I come from a Cantonese heritage, and every time I return to Hong Kong my main goal is to eat – after spending quality time with my family, of course. This is a list of favourites that I feel I must munch during every visit, and it grows regularly as I explore deeper into China’s glorious culinary maze.
1. Roast Goose – Siu Ngo
You will see these golden brown roasts hanging inside the windows of many eateries, and the meat is every bit as tasty as the smell promises. A good restaurant will make sure their siu ngo is the perfect combination of texture and flavour; crispy, succulent, sweet and rich all at once.
2. Snake Soup – She Geng
The Chinese have celebrated the health benefits of eating snake for centuries, particularly for the treatment of skin conditions. Snake soup appears as a bowl of thick broth with floating shredded meat, mushrooms and lemon grass, depending on the restaurant. The meat is just a little tougher than chicken meat and the dish is satisfying without being heavy.
3. Sweet Tofu Dessert – Dao Fu Fa
Translated literally as bean curd flower, this slurpy dessert consists of soft tofu swimming in coconut milk or sweet syrup. The flower shape is allegedly found in the broken pieces of tofu, which slide delightfully over your taste buds.
4. Steamed Pork Bun – Char Siu Bao
My all-time favourite dim sum, char siu bao are steamed balls of fluffy bread housing a treasure trove of diced BBQ pork. Be sure to peel the paper from the bottom before biting into heaven.
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5. Soup Dumpling – Xiao Long Bao
Not to be confused with wonton, these Shanghai specialties actually contain piping hot minced pork soup. The pastry should be thin almost to the point of translucence, and the eating method involves biting the twisted knot off the top and slurping the soup from within. Fun to eat and tasty to boot!
6. Red Bean Pastry – Hongdou Shaobing
I‘m not a huge fan of bean sweets, but if this glutinous rice snack is made right I could eat it all day. Head to the family-run Kee Tsui bakery in Mong Kok to see these flat, soft cakes of pounded rice and sweet red bean paste created before your eyes. They are best eaten warm and sprinkled with sesame seeds.
7. Pork and Prawn Dumplings – Har Gow
Easily found and familiar to many, these shrimp and pork dumplings are devastatingly good when prepared correctly. Biting into the warm, thin dumpling skin should result in a burst of juicy prawn, with a pork aftertaste to complete the mouthful.
8. Rice Noodle Roll – Cheung Fun
I love the slippery texture of these dim sum tubes, particularly when filled with BBQ roast pork. Marinated prawn, juicy beef and chicken with bitter melon also hit the spot.
9. Curry Fish Balls – Ga Lei Yu Daan
It seems like these skewered dumplings of flour and fish paste are sold on every street in Hong Kong. The slightly chewy texture and variety of curry sauces make them a delicious snack to eat on the go, but be warned; if the vendor says they are spicy, you better have a heat resistant tongue.
10. Egg Custard Tart – Daan Tart
I have clear childhood memories of eating these rich tarts to the point of illness, and I still find it hard to avoid. Buttery, flaky pastry encases a bed of baked egg custard, and should be eaten while still warm and gooey for the ultimate daan tart experience.