Eating and Drinking, Hong Kong
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!
* When eating out with local Chinese, it is the custom for the host to order from the menu on behalf of his guests.
* A traditional meal will usually consist of some seafood and dim sum.
* Chinese tea is an integral part of any Chinese meal. 'Yum Cha' means drink tea.
You'll find some of the best restaurants in the world here, but don't expect quiet, romantic meals. The Chinese tradition is to eat big, loud meals. Feel free to burp if you're enjoying your food. It's not considered rude, but a compliment to the chef!!
Here's another important cultural tip:
Be Quick to Offer to Pay for Meals: Although it will NOT be accepted (relax... don't panic!), it is considered POLITE to OFFER to pay the dinner/ lunch bill. NEVER offer to split the bill as this would result in loss of face for your Hongkong host... and a sure way to lose that friendship!
Photo Below: Happy Valley here in HK.
When you are invited to a Chinese dinner and your invitation card reads - Dinner at 7 pm sharp - it is seldom so. In fact, it is culturally acceptable to be late. Don't be taken aback when you are the only one seated at the table at 7 pm - looking somewhat lost - while every one else will start streaming in at 7.30 pm onwards. Is this a unique custom?
Although many people in Hong Kong are Cantonese speaking, the younger generations speak both English and Chinese as well so communication is not a problem.
For meals, tapping the table twice with the index finger and middle finger when the waiter pours drinks or serves, says 'thank you'. For teapots, tilting the cap up signals to the waiter that you'll like him/her to add hot water to the tea leaves.
A China based brewing company Tsing Tao is one of those beers you will find in most lounges around the region. I believe the pic below was taken in the Wing in HKG.
In most busy streets you'll find many such food vendors especially at night. They provide a good variety to choose. I love the curried fishball best.
Dried shrimps are used in chinese cuisine., either in dishes or soups.
They are dried from the sun and can be found at some ports.