Thursday, January 13, 2011

Hong Kong Snackie Frenzy

I have arrived in Hong Kong! This place is straight up nuts. Especially in the food department it is insane. Everyone told me before I arrived that it is impossible to have a bad meal in Hong Kong and so far, including some questionable drunken 7-11 decisions, it seems that they were right. I'm staying on my boy Lucky's couch out in the new territories in Sheung Shui, which by the way seems to be a town entirely made up of restaurants and barber shops. The first night I arrived, deaf and valium-loopy from the flight, Lucky took me to eat at the local Da Pai Dong or outdoor food stall. Da Pai Dong's for the most part are basically low small tables surrounded by little plastic stools out on the side of the road serviced by a tiny kitchen. That first night they brought out a bucket of ice and cold beer and a metal divided pot with two types of broth which they put bubbling on a central burner. The idea is to order raw food items then cook them in the broth, dip them in some chillies and soy sauce then munch. I think, in our excitement we kind of over ordered because once the raw dishes started coming they didn't stop for like forty minutes. In to the broth and into our gullets went fish balls, pork balls, greens, gelatinous pigs blood, brisket, fatty beef, tofu, fried fish nuggets, two kinds of mushrooms, pork dumplings, chive dumplings, chicken dumplings, and big shiny slabs of beef liver. Each and every bite was spectacular, the cold beer, scalding broth and chillies blasting through my dopey travel weary haze. After all of that food and eighty eight ounces of beer the bill came to something like $15.00. I don't think I'm ever gonna leave.

I've been here for four days now and the meals have just kept getting better and better. They really take their eating seriously here. Take a look at the diagram (above) hanging in the window of the restaurant next store. That's right, that's a map of a piece pork! The second night we went out downtown for a spot of carousing and grabbed a bite at a roadside bo zai fan place. Bo zai fan is rice that is cooked in a ceramic pot until it sticks to the sides and even might start to burn a little. I ordered mine with chinese sausage and Lucky got his with greens and fatty pork. The way your supposed to eat it is remove the lid, pour on soy sauce, then replace the lid so all the goodies are steamed in the sauce then mix it all up. The end result is a melange of chewy rice, crispy rice, fatty meaty bits and caramelized bits of sauce. Bo zai fan is a famous Hong Kong winter food and it is now my comfort food of choice.

The next morning I was feeling a little worse for wear. Luckily Hong Kong has just the solution, the Cha Chaan Teng or Chinese diner. Basically Cha Chaan Tengs are some sort of crazy hybrid of a cheap Chinese eatery and an American greasy spoon diner. You can get noodles, fried rice with manhole cover sized pork chops and stewed tomatoes, pork rib soup or any other cheap Hong Kong staple along with toast, omelets, fried spam or sandwiches. Being HK this is all served with sweet milk tea, or iced coffee, bubble tea, frozen lemon coke or some other wildly refreshing bevie. This time I went for the Gong See sandwich, or company sandwich (I have no idea). My god... I honestly think if I wasn't hung over and in desperate need this sandwich would have killed me. Assembled like a typical club sandwich between three triangles of heavily buttered white toast, the gong see sandwich consists of alternating layers of tomato, ham, cheese,mayo, BBQ pork, omelette prepared with ground beef, pork liver paste and a thick slab of fried spam. It certainly fixed what ailed me but also sat in my stomach like a cinder block and left me basically immobile for the rest of the day.

Another great perk about the HK food scene is the omnipresence of cheap super-bangin examples of other types of Asian cuisine. The other day I poked my head into the neighborhood Sushi spot and was blown away by the variety and freshness of the sushi. Huge raw shrimps so sweet it seemed they were dipped in sugar, pink perfect slices of salmon, fried mackerel with lemon, salt and soy and raw scallops the size of fists. Again, we way over ordered but the bill was still about a quarter of what it would have been in the states. That night we headed downtown to Mong Kok and ended up eating at a random Korean joint. It was amazing! Lucky was feeling sick so he just had some chicken dumpling soup but I sprung for the fatty pork and kimchee. Two huge slabs of pork back fat arrived with a heaping bowl of fiery kimchee. You cook the pork on a slanted grill in the middle of the table putting the kimchee, along with cloves of raw garlic on the down hill side so that as the fat renders off the pork it passes through the garlic and fries the kimchee. Then you put the pork, garlic cloves and kimchee in a lettuce leaf with herbs and peppers, slather it with sauce, wrap it up, dip it in rice wine vinegar then chow down. Dear lord... I can't even begin to describe how bangin.

Ok I have a lot more to share (spicy wonton soup with fried fish skin?) but I'm getting so hungry I can't handle it. Time to get dressed and head out. I still haven't tried any BBQ goose...

Himachi Tsukiji
G/F., Block A, No.10, Fu Hing Street,
Shek Wu Hui, Sheung Shui, N.T.

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