Eating Adventures Hong Kong - An Afternoon in Kowloon

Thursday, November 24th

We had a number of food tours to choose from in Hong Kong.  The idea of getting deep into a completely foreign city and eating our way through the local foods is always tempting.  In Hong Kong, a city known for great food, it was necessary.  I mean, we always knew there would be a food tour.  It was just deciding which one we wanted.

Eating Adventures in Hong Kong made the list early during the planning.  While we didn't have too many things planned for our trip to Hong Kong, the skeleton of the trip was starting to come together.  We knew our food tour had to take place on Thursday.  Eating Adventures fit the bill.

The tour met up in a very crowded neighborhood in Kowloon.  These tours always meet in a busy area to make it easy for the tourists to figure out where to go.  Asking people unfamiliar with the city to congregate on a side street off the beaten path can only lend to trouble.  Then again, asking us to meet up outside of a mall in Hong Kong is also tricky.  The entire city is basically one large mall. 

On our tour were the three of us and a couple from Switzerland.  The guy of the couple started off on the wrong foot with us as he arrived with a lit cigarette in hand.  He redeemed himself slightly during the tour as he was a very tall guy and tended to be in the front of the pack.  So he was very easy to see as we walked through the crowded streets of Kowloon.  He became less great every time he lit up a cigarette outside of an establishment.  Which was more often than he should have done.

Once the group arrived, we were off and running.  Our tour guide Yan was a ball of energy.  She was super cute and very excited to show off the food in her city.

Roasted Goose

Seriously.  The moment Yan said we would be eating roasted goose, Adele, Kat and I cheered.  I'm 98% sure I did a fist pump.  This was all much to the dismay of the Swiss guests.  I didn't worry.  Did I mention he was a smoker??  He can't judge us for anything.  But I digress.  We had been talking about finding a roasted duck restaurant for dinner as it was.  Now, we didn't have to seek one out.

We walked into the Locals Only restaurant and immediately the owners of the place started moving other diners in mid-bite to make room for our group of six.  It was about this time when Yan explained the intricacies of restaurants in Hong Kong.  They don't really care about making you comfortable.  You're at the restaurant for eating only.  You definitely don't linger.  You're also barely welcome.  The restaurant is there for feeding you for as cheaply as possible.  If you want decent napkins, bring them yourself.  Water may show up if you're lucky.  And even when it did, it might be hot water.  Really, dining out is all about the food.

The goose came out and we were immediately happy.  The meat of the goose was good enough.  But that's not what I remember about the dish.  Most important was the skin.  Amazingly crispy.  Wonderful flavor.  But even more amazing was the layer of the fat separating the skin from the goose meat.  It melted in my mouth and was so unexpected that I had to keep grabbing more pieces to make sure I was tasting this correctly.  Seriously.  It was almost like a drug.  I had to keep that fatty high going.  It was a good start.

Egg Custard

Walking down the side street, Yuan stopped in front of a nondescript storefront.  We tried to keep as out of the way as possible (which was not easy) as Yan explained what was next. It was custard tart time.

Egg custard tarts are a dish that I have very fond memories of from years past.  Back when I was a kid, we would occasionally drive into Chinatown from the suburbs of Chicago.  It was always a big event and one I would look forward to being a part of.  Dad would end up in a small store selling woks (or wok supplies).  We would find a place that sold almond cookies.  But before any of that, we'd go for Dim Sum.

The women pushing the carts at the Three Happiness restaurant would hawk their wares.  We'd always grab shrimp dumplings and a roasted pork dish.  There would be other steamed items that would make their way on our table.  But the most important dish was the first and the last one.  And that was an egg custard tart.  Dad and I loved the egg custard tart.

Right from the oven.
When we saw the next thing we were going to eat, I may have made a squealing noise that moved from my throat to the outside world.  The egg custard tarts were gorgeous.  And they were flying off of the shelves quicker than the woman could pull them out of the oven.  Good sign.

Yan asked us to come up one by one to have the woman put a hot custard tart in the palm of our hand.  The tarts were warm (if not hot).  The custard was not overly sweet but was firm and glorious.  I'm sure there were people talking to me while I was eating the tart.  But I heard nothing.  I was in my own world, egg custard pulsing through my brain.  In a way, Dad was there with me in that moment.

So...this was someone's dinner.
Soft Tofu

We walked a little way to the next stop.  A tofu place.  Literally, this place only sold tofu in different ways.  Soft tofu.  “Hard” tofu.  Blood pudding tofu.  Wait.  What??

"Hard" tofu.

Again, the proprietors of the tofu shop moved people from one table to another in order to fit our whole group.  Sure, a little old man decided he had no reason to move, so we had an extra person in our group on this stop.  Rock on, old man.

Blood Tofu
We were given bowls of soft tofu.  Yan asked us to try it first without any accoutrements.  It was almost like an oatmeal flavor, without the oats.  After the first bite, Yan passed around the brown sugar to sprinkle on the top.  That sugar changed the texture and added a bit of a crunch to the dish.  Still though, it was like eating oatmeal. 

These heads were still moving.  I'm not kidding.

Snake Soup

Yan mentioned at the start that we would have snake soup.  She was very cute, basically saying this was the adventurous dish.  And of course it would be!!  Who eats snake?? 

The snake soup is not eaten in Hong Kong because it’s weird.  It’s eaten for health purposes.  When the bowls were put in front of us, we all dove in.  Cause, we are not wussies.  And snake soup tastes like…well, it tastes like chicken noodle soup, really.  Or it tastes like the soup Chad makes and force feeds me on New Years Eve.  When I say “force feeds me” I mean, I’m normally way too full when I’m at her house, because pho.  Not that it’s not good.  Cause it is.  Hmmm…I feel like I’m spiraling here.  Moving on.

The snake soup was served with fried wonton chunks.  And overall, it was tasty.  We didn’t finish everything, because we’d been eating for a while, but it was a good soup.  While I wouldn’t necessarily order it from a restaurant, but I enjoyed it overall.

Dim Sum

Dim Sum roughly translates to “touch the heart.”  Yan grabbed a menu and worked with the group to decide what we should all try.  The shrimp dumplings are my favorite.  No question.  The chicken feet were the “adventurous” option.  I’ve had this before, but these chicken feet were easier to eat than the last ones I had. 

Stuffed Peppers
I did not have the stuffed peppers.  I'm getting better with spicy, but was not down for this one.
Chicken Feet

Shrimp Dumplings
My favorite.
Crispy Rice Roll thing

Honest to god, I don’t know what this was.  But it was amazing.  There was a lovely rice paper outside thing.  With a meat of some sort (I really should have been taking notes) and some kind of crispiness to it.  Amazing.  I’ll be trying to find this dish in dim sum places at home.

Wasabi Dumpling thing

The flavor of the dumpling was excellent.  I'm not sure I ever got to the innards though.  It was so hot, it melted my tastebuds right off of my tongue.

Pineapple Bun

We actually stopped the official tour at the wasabi dumpling thing.  But Kat and I wanted the pineapple bun.  Why??  Pineapples are wonderful.  So are buns.  It’s almost like getting chocolate in your peanut butter.  It's two great tastes that go great together.

Star Anise, anyone??

Fish Ball
Imitation crab ball.  Complete with fake pinchers.
I’m not gonna lie, by this time, we were rolling around in pain.  Sure, we had the extra pineapple buns, but still.  It was a serious amount of food.  And we were not done.  Yan brought us to a street food booth where she pointed out the options on a stick.  Fish balls, crab balls, uterus. 

Fish ball.
We did not try the uterus.

Red Bean Cake

I’m almost not sure how to explain this.  It’s a glutinous pancake of some kind, stuffed with red bean paste.  And when I say glutinous, I mean it.  There’s so much gluten that even people who eat gluten go, “Woah!!”  Again, we were super full by this point.  So we all tore into one cake.  A bite or two on one pancake was enough.  It also meant we could chew on these cakes for breakfast over the next few days.  Which I did.

Green Tea Smoothie with red bean paste

Our last stop was for a smoothie.  Yan said they choose this place not only because it is a nice end to the tour, but because it is a newer establishment with young owners.  The other places were older and owned by older people.  When we got to this stop, we saw the egg waffles on the menu.  Kat and I cheered.  But Yan made it very clear we weren’t getting the waffles.  It was smoothie time.  Boo!!  Not to spoil the trip, but Kat and I never were able to try the egg waffles.  

And a green tea smoothie was pretty great to end the tour.  We didn’t necessarily need a red bean paste in the smoothie, but we liked the smoothie part.

We also did not buy dragon fruit.

As quickly as she swooped in, Yuan bid us farewell.  The tour was exactly what we wanted.  We ate.  We saw.  We ate some more.  Good stuff.  Now, could there be a few extra “adventurous” options??  Sure could.  But I was super happy with what we did.


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