Going to Hong Kong

January 17, 2008 12:20am CST
Hong Kong spelled differently would be S-H-O-P-P-I-N-G. But the other side of shopping would be dining. Aahhh…food in Hong Kong. Everything looks so diverse and exotic. International fares abound but the most interesting menus are those offered on the streets. Knowing that we would be spending Hong Kong dollars against our peso for every purchase, we embarked on a super budget trip to this progressive island province, armed with our baon packs—mineral water, crackers, bread, spread, and instant noodles—and only one purpose in mind, sightseeing. Well, the sights were good for seeing, but the food is good for another sense—tasting. And so the food trip began. We ignored the international offerings, such as Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Italian, French, and others, for we opted for the local dishes. Billeted in a small hotel along Nathan Road on the Kowloon side, we had the chance to relish downtown Hong Kong life where food and shopping mix. Our breakfast meals were part of the tour and so we had to contend ourselves with only four value meal choices at McDonalds. Walking along Nathan Road, we had a late lunch on our first day and chose to have it in a traditional Chinese restaurant selling roasted duck, pork, and other sausages hanging on wire racks. The meats were served on top of a bowl of rice along with some blanched mustard leaves. The condiments ranged from sweet chili sauce to a mixture of chili oil, soy sauce, and vinegar. We were also given some freshly brewed tea. An order costs us HK$25, but each set was actually enough for two given the big serving. It was a great and filling meal. The only thing though was that we had to find pictures for what we ordered and had to point at other people’s food because we could not articulate what we wanted nor could the waiter understand what we meant. We also sampled the boiled fish balls dipped in spicy sauce, reminiscent of the Indian curry, the nougats and candied plums, and salted egg sold along the street. The variety of seafood and meats on a skewer looked appetizing enough, but we were not ready for stomach trouble on the first day of our adventure. So we let them pass. Each stick costs HK$5, just like our street food here that’s priced that much but in peso. However, when converted, that would be around Php 40 per stick. Our stroll led us to the Mongkok ladies night market, which was a brisk 15-minute walk from our hotel. Going into the market, we had to pass by food stalls that sold fried, boiled, or skewered stuff in odd-looking shapes and colors. Many Chinese are buying and business is really good. But we didn’t dare ask what those things were because for one, not many of them speak English and two, we couldn’t stand the smell of the place. Forgive me, dear readers, but the vicinity reeked of the smell of pig innards before they are cleaned, reminiscent of the chicharong bulaklak before the application of apog. My aunt and I moved fast to where the clothes market was and decided to skip the sampling. And the end of some browsing, we wanted to eat at a local resto but decided against it because we were really tired from all the walking. The cold night air of Hong Kong was already weighing us down, too. So our baon packs of instant noodles and bread came in handy that night. The next day was a guided tour around Hong Kong, but we were not actually led to historical landmarks but to stores where we could spend our money, such as Jacky Chan’s jewelry factory. There’s so much in Hong Kong about Jacky Chan. At the avenue of the stars, Jacky’s hand print is there, along with his personal souvenir shop. Our guide, also named Jacky, led us to a boat ride that gave us a view of the marina where Jacky Chan’s and the other prominent people of Hong Kong docked their yachts. We also passed by Jumbo Floating Restaurant and were told that the food there costs about HK$60 per person because of the “ambiance.” The place, our guide said, was beautifully decorated but the food is so expensive and so he suggested the boat ride so we could just get a glimpse of the famed restaurant instead of taking our meals there. The boat ride cost us HK$50 each, so were not really sure if we got the better deal. In the afternoon, we proceeded to Shenzhen, a city in Guangzhou province in mainland China, where our guide refused to bring us to where we wanted but only brought us to swanky places where we could spend more money. She knew we were already hungry because we got there at 2:30 in the afternoon but instead of taking us to lunch, she brought us to a pasalubong shop selling cookies, candies, and dried meats. We were pushed and pulled in the crowded place and made to sample all the kinds of food stuff on display. As we were already starving, we devoured the samples and rushed to buy whatever we could get our hands on, except the meats. Was it a marketing strategy or what? We could not buy the meats because we come from Negros and we had to secure permits for bringing in meats from other places, as our province is FMD-free. Our guide then brought us to a restaurant where we had a meal that was too late for lunch and too early for dinner. The first viand served was egg omelet, then some small crispy shrimps, Peking duck, sautéed bell peppers and onions with really tough pig cartilage, and what seemed liked sautéed cucumber and chicken breasts. The soup was already cold after waiting four hours for us to arrive. But all in all, the meal was not bad for five starved Filipino tourists. Not one of the servers spoke English though. We reserved a whole day for Disneyland and I relived the adventures I had of Disneyland and Disneyworld in the United States. But this time, the experience had a peculiar Asian twist as some of the cast members’ costumes, the cottages, and decorations have a touch of Eastern culture. Once, when we rushed to have our pictures taken with Chip and Dale, I gave my camera to the crew and he greeted me, “Musta po kayo?” Ahhh…we were so so close to home. Even the different theme diners scattered all over the place had distinct Asian menus, aside from of course, the regular burgers, fries, and hotdog sandwiches. We had a noodle dish that I shared with my aunt, topped with mushrooms, vegetables and no meat, served with clear soup and jasmine tea. That was a healthy lunch! The meal was HK$45 per set already so it was good that we brought some snack fare to get us through until the fireworks display were done at 8:30pm. But I think the most wonderful offerings in Hong Kong are the dried seafood, tonic food, and dried mushrooms sold in Chinese stores. The problem though is that all the signage is written in Chinese except for the numbers. We knew how much they cost, but not the measurement used. More than five times I asked in stores along the Tsim Sha Tsui area whether the items are sold by grams or kilo or pound, but nobody could understand what I meant. They knew we couldn’t understand them, but they continued to speak in Chinese. In the end, we were not able to buy anything. Hong Kong is wonderful place to visit, to shop, and to eat. The food handling of some restaurants though may be questionable so for those who want to experience some gastronomic adventures, so it is best to bring some safety nets, such as antibiotics and anti-diarrhea tablets. I did bring some, but the most important shield I had was prayer. Every time a meal was offered, I muttered, “Lord, sanctify this food…” Just be ready and enjoy! Would you like to visit the placE?
1 person likes this
4 responses
@wunkei (16)
• Chad
21 Jan 08
i come from hong kong and im now in vancouver. haha you are so right that hong kong is a best place for shopping and dining. its a lot better and cheaper than many places in the word. and there's no tax on almost everything. yea i love my city =)
@gr8life (6251)
• Malaysia
18 Jan 08
Hello spoiled311, It is an amazing story to read. I think your really enjoyed your journey there. Reading your experience here like experiencing it myself *smiles* Thanks for sharing the story of your journey here.
@youless (112177)
• Guangzhou, China
17 Jan 08
I have been to Hong Kong twice. I think it is similar with here, so there is no big surprise there for me. But some foreign brands will have a better price there.
• Philippines
17 Jan 08
It seems like you love traveling! So do I :) I have been to hong kong for a few times already and I must say it's one of my favorite countries to visit. Aside from shopping, I love their night market and I love eating in those little restaurants of theirs. I remember buying chicken wings on a stick every night, got addicted to it I guess :) I'd love to visit hong kong again :)