Our last meal in China cost us 9 Yuan. That’s US$1.47 or GBP 0.90. My big worry with Hong Kong was that the food was going to blow the budget. Turned out it didn’t have to. Hong Kong Food was not only cheap, but pretty tasty too.
For breakfast we did our usual thing when it wasn’t provided by where we were staying and bought bread and bananas or something similar from one of the local marts the night before, used the fridge in the guest house for our orange juice and there’s hot water always available there too, so our tea and coffee supplies came out along with our travel mugs.
The Chinese food that we grew up with in the UK is based mainly on Hong Kong Cantonese cuisine, so we were looking forward to a taste of home in Hong Kong, almost. It was then, however, amusing to find ourselves in the Chungking Mansions and eating Indian food almost every day, even if it was just a bargain veggie samosa at HKD$5.
Hong Kong is famous for it’s Dim Sum and we weren’t going to miss this opportunity to try it. We headed to One Dim Sum, located close to the Prince Edward MTR station – mid afternoon to beat the crowds that have folks lining the streets to get in. As usual we had a list and we just chowed our way through it. Slowly. Much more slowly than our neighbours who seemed to swallow some items whole! And the tea that they serve is just lovely, so we slurped three mugs of that too!
And, so, in no particular order.. steamed pork dumpling, sticky rice, barbeque pork bun, there was a char sui bun, spring rolls – which were the best spring rolls EVER, fried egg stick and honey, even egg custard buns… we even had to get a second order taken… Nom nom nom. The pictures tell their own tale..
Dai Pai Dong
Another famous way to eat in Hong Kong is at a Dai Pai Dong. These are a fast disappearing way of live in the island state, so we headed to the Temple Street Market to find a Dai Pai Dong and kill two birds with one stone because we were also looking for some sweet and sour pork. It may be a taste that’s specifically for the tourists, but what the heck, who do you think we were? And everyone else in the place might have been eating the chicken rice pots, but our mind was made up. Sweet and Sour Pork it was. And delicious it was too. Not as sweet as you might have had in the UK, and delivered on a trolley by a man who looked as though he could do with a couple of extra portions, we also went for pork with eggs. “A little like pork fu yung” from home said Nige as we munched on it.
Don’t forget to ask me for the rice when your food arrived said our server. In China and here too in Hong Kong rice is generally served towards the end of the meal so you don’t fill yourself up on it. Wait. We want it earlier so we’re filled up cheaper!! Says the budget conscious traveler in me shoveling in pork and egg like there’s no tomorrow.
Egg Tarts at the Top
We ran out of time and didn’t get a duck egg tart but after our Lord Stow’s Bakery tart in Macau we knew that we’d have to find one of the Tai Cheong Bakery tarts, being that they were Chris Patten’s favourite. That’s right before Britain’s last Hong Kong Governor sailed away on the Britannia after the historic handover to China in 1997 he was alleged to be having one of these tarts everyday. So on our adventure to the Peak we indulged and tasted a little history while watching Victoria Harbor from afar.
Fast Food – Hong Kong Style
Hong Kong local fast food chains are also known as “cha chan teng” – the biggest chains are Maxims, Cafe du Coral and Fairwoods. We managed to hit two of them. Your order at usually one desk and then your food is prepared hot and ready for you.
They offer a “tea set” – which is usually a combo meal for low prices – even as low as HKD$20!
Of course MacDonald, Starbucks and the like are present on virtually every corner, but we stuck to the local chains. At Maxim’s there was a bento box with cheese sausages (?? yes they were as weird as they sound), along with soup and other fixings. Plus for a bargain HKD$20 a bowl of instant noodles with shredded pork plus a cup of freshly brewed coffee, that was going for HKD$25 in a store around the corner. Now take the pissy look off your face when you read about instant noodles. They’re everywhere here in Asia, and they’re served in cafes, as streetfood and all over, with the various local takes on them. Oh, and they’re generally a lot cheaper than fresh noodles too. So for less than US$2 there was a reasonably hearty lunchtime meal.
Cafe de Coral is another of the chains, we’d visited mid afternoon, seeking a late lunch – their “tea sets” are perfect and don’t usually include tea. It’s usually a set meal – soup, rice, vegetables and some meat. I had the barbecue pork and roast duck, which for HKD$ 30 was a filling way to see me through until dinner.
At another place we wandered into we found ourselves sharing a table with three workmen when we headed into the Central district looking for lunch, wandering down streets until we found the markets running up the steps towards the mid levels and cafe’s crammed into small space, under brollies in the street – the ones with pictures are great, and here we both managed bowls of soup with rice noodles and pork dumplings.
Of course staying in the Chungking Mansions there is always the option of Indian food. The more expensive options are in the “private members clubs” where you’ll need to take an elevator too, the cheaper options are on the ground and the second floor, where you’ll find most of the Indians eating. Veggie samosas for HKD $ 5, a plate of three types of veggie dish, daal, veggie curry, spinach and paneer with three chapatis for HKD $35, plus a large Kingfisher can of beer for a further HKD$10. Heaven.
We didn’t go looking for some of the Hong Kong delicacies you might have read about, so there’s no snake in my stomach now, and we didn’t make it to the bars on the ‘nth floor to watch the lights and drink an expensive beer – but we ate everything we had on the list and had the added bonus of those almost daily samosas.
And with that folks (you’ll get the “how much did it cost” us blog shortly) we’re off. We’re catching a Hong Kong Express cheapo flight to Seoul and we’re going to have a whistle stop Korean adventure…