hong Kong and his MA in Social Anthropology at Goldsmiths, University of London. His former research investigated operation and ways of organising work of caacaantengs, and how the notion of Tongju Gongcai (common budget as family/jia) manifested and affected operation of small businesses. He also served as teaching assistant under the China Studies Programme, and part-time lecturer under the Global Creative Industries Programme, both at the University of Hong Kong. Samuel also enjoys volunteering for conservation and oral history initiatives in Hong Kong, especially on neon and calligraphy-style shop signs, and history of historical businesses.

Research interests

Anthropology of Food and Restaurant, Anthropology of China, Business Anthropology, Hong Kong and East Asia.