How could I go to HK and not talk about the food?
It was extremely difficult for me to not get caught up with the food culture. Food is everywhere and so interesting to look at. There are a few things I still wish I had the stomach room to try.
When eating at smaller local establishments, you have to get over the idea of having a table to yourself. Many times, I was told where to sit. Sometimes it is at a very small booth where you may be touching knees when the person across from you. Quickly shuffling so that you aren't directly across from one another solves the problem.
And don't be surprised when others join you in the middle of your meal. And don't expect them to necessarily say hello or smile or even acknowledge you. They are there to eat, period. So don't be offended. I read somewhere that meaningless chatter can be interpreted as delaying others from doing something more important, like making money.
Found a number of neighbourhood restaurants to be quite intimidating because
the outside glass was pasted with Chinese menus. And because I couldn't see
in, nor read any of it, it took a leap of faith and good strong hunger, to propel me to
People will line up, sometimes right down the street, for a restaurant. A picture I posted earlier of breakfast at the Australia Dairy Company was one of those places. I made sure to get there by 7 am. They let me climb in under the half open metal gate because I was so early. Apparently it is not uncommon to find 50 people in line.
If you don't know where to eat, searching out recommended places is a great way to start. Partly because you often will have to find your way to a new area and that in itself can turn out to be quite the adventure. Secondly, it is a way to try a new food. It didn't matter to me if I didn't end up liking it or not. The journey to find it was still very worthwhile. Discovered some neat locales from that.
I can't remember the name of the bakery/cafe that was touted as serving the best pineapple bun (nothing to do at all with pineapples) but I remember sitting there, sharing a table with 2 men, both reading newpapers and wondering what was the big deal with this bun that had a thick slice of pure butter in it?
I really got into the Hong Kong style milk tea though. It is strong and creamy. I had a time and a half finding the above place and by the time I got there, I had eaten a bun from what ended up being the wrong spot and had almost given up before finding it.
Speaking of having a difficult time finding a place, I had the most difficult time ever, in all my travels, remembering where one particular small restaurant was (other food picture in HKG post). It took me 3 tries, walking up and down for hours, each way about 4 km, over 3 days before I finally found it.
Not before I started seriously questioning if I had wandered through some kind of secret Narnia doorway...Because, seriously, Kowloon is mostly a grid pattern, which made me feel even more silly. I've always been proud of my sense of direction in foreign cities.
It was so incredibly frustrating because I remembered it was one street in, on a corner, parallel to Nathan Rd, near where the kind of scary feeling giant coffin making shop was, close to the lady I bought some bananas from. Which was close to the bakery that I bought the best tasting egg tarts from. Which was close to the grumpy woman who sold me a cup of freshly squeezed cane juice...How hard could that be? But I couldn't find Any One of them.
On the 2nd day, I found the coffin shop but nothing else. On the 3rd day, when I began to wonder about my sanity because I just couldn't let it go, as it was a matter of personal pride, and suddenly I recognized the fruit stand and literally froze in my tracks and may have caused a collision with the person walking behind me. It wasn't the same lady manning it, but a man. However I recognized the layout of their produce...
So I walked over, and looked back across the street. Long story short, I was able to piece together the egg tart and cane juice locales but still couldn't find the restaurant. I actually had admitted defeat and was heading back to my hotel to start packing when I walked by it and recognized the unique stools.
I cannot describe just how elated I felt. Immediately I whipped out my phone and took a picture of it, the name of the intersecting streets, the surrounding buildings. The owner of the restaurant actually came out to see what I was doing as I am positive he must have thought I looked like a crazy stalker person. I told him I had eaten at his place 4 days ago. That seemed to satisfy him. Then proceeded in to sit down and out eat the 2 men and woman I was seated with.