Tourists fall for distinctly Hong Kong flavours
Wednesday 24 February 2010
The secret is well and truly out. Two of Hong Kong's most popular and distinctly local eateries are now dragging tourists in by the thousands thanks to a little word of mouth and a whole lot of publicity.
In a city that prides itself on being the "culinary capital of Asia,'' the locals are fiercely loyal when it comes to their food - and to their snacks in particular - but they often like to keep their favorite destinations to themselves.
The people behind the Tai Cheong Bakery (http://www.taicheongbakery.com/tc/) - famous since 1954 among Hongkongers for their egg tarts - have regardless decided to spread the message by taking out advertisements in popular international tourist guides. And the reaction has been astonishing.
The chain's flagship store in downtown Central (35 Lyndhurst Terrace. Tel: +852 2544 3475) has customers regularly lining up and management say they are now selling more than 3,000 egg tarts a day from that shop alone - at HK$5 (€0.50) per tart - and more than one million a month are sold through their 12 city-wide outlets, eight of which have opened since 2007.
Tai Cheong has smartly targeted the main tourism districts of Hong Kong - along with the Central branch, they have outlets at the iconic Star Ferry pier, which services Hong Kong's harbor, and at Tsing Yi, the main stepping-off point for visitors heading to Hong Kong's Disneyland.
Chris Patten - Hong Kong's last British governor - was a big fan. A photo of "Fat Pang'' - as he was known locally - feasting on one of the tarts takes pride of place in the front window of the Central shop.
Meanwhile, across the harbor at the Tim Ho Wan dim sum restaurant (2-8 Kwong Wah St, Mong Kok. Tel +852 2332 2896) business has never been busier.
Much of that comes down to the fact that the tiny shop was last year afforded one Michelin star - making it what guide director Jean-Luc Naret said was the "most affordable starred restaurant in the world'' and capturing headlines across the globe.
But the success has not changed the way the 20-seat café operates. Its famous "pork puffs'' are still being sold for just HK$12 (one euro) each - although these days it takes a little more time to line up and get some.
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