The city that never sleeps (because it’s too busy eating)

Hong Kong is one location that should be at the top of every adventure foodies travel list.

This small but densely packed region is a proverbial melting pot of worldly cuisines, that’s even spawned its own unique fusion, à la east-meets-west.

Bursting at the seams with cuisine, a walk through HK Island’s Mid-Levels (streets lined with international restaurants) will surely waft scents of curry, kebab, fish ‘N chips, escargot, and hamburgers, all up yer nostrils within the first few steps.

However, outside the expat/tourist bubble, there’s a much more dominant and regionally suitable cuisine filling people’s tummies – as it has for thousands of years. Forget about your battered chicken balls drenched in sweet and sour ‘heart attack’ sauce. We’re talking about real deal tradition Chinese dishes.

Forget about your battered chicken balls drenched in sweet and sour ‘heart attack’ sauce. We’re talking about real deal tradition Chinese dishes.

The eight great (so they say) regional cuisines of mainland China

Shandong – Famous for its wide selection of ingredients and cooking styles.

Jiangsu cuisine – Apparently famous for being soft, but not quite mushy…

Anhui – Characterised by its use of wild herbs from the land and ocean.

Zhejiang – In general, Zhejiang-style food is not ‘greasy but has a fresh and soft flavor with a mellow fragrance’.

Fujian – known to be ‘light but flavorful, soft, and tender, with particular emphasis on umami’ (you know… sweetness, sourness, bitterness, saltiness, and umami).

Cantonese – As close as Chinese food gets to the Western concept, and also, as close as mainland China gets to Hong Kong.

Hunan – All the regions developed their style based on what ingredients were available to them. Hunan has a high agricultural output, so dishes from here are many and varied.

Sichuan – Tons of garlic and chili make Sichuan cuisine my all-time favorite Chinese cuisine.

Making the most of this menu

If there’s one part of me that’s never been adventurous, it’s my tastebuds. Sure, I’ve munched the odd insect and swallowed a beating heart or two, but in general, I’ve had little desire to order intrepidly.

That is until 10 months ago when Kaleigh and I booked our flights to depart the land of bamboo-eating pandas. We completely changed our mindset and decided to make the most of the local cuisine, particularly after being introduced to biang biang.

Realizing we only had one-year to digest a huge chunk of Asia’s culture, we set ourselves hard at it and quickly became Kowloon food explorers; discovering plenty of incredible ‘darkside’ local eateries.

Discovering dim sum

Usually served in steaming baskets, these small dishes are made for sharing and are usually quite cheap. Spring rolls, dumplings, rice dishes, and buns are a staple for any dim sum dinner plate.

But my all-time favorite dish has to be the mouthwatering xiaolongbao. Small, dumpling-shaped domes, filled with soup and a little meatball. These parcels of goodness are designed to be taken down in one glorious chomp.

With just two months till we depart, the South China Morning Post serendipitously published a video (above) detailing Hong Kong’s best xiaolongbao restaurants.

A list which Kaleigh and I have now made it our mission to eat through before departure…

Come back on Saturday the 13th of May for our first review of the seven xiaolongbao restaurants recommended by the SCMP!

*Due to the misplacement of a vital SD card, the next article’s fate hangs in the balance… for now.

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