During my winter holiday I went to Hong Kong to visit a friend for a week, such an enjoyable week it was! And of course, besides seeing touristy things and shopping, the most important aspect of traveling is eating! A week didn’t give me enough time to delve into the extensive Hong Kong cuisine, and because I was constantly on the go most of my meals tended to be little snacks or take out food. However my friend did make sure I sampled some foods Hong Kong is well known for.
Hong Kong is an international city and the variety of restaurants reflect that characteristic. In my friends neighborhood, the street right outside her apartment building has an Indian restaurant, Mexican restaurant, English style cafe and a local Chinese restaurant. What I would give to have such restaurants right outside my house! Meanwhile in my city of Baoding the furthest I can get away from Chinese cuisine is McDonalds, KFC, Burger King etc, mostly just well known fast food places which aren’t very good. However that variety comes at a comparably high cost. A nice meal at a restaurant regardless of the type of food will set you back at least 150 HKD which is about 120 RMB. In Baoding where I live a meal at a good restaurant wouldn’t cost me more than 100RMB. The local restaurants are even cheaper, averaging 30RMB per person. So obviously the food prices in Hong Kong were quite a leap for my student budget.
My first morning there started with some yummy Guandong style dumplings. My friend and I went to a popular restaurant on her street called Xin Xing Shi Jia Restaurant and since it was peak time we had to squeeze ourselves on to a table that already had a group of local retirees enjoying their breakfast. The restaurant specialises in dumplings and after eating them I can certainly understand why. Absolutely delicious!
My tourist mission that day was to visit Ngong Ping Island where I saw the giant Tian Tan Buddha statue and visited the Po Lin Monastery. While at the Monastery I sampled some vegan cake from the temple’s vegan cafe. I must say not the most inspiring taste wise. I had black sesame seed cake and orange cake, the orange was the better of the two. However, I don’t think I’ll be going vegan any time soon.
Tourist mission no.2 took me to a place called the Peak which is on a mountain side and from there one can see most of Hong Kong. The Peak has a mall with various restaurants and shops to keep tourists busy. I decided to have my lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant and follow that up with dessert pastry from the Tai Cheong Bakery. Being my first time having Vietnamese food I of course had to have the well known Pho. I’m wasn’t really a noodle broth fan but that dish has changed my mind. Vietnam is now on my list of places I have to visit! The Tai Cheong bakery is famous for it’s egg tarts however when I got there they were already finished by the lunch crowd, I had to settle for a blueberry egg tart.
Tourist Mission 3 led me to a small hole-in-the-wall restaurant hidden in the subway mall at the Central Subway Station. A small restaurant called Tim Ho Wan. Tim Ho Wan is a Michelin Star restaurant and their star was awarded to them for their Dim sum, the most popular being their baked bun with BBQ pork. As for their taste, I just have to quote the website: “the exterior is crumbly and fluffy and the inside — barbecued pork with oozing sauce — boasts a sweet-salty taste.” I couldn’t have described it any better myself! Those buns were so good I went back for them a second time on my last day in Hong Kong. If you ever get a chance to try them, please do! Simply delicious!
Since my friend is Korean I of course had to sample some Korean cuisine. She took me to Little Korea where we had a Korean Style BBQ, and a BBQ is always a good idea. The tables all have grills on them and you cook the food on your own. You also have the option of sides; corn, kimchi and egg was our choice. Dessert was at a Korean dessert cafe in one of the malls. We had shaved ice dessert, although it doesn’t sound like much, it is heavenly and incredibly cooling. The toppings are where the magic is. The shaved ice is very soft, delicate and almost creamy which I did not expect.
My other significant touristy day out was at Lamma Island. A stunning little island which is basically a village. It was such a contrast to the Hong Kong city atmosphere which is always busy and crowded. Lamma island was quiet, picturesque and laid back. I spent the whole day there and really didn’t want to leave. Because it is an island, the little streets are lined with numerous seafood restaurants, many of them boasting tanks with freshly caught fish which you can pick to be prepared for you. I was spoilt for choice really and had no clue where to go because the prices were also about the same from restaurant to restaurant. I asked a local shopkeeper for a recommendation and I was pointed to Sau Kee’s Seafood restaurant. Unfortunately, the dishes I chose didn’t impress me. I like my seafood to be fried or grilled and instead I got dishes that had sauces and I think sauces took the spotlight away from the fresh seafood.
My last meal, literally the last meal I had in Hong Kong, was at a Shanghai style restaurant, Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao. The main speciality of the Hong Kong branch (the restaurant chain is from Singapore) is La Mian (noodles) and Xiao Long bao which is a meat and broth filled dumpling steamed in bamboo baskets. How they get the broth in there with the meat is something that still puzzles me.I have also had these dumplings here in Baoding at small local restaurants.
The last food adventures worth mentioning are my little burger meal at Mos burger and my eggs benedict breakfast at a little pub by my friends apartment. Mos Burger is a Japanese fast food chain that specialize in burgers as the name suggests. Their teriyaki burger was easily the best of the two I ordered, the other being a mushroom burger. The eggs benedict was also a delicious treat. It was quite a hearty breakfast also including some brown toast with avocado, orange juice and a creamy coffee. Why don’t all my mornings start like that?!
At all the restaurants service was excellent and all the waiters all spoke English. Only at the local restaurants did I have to speak a little Mandarin. Generally Hong Kong is English and Cantonese speaking, but Mandarin can be used as a last resort if nothing else works. I had a fabulous time and would love to return some time in the future to do more restaurant hopping! Such a gorgeous city with so much life and perfect for those with adventurous appetites.