With such a huge population it is no surprise that polluted Hong Kong in parts can be a bit dirty and/or smelly. However no-one ever eats or drinks on the MTR. The station concourses and trains are so spotlessly clean that you could eat off the floor as shown in the above picture.
TIP: When using escalators and moving walkways in MTR stations or anywhere in the city, it is polite if you are standing still, to stand on the right hand side to allow others to pass you on the left if they need to.
In Hong Kong, I think the best food to bring home is traditional Chinese bakery products like those offered in WING WAH BAKERY or KEE WAH BAKERY. Both have stores in Kowloon (WING WAH on Nathan Road near Mongkok MTR station and KEE WAH in Langham Place, Mongkok). Yes, you can even buy moon cakes!
I would suggest buying the pastries at the airport, after checking in and through the customs. But of course that depends on when your flight is. Last time I arrived at the airport after 10:30 pm, all stores were closed.
Im used to seeing different kinds of street foods. In Hong Kong, it means grilled or fried squid, century egg, smelly tofu, some dimsums and lot to choose from. A quick fix (not to mention cheap) after all those shopping in Fa Yuen Street or Ladies Market.
Just observe what the locals do in sterilizing the utensils before pouring tea and eating. Even then, there are variations.
We saw 1 lady pour tea into a plastic bowl and gingerly places the cups, spoons, chopstick into the hot tea to wash it. These are taken out and tea (from the teapot) is then poured into the tea cup. Don't understand the rational behind it though.
In most instances, just pour the hot water (provided in a separate tea pot) to do the "washing" would be the most adopted local practices.
1. Avoid turning the fish over during the meal - This is a cultural superstition and turning the fish symbolizes capsizing the boat, which brings calamity and bad luck to family life and business.
2. Avoid using the bowl one eats from for discarded bones. Instead place the bones on the side-plate provided.
3. If someone is serving you food with their chopsticks or spoon, do not accept it with chopsticks. The correct way is to hold out a bowl or plate to accept it.
4. Avoid touching the food morsels with chopsticks one eats from. Use the serving spoon provided and precise on the bit to be picked.
5. If someone is picking from the table, avoid going over or under other people's arm. It is considered bad manners and colloquially termed 'flying the elephant chess piece across the river' - An illegal move in Chinese chess!
6. When tea is poured into their cup, tapping the table surface gently with two/three fingers is a gesture of acknowledgement to say thank you. - Some say two fingers, some say three fingers it depends who you talk to.
Yum cha literally means drink tea. This is a unique custom for the Cantonese ppl. For most people who are not serious tea lovers, it really is a family (or friends) gathering in a restaurant, not only for the tea, but for the dim sum, and more importantly, a chance to chat with others.
Dim sum may come on plates or in round bamboo baskets (for steamed food), with food such as shrimp dumplings, steamed beef balls, steamed bbq buns, spring rolls.... Each dish usually has 3-4 of the same item and is placed in the center of table to share.
Mostly all Cantonese restaurants offer yum cha in the morning and early afternoon hours.
To avoid the crowds and lineups into the restaurant, try to go during weekday mornings.
As far as I've observed, most resturants would offer a cuppa tea (brown in colour) first to customers. Don't not drink this as this is meant for washing/rinsing the cultery sets prior eating.
It's a common thing to do at any eating places.
Tea drinking is a serious business in both Hong Kong and the Chinese culture.
A Tang Dynasty scholar who devised the first definitive treatise on tea making had initiated this tradition, which began almost 1,200 years ago.
Today, this culture remains a thriving tradition. Ardent tea enthusiasts often have their own special tea pots, which is commonly made of clay, when they go for their tea drinking sessions. It is said that the smaller the teapot, the better the tea.
The smell of the tea is instilled in the pot and the fragrant is thus stronger. Some teas are bitter, whereas some are sweet.
There are different kinds of tea-leaves that give out various smells and tastes.
Not everyone will appreciate the same kind of tea as it is acquired by the preferences of the individual.
I didn't know but the local people toast with soup bowls. Of course they have pint glasses or beer tumblers, either. But I heard when they have a personal guest, they prepare with soup bowls to toast to welcome the guest.
I wasn't sure how much beer I had that evening for I couldn't measure with a glass. I totally couldn't pace myself.
1. I was eating with my cousins (all Chinese) one evening and admitted that I knew little about Chinese culture, eating habits and manners. I was told:
"It's almost impossible to be rude among the Chinese unless you spit in the food or something!"
2. If there are "serving chopticks"/spoons available, use them to take food from the main dishes, if there are none, do not worry and help yourself with your own chopsticks.
3. If the teapot/waterpot runs out, simply lift up the lid and stand it on its side on the teapot, or lift it off and put it on the table. The waiter will fill it for you and close the lid.
4. Do not take more than one dim sum piece at a time, unless instructed or offered. Finish what's in your bowl before taking more unless you really do not like it.
5. If someone offers you food it is polite to accept it, try a bit and it's ok to leave it on your plate/bowl if you do not like it
6. Offer other people food to be polite and put it in their bowl with chopsticks/a spoon, it is unlikely they will decline
7. Do not split the bill (with Chinese friends), this is not polite, offer to pay, but if they firmly refuse, accept it and pay for a meal on a later ocassion
8. If you're having trouble eating, lift your bowl to your lips and use the chopsticks to push the food into your mouth (eg rice)
9. If you want more tea, first offer and pour it for others first, then fill your own cup
DIm sum is a part of everyday life in Hong Kong, and an opportunity not to be missed. Ask someone to recommend a restaurant and they'll willingly oblige.
We went to the Cultural Centre on the Kowloon side of the harbour. Jam packed with locals, which is always a good sign.
Food was excellent, but bear in mind that there are no English translations for dishes, and the staff pushing the trolleys speak very little English.
Hence take a VERY LONG, HARD LOOK at dishes before you order.
Don't make the same mistake as my other half - he was too hungry to spend time on careful selection, and was none too impressed when he found himself sinking his teeth into a chicken's foot!
The way to check the bill in a Hong Kong restaurant............
Wave your arm to a waiter, point your index finger downwards to the table, draw a few circles with your finger and wait.
If the waiter give you the bill directly, just go and pay at the cashier. They won't expect tips though welcomed.
If the waiter present the bill on a silver dish, you need to put your payment on the dish. They expect you to leave at least a few coins on it as tips.
Chinese usually use chopsticks when eating. Most of the time, a pair chopsticks instead of a knife will be provided... so be prepared to take the challenge!!!
Don't be frustrated if you can't handle your chopsticks well at the first time. It's actually an easy job! Hong Kong people are mostly friendly and nice, if you are eating at a chinese restaurant but you encounter difficulties in eating with chopsticks, don't be shy or afraid, just randomly ask the one next to you to show you the correct way.
Remember, you are travelling in a Chinese city, grasp all the chances to try different Chinese food. Don't give up just because you need to use chopsticks when eating!!!
It's EASY and you'll be addicted to using chopsticks and Chinese Food as well!
Mooncake is the food that most represents Mid-Autumn festival. It's a festival that falls on the 15th day of the 8th month in the lunar calendar. The moon is said to be the brightest and fullest in the whole year.
There are several legends that explain the creation of the mooncake. The most popular one is related to history. In the 13th century, Chinese people were under Mongolians. In order to fight back, Chinese people would pass around mooncakes in which there is a piece of paper explaining how the rebellion would take place.
Mooncake is made of lotus seed and animal oil and usually have 2 egg yolks. Nowadays, there is different types of mooncakes : with or without egg yolks (up to 6!!), different fillings (red bean, green bean, white lotus seed etc), even frozen mooncakes... Amazing to see all this evolution !
eating in hongkong is a crazy affair.. try not to do lunch around the typical office lunch hours.. places will be packed with ppl jostling for seats.. and you're expected to leave as soon as you finish gulping down everything or risk getting a good scolding.. but at the end of it all, the food here is delicious.. just choose the right time.. yummy!