Howdy one and all from Hong Kong! Here is the first in a small series of posts on this quick jaunt to the home of dumplings, shopping, dumplings, Disneyland, and dumplings. As you can probably now tell, Kit Kats have been replaced by another culinary obsession.
Kate and I arrived late on Easter Saturday, late enough to really only hit the hay, so it was officially on Easter Sunday that we kicked it all off. With easter eggs? Bah. I needed something a little more relevant to my local surrounds.
Today was intended to be just a day of casual wandering as much as anything. We decided to base ourselves during our stay on the Kowloon side of HK, within a short walk of MTR and the harbour, so well placed for anything. So off we headed, with no real plan in mind, except maybe wander in the general direction of the harbour and see what’s the what.
This was my first trip so for me it was just getting bearings. Kate was a bit of a veteran, so I was happy to follow… that left my spidey senses to try and sniff out anything slightly oddball. The tough decision was do we start with Yum Cha this early in the morning, or go something more traditional. We elected something a bit more breakfasty and loaded up at a local Breadtop-equivalent. Nothing too crazy, but I gotta say, this chicken sesame bun thing was delicious! Mmmm.
We decided to grab a spot down on the harbour on the Avenue of Stars to eat and soak up a bit of the touristy HK. While a good many of the “stars” on the avenue were a bit lost on us, there were many that provided opportunity for hammy photos…
I did love that they placed Maggie Cheung, Tony Leung and Wong Kar Wai all in a row along the avenue. Nice touch.
Anyone who has been to Hong Kong knows that you have to pay your respects to the ultimate star, Bruce Lee. And you have to do it in the most respectful way you can… by striking the lamest kung-fu pose you can. Of course I was going to. You knew that didn’t you.
With cheesy poses sated for just a moment, we chanced upon the closing day of an Andy Warhol exhibition at the HK Museum of Art. Kinda curious, we decided to see how much it cost to get in as to whether we visited. $20 HK dollars! 20 bucks sounds pretty reasonable right? Now let me do a conversion for you… it is 8 dollars for each 1 oz dollar. So the cost of entry to a major Warhol exhibition was 2-bucks-freakin-50. Yes. $2.50. My mind blew. So we decided to do a quick pop in.
We were glad we did actually. It was actually a really extensive show covering a range of his work and a large period of time. Of course Mao was featured quite prominently.
It was here I really noticed the health paranoia still evident from the avian influenza outbreaks. If it wasn’t handrails on escalators being cleaned continually, it was signs like this…
Anyway, lunchtime was fast on us, so it was a jump onto the Star Ferry to head across Victoria Harbour. Like is often the case, Hong Kong was in one of it’s rainy moods, so the skylines were suitably misty and the peak dramatically hidden. That could wait. There was one specific purpose for heading to the other side of the harbour…
Now, Kate and I were urged by our pals Shayne and CC to visit a particular yum cha establishment in our travels. Tim Ho Wan is regarded as the most inexpensive Michelin-starred eatery in the world, and totally delicious to boot! Some investigation revealed that the original location, a tiny hole in the wall seating barely 20 people, had closed. NOOOOOOO! But don’t despair. There were now TWO new locations! WOOOOOO! One was just on the other side of the harbour under the Hong Kong MTR station. So we were on it.
It was about now I was mentioning to Kate how I was finding the people quite different to my last asian trip which was to Japan. I was lamenting the lack of kitchy posing in photos, particularly the lack of the quintessential “V” for victory sign usually being seen on every person posing for a photo. Kate casually pointed to a walker by carrying a fairly normal sized designer handbag, with a small (yet I assume equally as designer) dog poking its head out, watching the world go by. “There’s a dog in a handbag… is that more like it?”. Well, yes actually.
Kate was also saying that the demographic overall of the tourists had changed quite a bit since she was here last. Less westerners, and more Chinese visitors. This was completely echoed by a guy in a Chinese handicrafts store that we spoke with. They were in the process of moving store locations from the waterfront to another shopping street as they were not getting the sales they used to. He said that it definitely was more folk from the Chinese mainland coming, and that they were here for the designer labels, not local handicrafts. Made complete sense, but a sign of changing times.
Back to our main goal. It took a bit of poking around to find it, not speaking or reading the local language and all. But really, all we had to do was follow the crowds…
We were told to expect large crowds and to have to wait for a table. But since it was quite nice outdoors, we elected for the takeaway option and to find somewhere to eat outside. After debating what to have (and promptly forgetting exactly what it was that we actually ordered) we were officially in the Tim Ho Wan queue! 10 minutes later, we were sidled with this booty…
YES! We had steamed rice rolls with beef and some with pork, the famous BBQ Pork buns, steamed egg cake, and fried beef dumplings. Shed loads of them! We avoided the seafood ones, due to some potential allergy issues, but they could wait for another day. We had plenty to enjoy.
And so how was it? I found it to be a rollercoaster in some ways. Both as good as hoped and also a little anti-climactic. The steamed egg cake was a bit of a wild card as we both didn’t realise exactly what we ordered. But it was OK. The rice rolls were good, with the beef ones being Kate’s personal fave of the bunch. The BBQ buns were a little sweeter than I anticipated, but by the time I had hoovered down one, I was jonesing for a second. Good sign! The dumplings were the main source of emotional rollercoaster. Both the outside and the filling were not what I expected. The outside was much thicker than expected with a crispy on the outside, gooey on the inside texture that threw me. And the inside was more a gooier mince than a more solid one I am used to. I took me a few to get the taste, but then I REALLY had the taste for them. I think of the 12, I ate 9 or 10 of them. Kate has manners and doesn’t get carried away. Me… nah. I was sucking those bad boys down!
So did it ultimately live up to expectation? Well, if you consider I am typing this the next day and doing Google image searches of the other food on the menu to work out what I will eat today, the answer is probably yes 🙂
The rest of the day was wandering around the island side of Hong Kong. We decided to wander up to the zoo and gardens and have a poke around. It was quite tiny, but the chance to see any kind of monkeys is an opportunity not to pass up.
A little bit of a rest and we headed back to the hotel in Kowloon for a relax for a bit before a little wander in the next-door shops before bed. I needed to get my rest and energy back for more food tomorrow…