Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Noah solo in Hong Kong part II: Eating

Don't worry, I didn't forget to post about what I ate while abroad. If nothing else, it's one more chance to make Helen jealous!

Five nights in Hong Kong. Really, though, only three particularly memorable dinners. One really kick-ass lunch, though.
When I got in to HKUST I was really exhausted. I managed to get a decent dinner at the university cafeteria, but nothing special. I know it was nothing special because, to be honest, I can't quite remember what it was. I do know that my breakfast the next morning included that sticky rice with chicken, wrapped in a lotus leaf. That was surprisingly good.
The dinner Friday night was with the Humanities faculty, and I was a lot more focused on the discussion, and trying not to eat with my mouth full, than on the food. Really, though, it was when I left HKUST and headed back to Kowloon that things picked up.

In our rankings last November, I put the shanghai dumpling place 3rd. And I stick by that. But they were probably what I missed the most. So I was very excited when we went there for lunch on Saturday. Along with Helen's dad, her Uncle Dennis and Aunt Sylvia came and joined us. I was glad to see them, but at this point, I was pretty focused on the dumplings. And they were every bit as good as I remembered.
(Here's the trick, though – you have to order them as you go. They're best when they're really hot, so if you get a bunch at once they cool down a bit before you can eat them all).
Dinner that night was out in Sai Kung.
I was a bit surprised that we went out there. Having woken up in Sai Kung that morning, I was pretty sure that there was someplace in Kowloon or on Hong Kong Island that would have done the trick. But they were pretty excited about going out there. Same crowd, plus Helen's cousin Byron.
Unlike the last time, we didn't eat right on the waterfront. The neat thing was that we actually ate at a non-seafood restaurant, except that Helen's dad and uncle walked over to the seafood market with one of the guys from the restaurant, bought a fish and a bunch of seafood, and then they cooked it all up for us. Apparently the charge for this is 60 hong kong dollars, or less than 10 bucks. (Says Uncle Dennis: "It's very reasonable.") Some really tasty stuff, especially a shrimp dish with pork floss. (The US needs more pork floss). The best stuff there, though, was the roast duck.
Sunday night – Mother's day – was the big event. Back to the Pacific Club. And it didn't dissapoint. The overall standard there is just so high – from the pickled shallots to the duck to the steamed fish, everything is fresh, well-prepared, and delicious. Even the deep-fried fish heads. I didn't think I'd like that, but I did. I guess that means something, but I'm not sure what.
The final dinner was the most surprising. A thai restaurant that Helen's dad likes. It's at his golf club – a driving range in Kowloon. Not the sort of place I'd have expected. But it was the best Thai food I've ever had.
I don't know if it's more authentic or not. But it was a lot fresher. Most of the Thai food I've had is really heavily cooked. And I like that- stews that spend all day on the stove, lots of spices, etc. And the one curry we had was like that. But most of the dishes – shrimp, and then eel, from the grill; a shrimp and grapefruit salad – had a really light hand with the cooking. It still tasted Thai, but in a much more subtle way.
So those were my main Chinese meals, and my one Thai meal. Not sure what Helen would have thought of the rest of my eating – lots and lots of breads from the bakeries, a few too many candy bars, perhaps; a few meals from the street vendors, which took quite a bit of guts on my part, I thought – not to eat them, just to order them. I was pleased with my level of independce in Hong Kong. But it still doesn't match the guided tour that Helen gave me last November.

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