At nearly 10,000 kilometres away from my home town of London, it’s safe to say that I miss the good, ol‘ home comforts of Western food. I will fully (and slightly ashamedly) raise both hands up to say that I am a very fussy eater, staying away from anything without an English label or that looks slightly peculiar to the eye. To my initial dismay upon arriving in Hong Kong, my limited cooking space and weekly food budget meant that fine wining and dining weren’t going to be on the agenda. But then I came to the realisation that Hong Kong is flooded with its own delicious local delicacies, bringing flavours that can only be found in the 852. So it was time to suck it up, leave behind the instant noodles and toast and open up my eyes and taste buds to all that Hong Kong has to offer.
Bo lo bao (pineapple bun)
Photo credit: buffalotrip.com
Who says you can’t have dessert for breakfast? I like to start off my day in a sweet way with a traditional bo lo bao, or pineapple bun. To be totally honest, after taking my first bite, I was slightly surprised and disheartened to find that despite being known as a “pineapple bun”, there was no trace of pineapple to be found. Instead, this baked good gets its name from the sugary crust on top, which resembles a pineapple. Saying this, this sweet bun did not disappoint, and after hitting up many bakeries, I’d say that Kam Wah Cafe in Mongkok comes out on top, offering the ideal balance between sweet, soft bun and crusty top.
47 Bute Street, Prince Edward, 2392 6830
Bubble milk tea
Photo credit: Boba & the Urban Girls
With a shop on almost every street corner, it’s almost impossible not to give bubble tea a go. These should come with a “drink at your own risk“ warning, though, as I’ve found myself craving boba at every point of the day. For my first-ever bubble milk tea, I went with the ever-so-boujie TenRen’s Tea, picking up a classic milk tea with pearls. My first thought was, yeah, it’s pretty good, but what’s all the hype about? However, controversially, after trying the budget brand CoCo, I was instantly on board, in particular with the taro milk tea. With only seven locations across Hong Kong, CoCo is definitely worth seeking out for its rich and creamy tea and fresh, chewy tapioca balls.
Related: All your bubble tea belongs to Becks
Photo credit: Where is FatBoy?
A Hong Kong classic, dim sum is not only about the taste but the whole experience. There’s a dish for everyone, including the pickiest of eaters, and it’s perfect for all occasions. But with so many dim sum restaurants in Hong Kong, the choice can be overwhelming. My current faves include Social Place, which offers a modern twist on classic dim sum. Get your camera at the ready because this is deffo one for the ‘gram! I was also extremely pleased to see a fair share of vegetarian-friendly dishes, which I’ve found to be quite difficult in the 852. The truffle shiitake bun came out at clear first place, with the presentation alone enough to win me over. For a no-frills joint, I took a liking to One Dim Sum, trying out my first siu mai and the eatery’s famous (for a good reason) custard buns. It’s hard to believe that food this good comes at such reasonable prices!
One Dim Sum: 15 Playing Field Road, Prince Edward, 2789 2280
Social Place: branches in Central, TST and Tsuen Wan; click here for locations
Shuang pi nai (double-skin milk)
Photo credit: Serious Eats
Don’t let the name put you off. Despite it sounding not so appealing, there is a good reason for this dish’s popularity. A mix of milk, egg white and sugar, this sweet dish can be eaten hot or cold. Varieties include the original flavour, red bean, ginger and chocolate. Hoping to cool down from the heat, I went for the original cold option. The texture was unlike anything I have ever eaten before, with a light, silky and slightly wobbly consistency. It’s difficult to describe the taste other than saying it’s delicious, so you need to try it out for yourself! This sweet treat can be found at Yee Shun Dairy Company.
Branches in Causeway Bay, Jordan and Yau Ma Tei; click here for locations
Gai dan zai (egg waffle)
Photo credit: wanderingdramaqueen.blogspot.com
The first I had heard of egg waffles was in London’s Chinatown, where you’ll find queues of customers lusting after a ”bubble waffle cone” lathered in Nutella, Oreos and pretty much any sugary topping you can think of, so it was a bit of a surprise when a friend told me that this concoction is offensive to the traditional egg waffle and that I needed to try the real deal. Found on many a street in Hong Kong, I’ve tried my fair share of slightly soggy and soft waffles, but one place that never disappoints is Lee Keung Kee North Point Egg Ball, which sells nothing other than hot, puffy, crispy egg waffles. Less is more in this case – Nutella should be left for toast and pancakes.
492 King’s Road, North Point, 2590 9726, plus branches around town; click here for locations
Mantou (deep-fried buns)
Photo credit: spotthefood.com
It’s all about the sugar rush with these sweet buns. Whilst on their own they don’t scream anything special, there’s something about a soft, deep-fried bun dipped in a generous amount of condensed milk that has put these bad boys at the top of my Hong Kong food faves. A special shout-out to my favourite place for mantou: Paradise Dynasty in Causeway Bay – man, they kill it every time!
Branches in Causeway Bay, Mongkok, Tsing Yi and TST (coming soon); click here for locations
Gaa lei yu dan (curry fish balls)
Photo credit: Our Love Journey
Take a walk down any food-laden street and you’ll be confronted with the scent of gaa lei yu dan, otherwise known as curry fish balls. A firm favourite amongst both locals and tourists alike, and possibly the face of Hong Kong street food, these flavoursome, bouncy balls of fish are a must-try. Personally, I haven’t taken a liking to these as much as most people, but I can appreciate the pleasure someone would have from biting into a ball and getting that spicy kick from the sauce. And, at around $18 for a pot of 8–10 balls, you really can’t go wrong! To satisfy your fish ball cravings, head to Kai Kei Snack in Mongkok, where you’ll find these as well as other street-food delights.
41 Dundas Street, Mongkok
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