In case it hasn’t become apparent before now, I LOVE food. I love cooking it, eating it, sharing it and (to my shame) photographing it. I also love combining it with my love of travel; I think one of the best ways to understand a country and its culture is to get to know the food. It is also a great way to meet locals – some of my favourite encounters with people on my travels have been when they are sharing their food and sometimes explaining how to eat it! While eating around a country at leisure is, in my humble opinion, one of life’s great pleasures, a food tour is a great way to do this in a short space of time. It’s also a great way to get to know restaurants the locals love, and also to get your bearings in a new city as you walk around. Given we only had a short amount of time in Hong Kong (see earlier STA travel rant), we decided a Hong Kong food tour was a perfect way to meet the city.
We took a tour of the Central and Sheung Wan districts on Hong Kong island. As I’d hoped, the tour was hosted by a Hong Kong local, who took us to some fantastic places. All we had to do was turn up and enjoy the ride!
Our first stop was a Won Ton soup shop; this delicious broth comes complete with home made dumplings. The locals add vinegar, which I was dubious of but in fact lifted the soup to a light, flavoursome dish. I stood corrected; this is why having a local around is so good!
Our next stop was a BBQ meat shop, which had a shop window lined with bbq geese and ducks. This is not a place for vegetarians! Here, we were treated to the sweetest, juiciest BBQ pork I have ever (and probably will ever) taste. The shop roasts all its meat on site – a rarity for Hong Kong where shop space is at a premium. Apparently, most shops import the meat pre-roasted from outside the city. Apparently a whole pig takes only a couple of hours to roast!
To take a break, we visited the Wet Market. A wet market is essentially a fresh produce market; no raincoats necessary. Hong Kong’s wet market currently nestles in a crowded, steep alleyway which gives it a real atmosphere as you tramp past the sellers with their stalls of everything from still-alive fish to bok choi. The market is open 7 days a week, as Hong Kong folks like their food fresh, but sadly the wet market will soon be heading to a new, further out home to make room for redevelopment of the prime real estate block it currently occupies. Some would call this progress. Me? I’m not so sure…
We made a couple of mini stops as we walked further. Firstly, we stopped at a sugar cane juice shop. Whilst sweet, the juice wasn’t quite as sweet as I’d expected, and we’ve had it a few times since leaving Hong Kong. It is refreshing with lots of ice, so we’ve gained a new favourite drink from our food tour!
Before heading for Dim Sum, we stopped at a traditional Chinese sweet shop to sample some goodies. These sweets were actually preserved and pickled fruits, so far healthier than my usual snacks of choice! The ginger was particularly good, so I stocked up on a large bag for my Grandpa, who is an even bigger ginger fiend than I am.
As we were walking through the streets, our guide stopped us to watch a street barber at work. These barbers – once numerous – are fading away as the city gives over all the little back alleys and nooks to large sky scrapers. We weren’t just experiencing food – we were lucky enough to be witnessing and learning about the local, everyday life of Hong Kong and how it is changing.
Our penultimate stop was probably my highlight in an afternoon of delicious food: Dim Sum. Craig and I are stighly weary of Dim Sum, after an intrepid visit to chinatown in New York resulted in us being presented with a single basket of mystery fried sticks, which turned out to be chicken feet. No such adventures here thankfully. We enjoyed steaming dishes of dumplings and tea. My favourite was a BBQ pork dumpling, fried slightly to make the floury outside a little crispy. I could have eaten it for days on end. I actually haven’t ruled out going back to Hong Kong and becoming a full-time, professional dumpling eater.
Our final stop was a little street bakery which, again, we may never have stumbled across. Here we had our last dish – a delicious sweet egg custard tart. I’m not normally a fan but these were fresh, warm and the custard was delicious. I’m a convert.
About our food tour
There are several food tours operating in Hong Kong. We booked ours through Viator; you can book the same tour here.
The tour costs USD$95; it was an expensive activity for us but the only one we did in Hong Kong. It does include your food and drinks for the afternoon so there are no additional costs.
As you can probably tell, we thought the tour was fantastic. We ate some delicious food, learnt about the city and enjoyed the walk around with a local guide, who is also happy to recommend restaurants for the rest of your stay in Hong Kong. I have deliberately not named the restaurants we went to – after the tour guides put in the time and effort to research and create their tour it seemed unfair to then plagiarise this for my own blog. If you have the budget for the tour, we would highly recommend adding it to your itinerary; the tour is conducted in English and is also a great way to meet some other travellers!