HK street food is not as exciting as that in Taiwan. There was a row of food stalls in every one of the night markets we went to in HK, but there was definitely less of a variety as compared to the exciting array we found in Taiwan. We tried a couple of the street food available, and were quite disappointed.
There is a rather popular curry fish ball sold near Times Square in central HK. Now, in Singapore, we have excellent fish ball. However, as A commented, with all the fantastically fresh seafood available, HK’s fishballs are appalling.
Indeed, the curry fish balls we had were tough and dense, completely unlike the springy fresh fish balls we get from any hawker centre in Singapore. In fact, A insisted that I try the fish balls in HK to prove to me that Hong Kongers are hopeless at making fish balls.
We also tried Ji Dan Zai, which is essentially an egg batter mix, poured into a waffle machine that creates little waffle balls. This is a favourite snack for HK children. We tried a couple of ji dan zais from various stalls, but none of them were even close to being good. We hence concluded that in HK, we would be better off sticking to eating in restaurants, where the chef can fully display his culinary skills, while in Taiwan, we would be better off eating from street stalls and enjoying all their junk food.
Another of our touristy adventures brought us to the famous wishing tree in Hong Kong. It was quite a sight seeing this majestic tree being propped by with many poles, since the branches were weighed down by the many ‘wishes’ thrown upon them.
In fact, there was a recent case where the weight of the paper wishes were too much for a particular branch to carry that the branch broke and injured a couple of people. Today, the wishing tree is still standing, but no one is allowed to throw any more wishes on the tree. What people do now is to hang their wishes on one of many boards around the tree.
We also made a trip to Lantau Island, where a majestic Buddha statue sits right on top of a hill. Being huge gluttons, we couldn’t help ourselves from looking for food, even in Lan Tao Island. Our search brought us to the monastry behind all the hustle and bustle, where they serve vegetarian food.
It’s probably obvious that we’re not huge fans of vegetarian, but since the vegetarian food here has been highly regarded by many reviews and by the guide books we were carrying, we decided to try it for ourselves. There was quite a good selection of mock meats and vegetables to choose from, and a small selection of dessert. Surprisingly, the vegetarian meal was very good. We almost forgot that there was no meat.
Despite all the good food experiences in Hong Kong, there were times when we had food that was just substandard. One particular example is the claypot dishes we had in this restaurant we just stumbled into, very near the smelly beancurd stall earlier.
Well, we should have known better than to walk into a restaurant without having been given prior recommendations. We were attracted by the sight of this old man preparing the claypot dishes old-school style, on little stoves with the food actually cooking in the claypots. However, the food was just ordinary. A could definitely do a far better claypot rice. After this disappointing meal we decided to do our research properly and go back to HK in search for the perfect claypot rice.
Another major disappointment was to be found almost next to the claypot stall. K wanted to try a good Zhar Leong (fried dough fritters in Cheong Fun skin), so we just walked into a very random shop just a few doors down from the claypot stall.
The owner of the shop was probably very surprised that we only wanted the Zhar Leong since that was the only thing we ordered. When it came, K took a bite of it, and was so disgusted by it that he didn’t eat anymore of it. We paid and left. It was the most appalling thing we ate all trip. The dough fritters were completely soft and soggy, and the Cheong Fun was limp and stale. Even the sauce was dreadful. This was the ultimate disappointment, and once again, we were determined to return to HK to look for a Zhar Leong that would blow our minds away.