Food hunts in Hong Kong
Before jumping into the amazing food culture of Hong Kong, here’s a quick background on Hong Kong. Hong Kong used to be a colony under the British Empire but is now an autonomous territory under China. They speak predominantly Cantonese but use the same Chinese characters as Mandarin, the more predominant Chinese language. The currency, Hong Kong Dollar, is also about 0.8:1 to China’s Renminbi.
For those not keen on learning a new language to explore the territory, English is their second language, so, fluent English speakers can explore without too much difficulty. For Nigerians that would love to visit, there is a Hong Kong embassy in Abuja and according to their website, the visa fee is 50 US dollars.
On the food matter, unlike most parts of China, food in Hong Kong is more expensive and you have to be very careful because many of the restaurants can drive you to immediate bankruptcy! #NairaStruggles. Just because a restaurant looks dingy and a bit worn does not mean the price would be cheapo, most especially in Tsim Sha Tsui neighbourhood.
Tsim Sha Tsui can be compared to New York’s Time Square in terms of its tourist attractions, vast number of tourists traipsing through the city with cameras at the ready for an Instagram-worthy shot and a good number of restaurants waiting in line to trap tourists into paying a steep amount for a basic meal. Hong Kong is one of the few destinations I have visited multiple times and during my last visit, I decided to stay in Tsim Sha Tsui for a proper tourist experience, but after seeing the price for a meal at a local dim sum shop, I immediately hopped on a ferry to Wan Chai for some amazing food at common sense prices.
Wan Chai is like New York’s Wall Street with a splash of mama-put like stalls in different pockets of the area. Thanks to a local tip, I found a corner littered with about six food stalls and many local business folks lined up for the cheap and cheerful street foods. From bowls of fish balls in spicy curry sauce to freshly made egg puff with drizzles of peanut sauce and honey. To freshly grilled intestines on stick, the street food there varies according to taste buds without scaring off overly picky eaters. I dragged two other friends for the food hunt and we spent less than N2,000 combined. For a neighborhood similar to our own Victoria Island, but with a lot more effizy than we have here, that price was a steal.
For those unaware of this, Hong Kong is the land of Dim Sum, and on almost every street is a restaurant offering arrays of Dim Sum options. A proper meal for a hungry person averages about N3,000 (85 HKD).
What is dim sum? Dim sum is a Cantonese-styled steamed dish served in small sharing portions with tea. Dim sum restaurants are pretty much on almost every corner of Hong Kong and finding a good local joint to eat is as easy as following the local crowd and very few restaurants here are on review sites so, no need to research on the ‘best dim sum restaurant in area xyz’. In my six years of visiting Hong Kong, I am yet to experience a bad dim sum meal.
For those keen on trying out dim sum, my favorite meal combo is a plate of Lo Mai Gai, glutinous rice with chicken and pork wrapped up in lotus leaf, with two plates of pork and shrimp dumplings, a bowl of steamed spicy chicken feet, and a plate of steamed custard bun, Nai Wong Bao, to finish up the meal. If there is any space left for a bit of pork, head off to a roast shop to try out Char siu. Char siu is a rich, sweet Cantonese-style barbecue pork dish slathered in a mix of soy sauce, hoisin sauce, brown sugar, shaoxing wine, garlic, a bit of ginger; to balance out the sweetness for me, I like to add quite a bit of pepper. So addictive and so yum.
While Hong Kong is moreso a business travel destination for most Nigerians, taking a bit of time out from business meetings to experience the local food culture is absolutely worth it and I would argue, very necessary.
Find more of my adventures on www.zeegoes.com
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