Food is a lens through which to experience a culture, and it’s also beautiful when it brings people together. A group of girls in my dorm became friends all because one girl offered to make us a home-cooked meal one night, and now these are the people that I spend most of my time with!
In honor of the magic that is food, I’ll highlight some of my favorite meals that I’ve had in Hong Kong:
Taco Night in Hall 6
Led by two exchange students from Mexico, the hall that I live in organized a Taco Night in one of the common rooms. Besides eating tasty homemade tacos, it was an opportunity to meet more local students, which doesn’t happen as often as chances to meet other exchange students.
This meal was one of the most unique restaurant experiences I’ve had. To start, you’re seated at a bar by yourself with partitions separating your table space from the people on either side. Secondly, the chefs are in front of you, but you can’t see them because there’s another partition there. You order your customized ramen by checking off boxes on a slip of paper and then pressing a button to let the kitchen know that you’re done. When the food is ready, the partition in front of you is raised up so that your bowl of hot, delicious ramen is served. Instead of sitting at a table looking at and chatting with your friends, it’s just you and your ramen.
Sham Shui Po Tour
After having explored Hong Kong a bit, it’s easy to just go back to the same favorite areas and do the same activities. This walking tour of the Sham Shui Po district of Hong Kong was special because we had a guide who was familiar with the area. He pointed out hole-in-the-wall eating spots and told us some background information about the district. We walked by a street with semi-permanent structures built by people without other kinds of homes, which contrasted sharply from the hip, modern districts of Hong Kong. However, getting to know a city includes seeing both the positive and negative sides. We ended the tour with a meal at an authentic Chinese restaurant, characterized by a round table with a lazy susan and endless rounds of dishes.
Hot Pot in Hang Hau
Vegetables are difficult to come by in Hong Kong, where most meals consist of meat and rice. Whenever I’m in need of a fresh, filling meal, I go to a hot pot restaurant near my university. At this particular spot, each person has their own pot of boiling broth, and for 90 minutes, you can eat as much as you want. Meat options include beef, lamb and chicken, while the buffet offers various different noodles, vegetables and other food. After cooking your food, you can dip it in sauce to add flavor. After the hot meal, it’s time to hit up the frozen yogurt machine for the perfect end to the best 90 minutes of your life.
Bread Show Bakery
I love, love, love Chinese bakeries. Hong Kong is full of them, and it’s hard not to go into every single one that you see. En route to Art Basel, I walked by this bakery called Bread Show and just couldn’t resist. I ended up buying green tea and chocolate mochi and coffee bread, which were amazing and great snacks in between checking out art galleries.
One Dim Sum
I’m also a massive fan of dim sum, which I explain to people who don’t know what it is as “the Chinese version of tapas.” It’s actually something that I miss when I’m at WashU because there are several great dim sum places back home in the Boston area but not many in St. Louis. Studying abroad in Hong Kong means that there are always new dim sum restaurants to try. In fact, there’s even one on campus! Most recently, I went to One Dim Sum with my roommate, her friend visiting from Turkey and two other Americans. We ordered way too much food, but we wanted to try everything from chicken feet to the restaurant’s signature mango dessert. The cool part about this place was that they had photos for every item on the menu, as well as the name in seven different languages: English, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Russian and Thai.
Sometimes, you just gotta make yourself some pasta and watch Netflix.