After spending three weeks in China, 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. Everyone spoke better English, they were very helpful with directions and all the street signs were in English. 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 on it, this was a great decision because we not only tasted great food, but we also learned a lot about local eating habits and even saw some great street art along the way!
From wonton and sugar cane to Portuguese sweets
The tour started in Central and Sheung Wan, also known as the financial heart of Hong Kong. Not really a place you would expect to find great food. Our guide took us first to the basement of a small Wonton Noodle restaurant. Because of the cheap prices this restaurant, which 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 Hong Kong 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 join the eating feast 🙂
Portuguese egg tarts
What is eating without dessert? Our last stop was a sweet treat with a Portuguese flavor. Hong Kong is not so far away from the former Portuguese colony Macau and this is how the Portuguese kitchen made its way to Hong Kong in the 40s. I already tasted Portuguese egg tarts in Lisbon, but also in faraway Asia, it tasted pretty good.
Eating yin and yang
The Hong Kong food tour not only took us to local restaurants, but it also showed us a lot of the local life. For instance, we saw an 80-year-old street barber, visited the mystic Man Mo temple, and passed the slowly disappearing street restaurants. Sadly, the government decided to stop issuing licenses for these restaurants. 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 the stomach flu, locals will say your stomach is on fire and you need to cool it off with cold ingredients like sugar cane juice or lotus root.
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 the 798 Art District in Beijing. But outside of those areas you hardly see any street art. Hong Kong is the exception to this rule (as it is an exception to many things mainland-China related). Since 2014, this city organizes an annual street art festival. You can find most pieces in the area of Sheung Wan around Upper Station Street, Sai Street, and Hollywood Street. I really think this was a nice – and spontaneous – addition to the food tour.
Officially this Hong Kong 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 learned 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