Hong Kong has a world of
exquisite, mouth-watering dining options. As you would expect, good
Chinese restaurants are found everywhere in Hong Kong. Some of the
best can be found in major hotels and shopping complexes. Most
specialise in one or more of the following: Cantonese, Chiu Chow,
Hunan, Szechuan, Peking, Shanghainese or Chinese Vegetarian. As an
international city, many cultures and tastes are represented in Hong
Kong's world of dining. Enjoy fine dining or casual family-style meals
in some of Hong Kong's Eastern and Western restaurants. Day and night,
Hong Kong's gourmet delights are plentiful. Whether you want to pick
up a snack or dress to a theme, the City of Life offers it all.
The variety of flavours, aromas and textures of Chinese cuisine are
sure to delight the palate. Some Chinese dishes are simple and others
gourmet exotica, but all are designed to satisfy your senses. The most
popular styles of Chinese cooking in Hong Kong are Cantonese, Chiu
Chow and Shanghainese. Cantonese and Chiu Chow both originate from the
same Chinese province of Guangdong but are vastly different in style
and flavour. Many restaurants also specialise in vegetarian fare,
famous Peking dishes and the zesty flavours of Hunan and Szechuan. For
the ultimate experience, indulge in a bottle of Chinese wine. In
flavour and distillation process, these wines are completely different
and definitely worth a try.
How to use chopsticks - A quick lesson on how to use
1. Hold one chopstick still in your thumb joint.
2. Balance the other chopstick between your index and middle finger.
3. Use your thumb, first and index fingers to manipulate the top
chopstick in a pincer movement.
The fresh, natural flavours of Cantonese cuisine are designed to
tantalise the taste buds. Cantonese is the best-known style of
Chinese cooking worldwide. Ingredients are purchased and prepared
the same day and cooked just before serving, using few spicy
seasonings. In many seafood restaurants, diners can choose fish from
the tanks in which they are swimming. The price of the seafood is
determined on a "pay by tael" basis. A tael is a Chinese unit of
measurement, approximately equal to 1.2 ounces. Dried seafoods such
as shark's fin, abalone and conpoy, are often served.
Enjoy an old Cantonese custom, dim sum, which is inextricably linked
to the Chinese tradition of yum cha or "drinking tea". Dim sum
(literally "to touch the heart") are special Cantonese snacks chosen
from steaming bamboo baskets of delectable dishes paraded past on
trolleys. Hong Kong boasts the best international dim sum chefs, who
prepare mouth-watering delicacies such as steamed pork spareribs,
steamed buns with roast pork and har gao, shrimp dumplings with a
translucent skin. There are usually three to four pieces per order,
with each dish, plate or steamer basket having a different price.
When getting your teacup filled, it is Chinese custom to tap your
fingers on the table near your cup twice as a sign of reverence and
thanks. Another style of Cantonese dining can be found at outdoor
cooked-food stalls. These aromatic eating-places serve some of the
best - but very simple - seafood, noodle and rice dishes - typically
in an alfresco atmosphere.
Tantalising taste sensations and refined poultry dishes are the
hallmark of Chiu Chow cuisine. The Chiu Chow flavours originated
around the Swatow district of eastern Guangdong province and are now
among the most popular in Hong Kong. Piquant sauces often enhance
dishes, with tangerine jam for steamed lobsters and broad-bean paste
for fish. Duck and goose are Chiu Chow favourites. Spicy goose is
served with garlic and vinegar sauce. Many Chiu Chow classic dishes
are light and tasty, with an abundant use of vegetables. Chiu Chow
chefs are skilled vegetable carvers, creating fine flowers, birds,
dragons and phoenixes from carrots and ginger. The region's deluxe
delicacies include shark's fin and bird's nest soups. The pungent
Tiet Kwun Yum oolong tea served in tiny cups before and after a meal
is a digestive aid.
Experience the sensationally rich, sweet flavours of
Shanghainese cuisine. Shanghai does not have a definitive cuisine of
its own, but refines those of the surrounding provinces. Its
flavours are heavier and oilier than Cantonese cuisine, featuring
preserved vegetables, pickles and salted meats. Lime-and-ginger-flavoured
"1,000-year-old" eggs are perhaps Shanghai's best-known culinary
creation. Beggar's Chicken is a legendary dish wrapped in lotus
leaves, covered in clay and oven-fired to steamy, tasty perfection -
in olden times, it was baked in the ground. Other popular dishes
include hairy crab, "eight treasure" duck, "drunken" chicken,
braised eel and yellow fish. Dumplings, breads and noodles are
served more often than rice.
Originated in the Imperial courts, Peking's stylistic dishes are
fit for an emperor. This mouth-watering cuisine is renowned for its
use of the best ingredients. Its flavours are influenced by highly
flavoured roots and vegetables such as peppers, garlic, ginger, leek
and coriander ("Chinese parsley"). The food of this northerly city
is substantial, to keep the body warm. Noodles, dumplings, and
breads (baked, steamed or fried) are served instead of rice. The
most famous dish, Peking duck, is usually prepared for a minimum of
six people. To achieve the prized crisp skin, the duck is air-dried,
then coated with a mixture of syrup and soy sauce before roasting.
The skin is deftly carved at the table and the slivers of skin are
wrapped in thin pancakes with spring onions or leeks, cucumber,
turnip and delicious plum sauce. Popular, too, are "sizzling" plates
of seafood or meat, and succulent beggar's chicken. A whole chicken
is stuffed with mushrooms, pickled Chinese cabbage, herbs and
onions, wrapped in lotus leaves, sealed in clay and cooked slowly.
Usually, the guest of honour breaks open the clay with a mallet,
allowing a fragrant aroma to escape and revealing a chicken so
tender that it can be pulled apart with chopsticks.
Szechuan & Hunan
The fiery flavours of Szechuan and Hunan are renowned for their
intensity. Landlocked Hunan's chilli-rich cuisine is similar to that
of western China's Szechuan province. Chilli, garlic and the unusual
"strange sauce" enliven many dishes. Mustard sauce complements
duck's tongues, and minced bean paste forms a pungent and powdery
coating for fish or scallops. Honey sauces are favoured for desserts
such as water chestnut or cassia-flower cakes. Hunan's range of
soups includes noodles in soup, mashed pigeon in consomme and a
salty, thin version of the West's pea soup. Although rice is Hunan's
staple, northern-style bean-curd "bread" rolls or dumplings and
savoury buns are also popular. Bursting with flavour, Szechuan food
includes some of the spiciest dishes in China, so check the chilli
content on the menu. The zest of dishes is flavoured with star
anise, fennel seed, chilli, coriander ("Chinese parsley") and other
spices. Chillied bean paste, peppercorns and garlic are also widely
used. Chicken, pork, river fish and shellfish are popular
ingredients, and noodles or steamed bread are preferred to rice.
Not all Szechuan cuisine is spicy. Common cooking methods include
smoking and simmering, which allow peppers and aromatic seasonings
time to infuse food with unforgettable tastes and aromas.
Traditional dishes include crispy beef, deep fried with tangy
kumquat peel, and duck, the premier Szechuan specialty. The duck is
flavoured with peppercorns, ginger, cinnamon, orange peel and
coriander, marinated in Chinese wine for 24 hours, steamed for two
hours, then smoked over a charcoal fire with camphor-wood chips and
red tea leaves added.
Hong Kong's vegetarian cuisine is well regarded for its healing
and nutritional qualities. The soya bean, processed into bean curd
(tofu), is the prime ingredient of vegetarian cuisine. The curd is
prepared to taste similar to roast duck, barbecued pork, salted
chicken, scallops and delicacies. China's treasury of mushrooms and
other types of fungi add variety to the vegetarian cuisine.
Symbolic food plays a crucial role in celebrations throughout the
Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year represents new beginnings. Richly flavoured cakes,
called nin go, are extremely popular during this time because to the
Chinese they represent success. Nin in Cantonese means "year" and
go, "high", so to eat these foretells a successful year ahead. Lotus
seeds in a sweet soup, called lin chi, is also popular. It is
offered to newly married couples because the name, lin chi means
"every year a son", urging couples to have children soon.
Dragon Boat Festival
Entwined in the mythology of the Dragon Boat Festival is zongzi, a
tasty glutinous rice dumpling. Some believe that when poet Qu Yuan
committed suicide in 278 BC by jumping in a river, locals threw rice
into the river as a sacrifice to their dead hero, and to nourish his
spirit. In a dream, the poet revealed the fish were eating the rice
and requested it be bundled and wrapped in silk to protect it. In
another version, the rice packets were meant for the fish, in an
effort to keep them from devouring Qu Yuan's body. There are many
different types of zongzi. Hong Kong's favourite dumpling features
pork soaked in soy sauce or bean paste in the middle of the
glutinous rice. Zongzi come in many shapes, but are most commonly
triangular or pyramid shaped.
The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, is held on
the fifteenth day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar, when
the moon is at its maximum brightness for the entire year. These
mooncakes can be found in any bakery before the festival in all
shapes and sizes. They may be filled with an assortment of
ingredients including dates, nuts, lotus seed paste, bean paste and
even pork or Chinese sausages.
The distinct flavours of Chinese wines are designed to perfectly
complement your meal. Unlike Western wines, Chinese wine is
distilled from rice, millet and other grains, as well as herbs and
flowers. A wide variety of tonic wines are made with traditional
ingredients. The popular rice-based Xiao Qing, Yellow Wine, is best
served warm. It tastes similar to medium-dry sherry and goes well
with a wide range of Chinese cuisine, especially during the cool
season. Gao Liang and Mao Tai are fiery, millet-based distillations
with an alcoholic content of 70 per cent. These are definitely best
sampled after a hearty meal. Wu Jia Pi, is a sweet herbal wine
believed to have medicinal qualities.