Asia City trip Featured Gastronomy

Hong Kong food tours: gastronomy for the brave

Looking for spectacular food tours in Hong Kong? You’ve come to the right place! The Hong Kong Free Tours Delicacy Tour stays far away from your standard dim sum and noodle stalls, and gives you a taste of the real local flavours. And at times this can get quite shocking.

 

Lately, things have been a bit less cheerful in Hong Kong – and that’s putting it mildly – but it’s still one of the world’s great cities. It’s one of my absolute favourites in Asia, and effortlessly combines the cosmopolitan character of New York with the kitsch and glamour of Hollywood – all covered in a generous dash of Chinese culture. In and around the gleaming Central skyscrapers, you’ll see suits from all over the world work themselves into a burnout, but in the many dusty side streets, you’ll find everything from colourful night markets to booze holes and cheap family restaurants.

“The number of food tours in Hong Kong is incredible, and the offer quite varied. I decided to book one of the more notorious ones.”

It’s in these little alleys you’ll make the most surprising culinary discoveries. The number of food tours in Hong Kong is incredible, and the offer quite varied. I decided to book one of the more notorious ones: the Delicacy Tour by Hong Kong Free Tours. No vanilla bullshit for soft cruise tourists here, but the real deal for real culinary adventurers. Together with a charming guide, I would venture into the Hong Kong night scene and taste a myriad of so called “less familiar” dishes. It promised to be a legendary evening.

 

Hong Kong food tours: not for the faint-hearted

It was already dark when I waded through the crowds in the always bustling Kowloon. Located on the other side of Victoria Harbour, Kowloon is one of the best areas to base yourself if you want the full Hong Kong experience. It’s a super diverse neighbourhood, the views from the promenade are stunning, and you’re at the ideal spot for the daily laser show – yes, there is a daily laser show. In the Jordan MRT Station I was met by Alla: a cute and perhaps slightly sadistic young girl in a hip yellow jacket, who would guide me through the urban buffet tonight. I wasn’t the only customer. A group of English teachers from the US were already waiting to start the adventure. A jolly gang indeed, but many among them wouldn’t be laughing very long.

 

*left pic: Alla in all her sadistic glory

 

Hong Kong food tours: “the weird parts are the best parts”

The first leg of the evening took us through the local night market, where Alla led us to a fairly disturbing looking stall where we were presented with a cup full of unidentifiable chunks of meat. Various intestines: was there ever a more appetising starter?

‘Don’t worry,’ she said with a broad smile, ‘It’s all beef or pork!’

‘Oh! Too bad I can’t eat pork!’ shouted the group’s only Muslim girl, wiping the sweat from her forehead with visible relief.

‘Why don’t you just eat the normal parts?’ asked a now very worried looking American next to me.

‘Because the weird parts are the best parts!’ Alla replied, smiling even wider as she handed us the cup of doom.

My new US posse didn’t look too eager to start chomping down on the organ meat and – admittedly – I wasn’t exactly keen to go ham on it either. My years of experience at the notorious Antwerp student initiations didn’t fail me though. I fished out a rubbery piece of mystery-meat, jammed it in my pie hole and viciously started chewing it while I tried not to throw up. ‘Those yanks won’t best me tonight goddamned’ I thought, swallowing my chunk of grub with a grim look on my face. For I am a real man, and real men clean their plate.

 

Shots with a hint of penis

Fortunately, the contents of that first cup turned out to be the worst thing we would eat that evening. Later we were served snacks that looked much stranger, but tasted way better. I don’t want to spoil the surprise completely so I’ll keep silent about most of it, but there’s a little bone in a duck tongue and now both you and I know this.

“Always willing to push my already impressive virility to new and undiscovered heights, I quickly decided on the bottle with the floating snake penises. Still holding onto my student days for strength, I said my formalities and then quickly slammed down the D-bomb.”

All this eating makes a person grow thirsty, so Alla – still as charming as ever but now openly sadistic – took out a couple of bottles of liquor for us to take shots from. Always willing to push my already impressive virility to new and undiscovered heights, I quickly decided on the bottle with the floating snake penises. Still holding onto my student days for strength, I said my formalities and then quickly slammed down the D-bomb. Prosit senior, prosit corona, ad fundum!

 

A well-deserved pit stop

After some more treats, everyone felt ready for a real pit stop to grant ourselves some liquid courage. Fortunately, you’ll find a 7-Eleven on almost every street corner in Hong Kong, so we were soon in possession of an impressive number of various beer cans. This seemed to revitalise the group’s enthusiasm. The women turned it into a ‘who can eat the craziest stuff’ contest, the one Muslim girl who didn’t drink clung on to her ‘only halal food’ excuse with more conviction after every new insane dish she saw, and I just took it all in and kept tasting titbits here and there. The only other dude in our little band however, had given up and looked like he was having continuous Vietnam flashbacks. What a group.

 

A rich dessert

After several hours of tasting, walking and drinking, we finally arrived at the last leg of the evening. Time for dessert, and to our joy it looked delicious and surprisingly normal. Jelly pudding with an aftertaste. Was this a genuine reward for our whole ordeal? Was there a hint of mercy hidden in Alla’s cold heart after all? We got a quick answer to that question after everyone’s bowl was empty.

‘Guess what was in the pudding guys !? FROG VAGINA! YEAAAH!’

She shouted it as she gave me an enthusiastic pat on the back. The table went quiet for a moment, and then everyone burst out laughing.  I still don’t know if she was messing with us or not – couldn’t find any further evidence on the matter. I could have nibbled on the respective genitals of two different animal classes in just one night in Hong Kong, and I honestly don’t know how to feel about that.

 

Hong Kong food tours: conclusion en disclaimer

Indeed, people in Hong Kong (and in Asia as a whole) eat a number of things that might feel strange to our western tastes and ethics. But are we really that different? We cook live lobsters to preserve the taste and colour, a pig is smarter than the average dog but lives a cruel, stressful life until it is chased through the slaughterhouse, and eating horse meat is considered a heresy all over the world but we Belgians simply don’t care. Different regions, different standards. When you only focus on the Asian market stalls when it comes to animal cruelty (no matter how noble your cause is) I strongly advise you to go and take a look in some of our own abattoirs, and then wonder how substantial the difference really is. Vegetarianism is not only good for the animals, it’s also one of the better ways to fight climate change in your personal life. Maybe one day I’ll convert to it myself. Until then, we’re all hypocrites.

 

When I’m in Hong Kong, I always stay in the Guangdong Guesthouse. This is a tiny but clean and quiet hostel in the infamous Chungking Mansions. It’s run by just one man named Simon, and he’s dedicated his life to it. Wonderful guy.

Hong Kong Free Tours does more than just food tours. They offer a wide arrange of different walks and hikes: from guided tours on Hong Kong Island and in Kowloon, to temple visits and even a long hike along the Dragon’s Back Trail to the beach. Most of the tours are free and work with a tipping system.

Want to discover some other Asian cities? Click here to read my stories on New Delhi, TaipeiSingapore and Hanoi. Looking for a destination in Belgium? There are plenty of weird things to do in AntwerpBrugesSpaKoksijdeLiège and Charleroi as well.

 

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Nathalie Van Eyck
    June 11, 2020 at 1:16 pm

    Er is geen haar op mijn hoofd dat er aan denkt om ooit eens naar Hong Kong te gaan, maar heb het artikel uit nieuwsgierigheid wel gelezen. Nu nog minder zin in, trouwens :p. Wel weer uiterst aangenaam om te lezen en je foto’s te bekijken. Well done!

    • Reply
      Jonathan
      June 11, 2020 at 1:28 pm

      Ze hebben er ook “normaal” eten hoor. Jammer dat je niet wil gaan. Hong Kong is echt het NYC van Azië. 🙂

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