2015 Hong Kong: Mark and I drag our jetlagged bodies to the front desk of our hotel seeking information about Hong Kong street food. A lovely, petite young woman greets us. As is typical for us, we start the conversation with a warm greeting and a bit of small talk, followed by the inevitable question.
“So… what is your favorite place to eat? We aren’t looking for a typical tourist place. We want to visit the place you love going to with your family and your friends. Do you have a place like that that you might recommend?”
Pleased, she beams at us and begins to describe it. There will be a language barrier, so she takes the time to draw out the dishes on a small sheet of paper, complete with the dish names written in English and Chinese. Or perhaps it is Cantonese? We can’t distinguish the difference.
Dropping our bags in the room, we head out, following the light rail as our guide. The streets are getting darker and sketchier by the moment as we leave the shiny uptown behind. Looking down, we suddenly see the target. It seems deserted, but stepping through the doors, we discover it is positively packed.
Diving into Local Flavor
An aging woman beckons us to follow her to a community table spread with a red cloth. Squeezing in, we know we are in the right place because locals occupy every seat. Not one sound of English mars the authenticity of the place. We hand her the little slip of paper, and her eyes light up with a smile and a series of nods. She returns with flavorful noodles and steamed pork buns that make our mouths water. The noodles disappear before I remember to take a picture, and it was a miracle that two pork buns got captured at all. Our first night in Hong Kong, and satisfaction reigned!
As we approached the desk by the door to settle our bill, we discovered that one person in the restaurant did, indeed, knew a few words of English. That was the cashier. He could tell us what we owed and wish us a good evening. Stepping out into the evening, we chuckled at his strategic door assignment to ensure the bill got paid. And then we were off to explore the late-night food markets.
More Hong Kong Street Food
The late-night markets are a thing to behold. At the Wan Chai Market, everything you can imagine is at your fingertips. The attraction of shopping after the heat of the day has passed is immediately apparent. And, the streets are less busy than one would expect. Lingering over the novelties, we realize we lacked the bravery to try much our first evening out. There are days ahead of us to explore and experience, and we have plans with friends who will help guide our adventures.
The Tian Tan Buddha, Victoria Peak, and the Ozone Bar are still ahead of us, as well as junk boats, the giant hillside outdoor escalators, and the Nan Lian Garden.
Tonight is just the first taste.