Food related travel is quite the trend nowadays. Intrepid travelers have no qualms getting on a flight and traveling to distant lands to discover new tastes and culinary experiences. Thus, several destinations have come to be associated with their gastronomic specialties. If New York City is the home of the big slice, then Paris is home to the perfect baguette and London is the home of cream tea.
In fact, almost every city has iconic foods associated with it and Hong Kong is no different. The city has a well-established ‘foodie’ culture. Hong Kong offers a wide variety of cuisines, at its numerous restaurants, cafes, Cha Chaan Tengs (indigenous Hong Kong-style diners) and Dai Pai Dongs (roadside eateries).
As a result, food enthusiasts aver that there are several must-try eats in Asia’s World City. These foods are readily available all over the city, a sampling if not all but some of these foods is highly recommended.
A pineapple bun or Bo Lo Bao in Hong Kong refers to a soft bun topped with a browned sugar, craggy crust. There is no pineapple in the said baked good, and this sweet treat is a favorite teatime snack, an ideal accompaniment to a cup of hot or cold tea. The Hong Kong pineapple bun is served sliced in half and stuffed with a chunk of butter.
Curry Fish Balls
Curry fish balls or Ga Lei Yu Daan consist of balls, made with a seasoned fish paste that is then fried. The fish balls are served skewered on a bamboo stick and have a serving of mildly spiced dipping sauce or ‘curry’. Curry fish balls are a popular street side food of Hong Kong.
Egg puffs/ waffles
Walk down a busy Hong Kong street and you are likely to get a whiff of the tasty treats known as Gai Daan Hai. Street vendors use an egg batter either plain or flavored with sesame or green tea or chocolate. They then dip the batter into a griddle to make this immensely popular anytime snack that is offered in bite-size portions. The waffle bits have a soft, spongy interior enveloped by a crispy covering.
The Hong Kong/Macau egg tart is known as Daan Taat and has it origins in the city’s colonial era. This immensely popular anytime treat features a short crust or puff pastry cup, which is filled with a rich, ‘eggy’ custard and then baked.
Cheung Fen is a dish made from steamed sheets of rice noodles and served with sesame and peanut sauce, hoisin sauce or chili sauce. A favorite dish on any dim sum menu, Cheung Fen is usually available on the city streets in a Styrofoam cup with a choice of dipping sauce.
Another dim sum treat, Siu Mai consisting of bits of pork and mushroom or pork and shrimp stuffing steamed in wafer thin dough covering is also available as a street snack.
The Hong Kong version of spring rolls or Chun Guen features minced pork and diced vegetables wrapped in a thin flour wrapper and deep-fried. A serving of spring rolls in Hong Kong usually features Worcestershire sauce as an accompaniment, another nod to the city’s colonial era.
A traditional wintertime treat, roasted chestnuts or Chaau Lut Jee are perhaps the healthiest street food snacks on offer in Hong Kong. Street side vendors roast the chestnuts in a big wok aboard a mobile cart. In recent times, sweet potatoes have also been added to the mix enhancing the snack’s nutritional value.
The Hong Kong interpretation of French toast or Sai Doh Si is an immensely popular dish proffered at the city’s various Cha Chaan Tengs. This truly decadent dish is usually available at teatime and features two slices of white bread, slathered with peanut butter then dipped in an egg wash and fried. Once ready, the French toast is crowned with a generous dollop of butter and a drizzle of maple syrup. This heavenly treat is best enjoyed with a serving of Hong Kong milk tea.
Hong Kong’s iconic milk tea beverage features a combination of black teas (usually Sri Lankan) brewed using the ‘silk stocking’ method. The 'silk stocking' in this case refers to a large sieve, which is used to drip brew, the tea. The tea is then expertly combined with Black and White brand of evaporated milk and sugar and served iced or hot. Milk Tea is a strong, smooth, drink that has a distinct flavor. A variation of the brew takes the form of another iconic Hong Kong drink called Yuanyang, which features a combination of black coffee and milk tea.