Tuesday 12 July 2011

Hong Kong Honeymoon: Our Top 10 Foodies Highlights Part 1

{That, my friends, is A Foodcourt With a View.}

So sorry for neglecting my post as of late, blog post that is.  It was the university hols and we were lucky enough to get to spend some of it in the shopaholic/foodie's dream city Hong Kong for our sort-of honeymoon.

Why sort-of? Well, it was our first trip away together (and first full week of seeing each other) after getting married which is very honeymooney.  But the main purpose of going back was to have dinner with and catch up with my relos in HK which is less honeymooney.  And my Mum came with us - not that honeymooney at all. 

So while it was technically our honeymoon, hopefully we'll get to go somewhere later on and lie on a beach for days with just the two of us (hint hint darling husband??).

So as a blogapology for the post-tardiness I present you our Top 10 Hong Kong Trip Foodie Highlights.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of what you should eat when in HK.  That would need to be a top 100 at least!  No, no, this is a much less ambitious venture: a round up of the tasty meals and morsels we loved most on our trip back this time.   I'd probably need to go back for months to get a more definitive must-eat list...which I would LOVE to do sometime, so if you're reading this Harper Collins - call me??

1. Hong Kong Breakfasts

Even a simple a meal as breakfast, is a whole different affair in Hong Kong when compared with the western style brekkies we are used to in New Zealand.   Instead of the brunch offerings we know and love like the french toast, pancakes and eggs bene; Hong Kong breakfast fare is decidedly more savoury with options like noodles, congee, and glutinous rice wrapped in lotus leaves.

You're definitely not in Kansas anymore, Toto.

{rice congee with yau-ja-gwai}
Congee or jook is a very traditional breakfast food.  It's a rice porridge typically made by boiling rice in water or stock for ages till it breaks down and thickens like a soup.  You can have chicken congee (cooked with chicken broth and with shredded chicken), pork congee (pork stock with shredded pork), fish congee...you get the picture.  There's a whole heap of condiments you add to the congee like finely spring onions, picked spicy mustard greens, fried shallots, peanuts, etc and it's often served with deep fried bread sticks (called yau-ja-gwa in Cantonese) which give a salty crunchy contrast to the smooth congee.  For me, it's comfort food at it's best, not to mention a pretty nifty hang-over cure.

{oodles of noodles: beef satay noodles, seafood noodles, hot & spicy noodles with dumplings}
We ended up dining at Chinese food chains most mornings since they had fancy menus with pictures we could point at. Each restaurant would have every type of noodle soup dish under the sun and would come with a drink for around HKD$20 - $50.   Bargain!

It's not all weird and wacky looking fare for breakfast though, a more familiar sight are the cups of white tea or coffee that invariably come with breakfast sets.  However,  things are not always as they appear - one sip and you'll realise it's like no tea you've drunk before. Hong Kong style milk tea is tea that's been brewed to an inch of it's life, so strong it's like a punch in the face and has evaporated milk rather than fresh milk which too is a punchy flavour.  I love it.  My Mum loves it.  My kiwi husband was not so keen on it.

If you order a tea in HK, this is what you will get so bear that in mind if you are thinking of having a cuppa. I asked my Mum why they use evaporated milk rather than fresh milk and she mused that it was cheaper than cow's milk and keeps longer.  Makes sense, us Chinese are all about cost effectiveness.

{pineapple bun and iced lemon tea}
If milk tea isn't your thing, you can choose instead an Iced Lemon Tea ("dong-ling-cha") which is made of strong black tea, sugar and lemon slices.  It's cool, sweet, tart and deliciously refreshing.  My husband loved his lemon tea and even learnt how to order it in Cantonese.  Well done old chap.

If you're into sweet things for breakfast, unfortunately there isn't much of a selection.  Having said that, a pineapple bun (bolo bao) with butter is a favourite breakfast or afternoon snack for Hong Kongians.  It's a super soft sweet bun with a crunchy almost cookie like crust.  Kinda similar to the Rotiboy buns I think? It's called a "pineapple" bun because the top resembles a pineapple.

2. Fruit Desserts aka Mango with Mango on Mango

{mango with mango on mango dessert with dragon fruit}

There might not be a huge range of sweet things for breakfast but Hong Kong sure knows how to knock up a mean fruit dessert.  My absolute favourite is Mango Sago and Pomelo Sweet Soup (yeung gee gum lo) - it's a cold dessert made with mango puree, chunks of mango and pomelo, sago, coconut milk and sometimes mango sorbet.  Affectionately known by my family as Mango with Mango on Mango.  Divine.  The sweet juicy mango that looks and tastes like sunshine with the tart grapefruity pomelo and creamy coconut milk is a match made in dessert heaven.  It's light, refreshing and utterly addictive.

{honeymoon dessert's version}

And since it's so packed with fruit you don't get that dessert-binge-guilt you get when you eat that mountain of chocolate pud with icecream.  In fact, we were so liberated from said post-binge-guilt that we would sometimes have dessert twice a day.  Om nom nom.

In HK, you really don't have to go far to find a place to satisfy your dessert cravings, dessert bars everywhere.  Big chains brands such as Hui Lau Shan and Honeymoon Desserts are honestly in every mall and just about on every street corner.   The menus conveniently have English subtitles and photos to help us non Chinese readers pick our sweet treats.

3. Korean Food

{kimchi beef with rice on a hot stone pot}

What's Korean food doing on a list that's supposed to be about Hong Kong food you ask?  Well folks, this HK trip marks our big discovery of this awesome cuisine.  C and I had never really had much experience with Korean food before.  It's not terribly common in New Zealand but when in HK I kept noticing Korean food stalls in big food courts that were always packed out.   As a naturally nosey curious foodie I just had to try it out.  And boy am I glad I did. 

Be it a noodle soup or rice stone pot dish, the meals were always packed with veges, packed with flavour and packed with kimchi.  I had tried kimchi years ago and didn't care for it but in these dishes it made the dish sing.  Slightly tart, crunchy, spicy and with a sesame hit, the kimchi made the dishes complex, rib sticking, eye-wateringly good.  I can absolutely see why the Korean food is the cuisine du jour these days.  Hmmm about time I check out that Momofuku cookbook methinks...

Most food courts in the big malls like Langham Place (Mong Kok) and Harbour City (Tsim Sha Tsui) have Korean stands at their food courts.

Well this has been an epic post, so I'm going to leave you in suspense for the next in this series!

So just watch this space for Parts 2 and 3 of our foodie tour of Hong Kong... :)


  1. yum yum and yum!! I absolutely LOVE Hong Kong and this post just makes me want to go back even more. Love how your mom said condensed milk keeps longer than regular milk too -- my mom would have said the same thing, although I would also say too that by adding condensed milk, you get both the milk and the sweetness in one, as opposed to adding them separately! Oh the Chinese ;)

  2. I always wanted to have a culinary trip in Hong Kong, especially the top chef's ones. I miss Asia your noodle bowl of spiciness. Everything is so bland here for breakie. But I guess for a lot of people, including Asian, bland breakfast is the way to start.
    Mango and me? Lets not go there, my dad planted a whole farm for me to express my fruitylove.
    I am not sure about the Korean thing. My mum's Korean and came from the small rural town where they made the best Korean food in Korea. So I'm biased. The brown rice bibimbap on top the shoe repair place, along the row of everyday gourmet in Dunedin, had been decent enough to tame my Korean cravings. It's damn healthy too!

    Sounds like you've had an awesome time in HK!

  3. Wow, your trip looks amazing! I really want to try congee, it looks delicious. And I'm on the lookout for the best Korean restaurant in Wellington - I love those healthy, zingy Asian dishes!

  4. I enjoyed reading this post and I'm looking forward to parts 2 and 3! I was born in Hong Kong and although we moved to NZ when I was a baby, it will always have a tasty corner in my heart. Congee is the ultimate comfort food for me and I've been cooking up batches for breakfast this winter. I don't think I've every come across the term "Hong Kongians". It makes sense even though my friends call it "Hong Kongkanese".

  5. Donna: Hehe we're all about efficiency huh? I heart HK too! Think going back with Cam this time (he's only ever been once) made me look at HK like a tourist and made me fall in love with the city all over again! Three words for ya: Condensed Milk Toast....drrrooooooool!

    PFx: Ooooooh that Korean place is defo on my hit list now! Thanks for the recommend! I really really wanted to go to that michelin star back alley place: http://www.theage.com.au/national/michelin-star-for-cheapeat-canteen-20091128-jy0d.html but we didn't have enough time. There's always next time!!! Mango farm? Be still my beating heart.

    timeforalittlesomething.com: Congee is suprisingly delicious! I even have Cam converted! The secret is in loading up the tasty condiments :) If you find the best Korean place let me know!!

    bunnyeatsdesign: Oooo I didn't know you were born in HK too!! Yum, I wanna have breakfast at your place! :) Hong Kongians...thought it had a nice ring to it you know? :P



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