The last few weeks I have written about amazing Uzbekistan, but now it is time to return to my big trip in China last year. Still, I haven’t told everything about it. So let’s continue. After slow rafting around the karst mountains of Yangshuo and hiking across the rice terraces of Ping’an we went back to the civilized world. We ended our trip in Hong Kong. A true metropolis, and one I have been dreaming about since the episodes of the Dutch television show ‘Wie is de mol’ (for our Dutchies, you know what I mean). Hong Kong was a true refreshment after China. The people spoke better English, they were very helpful with directions and all the street signs were in English. That made navigating through this city very easy. We quickly decided that getting to know Hong Kong was best done through our bellies! We booked a food tour with Hong Kong Foodie Tours. Looking back, this was a great decision because we not only tasted great food, but we also learnt a lot about the eating habits and local life and even saw some great street art!
From wonton and sugar cane to Portuguese sweets
The tour took place in the neighborhoods Central and Sheung Wan, also known as the financial heart of Hong Kong. Not really a place you would expect finding great food. Our guide took us first to the basement of a small Wonton Noodle restaurant. Because of the cheap prices this restaurant, that used to be a street food stall, is extremely popular with the locals. After a peek in the kitchen we each got a bowl with freshly made wonton in broth. Sadly, I could not taste this meal, because they only served fish of beef wontons. But my boyfriend certainly liked it!
Sugar cane juice
With food comes drinks, and in Hong Kong they have a special kind of juice: sugar cane juice. When it is hot in the city, the locals like to drink this refreshing juice. We drank our sugar cane juice at one of the oldest sugar cane juice shops in Hong Kong: Kung Lee. The owner has been serving for more than 70 years nothing else but sugar cane juice and it is even prepared for you on the spot. And I must say, it is very sweet but delicious.
Hong Kong, and all of China, is known for the dim sum and also this was part of our food tour. We stopped at a family restaurant and sat down at a table full of dim sum dishes. We could choose from Har Gao and Siu Mai (dumplings, Jaa Chun Guen (spring rolls) and Char Siu Bao (steamed buns with bbq pork). This time there were also some vegetarian options, so I could eat along 🙂
Portuguese egg tarts
What is eating without dessert? Our last stop was a sweet treat with a Portuguese flavor. Hong Kong is not that far away from the former Portuguese colony Macau and this way the Portuguese kitchen made its way to Hong Kong in the forties. I had already tasted the Portuguese egg tarts during a weekend in Lisbon, but also in far away Asia it tasted pretty good.
Eating yin and yang
The tour took us not only to local restaurants, it also showed us a lot of the local life. For instance, we saw a 80-year-old street barber, we visited the mystic Man Mo temple and we walked across the disappearing street restaurants. Sadly, the governement decided to stop issuing licenses for these markets. Our guide also took us to the vegetable markets where she told us about the traditional warm (yin) and cold (yang) ingredients, referring to the Chinese medicine theory. In winter the locals eat mainly warm ingredients (i.e. ginger or ham) and in summer they will eat cold ingredients (i.e. tahoe or winter melon). Also illnesses are described in terms of yin and yang. If you have a stomach flu, the Chinese will say your stomach is on fire and you need to cool it off with cold ingredients like sugar cane juice of lotus root. I was actually surprised how much influence this way of thinking has on daily life.
Spotting street art in Sheung Wan
The food tour also came with a nice surprise, because along the way I saw a lot of street art. Something I did not expect, because street art and China don’t really get along. Only within a couple of areas street art is allowed, like M50 in Shanghai and 798 district in Beijing. But outside of those areas you hardly see any street art. Hong Kong is the exception to this rule. Since 2014, this city has a annually street art festival. You can find most pieces in the area of Sheung Wan around the Upper Station Street, Sai Street and Hollywood Street. I really think this was a nice – and spontaneous – addition to the food tour.
Officially the food tour takes 3,5 hours, but we spent 5 hours with the guide. This wasn’t a punishment at all, because I really enjoyed it! This tour was more than only tasting food, I also learnt a lot about the city, the local life and the traditions. I really recommend this tour for a first day in Hong Kong to get to know the city.
What do you think of Hong Kong? Which food tour was a big surprise for you?
Addresses we visited and liked during the food tour:
Tsim Chai Kee, 98 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong
Kung Lee Sugan Cane Juice, 60 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong
Dim Sum Square, 88 Jervois street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
Hei Lee Cake Shop, 3 Hillier Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong