Like so many other cultures, life revolves around eating and eating revolves around life. Chinese food is so diverse and the same thing can be cooked in so many different ways and look, taste and even smell so different. Having a Chinese mother and having lived there as a child is undoubtedly the best deal because you get to experience the real thing.
We (husband Dean and son Harvey) stopped in Hong Kong for just three days on our way to Vietnam. A half hour taxi trip from the airport saw us arrive at our hotel around 11pm. After a speedy check in, we found ourselves sitting in the only restaurant open at the time having supper! It took us 20 minutes to find this place though as we were told it was “next to the hotel.” So up and down the stretch of Canton Road we ventured only to discover the place was actually opposite the hotel!
We slept in a little the next morning but a couple of quick showers later, embarked on our search for breakfast.
A bit apprehensive walking out the front doors of our hotel, expecting it to be hot and sticky, it actually turned out to be quite pleasant. I was in Hong Kong in April and there were times where I felt I couldn’t breathe from the humidity and heat. So October is good a time to visit. A short walk from the hotel down a side street, we wandered past the entrance of Kowloon Park making a mental note to check it out later. As it was a public holiday and early, there weren’t that many people around yet. Most shops don’t open till 10 or 11 as they stay open late so if you are early risers like us, you can enjoy the calm before the storm. And what a storm it can be!
It was a couple of blocks before we found our first point of call, a street stall where a woman was frying up freshly made pork and chives dumplings. Couldn’t resist of course. In the same street, we passed quite a few Chinese cafes serving breakfast making it a difficult choice. Most of the cafes served Chinese food as well as their versions of a western breakfast such as cheap shoulder ham and eggs. We had some average rice noodles and sticky rice. Harvey had some dodgy looking fried eggs which he did not finish. Not sure why this is but Chinese never eat the crust on the bread and of course you only ever get white bread.
Lunch in The Peak was more noodles of much better standard than breakfast. No trip to Hong Kong would be complete without a trip up to The Peak. I was lucky enough to live up here as a kid so the memories flood back whenever I visit. The bus trip up the mountain is another must have experience. Of course, you must sit on the upper deck. A bit scary at times (and not only because of the driver swerving around sharp corners and jamming on the brakes) but fascinating. I am constantly in awe of the engineering required to construct highrise buildings in such steep mountains. And what a relief that we chose to go down the mountain on the peak tram rather than the other way around. As we disembarked and walked around the corner to catch a bus back to the Star Ferry, we noticed a long queue of hot and bothered people snaking around the corner up the hill. Would have been a very frustrating over-an-hour wait in the heat.
In between meal times, we snacked on sweet breads, yet again another Asian curiosity. I don’t know why all their bread is sweet, even things you think would be savoury like ham and cheese. Dinner with friends at Crystal Jade in the shopping mall (actually three massive malls joined together) underneath our hotel ended a perfect culinary day. The next morning started off a little disappointing as my fried dumplings were not cooking for breakfast so I had to settle for fried noodles instead. Still delicious and so cheap. And the rest of the day was definitely not disappointing ending with a family dinner feasting on what can only be described as a wonderful modern take on Chinese food.
Naturally, we accomplished all this eating in between sightseeing and relaxing. Kowloon Park was a great find – an oasis amongst the high rise buildings. Pink flamingoes, turtles and beautiful ponds set amongst winding paths, glorious trees and luscious green gardens. Dean told me to meet him just past the pink flamingoes and I was looking out for huge pink statues! Obviously I wasn’t expecting the real deal in the middle of all the chaos of super high density living. The boys even managed to find some space, albeit concrete, to kick a footy and in the afternoon ventured back for a swim in the public pools, one of the highlights they stumbled upon in the middle of the park.
Our last day in Hong Kong successfully ended with a bit more indulging at the airport before our flight to Ho Chi Minh. As we walked into the terminal, we could hardly contain our joy when Dean spotted another branch of Crystal Jade. This airport would have to be one of the exceptions to crappy airport food although you can have that too. But at least there is a choice.
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