Hong Kong is known for two things; shopping and food. And with the Aussie dollar being as high as it is, it is easy to sample the culinary delights of Hong Kong without breaking your budget. Here are some 'must try' foods when visiting Hong Kong. I have included Cantonese pronunciations to help you with the ordering process.
1. Egg Waffle (Gai Daan Jay) This is a popular street food in Hong Kong. Street vendors pour the sweet batter over a hot griddle. The griddle forms waffle 'eggettes' that can be pulled apart into bite sized pieces. They are best served freshly-made and hot.
2. Wonton Noodle Soup (Wonton Min) Wontons are Cantonese dumplings which usually include a prawn and pork filling. Wontons are served in a hot broth and can be ordered on their own or with springy thin egg noodles. The dish is garnished with garlic chives and sometimes served with Chinese leafy greens.
If you're looking for good wonton noodle soup, people have been flocking to Ho Hung Kee Restaurant in Causeway Bay for this dish since 1946. The restaurant was awarded a star in the Michelin Guide in 2012.
3. Curry Fish Balls (Gah-Lei Yu-Dan) Curry fish balls are the Hong Kong equivalent of hot dogs in New York. The fish balls are cooked in a curry sauce and served on a bamboo skewer and are a popular snack food. They have a smooth and springy texture and are made by pounding the fish meat and mixing it with flour before rolling them into balls.
4. Egg Tart (Daan Taart) Egg tarts are an adaptation of the Portugese tarts and English tarts but have an eggier flavour. The crust of the egg tarts are either made of shortcrust pastry or puff pastry. I personally prefer the ones with puff pastry crusts. The tart shells are filled with a rich egg custard and then baked. They can be found in most Chinese bakeries.
Egg tarts with shortcrust pastry...these were just out of the oven
5. Roast Goose (Siu Orr) Roast goose has a similar flavour to Chinese roast duck but is larger and meatier. Good quality roast goose has crispy thin skin and succulent and tender meat. I am salivating just thinking about this dish.
Roast goose in the shop window. You don't have to buy the whole goose. They can cut up a smaller portion for you
6. Barbecue Pork (Char Siu) Whilst you're trying the roast goose I suggest that you also order some barbecue pork. The pork is usually marinated in a mixture of five spice, honey, dark soy sauce, hoisin sauce and sherry or rice wine before being barbecued. Good barbecue pork has a shiny glaze and uses minimum red food colouring. It is best eaten with steamed white rice; a winning combination.
7. Steamed Milk in Two Films (Tsung-Pei Dun-Lai) This dessert may have a clumsy name but as the saying goes 'don't judge a book by it's cover'. I couldn't get enough of the stuff in Hong Kong. The dessert is essentially a pudding/custard/jelly made from milk, sugar and egg white. The mixture is skilfully steamed and cooled creating the two milk films/skins in the process. The dessert is beautifully silky and smooth and can be served hot or cold. I would recommend trying the dessert at Yee Shun Milk Company. They have restaurants in Causeway Bay and Kowloon.
Steamed milk in two films..deceptively simple but delicious
8. Chinese Vegetarian Dishes (Jai) Looking at the menu of a Chinese vegetarian restaurant, you could easily think that you walked into the wrong place. With dishes like taro fish and vegetarian chicken, Chinese vegetarian dishes feature many imitation meats. These 'meats' are made using various types of tofu and bean curd that are textured and seasoned to taste similar to the real thing. If you're looking for something a bit different, these vegetarian dishes are worth a try. Many Chinese temples serve vegetarian dishes. Alternatively, Tung Fong Siu Kee Yuen Vegetarian Restaurant which opened in 1905, serves up some tasty vegetarian affair.
9. Congee (Jook)
Congee is a popular Chinese comfort food. Similar to chicken noodle soup, it is usually eaten when someone is feeling unwell or as part of a traditional Chinese breakfast, but can be enjoyed any other time. Congee is a savoury rice porridge. Rice is placed in water and softened after hours of slow cooking. Congee can be eaten plain (too tasteless for my liking) or with a variety of meat and other ingredients.
For the adventurous foodies, a popular congee is called Pei Daan Sauw Yok Juuk that contains salted duck egg, century egg, pork and peanuts. For those who haven't tried century egg it has an interesting taste. It is made by preserving a duck or chicken egg in a mixture of salt, ash, clay, quicklime, and rice hulls for several weeks to several months. In doing so, the egg becomes marbled with grey yolk and a dark brown jelly egg white and has a creamy texture.
Congee with salted duck egg, pork and century egg - a dish for adventurous foodies
10. Yum Cha
I like to call yum cha the Chinese version of Spanish tapas. It consists of a series of small dishes (dim sum) designed to be shared around a round table with a lazy Susan and enjoyed with hot Chinese tea. In Sydney, these small dishes are served by waiters pushing around metal trolleys. To my surprise, in Hong Kong the trolleys are long gone and replaced by an order form. Nonetheless, the dim sum in Hong Kong is worth trying. There is a wider selection of dim sum that cannot be found in Sydney.
My favourite dim sum...siu mai (steamed pork and prawn mince wrapped in a wonton wrapper)