STREET FOOD OF HONGKONG
Street food has been an essential part of Hong Kong’s history long before it became Asia’s financial capital. Early in the 19th century, small food stalls began to appear and quickly gained popularity for serving affordable meals to low-income workers. Around 1945, the government began issuing licenses an attempt to regulate the street food scene in the city. The street food stalls came to be known as “Dai Pai Dong” or big license stalls.
Dai Pai Dongs continued to grow in popularity and eventually, many street vendors gathered together in local markets instead of selling food individually. Over the years, Dai Pai Dongs faced the wrath of government regulations, and a recent food truck scheme by the government threatens to replace them completely. And yet, Dai Pai Dongs persist, thanks to the special place they hold in the heart of locals. It is, therefore, no surprise that to truly experience Hong Kong, you must explore the one thing that defines Hong Kong: it’s street food. When you are there, here are 5 awesome street foods you absolutely have to try.
1. Siu Mai
Without a doubt, Siu Mai, steamed dumplings, is one of the most popular street foods in Hong Kong. Almost at every corner of the city, you can find a stall that sells these savory steamed dumplings with a splash of chili oil and soy sauce.
2. Gaa Lei Yu Dan
Originally from Chiu Chow and Fujian provinces, Gaa Lei Yu Dan (fishballs) have been a popular dish in Southern China since the Qing dynasty. At first, fishballs in Hong Kong closely resembled the Chiu Chow style (white and boiled). The people of Hong Kong then added their own method by frying the fishballs until they become golden.
Made from freshly ground fish paste, the best fishballs are hand-beaten, rather than being machine-molded to ensure the perfectly smooth and bouncy texture. A spicy and tangy curry sauce adds the final touch before it gets served on a stick. If there is one food that defines Hong Kong, it would be curry fishball.
3. Bo Lo Bao
An iconic snack of Hong Kong, the Bo Lo Bao, pineapple bun, is a soft bread with a crunchy, flaky, and sugary crust. Ironically, there is no pineapple in the bun; it is called so due to its visual resemblance to a pineapple. Commonly served with a thick slice of butter sandwiched right in the middle, the pineapple bun is the perfect guilty pleasure snack.
4. Dan Tat
Personally, for me, there is nothing like the joy of walking past a bakery and smelling the aroma of a freshly baked Dan Tat, egg tart. While there is a lot of debate about the origins of egg tart, the popular opinion states that it was brought over during the 1940s from Macau, which used to be a Portuguese colony.
Over time, they were popularized by local cha chaan tengs (Hong Kong’s version of all-day diners) and eventually traditional bakeries like the famous Tai Cheong Bakery. Today, egg tarts have become the perfect company for afternoon tea but they are also pretty much consumed throughout the day. Needless to say, the famous ones sell out within hours as most people buy these by the box.
5. Gai Dan Jai
Eggettes, egg waffles or egg puffs are an indispensable part of childhood in Hong Kong. Made from eggs, sugar, and flour, these chewy golden yellow pancakes closely resemble the western style waffles but they are covered with fluffy bubbles. The bubbles should ideally be crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.
Behind the honeycomb-like structure lies an interesting hearsay story. A grocery store in the 1950s received a broken and unsellable shipment of eggs but the owner decided to experiment with it rather than throwing it away. He put the eggs into a mixture of sugar, flour, and evaporated milk and poured them into an iron cast mold which was shaped like a honeycomb. And the legendary egg puff was born. Nowadays, the egg puffs come with a choice of spreads like chocolate, strawberry, matcha, and coconut.
iamge source: Google