There is no better way of getting to know a culture than through eating its food and visiting its markets. Hong Kong, due to its history as a British colony, is in the unique position of mixing Chinese tradition with western influences. This is demonstrated in Hong Kong food, but sometimes it cane tough to know where to start. Here are a few must-eat items while in Kowloon.
Cha Chaan Tengs and Milk Tea
Hong Kong Cafes, also known as Cha Chaan Teng, are popular for quick meals that feature local cuisine and Hong Kong-style western dishes. These restaurants open early and close late, offering items from noodles to steak to dessert. Breakfast sets mix east and west with scrambled eggs and toast served with a bowl of noodles and milk tea. Hong Kong style milk tea is no ordinary tea. Made from a mix of several types of black tea, condensed milk sweetens it, giving the drink a richer feel. The tea is filtered using a sackcloth bag that closely resembles a stocking, earning this tea the nickname “stocking tea.” The tea is strong, making it the perfect wake-up drink.
Dim sum is the Chinese answer to Spanish tapas. Small portions of food, usually served in steamer baskets or small plates, offer dumplings and buns to noodles and rice. Plentiful cups of hot tea wash everything down. While most restaurants today offer dim sum by the order, traditionally, dim sum is pushed around the restaurants in carts, and you pick what you want. Classical dishes to try are shrimp dumplings, pork dumplings, rice rolls, and egg tarts.
Wandering the streets of Hong Kong, you’re likely to see meats hanging in windows, enticing those walking by to have a taste. There are many different roasted meats to try while in Hong Kong. A favourite is char sui (BBQ pork), which is slightly sweet and sticky. Another must eat is roasted goose, with its crispy skin and tender meat. For those not feeling as adventurous, a soy sauce chicken is a good option. Typically, these roasted meats are served with a bowl of rice or noodle soup. A warning though: none of these dishes are good for the waistline.
Noodles come in all shapes and forms in Hong Kong. They are found in soup or fried, thick or thin, flat or round. You can find rice noodles, egg noodles, and glass noodles among others. A must eat are wonton noodles, which features shrimp in a delicate wrapper with egg noodles. For those feeling more adventurous, a steaming bowl of beef brisket soup is worth a try. Look out for cart noodle shops, where you can build your own meal by choosing the noodle and toppings. It is perfect for those wanting to sample unusual offerings.
While there are many adventurous dishes to try when visiting Hong Kong, eating these foods introduces you to the basics of the city’s cuisine. All are familiar to the western palate, yet have a Chinese twist.
Have you been to Hong Kong? Do you try any of these Hong Kong specialities? Did I miss any?