Hong Kong is known for many things. It’s a heaven for red-meat lovers and sea-food worshipers, or so I learned when I visited this larger-than-life destination. It is a melting pot of global citizens. It raves of a breathtaking skyline and even more inspiring way of life. Every morning, the territory is filled with a swarm of beautifully dressed people walking in and out of MTR stations. Everyone’s a workaholic. I loved this place more than I had expected to. The houses are meant only for sleeping – almost everyone eats breakfast, lunch and dinner outside; and days are spent at the workplace. I found that extremely bizarre when compared to the Indian lifestyle, where ghar ka khana is integral to one’s being and eating out for 3 days in a row can make one overcome with guilt of various kinds. Needless to say, the kitchenette in Hong Kong homes are only for you to heat the water, store or clean the dishes, and occasional cooking. That was a bit of a cultural shock for me.
I enjoyed exploring the food in Hong Kong’s restaurants and streets. Luckily for me, I stayed with a friend and his Chinese roommate who took me around the local places where even the menu would be in Chinese. So that gave me an inside view on most things, a hard-find for a tourist who’s there for 7 days or less.
So if you are on your way to Hong Kong, here’s what you should must-eat:
1) First thing’s first, dim sums. All kinds of them. On the streets and in special dim sum-restaurants all over Hong Kong.
2) Noodle soup. With all kinds of meats that you can imagine. Literally. Steaming hot, flavorsome, comforting.
3) Desserts with tapioca pearls. I didn’t quite like it but I recommend you try it and decide for yourself. I had it at one of the restaurants at its waterfront.
4) Traditional Chinese hot pot. This was one of the most memorable meals I had. They put an induction burner on the table and let you decide the stuff you want to eat. In the pot is some broth and spices with meat. More is given on the side. As the broth keeps boiling, you can add more meat, vegetables, water – and eat the soup for hours. Goes really well if you have great company to share it with. I did.
5) The greens. Well, not quite. I got tired of the meats one day and ordered the only veg thing on the menu for, mind you, HK $60. What did I get? This portion of boiled spinach with garlic seasoning. Well, all I can say is it was a welcome change to have a non-meaty dinner for once. The Chinese add vegetables to their food only to balance out all the meat they eat. So they randomly add some green, leafy veggies to their soups and other preps but avoid it as much as possible.
6) Street food. Goes without saying. There’s pork floss and pork bun and dried sea food and sea food dipped in chilli. There’s just so much that you can eat, eat, eat and yet won’t run out of things to try.
One of my favorite street food experiences in Hong Kong was at Graham Street. You will know the fun of it once you get there. It’s like the alleys are restaurants. People sitting out in the open, relishing their favorite street food. There’s no room for anyone else.
If you have the time, do visit Tai O fishing village in Lantau Island. The fish balls there in a spicy dip simply hit the right spot; especially under a beautiful, drizzling sky.
7) Portuguese delicacies. Yeah, well, this one’s a surprise but Hong Kong (in Stanley region) and Macau have many popular Portuguese restaurants and the food is worth craving for. I visited Fernando’s Restaurant in Macau and I can never exaggerate how much I enjoyed the food there – freshly baked bread, the charcoal grilled fish with potatoes. I could cry just thinking about it. You could also try the suckling pig. I have heard it’s out-of-this-world. And, and, and don’t miss their sangria.
8) The egg tarts in Macau. It’s like a piece of heaven – warmly fresh, soft, sweet, buttery. It really is scintillating and worth all the fuss around it.
So that’s my personal foodie recommendation to anyone visiting Hong Kong for the first time.
A few words of wisdom for travelers:
- Giving tips to waiters, etc in restaurants is not a norm in Hong Kong.
- The place is not known for its hospitality so expect waiters to be quick, and often curt. But they don’t mean to offend – it’s just the way they work.