Friday, August 6, 2010

Everyday in Hong Kong is a Culinary Adventure

There is lots to say about the food in Hong Kong and there will be many posts about it. Here is the first.

I think the best way for me to describe eating here is that anything that appears to be similar to something I've had in a Western restaurant definitely is not. Don't get me wrong, there is a huge variety of food here and it is possible to get a basic sandwich or salad but anytime I'm in the mood for one of these things I somehow end up in a super local place with something covered in mayonnaise. For example, I went to lunch with coworkers the other day to an innocent looking lunch place called Deli France. I've walked by dozens of times and envisioned it as the Subway of France, harmless right? Wrong. I ordered a sandwich with BBQ chicken and vegetables with side salad. What I got was a doughy roll slathered in sweet BBQ sauce with pretty much every piece of the chicken that is not white meat - tendons, skin and other chewy things. And the harmless side salad was lettuce and bacon covered in mayonnaise. Mmmm.

I have to laugh when things like this happen and take it as a learning experience. Through these experiences I'm realizing that it's better to just forget about trying to find things similar to San Francisco and just embrace the local food. Today my coworkers took me to Dim Sum, my 2nd time to Dim Sum since being here and I love it - steamed buns, shrimp dumplings, sesame balls - but this too is an interesting dining experience. You have two sets of chop sticks, one to use on the shared food that rotates on the lazy susan and one to eat with but it's unclear which is which, chicken's feet and shark fin are often eaten, a delicacy even, and another challenge is that it's very difficult for me to have favorites. I've eaten Dim Sum many times but despite my efforts to remember the Chinese names, I can never seem to reorder the same things unless I see it walking by on a pushed cart. A little anecdote - my coworkers somehow got confused (thanks to KP) and think that I love beef (there are really only two things I won't eat, mayonnaise and red meat). At first I thought they were being sarcastic but of course sarcasm isn't part of the culture here. Today they ordered special "beef balls" just for me. When they arrived they looked exactly like the name, balls of rare ground beef in a steam basket. Thank goodness for the little bowl they give you that I can hide uneaten food in.

Oh and here is a fun fact, "Dim Sum" literally translated means "from the heart" named such because wives used to make Dim Sum for their husband's for breakfast. Aww how cute. That must have been what my coworkers were thinking when they ordered me beef balls.

I do have to admit though, I can get my western food fix when I need it. City Super is the Whole Foods of Hong Kong, it will cost me an arm and a leg but I can still get California grown Nectarines. The total opposite of eating local and being Green but that's a whole nother issue...

From the heart,

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