I’ve written a lot about how much I love the food in Hong Kong. I’ll probably write more even after this. I’m a food-oriented person to begin with (I know, shocker) and the places I’ve been and the memories I have are, a lot of times, defined by the things I ate and savored and enjoyed in any one place at any one time. But all that said, Hong Kong might still be the greatest food city I’ve ever been to.
The first real meal I had in Hong Kong was courtesy of my cousin, who is lucky enough to call HK home and to whom I owe about 85% of my HK food journey. He took me to a traditional Cantonese restaurant, the sort with the ubiquitous Lazy Susan crowded with small plates and bamboo baskets, and the first dish he ordered was, fittingly, a plate of the most perfect char siu, lacquered ruby red and glistening, sliced into pieces with the fat and lean distributed just so. I’m pretty sure from that first bite (or, that first plate, since I think I single-handedly ate all of it) I didn’t have a bad meal for the entire four months I was there. Chewy, crumbly pineapple cakes from Kee Wah, nibbled in their plastic jackets on an open-air walkway from Central to Sheung Wan; fish ball skewers in electric yellow curry on a narrow street in Causeway Bay; “quicksand” lau sa bao filled with molten egg custard at a dim sum joint that opened at 3 AM for the late night crowd. Creamy yuan yang and silky-soft scrambled eggs on toast at Australia Dairy Company. A mountain of ground pork with a single salted duck yolk perched exactly on top, the most umami-filled dish I’ve ever had, ordered for me in fluid Cantonese by a friend and shared under fluorescent lighting in a hole-in-the-wall on a balmy fall night. I used to take the bus to a random neighborhood and just wander, window-shopping food things, until I found something I wanted to eat, and from the KFC egg tarts to the best, penthouse restaurant hairy crab, it was all some of the best food I’ve ever had.