Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Hong Kong - Food Heaven, Property Hell

As I was organising my photos from Hong Kong, 90% of them are of food! I realised how I much I had put away in the 6 days I was there. The taste of the roasted pigeon I had on my first day there is still very much lingering at the back of my mind. I do however wish I can put my hand up and order some right now! We arrived in Hong Kong quite late and my brother had arranged to come and pick us up. We checked into the hotel and were straight out again to Sha Tin where it is famous for roasted pigeons. After a long flight I did contemplate not going and opt for something quicker as Hong Kong is not short of delicious and convenient street food. Every corner you turn, there seem to be some vendors or small restaurants. We marched on all sticky and hungry. We sat down and within minutes food started arriving, my mouth and hands couldn't keep up with how fast they were coming out. Deep fried crispy fish that resembled pencils, succulent large clams, deep fried calamari but not the ones you get in this country, flash fried various vegetables, clay pot aubergines and finally the pigeons arrive freshly roasted. We were given plastic gloves. Note at this point we were half way through the array of dishes and I put away 1 1/2 pigeon on my own! The pigeons were twice the size of what you can find in this country. That was Day 1!

Hong Kong is a cosmopolitan city very much like London in a lot of ways. It is smaller and everywhere you look you are dominated by high rise buildings. I have worked in central London so city like this shouldn't phase me but I have to admit Hong Kong intimidated me in a way. Life is hectic, basic politeness seem to go amiss as time is of the essence and they have no time for pleasantries. They get to the point which can appear rude. While older generations struggle for pensions in this country, older generations there are millionaires due to clever investment in property. If you think getting on the property ladder here is difficult, over in Hong Kong is near impossible. Andrew and I woke up one morning and while waiting for my family to go on yet another eating spree, we decided to do 'property porn! We had a massive shock, while £30 million can buy you a mansion in Kensington, it may get you a house with 4-5 bedrooms outskirts of Hong Kong. Needless to say, all hopes of moving to Hong Kong were quickly squashed!

Even though the property in Hong Kong isn't it's most positive feature but the food is and the only thing that makes me wish I can live there. There are plenty of eateries to suit your budget. The thing that fascinated me wasn't the array of restaurants but the array of 'tai pai tong' (street vendors). I can perhaps compare them to Spanish tapas restaurant but most of them are outdoors or occupy a very small space within a building. Each street vendor has their speciality and you generally move from one vendor to another, the most common associated with Hong Kong are curry fish ball, beef tripe, stinky bean curd, pearl ice tea and as time goes on more innovative dishes! They provide a cheap alternative to going to restaurants. We did try some of them. I fondly recall Andrew's distaste for the stinky bean curd!

The wet markets in Hong Kong are second to none. There are stalls selling day to day groceries, dried seafood stalls which supplies delicacies like abalone and the formidable sharks fin, roast meat stall for roast pork and duck, fresh meat, vegetables and seafood are all readily available. I spent hours walking around wising I can buy it all. If the wet market intimidates you, there are also well equipped supermarkets which cater from Asian, Western and even Mediterranean.

I hope everyone will get to experience Hong Kong especially if you are prepared to go on a culinary and culture adventure.

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