When I was young, my mother would often take me to Hong Kong to visit my grandparents and relatives there. I didn’t think too much of it then- you never really appreciate things until you get older. Now I love going there, although my visits have become less and less frequent as a result of the difficulty of taking days off school (since the airfares in the school holidays are too expensive).
Of course, food is a major highlight as it is much more affordable to eat out than here in Australia. On average a meal there costs about $15-20 for the four of us. Not surprisingly, we eat out for at least two meals everyday. Being a food blogger, I brought my camera with me and took shots of food whenever I could (although only when I was dining with my parents) At first, I was afraid I would get told off by people at restaurants but I got no response (or maybe I snapped the photos too quickly for anyone to notice, hence the poor quality of the photos). It was really interesting though, when we got home to look back at what we ate- time flies too quickly when you’re having fun to remember what you eat!
Waking up early to make it in time for the plane was not the best way to begin a holiday especially as not enough sleep + a 9 hour plane ride= BAD plane sickness. I get awfully plane sick (hence no pictures of planes anywhere!) and spend most of the trip there either sleeping or looking/feeling dead. I really envy those who can eat on planes because I can’t even stand the smell of plane food- it makes me vomit. Although not as much now that I’m a BIG girl =] (although it may have something to do with the travel sickness pills I take………)
I recover from plane sickness quickly once I get off the plane and away from the airport, and my lack of eating for so long leaves my tummy very empty, but not for long……
It was winter when we visited (hehe……yes this was 5 months ago) and with the occasional bursts of coldness, street food is very comforting and convenient whenever we feel hungry. Asian waffles are extremely popular and we witness many people lining up for hot crunchy waffles whilst they’re being made. I’ve never had these as I prefer the egg waffles, which, I suspect is made from the same (or at least a similar) batter to the other waffles as they look the same. When freshly made, the exterior is crispy with a soft, slightly cakey centre. The sweet and eggy taste makes them taste slightly like pancakes- although these are better =] A couple are made in advance, I guess for the convenience, but they cool down quite quickly and are usually warm when purchased. They are awfully good though, even when warm and I just wish I could try one hot! Sadly, every time I buy one, there’s already a premade one =[ Some stalls also sell them in different flavours such as taro, chocolate and sesame although they’ve always run out when I want one =[ *sigh* I have such bad luck with these things……
When I saw these waffles sandwiched with a selection of cream fillings, neatly packaged in clear plastic wrap, sitting elegantly with a selection of cakes and desserts, I had to have one. With so many flavours to choose from, I spent a couple of minutes just choosing which one to have. Since I love foods with an Asian twist so I chose the red bean and green tea waffle which was advertised as a ‘crispy waffle’. The waffle was cold, as it had a cream filling which had to be refrigerated so maybe this was why, when I took my first bite, I was severely disappointed to find out that it was any BUT crispy. The texture was like a hybrid of asian and western waffles- it was slightly breadier than the asian waffles I had on the streets but still had a sort of cakiness to it……. The ratio of waffle to cream was much too low and left the mouth filled with cream. As much as I love cream, it made the waffle taste really weird and even with four people, we didn’t end up finishing it and had to throw it away. I think I’ll stick with the crispy waffles from the streets =]
With the coldness of the winter, hot food is something that will never fail to attract me, no matter how full I am. Roaming around on the streets of Yuen Long, we passed an interesting looking cart which advertised a bowl of noodles for $10 ($1.50 AUD). With the freezing coldness, we decided to buy a bowl, despite the fact that we were making our way to dinner anyway. Turns out the cart was only part of the marketing plan to lure customers in. They made us pay in the store! After we paid a large bowl of noodles was ladled up from a huge pot and given it to us. Eating noodles on the streets is terribly difficult- taking a photo of a hot noodles in the middle of an overcrowded street is even more difficult so excuse my poor photography here! The noodles are smooth and thin, the bowl is full of various different ingredients and the broth is awfully flavoursome.
We later stumble past this little snack shop on the streets (as we make our way to dinner….tehehe) which sells a variety of little things- bread, dumplings, sweets etc. We buy two buns (pan fried buns) which are still warm, and so delicious in the cold weather that we would buy more, if it weren’t for dinner waiting for us.
The store is very small and cramped- it’s only about the size of a store in the food court but has clear windows so we can watch the food as it is being made. What’s interesting is that they have a huge pan to pan fry almost anything such as these potstickers!
A barbecue is a great way to catch up with friends and relatives so it we always have one with our relatives whenever we come to Hong Kong. Although this place is old and may look as though you’ve entered Stonehenge, we’ve been going to this place for ages and ages and any attempts to change the location have always been hindered by something. It is pretty much in the middle of nowhere and to travel here requires a trip on a public van which only comes here once every half an hour or so and sometimes even longer than that. Going home takes forever.
We arrive bright and early as the barbecues get taken quickly. We save two as our group is pretty big. The males start up the barbecue- I’m not sure how but it’s got something to do with fire, coal, and a lot of fanning with newspapers.
The Hong Kong style barbecue is quite different to the Aussie one- it’s more like the cooking marshmallows on a stick on a campfire type thing I’ve seen in movies. We bring our own food, coal and forks to the place and when the barbecue is up and burning, we stick food onto the ends of our barbecue forks and cook them over the flame. The food can be anything really, but there are almost always fish balls and sausages. We try to be a little creative with the food and get things which we can’t buy in Australia.
Barbecuing does require a certain degree of skill because you have to cook all the sides evenly. And if you’re not paying attention, your food may end up burnt like this.
The kids will usually cook the food so that’s it’s burnt on one side and raw on the other. And then give up halfway and go off to play whilst their parents cook the food for them…….not that I’m talking from self experience…………..=]
Getting certain foods into the fork can also be quite a challenge because some foods have awfully tough skins. My uncle poked holes into the eel beforehand which made it easier to put onto the fork, although finding the holes proved to be a difficult task in itself (but definitely easier than trying to poke through the eel). Eels work very well with the barbecue- it cooks relatively quickly and the skin goes really crispy, as does the exterior.
We had intended on ordering a suckling pig to cook but carrying a suckling pig across Hong Kong was a difficult task so we got pigeons instead. The barbecue meat shops sell cooked pigeons (I think they’re cooked in soy sauce) and so we only have to barbecue them until the skin goes crispy. I like to cook my food extremely slowly, and I manage to cook this pigeon in the time my uncle cooks two…….I don’t even know how I cook it so slowly! The pigeons are delicious though! The skin is really really crispy and the pigeon is really hot by the time it’s done. I like to eat it with my hands, although it gets awfully messy with all the oils (pigeon is pretty oily…) The pigeons are really filling though, but this doesn’t stop me from eating two =]
………Now, what’s a packet of pads doing at a barbecue?
They’re actually marshmallows! Tehehe……
We wanted to play a trick on our cousin but it didn’t work because he’d seen it before =[but we figured marshamllows would make a good snack, OR we could barbecue them. I bought another pack of these to trick my firends- it was very fun! A packet of these aren’t cheap though (I think it costed ~$9 AUD for a packet)….and it took us ages to find a shop which stocks them.
Just to try something different, we visit a snake shop in Hong Kong ( don’t know what the name of the shop is…..) It’s small and cramped and very old, but that doesn’t stop the customers from coming. It’s hard to miss the shop- they have a huge tank at the entrance with live snakes. They good for scary children……..’if you’re naughty, we’ll let the snakes out on you!’….hehe The walls are filled with newspaper articles and photos of celebrities eating their slightly ‘famous’ snake soup (蛇羹).
Supposedly, snake soup is healthy, as is turtle soup, another thing they sell. We order that to try but to me, it tastes like a really ordinary salty soup…..
The large bowl of snake soup is around $50 HK ($7 AUD) if I remember correctly…..and we share one between two of us, incase we (me and my sister) don’t like it. At first, it seems like any other thick soup I’ve had- with lots of mushrooms and pork, all cut long and stringy. I struggle to find the snake in it, until I ask my parents and see strands of strange looking things (which, might I add, look nothing like snake) of which you can barely taste. The soup is not bad, although I was disappointed that it didn’t feel like eating snake……