When choosing what to write next I look through my folders of pictures to find something that piques my interest; I find that writing about something I’m currently lukewarm about doesn’t produce a great blog. If there is food to be written about, I am almost always drawn to it (provided I haven’t just stuffed my face and entered the ‘I don’t want to even think about the fact that food exists’ phase).
Food is a fantastic way of experiencing a country, culture or city. Food brings back old memories and creates new ones and it is something I’ve always been passionate about (ask my mum). Hong Kong was a perfect dish of both; I got to indulge my nostalgia for British foods hard to get hold of in Japan as well as experience Hong Kong cuisine in all its dumpling-shaped glory.
Every day, walking to the train station for the day’s adventure, we stopped at a bakery near the apartment we were staying in. This bakery sold a huge variety of buns and pastries, with a price range of 3 – 10 Hong Kong Dollars (20p – 90p). I quickly discovered my favourite bun, the BBQ pork rocky bun, which was a bun with a crumbly sweet topping and BBQ pork filling. They were incredible. Those buns are on the same level as sushi in my mind; I could eat them every day for the rest of my life and still enjoy them every time.
The other bun pictured was an amazing coconut construction of layers and layers of sweet bread coated in coconut filling. Absolutely delicious if a little dry. Sadly my romance with the BBQ Pork Rocky Bun was cut short by Chinese New Year. The owners took the customary 4 days off, only opening once again on the last day of my time in Hong Kong. Our reunion was blissful yet short, but not forever. I am sure one day I will return to its sweet BBQ embrace.
The Dessert Place
Near to the apartment was a dessert place, a simple cafe-style establishment with a great range of Chinese and less-Chinese desserts on offer. I had been shown the way of the snow in Korea and settled for a mango snow which was amazing as the snow was acutally flavoured mango, unlike the plain milk snow of South Korea. It also had real mango, a treat as I hadn’t had mango since before coming to Japan. I also shared some rice buns with mango filling with my friend which were really tasty.
The Noodle Place
On our first night on Hong Kong we wearily made our way down the road to a local noodle restaurant. There was no English menu but thankfully two of my friends can speak Cantonese. On my friend’s recommendation I got the pork meatball noodle soup. Her recommendation was definitely a winner – the meatballs were delicious, as were the noodles, a perfect way to replenish my life-force after a day’s travelling (I’m convinced that travelling does actually drain my life-force, probably because I have to constantly remember things, make decisions and be responsible, three things that I’d rather avoid doing in my daily life if possible).
The Dim Sum Place
We visited this Dim Sum Place at the top of the IFC building in Hong Kong (regrettably I forget the name). We got a selection of Dim Sum to share as well as some drunken chicken and vegetables (not pictured because vegetables are distinctly less interesting than dumplings). The tall dumplings contained pork belly and were delicious if a little dry. The short round ones were the real stars; unassuming in appearance, they were filled with juices and prawn, a perfect parcel. The drunken chicken was sufficiently drunk and tender. I also had a passion fruit pot for dessert which was like a light mousse-gel and very fruity. The service wasn’t great, however, as they forgot to tell us that one of our order had sold out and only informed us after last order so we couldn’t replace it.
The Mexican Place
It’s hard to get good Mexican in Japan. I have heard tell of a place in Kyoto but I have never ventured the several stops on the train to check it out. I never really had Mexican food growing up. I mean I have had tacos but no further. I am ashamed to say that this was actually my first burrito. I am aware that this place wasn’t so much Mexican but ‘TexMex in Hong Kong’, but it’s as close as I’ve got for now. I got the pulled pork burrito with guacamole. It was so delicious and not actually as filling as I’d expected (I’d anticipated the dreaded food-coma, judging by its size and weight, but I was hungry again in a few hours). I will make an effort to eat my second ever burrito sometime soon as I enjoyed it immensely.
The Burger Place
This place really was ‘the burger place’ considering its menu consisted of ‘the burger’, ‘the fries’, ‘the dessert’ and a selection of drinks. There were no other options. One burger, one dessert, fries and that’s it. Nice and simple but i still spent time deciding as to whether I wanted fries or not, proving that even with the simplest menu I struggle to choose. In a way the ‘fries or no fries’ choice made things more tricky than a huge host of options as it suddenly felt more important. Thankfully my friend came to my rescue as she asked if anyone wanted to split the chips. Not having to commit to a whole serving of chips I happily split them. The burger itself was delicious with a good amount of cheese and a good sauce. They clearly had a good recipe and they stood by it with their simple menu. Cherry cola is not something easy to find in Japan so my entire table, all 7 of us, got cherry cola, which the wait-staff seemed to find amusing.
The Hong Kong Fast Food Place
We went to Cafe de Coral, a Hong Kong fast food restaurant, one day for lunch. You can choose from a selection of ‘things on rice’ or ‘things on noodles’, all of which looked very tasty. Unfortunately my friend tripped and managed to spill tea all over me and our table but nothing was harmed (I had a mini heart-attack when I realised it could have got my camera, but all was well). I had the pork special which was good standard fare, nothing special but great considering it was cheap. The egg was a bit weird though, I think it had been cooked with tea or something. It was a bit rubbery and not particularly keen on parting with its shell.
The Famous Place
I am pleased to say that I have eaten at the cheapest Michelin starred restaurant in the world, Tim Ho Wan. There are 5 branches of this restaurant in Hong Kong, three of which with one Michelin Star ratings. When I picture Michelin cuisine I picture a posh atmosphere, overly polite wait-staff and an expensive bill. Tim Ho Wan is none of these things; the restaurant is open to be viewed by passers by, it’s crowded, there is a buisiness-like looking lady yelling out numbers in front, a massive disorganised queue, and, most importantly, a very very small price to pay for such delicious food. Between the 4 of us, the total came to around £5 each for around 8 dishes. This is cheaper than some of the cheapest restaurants in the UK or Japan.
The system works thus: you sign in with the warden-of-the-list, the businesslike lady at the front desk. She adds you to The List, and bestows upon you a paper menu where you choose your meal (you can see ours above), you then wait for your number to be called by The Lady. Once you’re called much later (it’s a long queue) you can take your seats and your order is put in. Food comes quickly as does tea (which is around 20p per person).
The food itself is all spectacular and totally worth the wait but you really have to have the pork buns, there is no describing them really but they are so delicious. It was all delicious. If you want to know exactly what we got check the paper menu pictured above. If you’re in Hong Kong you simply must go, and go early in your trip so that you can go again if you get the chance. Sadly we were really busy and didn’t get the chance but I’m sure I’ll be back if I’m ever in Hong Kong.
The Choux Pastry Place
Walking through a train station we spotted a stall with a long line. This line was waiting for the delicious choux pastries sold there. On our way back through the station we joined the queue and got some for ourselves. I chose triple chocolate. Though I am not normally a ‘chocolate dessert person’ and tend to stick with fruit, the look of the triple chocolate was irresistible. It was really good and cheap too, would recommend.
The Nostalgic Place
Going to Hong Kong felt a little like going home, suddenly there were British plugs, British road signs and British shops. We indulged this sense of ‘homeness’ a little and went to Marks and Spencer three days in a row. Marks and Spencer, for those that don’t know it, is one of those supermarkets that thinks its products are so amazing that they only stock own-brand goods. M&S is leaning towards ‘posh’ on the supermarket scale. Yellow Sticker Time is a magical time around 4:30 where perishable food is discounted; it was at this magical time that we went and sated our desire for ‘home food’. I got a chocolate muffin and some cheese (Red Leicester and Wensleydale) as well as a 12-pack of mini hot cross buns. I am only slightly ashamed to admit that I ate all the hot cross buns in one day (two hours).
I have added the Diet Coke into this section as it firmly falls under ‘nostalgia’. I was addicted to diet coke in the UK. If I had an essay I could drink around 5 cans a day. I am aware I will probably get cancer and die from it or something but it’s so good. Far superior to the alternative in Japan that is Coke Zero or, even worse, Coke Life. Drinking it in Hong Kong it was every bit as delicious as I remembered and I look forward to resuming my addiction when I get back to Blighty.
I can’t rate the feeling of nostalgia as you wouldn’t have the same reaction; I can’t quantify it with stars. Let’s just say it was so great we went back three times.
The Pizza Place
Following our theme of British establishments, we tracked down Pizza Express. Not that I really go to Pizza Express ever, but it has the same feeling as many restaurants in the UK, so perhaps we were looking for that. Either way I had a really nice mushroom appetizer with pizza bread dipping sticks and a banoffee pot for pudding. The banoffee pot was tasty (and hard to get in Japan) and the actual pizza dough was a nice change from Japanese pizza. Not exactly gourmet food but still good meal.
The Vietnamese Place
We went to Viet’s Choice, a chain Vietnamese restaurant, as we fancied a change. I got noodles with lots of meat. It was good and filling. Again, not exactly gourmet but a nice meal nonetheless.
The Birthday Place
My friend had her 21st birthday while we were in Hong Kong, so of course we had to go for a nice meal to celebrate. We went to Glasshouse in the IFC building, which had a great view of the harbour. I had a Unifying Force, a cocktail of earl grey infused bourbon, fresh lemon juice, sugar syrup, fresh egg white and cherry syrup (yes I found the menu online). It was really good! For main I had their signature Pad Thai with black ink noodles, also very good though not exactly filing. I corrected my lack of fullness with a banana-chocolate crepe for dessert.
It was a really nice restaurant with a great atmosphere, though it was also the most expensive place we’d been to. I am convinced that in Asia you pay for the atmosphere, the food is always pretty good (unless you want the finest massaged beef that has been hand reared on bamboo shoots or something, then you’ll be paying for that).
So I think you can see that I immensely enjoyed the food Hong Kong had to offer. My budget in general was around £10 or under for a meal (mostly way under); you can eat a huge variety of quality food for not that much in Hong Kong. The food was very different to South Korea and we felt more inclined to eat non-local style food as we were there much longer, hence the wider variety. I would recommend visiting Hong Kong for the cuisine alone, it was that good.