Hong Kong dim sum — Photo courtesy of lookslikeamy
With over 11,000 restaurants in this small special administrative region, one thing is for sure: Hong Kong is a food-obsessed city. Visitors eager to experience local flavor should seek out these authentic, popular food items.
1. Fish balls: Easily recognizable as balls on a stick, fish balls are one of the most popular street foods. They're usually made with the less desirable parts of the fish (don't let this deter you) and yellow in color, because they're fried or made with curry.
2. Egg tarts and milk tea: Egg tarts have a pastry shell with egg filling baked inside. Some are bite-sized while others take several nibbles. This popular dessert is extremely well-loved with a cup of milk tea in the afternoon or after a dim sum meal. Once a British colony, Hong Kong adopted the afternoon tea tradition; however, Chinese milk tea is a combination of black tea and evaporated or condensed milk. Tea leaves are completely filtered out by a sackcloth bag, leaving behind a creamy texture and sweet flavor.
3. Egg waffles: Usually served warm by street hawkers, this snack contains eggs and is in the shape of little eggs bound together by a sheet of cooked batter. The flavor is sweeter than a traditional waffle and the texture is crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside. It's been a favorite since the 1950s and frequently voted a favorite street food.
Under Bridge Spicy Crab — Photo courtesy of Mark Five
4. Typhoon shelter crab: Locals flock to Under Bridge Spicy Crab for typhoon shelter crab, a dish believed to have originated in the typhoon shelters that harbor fishing boats from these blustery storms. This crab is simmered in spices and oil, and topped with heaps of cooked fresh onions, garlic and spices. It's not for the faint-hearted.
5. Roast goose: Yung Kee in Central is famous for roast goose, said to be so popular that visitors fly it home in travel-safe packaging. Geese (minus the feathers) are roasted in a charcoal burning oven at high heat so that the skin is crispy and meat tender. It's typically sliced and enjoyed with plum sauce.
Mooncakes — Photo courtesy of Visual Density
6. Mooncakes: Whether you love or loathe them, mooncakes are purchased and gifted during the Mid-Autumn Festival. Take a salted duck egg, surround it with bean paste, then an embossed crust, and you've got yourself a delicacy. Non-traditional versions include ice cream, meat or vegetable fillings. They are so difficult to make that most buy them in bakeries such as Maxims, Kee Wah, or Wing Wah.
7. Dim sum: A visit to Hong Kong is incomplete without a proper dim sum meal. Dim sum, a meal or snack of individual food portions usually served in small steamer baskets, can and should be enjoyed all day long.
8. Hong Kong-style french toast: Butter lovers rejoice! Take a small stack of bread (at least two pieces), layer peanut butter, butter or jelly between slices and deep fry it. Lay a slab of butter on the top along with honey or syrup for a sweet, savory, crispy, moist treat.
Century egg and pork congee — Photo courtesy of avlxyz
9. Noodles and congee: One of the only meals that can be enjoyed in Hong Kong 24 hours a day is very much a comfort food. Congee is a slow-cooked rice porridge, with meat and seasonings that can be added in. Noodles in soup and congee are both stand-alone meals often served in tandem at restaurants such as Sun Kau Kee Noodle or Sang Kee Congee Shop.
10. Barbecued pork: Long strips of seasoned pork are skewered with long forks and roasted over a fire. It's also known as char siu which means "fork burn" in Chinese. Barbecued pork can be served on its own, in noodle soup or in a dim sum bun called char siu bao, another local favorite.
The good news is that you'll undoubtedly be doing a lot of walking during your Hong Kong visit, leaving extra calories available to indulge in this glorious food.