I’ve always been a proud Canadian and nothing pained me most when I was growing up than when my family members would say “Hong Kong has everything.” I would retort with questions like, “Do they have Pizza Hut?”; “Do they have spaghetti?”; “Do they have hot dogs?” and unfortunately for me, the answer would always be “Yes. Hong Kong has everything.”
FRUSTRATION!!! And sadness when I realized my beloved country lacked many of the cool things Hong Kong had to offer despite our incredible diversity.
And slowly, I realized Hong Kong does have everything. And to my point from my I love food but… post, Hong Kong has a crazy culture like no other and eating is a HUGE part of it. I am glad I do not live there, because I would be severely obese.
Check out the No Reservations episode on Hong Kong. Anthony Bourdain describes Hong Kong beautifully and accurately when he describes it as a pinball machine. A magical place where you’re bounced around, through narrow and hidden passageways to be spat out somewhere completely different, all dizzy and drunk with happiness and confusion. Maybe he didn’t say it in those words, but the analogy is pretty close to the real thing.
How does one eat soo much? Even if it’s just once in a while?
When Conan and I went to Asia, we toured around Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau. It was a fabulous time and we visited the most food glutenous places in the world. I was there a bit longer than Conan and before he came to meet me, my stomach was still full from trying to digest food from a week prior. It was just crazy…and oh so delicious. Right now, I wish I was in Taiwan, eating some stinky tofu, and then in a moment sitting in a crazy second floor brisk restaurant at a table my uncle just falsely assumes another family identity to secure said table and eat the most amazing Taishan food.
*breaks out of food trance*
But in reality, by the end of our trip, I wanted nothing more than to starve myself for the next few weeks because I was never hungry. Admittedly, I can’t keep up with everyone else in the game of eating, it’s a culture that I wish I could participate in, but my stomach just doesn’t stretch that way.
I don’t know how people do this, but they do. This is a moderate night compared to my experiences in Asia and Vancouver, but it’s still crazy.
Anthony Bourdain’s Guide to Eating and Drinking in NYC: Munchies
If I haven’t said it yet, I will say it again – I feel like never eating again! This trip to Asia has been brutal on my body! I had soo much food!! All so very delicious – well I suppose save some – like this bowl of street noodles I had, wasn’t sure what the hype was all about.
I was in Hong Kong for a while (post to come soon…I hope. There is a lot in HK!) and then I went to Taiwan for a few days. Everyone always talks about Taiwan and how the food is awesome there – so how could I not?
It all starts with the island of Taiwan aka Formosa (learned that in TW)…it looks like a potato!
But seriously. It had some good street food and FRUITS!
Let’s start with my main food item I wanted to eat – STINKY TOFU!!! Here’s the wiki link for all those who don’t know what it is.
In Toronto stinky tofu is hard to find. It’s not served everywhere and the only time when it’s somewhat more accessible is once a year when there is a Taiwanese Night Market up in Markham. That’s where I had my first taste of stinky tofu. The name pretty much sums it up, it’s stinky and it’s tofu – but sooo good! I’d describe it like Durian – it’s acquired and you either love it or hate it, no inbetween.
One of our stops in Taiwan was to this really touristy place called 九份 (Jioufen). It’s located in the mountains, the air is fresh and it’s always raining! I heard it rains about 200+ days in a year…that must suck! Anyway, it’s very quiet and nice town otherwise…also really cold since I went there in the winter and it’s up in the mountains.
They have a little market there, where the streets are narrow and crowded and lined with shops, food stalls and whatnot. It winds and turns, goes up and down. It’s covered with various awnings to shelter the masses from never ending rain.
The aroma of food is a bit overwhelming as you approach the street. Different smells and I could pick out the smell of stinky tofu!! WOOHOO!! I was super excited!
I had sampled some stinky tofu in Hong Kong. I met up with my cousin one day after work – she works in 灣仔 (Wan Chai) and she took me to try some! It was my first time having HK-styled stinky tofu because even in Toronto, I always have Taiwanese-styled stinky tofu. The difference between HK and TW is in TW they serve it with sauce and pickled vegetables and in HK they just serve it straight up and you add some hoisin sauce and/or chilli sauce to it.
HK-Style Stinky Tofu
Alright, so the first stinky tofu food stall – bought stinky tofu for 30NT (which is $1 CAD – so cheap~!! at least $3-5 here!) OMG THE SMELL!! SO POTENT!! SO STOKED TO TRY IT!!!
This one was fried then grilled with sauce. I didn’t get it with chilli sauce because I can’t eat spicy foods :P But I did get it with the pickled vegetables – which are my FAV! Pickled cabbage and carrots!
Here you can see more clearly the sauce and the tofu – they were big!
This stuff was SOO STINKY = VERY DELICIOUS!!! The ones in Toronto and HK aren’t nearly as stinky as this was. This was absolutely fabulous! I ate this pretty quickly…Conan had some and said that it was too stinky for him and that he didn’t like it. He also doesn’t like Durian – so go figure. MORE FOR ME!
Once you bite into the tofu, it’s juicy, flavourful and the texture of the tofu was perfect. If you haven’t noticed, this stuff is the firm tofu – much better for eating like this than soft tofu (which should be reserved for desserts :P) After I finished this, I didn’t need any more stinky tofu – it was enough for the rest of my trip. That’s how stinky it was! And the best part, I didn’t even get sick!!!
(I was so afraid that I would after my Toronto Starbucks latte and HK milk tea incident – another story, NOT lactose intolerant because I have diary with no problems otherwise!)
Taiwan – the BEST STINKY TOFU~~!!!!!
This all started after quickly – almost without thought – decided to go to Hong Kong for the holidays. The plane tickets were priced at the most expensive of the year, but I had time (not necessarily the money, but whatever). At first I deterred Conan from coming with me since I’ll be hanging with my family the whole time and the language barrier issue, he came anyway! So I went to Vancouver for a couple of days to chill out with my cousin and to visit one of my most favourite cities in Canada. Then off on a 15 hour plane ride across the pacific to the south China sea! (I like saying the south China sea because it reminds me of James Bond in Tomorrow Never Dies – Love James Bond!)
During my extremely long flight overseas, I had plenty of time to do nothing and to finally do some reading. I love watching Anthony Bourdain – No Reservations, if there is one job I’d want, it’d be his job. Who wouldn’t want to travel the world and eat through it? I had picked up his second novel, Medium Raw, some time ago but I never really got to it until now. It’s a great book! It’s definitely written in a style that I like, which is a first person narrative – ok I just like reading blogs and this was like a blog in a novel.
Anyway, when I was little my relatives from Hong Kong would visit my family and I would ask them loads of questions. More specifically, I had always wondered how this place in the world was different (or the same), as my own. I’d ask “Does Hong Kong have Pizza Hut?”, “Does Hong Kong have spaghetti?” etc..you get the idea and the short and simple answer was always “If it exists, Hong Kong has it.” WELL!!! That peeved me off a bit when I was little because it meant I didn’t live in a superior country after all! Now I was about to find out how spectacular Hong Kong really is…
Now I won’t bore everyone with minute details of my trip but I will say this – Hong Kong is a very impressive city, so impressive that I think it’d be hard to find something more impressive.
Things that really impressed me:
- MTR – began serving in 1979. It’s an awesome system and the Octopus card is genius. And it’s privatized!!! I think the TTC needs to learn a lot from the MTR. The trains don’t squeak and squeal like the TTC and it’s efficient with minimal delays…AND CHEAP!!! WTF?! *shakes fist at TTC…let’s privatize that shit!
- Bridges/infrastructure – very impressive…the tunnels, the bridges, the highways, the roads…wow.
- High density living – loads of it everywhere
- Convenience – the only place NOT convenient in Hong Kong is if you lived on a deserted mountain.
- Food – prices are low and the food is awesome!
- Stores – there are tons of them and they’re all busy! Toronto needs better food!
- Cleanliness – I never thought that Hong Kong would be so clean…the MTR, the washrooms (well there are some that are nasty)…WOW!
In short – Hong Kong is great! The only major downside – the air quality…I felt like I was suffocating at times =\