Hong Kong: Day 2

Whew! Second day! This was a good one. Taking a cue from our experience in Istanbul, we had again signed up for a food walk. We went a little fancier this time, opting for a private tour (just Grace, our guide Daniel, and myself). A bit pricey, but it was a really great experience.

We met up early (for vacation at least) in the Sheung Wan neighborhood. We got there a bit before our guide, so I grabbed a couple shots of what is probably more the "real" Hong Kong than the pictures from yesterday showed.

Once we met up with Daniel, we took us to our first stop: a snake shop. Apparently a very old institution that, despite the somewhat shabby appearances, caters to a lot of the top end restaurants and hotels in the city. Snake is traditionally a winter dish, so we didn't have any, but we did try some snake wine. The kind we tried was made with King Cobra and was actually the standard variety. Fancier options included bottles with the snake still inside, with a bunch of snake penises (why not?), or one made with only gall bladder. In all, I'm glad we tried the one we did. It didn't really taste particularly snakey (if that's even a thing). Mostly reminiscent of J├Ągermeister.

After the snake shop we visited a little congee place nearby. A little more typical breakfast fare than snake wine. No pictures, but the food was delicious!

The next stop was at an interesting Whole Foods meets Hong Kong delicacy supermarket. I'm not sure which was crazier: the prices or the fact that a lot of people were in there actually buying things. There is also an interest (obsession?) with genitalia and food that resembles them (see also: snake penis wine) which will become rapidly apparent in the photos.

While interesting, I can't say dried sea cucumbers or frog ovaries were particularly appetizing. Our next stop was, though: roast pork belly and roast goose (a Hong Kong specialty). So very, very good. Pictures below, though they feature lots of roast meat so maybe skip if that's not your thing.

After eating we hopped on a cab over to Wan Chai, another neighborhood. Daniel also explained just how much of the city was built on reclaimed land. Wikipedia page on it (with an interesting map) here. Doesn't look like that much in terms of total land area, but a huge portion of some of the busiest and most dense areas of the city are built on reclaimed land.

The Pawn. Used to be a (very successful) pawn shop, now a high-end shop and restaurant (of course). Also used to be just off the docks, but due to reclamation it's not about 10 blocks from the waterfront.

While in Wan Chai we went through a more everyday market. Pretty interesting. Pictures below (again, some butcher shops, so be advised).

Our last food stop was at Kin's Kitchen. A much fancier dim sum experience than any we'd had before. An interesting tidbit that Daniel shared with us: the "authentic" dim sum experience with the food trolleys is actually pretty much entirely gone from Hong Kong. So maybe not all that authentic any more. All that aside, the food was absolutely superb. There was a smoked chicken dish that was absolutely fantastic (and apparently put Kin's on the map). Yum. Should have taken some pictures, particularly of the desserts (black sesame rolls and these gelatinous coconut treats in fancy shapes).

We said goodbye to Daniel underneath a bridge, but not before he pointed out to us perhaps the most unique thing we'd seen so far: an area where elderly women would curse people on behalf of customers. Yes. You'd write the person's name on a piece of paper, give it to the old woman, and she'd then proceed to violently beat the paper with a shoe. Yes. I think there was a bit more ritual (perhaps with some incense and/or incantations) but that was the gist of it. Apparently they congregate in certain areas because this sort of cursing must be carried out under a bridge. Also this was like 50m from the metro. Just a normal thing. Pictures (and video!) below.

After ending the food walk we headed over to Sham Shui Po on the Kowloon side. Grace had heard good things about the fabric market there. While silk and cotton fabrics are fairly easy to get in Dhaka, some of the more specialty stuff isn't. On our way to the fabric shop we stopped in a bunch of other neat places - shops entirely dedicated to ribbons, to buttons, to bedazzling (well, not in name). Our trip was a definite success: Grace got the fabric she needed and made best buds with the shopkeepers. Yay!

Dinner that night (at a place called The Drunken Duck) was solid but suffered a bit in comparison to all the other amazing things we had eaten on our trip so far.