The Durian fruit | smells like a dead body and tastes awful, try it if you dare. It is very popular in Hong Kong. (but not with me!)
Food Tours Hong Kong | Hong Kong Food Tours | Foodie Tours Hong Kong
A word about food and food tours
The diversity of food in Hong Kong is incredible, we have somewhere between 20,000 - 30,000 restaurants ( well over 20,000 have restaurant licenses issued by the Hong Kong Government so we can start there! ) and just about every type of food you can imagine is available in Hong Kong and caters to the really adventurous or those just looking to have a great meal.
Because of health issues it is NOT possible for me to do a typical food tour in Hong Kong which mainly involves doing food tastings at 6 different restaurants | food stalls over the course of 3 to 4 hours with a bit of culture thrown in, these tours can be fabulous and a great introduction to food here and many of my friends do them.
First up | The Hong Kong Government has always been somewhat fanatical about hygiene and food hygiene, we have 2 main departments:
The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD)
Centre for Food Safety
The FEHD issues restaurant licenses, food licensee and hawker licenses for “street food”
Objectives of Hawker Control
To reduce illegal hawking activities in streets by taking enforcement action
To reduce on-street licensed hawking activities by resiting eligible hawkers into new public markets and implementing the guideline of not issuing new hawker licences under normal circumstances
To minimize through enforcement action, the nuisances created by street trading either by hawkers or by illegal extensions of shops onto the street area
You will note that the Government does not issue street food licenses just because of concerns for food safety or hygiene, they also want to keep the streets clear, clean and tidy, there are only 25 legal street food licenses in Hong Kong!
Compared to many Asian Cities “street food” from vendors with trolleys are almost non existent, our street food is sold from fixed pitch premises.
You can read my opinion on street food below, I am not a fan… we all know that travellers are prone to getting sick when eating strange food in foreign lands mainly because you have no resistance to the local microbes that can make you sick, it is a fact, so be cautious, if you have grown up on burgers, hot dogs and fish and chips your body may not react quite so well to a skewer of cow guts., my advice, use common sense and weigh the risks.
We do not have a hot line to report a case of the local version of “delhi belly” so there are no records on how many people have a bad reaction to local food, so I repeat again, use common sense, better yet, do a proper food tour with my friends!
…. and I have no problem at all with you stopping to sample street food despite my cautious approach!
Lin Heung Dim Sum | book a food tour with my friends, not me…
This is a typical quote about the Lin Heung Restaurant | an “iconic” local restaurant amongst thousands of “iconic” local restaurants (!)
”In fact, this 1920’s dim sum parlour is so infamous that a Timeout HK article has listed it as one of the top Hong Kong Chinese Restaurants in HK to try; going so far to say that “if you’re going to have dim sum only once during your stay in Hong Kong, this is the place. A decades-old parlour in Hong Kong’s Central District, they make no concessions to modernity or to English speakers, so be prepared for pantomime or go with a Cantonese-speaking friend.”
and this is my interpretation of exactly the same restaurant |
“in a nutshell, appalling - for the life of me I cannot understand why anyone would want to eat in this place, it is crowded and very noisy (a typical local restaurant), lots of pushing and shoving, dirty, cockroaches were scurrying across the floor, the washing up area for dirty dishes is in the middle of the restaurant, no tables to be had, essentially if there are four of you in the party you have to split up and stand in 4 locations and try and grab a seat if one comes up and then you have to wait for someone else to leave the table so you can grab another seat and so on and so forth but the worst part…. the food is distinctly average, you can easily wait for 30 - 60 minutes and for what?! “
You see what I mean, twice recently I have been with guests who had read about the place and wanted to experience it and I think that is the point and this is why you should book specific food tours with my friends who can make this sort of experience happen, I have eaten in this place over the years probably a dozen times and each time I swear I won’t go back but one thing is for certain, if you want an Anthony Bordain experience then this place is absolutely fabulous, you will not remember the food but by golly you will remember the experience.
For the record both sets of guests mentioned above gave up after 45 minutes, they just did not think it was worth the wait.
Funnily enough both times I took them to a very famous Tea House, the Luk Yu Tea House on Stanley Street, essentially a 7 minute walk away and it is from the same era, it is the total opposite in every respect, I love this place, it has character in spades, the dim sum is excellent but it is a lot more expensive…. oh and you will remember it as an experience as well.
So you need to think…. are you looking for great food and a bit of a cultural experience? ( a typical food tour) or are you looking for a great cultural experience with a bit of great food? (a typical J3 Private Tours, Tour)
This does NOT mean however that I stay away from food, far from it, I am more than happy to stop for lunch or a snack, it can be Chinese Food, Asian Food or Western Food, you can let me know by ticking the appropriate box on my booking form… please bear in mind that I can be pretty blunt when people ask my opinion of food (particularly when it comes to dodgy restaurants and street food) I am NOT a foodie but I have eaten in well over 1,200 Restaurants in Hong Kong since 1972 so I have an opinion | but what’s the old cliche… “one man’s meat is another man’s poison” food can be a touchy subject in Hong Kong, many people will take the middle ground and tell you what you want to hear, with me, you get my good | bad | ugly opinion.
Let me be clear, I am not a chef, food critic, blogger or journalist, I really cannot deconstruct a bowl of wonton noodles (and why would you do that?), I am a Private Tour Guide and proud of it and quite often I am completely flummoxed by the above mentioned people and how they write about food, to me it is either great, good, poor or awful, so you have guessed it, I do not deconstruct a dish but I love great food. I have tried just about every Chinese dish imaginable in Hong Kong and honestly most of it is pretty darn good but some food just makes you want to gag and I will NEVER suck out the eyeballs of a fish in an effort to improve my eyesight!. I have eaten in three Michelin 3 Star Restaurants plus many 2 stars and 1 stars and yes, the 3 star establishments were awesome but then again I was not paying the bill (!) and in these places it is not just about the food. I have had great food in decidedly dodgy Chinese Restaurants but most of time you have forgotten the meal 30 minutes after leaving the restaurant | this is why you need to book a food tour with people who are real foodies!
…. and on this one I risk been burned at the stake for daring to call a pineapple bun bland… for the life of me I have no idea why people rave about this “dessert style” product. I have a sweet tooth and I am a dessert guy so I can be pretty hard to please, but the pineapple bun… gosh, so bland and really messy to eat and NO trace of pineapple in the bun but it is an iconic Hong Kong food product so I guess you need to try one!… on the other hand I can eat 6 Hong Kong egg tarts from the Tai Cheong Bakery in one sitting… go figure.
Hong Kong is famous for so called street food (but there are roughly 25 legal licenses in Hong Kong for street food) personally I give it a wide berth, it is cheap and cheerful and most of the time pretty average but that is just my opinion - millions of younger people would say the opposite, Bubble Tea is a bit of a thing here as well… I don’t drink tea so I have no opinion on this drink.
I am always happy to visit street markets which most people find quite fascinating as they get to see how Hong Konger’s shop for food and I know a bit about Chinese Medicine and the connection to food products.
….. and I am pretty sure we do not eat fried scorpions, worms, slugs, gecko’s and such in Hong Kong but a friend of mine does a tour where you sample a frogs vagina ( I am not joking) and a snake’s penis! which is an absolute 10 | 10 on the disgustingly yucky factor scale.
And one final point, the 2 main talking points about local restaurants.
1. Lets look at the facts
Hong Kong has 20,000 to 30,000 restaurants
spread over 426 sq. miles
95% of our population of 7.44 million people is Chinese, 4.2% Ethnic Minorities and 0.8% white
oh and we get 60+ million visitors a year to Hong Kong, 80% of them from Mainland China.
This is the main reason you never see foreigners in Chinese Restaurants in Hong Kong, it has nothing to do with the restaurant being a hidden gem or a place that only locals would eat at!
2. The best restaurants, Chinese or otherwise are actually in our great hotels, in most cities around the world this is simply not the case
Important | If you have allergies you must inform me when you book a tour
Very dodgy restaurant, Temple Street, Kowloon | the experience was fabulous the food was terrible and yes, I have eaten there and it has been demolished!
TCM | Traditional Chinese Medicine, apparently it cures everything.
.. and the final word
……and for those who want something a little different | Ned Kelly’s Last Stand Pub in Kowloon (since 1972), brilliant for a mid afternoon snack and drink, my guests love the place.
….. and being English and a native English speaker we should have no communication issues!