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People say that the way to a city’s culture is through its food, and in the case of Hong Kong, where culinary heritage is celebrated with utmost zest and fervour, the aphorism couldn’t ring any truer. Shaped by a distinct blend of Cantonese and Western influences, Hong Kong’s food culture reflects the stories, lives, and history of its people—and in spite of what tourist brochures may tell you—goes far beyond the obvious suspects of fish balls, dim sum, and pineapple buns.
If you are looking to get an intimate understanding of local cuisine, then you’re in luck! Experience platform Mylocals is here to introduce us to five cultural food experiences so you can taste your way through Hong Kong like never before.
Conjuring the culinary flavours of Hong Kong with a street food crawl is practically a rite of passage, but if you have already done the mandatory graze around Mong Kok, then perhaps it’s time to expand your food horizon!
With a vibrant community of ethnic minorities, Kowloon City is the perfect microcosm of Hong Kong’s culturally diverse cuisine. While its glowing reputation for Thai food precedes itself, the neighbourhood’s decades-old streets are also known to flourish with hot pot joints, Chiuchow dessert spots, and traditional local bakeries.
Unsure of where to begin your food crawl? Led by Virginia Chan, the Kowloon City night owl food adventure is a good place to start. The well-curated culinary tour highlights six tasting locations and seven different local eats in Kowloon City, taking your taste buds on an exciting flavour journey with the likes of Thai salad, Hong Kong beef brisket, Chiuchow noodles, Chinese Islamic beef sandwiches, and Indonesian skewers!
From dried scallop congee and stir-fried water spinach with shrimp paste to salted fish fried rice, you could say that dried seafood is an MVP in many local family kitchens. What better window into the culture of this key culinary ingredient than by taking a trip to the heartland of its production?
A quaint fishing village on the Western shores of Lantau Island, Tai O is one of the few of its remaining kind in Hong Kong that has held on to its traditional character and way of life over the centuries. Witness the veteran fishermen and dried seafood producers in action with a guided walk by Ken Cheung through the history-steeped fishing village.
Giving you a glimpse into the local fisherman culture, the tour walks you through Tai O’s maze of the small, interconnected alleyways where the underwater critters are brought out to dry in the sun the old fashion way and street stalls peddle their bountiful wares. After some extensive exploring and munching on local seafood eats, the experience ends with a boat ride to see the iconic stilt houses up-and-close. If you’re lucky, you might even spot some playful Chinese white dolphins along the way!
Traditional Chinese medicine might not be the first thing that jumps to mind when it comes to quintessential Hong Kong food experiences, and yet, locals swear by Chinese herbal tea and soup shops for good reason. For the uninitiated, the mysterious dark elixirs with their exotic ingredients can be both intimidating and overwhelming, which perhaps explains why Chinese medicine has been pushed to the sidelines and away from mainstream interest. However, a deeper dive into the arts of its practices reveals fascinating powers and applications.
For a digestible crash course on the subject, Hong Kong a la Carte hosts a traditional Chinese medicine tour around the Western District, an established hub for traditional herbalist shops and pharmacists. Not only will you be able to learn about some peculiar ingredients used in traditional Chinese medicine, such as snakes, worms, lizards, alligator paws, you will also get a chance to visit a traditional snake soup restaurant and sample the classic winter delicacy!
Whether it’s steamed, pan-fried, or dunked in a bowl of soup noodles, dumplings consistently rank high up on Hong Kongers’ comfort food list. Chewy, thin dough wrapped around some form of meat or vegetable filling, these hand-folded parcels of juicy joy are not only endlessly versatile, but they’re also easy and a whole lot of fun to make!
So if you’re looking to dip your toe into Chinese cooking, look no further than the organic traditional dumplings cooking class hosted by Felicity Yau, a self-taught connoisseur of Chinese cooking. Apart from teaching you how to make traditional Chinese pork dumplings from scratch, Felicity will also take participates to shop for ingredients together at a local wet market. By the end of the class, you’ll know all the secrets to perfecting this classic dish!
Long before the advent of speedboats or even the Star Ferry, sampans were the major way of navigating around Hong Kong’s watery thoroughfares and a vital lifeline for the Tanka people, who traditionally lived and fished on these flat-bottomed wooden boats. In the 1960s and 1970s, local boat dwellers turned their attention to the food and beverage business, operating floating restaurants and serving fresh seafood dishes. However, as rapid modernisation took its toll, these floating restaurants have all but disappeared.
To experience this unique piece of Hong Kong’s cultural heritage first-hand before it’s too late, join the typhoon shelter crab seafood dinner on a sampan boat led by Virginia Chan, where you will board a traditional moored sampan boat and enjoy a sumptuous six-course seafood feast paired with Chinese huadiao wine. Headlining the menu is none other than spicy typhoon shelter crab, an iconic delicacy that originated from the sampans in typhoon shelters!
Looking for more off-the-beaten-path ways to explore the vibrant city of Hong Kong and soak up local culture? With over 90 experiences and private tours currently available for booking on the platform, Mylocals offers experiences (which are workshops led by passionate individuals) and private tours (which are led by licensed tour guides or agencies) that go beyond your typical tourist attractions and sightseeing routes.
Partnering with licensed tour agencies across the region, as well as local experts passionate about sharing their love of the city, the peer-to-peer marketplace is your gateway to connecting with the city in a more raw and immersive way. From food and local culture to history, adventures, arts, and more, there is a fountain of unique experiences waiting for you to discover. Book yourself in for an adventure today!