Hong Kong: The culinary capital of Asia


Thursday 01 March 2012 15:03 GMT
A feast of Hong Kong's famous Dim Sum
A feast of Hong Kong's famous Dim Sum

Hong Kong is a paradise for food lovers. It uniquely bridges the gap between East and West, so it’s not surprising that fusion food figures highly in its cuisine, with stunning combinations of ingredients and tastes producing unforgettable dining memories.

With over 11,000 restaurants, Hong Kong is a gourmet mecca. And although it is the world capital for Cantonese cuisine, you can also sample foods from all over the world, eating anything from Italian to Thai, and Hungarian to Japanese.

Cantonese food involves fast cooking at high temperatures, using special techniques like steaming and stir-frying, which seal in flavours and leave vegetables crunchy and delicious. It’s a Hong Kong speciality, but it’s not the only Chinese cuisine you’ll find; it’s a great place to try out all sorts of other regional Chinese cuisines like Chiu Chow, Peking, Shanghainese and Szechuan.

But if it’s vegetarian or organic cuisine you’re looking for, then try out Life Cafe on Shelley Street in Soho, a modern vegetarian where the food is prepared fresh each day. For organic meals, snacks and produce, try Sprout Organic and Natural Cafe, while a colonial-style building awaits you with a sumptuous organic menu at Yin Yang in Wanchai. Now, for a vegetarian meal with a fabulous view of the harbour thrown in, you have to try Kung Tak Lam, a Shanghai vegetarian-style restaurant.

Hong Kong’s culinary treats can be enjoyed in every corner of the city – especially in the best known dining districts of Causeway Bay, Kowloon City and SoHo, which offers particularly intimate and varied dining around Staunton, Elgin and Shelley streets. If it’s seafood you’re after, you simply must head out to Sai Kung or Lamma Island, which boast a huge range of specialist seafood restaurants and more informal cafés. With their relaxed seaside settings and casual style, these are the perfect places to unwind.

No trip to Hong Kong is complete without a visit to a traditional Hong Kong Tea House for “yum cha” literally to drink tea which is served with dim sum: dumplings, steamed buns, pastries, and other tasty morsels traditionally served from breakfast through to the afternoon. Worth trying are Lin Heung Tea House and Luk Yu Tea House both on Hong Kong Island.

Hong Kong has many popular and delicious local delicacies that are definitely worth trying. Dishes like congee, a rice porridge commonly eaten for breakfast and served with a variety of fish or meat accompaniments, beef brisket broth with noodles, wonton noodle soup and barbecue roast pork with rice are all must-tries. To finish off the feast, the discerning visitor will find themselves at one of Hong Kong’s many dessert shops, which are dotted around the city, trying the sweet dessert soups known as tong shui. We recommend longan soup, lotus seed and sticky rice balls in ginger soup, ginger milk curd or puddings made from sesame, red beans or sweet tofu.

If you just hanker after eat-and-run snack food, there’s no shortage of street food and traditional snacks sold at roadside stalls, which can really offer visitors a truly authentic taste of island life. These include almond biscuits, prawn rolls, waffle balls, crisp curry fish balls and egg tarts. Local flavours are one of the best – and most delicious – ways of finding out more about the lifestyle and culture of Hong Kong people.

The Hong Kong tourism board has developed a couple of food-themed smartphone apps: a Hong Kong local delicacies guide, and a Chinese food and wine pairing app, both available free for iphone and android. In addition there are a number of culinary guidebooks which are available to download as pdfs from DiscoverHongKong.com to help you navigate around the truly great dining destination that is Hong Kong.

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