Thursday, July 29, 2010
HK: I went out to look for dim sum, but found stinky tofu instead! Street food in Hong Kong
I really did not want to leave my comfy hotel room after we checked in. Look at the view from my window. That's Kowloon Park, so serene and peaceful amidst the heckling bustle of Tsim Sha Tsui. Just made me want to relax some more. But it seemed equally criminal not to make full use of our time exploring Hong Kong, and we had a few hours before dinner. Plus, I hadn't had lunch, although the delicious lychees from the hotel was fuel enough for the time being.
So off I went to look for Tim Ho Wan, the hole-in-the-wall dim sum joint with a one Michelin star rating. It's near Yau Ma Tei, just 3 MTR stops away. The hotel is just two blocks away from the Tsim Sha Tsui MTR, so travelling was really easy.
I got off at Yau Ma Tei station and walked according to the map.
But I could not find it! Hey, how difficult can it be? Just look for the swarming hordes and long queues outside that famous green-worded signboard. Right? If I can find all my eating locations in Japan despite their weird address system, I should be able to find this.
I certainly got the street right, but there was no busy dim sum joint. Were they closed? OK, to be honest, I was probably distracted by the gun replica shops opposite. Man, these look almost real!
Oh well. I was really tired anyway, so I gave up. And given the mixed reviews on Openrice, maybe not finding Tim Ho Wan was a blessing in disguise. *sniff* So I tell myself.
I walked around looking for an alternative lunch, taking in the busy sights of Mongkok, when suddenly I was hit by a horrific stench. Oh man, did a rubbish truck overturn nearby? Or did something die hidden somewhere it could not be removed?
When I saw the culprit, I smiled and gave a sigh of relief. It's only stinky tofu! 臭豆腐
Big cubes of it, looking really crispy on the outside. You can ladle on as much garish-looking sauces as you want too.
I've had this before in Singapore, but it smelt different somehow (like diarrhoea). This one didn't seem so bad upclose, but I regret I wasn't brave enough to try it. Next time, I will.
There are lots of deep-fried snacks everywhere. Street food in Hong Kong does share some similarity with those in Singapore - we have the same skewered delights like deep-fried squid, sausages and cuttlefish balls. But they seem to have more variety and more exotic stuff. Lots more innards, pork parts, and the famous curry fish balls ("ka lei yu tan") that are so beloved here.
The pot stickers or "guo tie" look really good - fat and juicy greasebombs! In the foreground, I think are some supersized takoyaki.
OK, there are some things that just can't be made photogenic, no matter how tasty they are. The mixed beef offal boiling furiously with whole oranges, for example. Looks like parts of Loch Ness having an onsen.
The one thing I did try was the "kai tan zai" or egg ball waffles. I got this (sesame and coconut flavour) from a popular stall at Granville Road that had lots of press clippings and a perpetual queue. Crispy on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside. It's nice to pluck off the "eggs" and eat them.
That's it for street food in Hong Kong. After this, a famous Hong Kong steamed milk dessert and a really nice dinner. Stay tuned!