There are many things that Hong Kong is known for, and weird food is definitely one of them. Strange, smelly, gruesome – you name it, it’s probably on a menu somewhere in the city. But forget stinky tofu and beef tripe noodles, as we’re bringing out the big guns with our roundup of the weirdest foods Hong Kongers love to eat. Fair warning though, those with a sensitive gag reflex might want to look away…
Oh, durian – how we admire the way you stink up the entire room every time you appear, how we cherish the sweet taste of soggy garbage that sends shivers down our spines. You really are a conversation starter – it’s almost like you’re trying to warn us that you shouldn’t be eaten with your hostile, prickly exterior. While this controversial fruit has many gagging at the mere sight of it, for others it’s a mouthwatering snack that can’t be resisted, hence the presence of durian ice cream, shakes, and durian buffets around the city. Toothpaste at the ready!
2. Yuen Yeung (Milk Tea and Coffee)
Can’t decide whether you want tea or coffee? Then how about both? Some call it “Cofftea”, some say it’s “Teafee”, but in Hong Kong, the true origin of this magnificent concoction is simply called Yuen Yeung. Made up of seven parts milk tea and three parts coffee, Yuen Yeung can be served hot or cold, and is a hugely popular drink that can be ordered in most Cha Chaan Tengs. Don’t worry if caffeine isn’t exactly your friend, as there’s a kid-friendly version of Yuen Yeung where milk tea and coffee are replaced by Horlicks and Ovaltine – sounds good to us!
3. Turtle Jelly
Yep, that’s right, turtle jelly. And no, it’s not a brief attempt at making turtle-flavoured jelly. Made from the powdered bottom shell of a turtle, mixed with a large variety of Chinese herbs, Turtle Jelly, otherwise known as Gui Ling Go in Cantonese, is a jelly-like Chinese medicine that many Hong Kongers like to eat as a dessert. Since the jelly itself doesn’t have much flavour, except for a hint of bitterness, many dessert shops serve it with syrup on the side, or even mix in different fruits and condiments. If you’re feeling brave enough to give it a try, we recommend heading to Hoi Tin Tong for a truly authentic taste.
4. Chicken Feet
Out of all the weird and wonderful foods that Hong Kongers love this eat, chicken feet probably look the most unappealing. Usually found in dim sum restaurants, these bad boys are first deep fried, then stir fried with a black fermented soybean sauce. Whether you love it or hate it, this deliciously gruesome dim sum dish will certainly serve up a surprise at the dinner table.
5. Thousand-Year-Old Eggs
Living in Hong Kong, we’re sure most of you have come across thousand-year-old eggs before. Although they haven’t exactly been preserved for a thousand years, these extremely pungent eggs date back thousands of years to a story about a duck farmer. When the farmer came across a handful of duck eggs that had been accidentally buried underneath a pile of rice husk and firewood ashes for a long time, he discovered that despite their strong odour, the eggs tasted rather extraordinary. From then on, thousand-year-old eggs became a part of the daily diet for many Hong Kongers. Now we know they don’t look too appealing, and they’re not going to be the tastiest eggs you’ve ever had for breakfast, but we say they’re a definite must-try.
6. Bird’s Nest
Bird’s nest doesn’t sound too bad, right? Well, you might want to think again once you realise that what we call bird’s nest is in fact, saliva – solidified bird saliva to be exact. As stomach-churning as that may sound, bird’s nest is actually a fine delicacy that has been found to help with stomach issues, improve the respiratory system, and contribute towards healthier looking skin. Served hot or cold, sweet or savoury, this is an occasional indulgence that many Hong Kongers love to treat themselves to once in a while.
Alright, alright, get all your silly jokes and giggles out the way, we know geoducks are rather ridiculous looking because they look like – well, delicious clams of course! (What were you thinking?) Known as the world’s largest burrowing clam, geoduck is an expensive seafood that many people like to enjoy, either served raw and thinly sliced like sashimi, or cooked in a hotpot. We know it may be hard to grasp that these phallic looking clams are a delicious seafood, but if you can just get past their appearance, we promise you’re in for a real treat.