Hong Kong is a land of culinary diversity. I have travelled to Hong Kong six times now and I always find something new to eat.
However, In this post I’m going to talk about food that can be said is quintessentially Hong Kongese(?). Hong Kongish?
DIM SUM!!! and other food you can find in dim sum restaurants!
Dim sum in Hong Kong combines fresh seafood from the piers and thin transluscent skins that lock in flavor while going through a short steam blast in slotted bamboo baskets. I LOVE DIM SUM NOM.
There are like a gabajillion different types of dimsum, but I’m going to go through the ones that you can find easily in any dim sum shop or restaurant.
The dimsum above can be found in nearly every dimsum restaurant in Hong Kong and is called Har gow (蝦餃). Out of all the dim sum I ate while I was in Hong Kong, I don’t remember all the names, but I (UNTIL I DIE) will never forget the name of these juicy little shrimp pillows. When you bite into them scalding hot shrimp broth goodness bursts in your mouth (like a less jucier and seafood version of xiao long bao). The shrimp meat itself is plump and succulent and so fresh it feels like they’re jumping in your mouth. Okay I’m exaggerating, they don’t really jump around in your mouth, but these little shrimp dumplings are to die for! I guarantee that if you love seafood, you will love these little gems.
These next dumplings look like a greener and chubbier version of the har gow and are called Chiu-chao style dumplings (潮州粉果). The filling inside the dumplings consist of peanuts, chives, shrimp, garlic, chives, and other unidentifiable vegetables that I cannot seem to remember right now. They have a thicker skin than the har gow, and are a bit chewier. Almost like a less chewier version of a rice cake. Whatever that means. Anyways, these dumplings are nice because they have the softness of the shrimp, but also the crunchiness of the peanuts, and the slightly pungent flavor of the chives that give them a well-rounded flavor.
YES MY FAVORITE char siu bao (叉燒包)! They are often steamed but the place I got mine at are baked, and have a slightly crusty cookieish layer on the top. Hidden behind the crusty layer is bread that is so soft it must have been made from CLOUD BABIES. The bread is so soft and fluffy and if that wasn’t enough there is a barbequed pork filling inside. What is there not to love? I even bought the frozen version of char siu bao and brought it with me to home in Korea so I can have on hand for the days I want a yummy snack. But these buns are a little bit on the sweeter side, so if you’re not a fan of sweet and salty, it would be better to stick to something else.
Turnip cake (蘿蔔糕) consists of daikon radish mashed up and mixed with shrimp, pork sausage, and little ingredients that i do not remember. They are steamed and then pan fried, so have a fun texture that combines the tenderness of the radish and the crispy outer layer. They might seem a little bland to some people, so I recommend dipping them into soy sauce and chili oil. NOM. Perfect comfort food for when you want something starchy like a potato but is healthier!
My second favorite thing to eat in the dim sum shop: Phoenix claws (鳳爪). Looking at the name they seem so mysterious and elegant, but in fact they are just chicken feet that have been deep fried, boiled, marinated in a black bean sauce, and then finally steamed. The claws I had above were special because they were marinated in an abalone soy sauce. Oooh, fancy. But they did indeed taste better than any other old chicken feet. The skin was plump and enriched with the sauce reminding me of jok-bal, a Korean dish which is pigs feet marinated in soy sauce and different chinese medicine. If you are adventurous, make sure you try the phoenix claws; you won’t regret it! My family even orders seconds because we love them so much.
Lotus Leaf Rice is glutinous rice mixed filled with treasures of all kinds including mushroom, water chestnut, chinese sausage, and chicken that is wrapped in a HUGE lotus leaf and steamed. The leaf itself isn’t eaten, but the flavor of the lotus leaf is infused into the rice as it cooks. The glutinous rice is perfumed with the fragrance of the lotus leaf, and the filling inside literally explodes with flavor. Being Korean, it doesn’t feel like a meal is over if there isn’t any rice, so this lotus leaf rice for my family and I was a good way to finish off the meal.
There are so many different kinds of dim sum, but I have summed up the few dishes I order time and again. The pictures above were taken in the famous michelin star winning dim sum restaurant Tim Ho Wan. The dim sum itself is not expensive at all ranging from 10$ to 20$ (in Hong Kong dollars).
Hong Kong can be a very expensive place, especially for students, but I guarantee that going to dim sum places such as Tim Ho Wan will be worth your money and most importantly, taste buds!
I went to the Tim Ho Wan located in North point, but I know that the mother branch is located in Mong Kok.
I will blog more about the other food I ate in Hong Kong later, until then, Ta ta!