I’m starting to get a little bit concerned about how much I just LOVE food. Sometimes it can consume me for a whole day. Starting with reading cookbooks at 8am, deciding what do buy, where to buy it, how to cook it, who to invite to eat it – and then I start all over again. Or get lazy and scour websites for new restaurants to try. Having lived all over the place (Indonesia, Hong Kong, London, Beijing, Cayman Islands), I am fortunate to have been exposed to all these different cuisines in a local setting (Chinese food in Boston just ain’t Chinese food, sorry). I would also credit my mixed ethnicity for being adventurous and open minded when it comes to food.
My parents always made us sit at “The Big People Table” with the adults, to try everything at least once, and to finish everything that we put on our plates or else farmers would cry. Perhaps because of this, gathering around a table with people I care about is one of my favorite things.
Now I want to cross over to the next level. It’s not so much a want as a need to do it. I cook food, read about it, eat (lots of) it, talk about it, even dream about it…and now I shall attempt to write about it. I ain’t no writer, so please excuse me if the prose isn’t elegant. This is about one thing and one thing only – and I think we all know what that is!
Although I was not born here, I have lived in Hong Kong for 20+ years. I call it home, and will forever be bound to it. People are always a little bit puzzled, cock their heads to one side and furrow their brows a bit, when I tell them I’m from Hong Kong. “But…you don’t look Chinese…?” they say. (It’s true, I don’t). I repeat my rehearsed answer: “I’m only half Chinese, but I’ve lived here most of my life…”. Such is life in Hong Kong, we are an international pool of nationalities and cultures.
Thankfully, this means that we are exposed to a large array of restaurants and cuisines – you want it, we got it. However, Hong Kong diners are fickle and demanding – if a restaurant doesn’t tick most of the boxes, then adios amigos! I suppose this is the case in any city, but one of the unique points about Hong Kong is our crazily exorbitant rents – restaurants simply cannot afford to languish and stay empty for more than 2 months.
Two of the main boxes are (as always) location, location,location, and the ratio of quality/value. Hong Kongers have the money to spend on a great meal and good wine, but if it doesn’t meet the standards, then … well, you get the idea. I like to catagorise Hong Kong restaurants into the following categories:
1. The lifers – restaurants that have been here since our parents were children, whose decor hasn’t changed in 20 years, but you can rely on the food.
2. The fancy pants restaurants – where you go with the company credit card.
3. The hip and cool joints with good food and great atmosphere – places where you just want to see and be seen. You pay a bit more, but that’s okay.
4. The value for money restaurants – steak, burgers, fajitas and Caesar salads. Predictable (=boring), but well located and well priced.
5. The lovely local places – sit, order a bowl of noodles or a couple of baskets of dim sum for HK$30. Eat, and go.
5. The wishful thinkers – what were you thinking? You really thought that concept would work?
All of this food really inspires me, and I feel the need to share. I hope local readers will come to my blog to figure out what to eat for dinner tonight, and I hope that visitors will come to read what the good dining options are in this vast and vibrant city!
I also travel quite a bit, for work and for fun (once or twice a month isn’t uncommon). It’s always a really hectic and busy time abroad, but when possible I like to take note of the restaurants I visit. If not for you readers, then also for myself – I hate it when I go to any awesome restaurant and then promptly forget its name and location!
And finally, to my friends, thank you for your patience. I’m sorry that you always have to wait for me to take photos of ALL the food before eating it!
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Image Credit: The ‘macaroon rainbow’ banner on my homepage is a photographic print available from Sonja Caldwell Photography. Check her out at sonjacaldwell.etsy.com