Hong Kong Authentics

This time it’s different. No Michelin guide nor San Pellegrino’s 50 Best list, leaving all those restaurant bibles at home and relying on my local friends and family in Hong Kong. Regardless if it’s upscale exquisite place or dodgy street side vendor, I am determined to go where the locals go, and eat what the locals eat.

Hong Kong literally means “fragrant harbour”. To me, that means a place for good seafood. With no time wasted, I was taken directly from the airport to Tuen Mun district for an authentic seafood meal.

A strip of shops selling a huge selection of live seafood sourced from local fishermen or imported from all over the world. The question is, with a large variety of seafood, what do you buy and at what price? If you don’t speak Cantonese, the only advice for you is to go with someone who does!

This is how it works: you buy what you want from these tanks, grab a table at a roadside restaurant nearby, hand over your bags of live seafood, and they will do the rest for you. I am familiar with the concept of BYOB, but a restaurant with Bring Your Own Food policy is unique to me! This environment is where you can truly have an experience of dai pai dong, an open-air street side style of dining.

This is the best seafood dish ever! They are some kind of Mantis shrimp and locals call it "peeing shrimp". Lightly deep fried with pepper and salt is the way to go, highlighting the tender and crunchy texture without destroying its freshness!

They say you can’t leave Hong Kong without having a proper wonton noodle. A late breakfast next morning at the legendary Mak’s Noodle would do the job. Known for its small portion, it was perfect for us as we had a long day of eating plan.

Our lunch stop was at Yung Kee. With almost 70 years of history, it’s probably the most well known restaurant name in Hong Kong famous for their roast goose. What I found even better was their Century Egg, a very traditional Cantonese starter of preserved duck egg using clay, ash, salt, and rice. I had it when I was young but was never a big fan of these disgusted looking eggs. However, the ones here are different. It was done perfectly - a creamy yolk with a light odour of sulphur! Yes, it sounds odd but tastes good!

There are many choices in Hong Kong for an afternoon snack but what could be more authentic than sampling from street stalls? They have everything here from fish ball, beef ball, pork sausage, cow stomach, duck intestine, and even stinky tofu that you can smell it from the other end of the street! But according to my friend from Changsha, this Hong Kong style stinky tofu is rather mild in contrast to the ones she had back home as this is one of the Changsha specialties.

We finally had a proper sit down meal at Farm House that night in Causeway Bay, a place that attracts the rich and famous. Their signatures dishes, "sticky rice stuffed wings" and “Shark’s fin in crab roe broth”, were simply mind-blowing. Considered as a delicacy in Cantonese cuisine symbolising wealth and prestige, this intense shark’s fin soup was dominated by thick fins with a concentrated crab flavour. Expensive, but worth a try!

In a city with endless choice of food, it’s hard to stay at the same place for both the main course and dessert. Just a short walk from the restaurant, it’s the popular Lucky Dessert. They serve more modern dessert like the fruity refreshing “mango pomelo sago soup”, the crispy sweet “fried banana roll”, or the pungent love-or-hate “Durian pancake”!

Modern desserts are nice, but I really wanted to end my night with something more traditional. With the advanced transportation system in Hong Kong, we crossed the harbour directly into the tourist hub Tsim Sha Tsui within minutes.

Australia Dairy Company is a long established cha chaan teng (Hong Kong style café), an ideal spot for double-steamed egg custard. They come in hot or cold, and yellow or white (that’s with or without yolk). Creamy, runny, velvet custard is always a wonderful way to finish the night!

A short trip in Hong Kong but accomplished a lot. With such a diverse food culture, you would never get bored eating at this vibrant city. One important lesson I learnt though -- if you don’t want to be stinky for the rest of your day, don’t try the stinky tofu!