So listen, I’m going to be honest. I love exchange, Hong Kong is the greatest, I’ve met so many nice people from all over the world and I’ve been part of their growing stories just as they’ve been part of mine. I’ve learnt so many things that I never knew, I’ve had my eyes opened to a part of the world I never had the chance to experience before, and my future looks all the brighter because of it. But that’s not the real reason I came to Hong Kong. I’ve been fostering an obsession here, every day. Sometimes alone, sometimes with like-minded individuals; but nothing I do seems to be able to stop me from coming back for more.
That’s right. Food was one of my primary reasons for choosing Hong Kong as my destination for exchange. Of course, the reasons go further than that: there was a limited number of availabilities for law students to go for exchange to begin with, and a process of elimination narrowed that down even further. That said, from the very first time I heard that Hong Kong was an option, I couldn’t shake the idea. The siren’s call of the South Asian gastronomic capitol was irresistible. I haven’t had a reason to regret my decision to come here.
And my addiction is going strong.
Let me give you an example. Here’s what I ate for lunch today:
- Steamed rice noodle rolls, served with peanut sauce and hoisin, and sprinkled with roasted sesame seeds;
- Toasted mince beef omelette sandwich, alongside pork knuckle soup noodles and red bean iced milk;
- A sweet coconut bread roll, a sesame bread bun, steamed red bean pudding and an egg tart;
- ‘French toasted’ condensed milk sandwich;
- Pork liver soup noodles with luncheon meat and fried egg.
An extreme example, I’ll admit. I had a small breakfast and have been able to eat nothing else since. But let me point out that all these dishes are classical Cantonese fare, and also none (except for maybe the cheung fan, the steamed rice rolls) of them really count as dim sum, the famous dishes that make up yum cha dining. Considering this variety of local Cantonese cuisine, not to mention the variety of desserts and seafood, add the colonial influence to the mix. Now add the influence of countless cultures come to Hong Kong for trade and commerce.
Simmer for a century, and the result is the Hong Kong cuisine landscape as it exists today. Michelin star restaurants hide away on alleyways in quiet suburb, recognisable only by the long queues that wait outside. There is no flavour unrepresented in this United Nations of gastronomy; any expat, foreign worker or tourist, no matter their extraction, will be able to find a taste of home.
Slip into an eatery and escape the bustle of crowded streets, the grind of a long workday, the swim, cycle, or hike. Order a milk tea and take a look at the menu. If you share my passion, I know a place that does great siu mai. See you in Hong Kong.