No visit to Hong Kong would be complete without trying some of the unique local food and drink such as egg waffles, ying-yang (tea-coffee) and dong lai cha (cold milk tea). Don’t miss the opportunity to compare the dim sum from your local Chinatown with the fantastic fare served in Hong Kong, and sample a Chinese delicacy – the century egg.
Egg waffles (Image courtesy of Renee S @Flickr)
If you only try one street food whilst in Hong Kong make it egg waffles. Batter is poured into the circular waffle iron to create a circle of crispy egg-shaped pods which is folded in half to fit into a brown paper bag. For around HK$12 you can grab a bag of this delicious snack to nibble as you walk the streets of Hong Kong. Unlike their Belgian counterparts, Hong Kong egg waffles are easy to share as the pods can be broken off singularly or in groups like squares of chocolate from a block. Youu also don’t end up dusted with icing sugar or smeared with maple syrup or melted ice cream (or is this just me?). Bo Innovation gives the egg waffle a twist, serving a gourmet version in place of bread to start their meals.
Ying-yang (Image courtesy of S.H.CHOW @Flickr)
Something to be tried, but possibly not enjoyed, is ying-yang or tea-coffee. As the name suggests this is a mix of milky tea and coffee. These two breakfast beverages are always present at the western table but never mixed and I must admit my curiosity was aroused. At times it is difficult to decide between tea and coffee, perhaps a mixture of the two would be an elegant solution to this conundrum. I can only describe tea-coffee as tasting like a blend of tea and coffee and rather than being better than the sum of its parts, I find it to be inferior to either. Though the gourmet version served at Bo Innovation is interesting, there is a reason that tea and coffee are not served mixed anywhere but Hong Kong.
Dong Lai Cha (Cold Milk Tea)
Dong lai cha (Image courtesy of CarbonCUBE @Flickr)
Another Hong Kong tea drink is dong lai cha, cold milk tea often served with ice. After my ying-yang experience I found it hard to predict if I would like dong lai cha. I find a cup of milky tea that has gone cold unappetizing, but on the other hand I enjoy iced coffee which is essentially cold milk coffee. I was delighted to find dong lai cha to be tasty and refreshing and now regularly have one with lunch.
Dim Sum/Yum Cha
Dim sum – BBQ pork buns (Image courtesy of axlxyz @Flickr)
Dim sum translates as ‘to touch the heart’ and describes Cantonese morsels such as steamed or fried dumplings and buns served with tea. Yum cha however translates as ‘to drink tea’ and refers to the act of eating dim sum, so you go to yum cha and eat dim sum. Everyone had their favourite dim sum dishes, 2-4 pieces of which are served in stackable bamboo baskets in which they were steamed. I heartily recommend char sui bau (bbq pork bun) a morsel of marinated barbecued pork encased in a steamed white fluffy bun, steamed har gow (prawn dumplings) prawn in a translucent rice flour skin and lo mai gai (lotus leaf rice) glutinous rice with various fillings (vegetables, egg, meat and seafood) steamed wrapped tightly in a lotus leaf which is not intended to be eaten (though I have heard of this happening as a rookie mistake or a dare).
Century egg (Image courtesy of pni @Flickr)
At a local Chinese restaurant we were served an appetizer of a century egg with pickled ginger. The century egg (also known as a 100 year old egg, 1000 year old egg or millennium egg) is an egg preserved in a mixture of clay, lime, ash, salt and rice hulls for up to several months, far short of the durations the name suggests. The result is in an egg with a dark grey liquid yolk and a tea-coloured jellied egg white. The century egg looks unappetizing, but we were brave and took a bite. It tasted like an egg – a strong egg – but an egg just the same!