Three Stuffed Treasures (Jeen Yeung Sam Bao)
Often called ‘Three of a Kind,’ this dish is made up of pan-fried eggplant, green pepper and bean curd that is stuffed with a familiar fish paste. Commonly found on the streets of Hong Kong, these veggies are deep fried to give them that lovely golden, treasure-like color and their crispy bite. Like many other snacks, these are skewered to serve and accompanied by the usual soy sauce and chili oil combination (you don’t have to have both). There are some variations in stuffing if fish doesn’t tickle you fancy; other stuffings include mushroom and red sausage.
Rice Noodle Roll (Cheung Fun)
These delicious noodle rolls are made from rice milk that is steamed and rolled into sheets. Its appearance has been said to resemble pig intestines in look and texture, as they’re quite slick and slippery (ew?), subsequently given the nickname Chu Cheung Fun, quite literally translating to pig intestines. In the past, hawkers would cook and sell this snack from a wooden cart, snipping the rolls as needed after steaming. These small rolls are served with a generous slathering of soy sauce, a delightful peanut sesame sauce and sweet sauce with a sprinkling of sesame seeds.
Dragon’s Beard Candy (Lung So Tong)
Something you may be a little more familiar with in terms of its texture, this is a thick frosting that is pulled and stretched into small threads. Through this method, the result is something that is quite similar to that of candy floss (cotton candy). Chefs would slowly boil honey and maltose into a syrup, which is left to cool, before pulling and stretching it into the end product. It is quite unbelievable to think that the tiny hair-like threads have been man-made. These fine hairs are cut into lengths and wrapped in sesame seeds, coconut flakes, and peanuts to provide a melt-in-your-mouth experience.
Roasted Sweet Potato (Guk Fan Sü)
During the winter months, this is a must-try and something you can’t avoid seeing on the streets. To be greeted by the sudden waft and warmth of roasted sweet potatoes while running from the horribly cold winds can be incredibly comforting and to hold a piping hot sweet potato in your hands even more so. The sweetness of the potato is increased through a process of dehydration before they are roasted over a charcoal fire. Be on the lookout for potatoes with crinkled and cracked skin, scattered with dark sugar; they’re the best of the best.
Hong Kong-Style Milk Tea (Gong Sik Lai Tsa)
Though not technically a snack, this is a staple in traditional Hong Kong cuisine, and there are even annual competitions revolving around the making of the tea. The tea originated from the British colonial rule and is now considered a cultural heritage item. It is an everyday drink for locals and a must-try for tourists. It takes a blend of different tea leaves to create the distinct and aromatic flavor of the black tea, as well as an addition of evaporated milk to give it that smooth, creamy, and unbelievably rich taste.
Beef Offal (Ngau Zap)
This is one for those with a more adventurous palate, as beef offal generally includes ingredients such as lung, tripe, stomach, intestines, bowels and other such grizzly parts. These parts would be cut into smaller pieces and handed to customers craving these delights, who are said to flock at the mere sound of slicing scissors. These are usually mixed with peppers, radish and sauce. You won’t be able to recognize everything you get in your little pot of treasure, but waste not, want not, right?
Egg Tart (Daan Taat)
This is a western-style tart, derived from the Portuguese variety in Macau, that has a Moorish custard filling. These egg tarts were introduced in the 1940s within the upscale western restaurants in Hong Kong. A decade later, these little pastries became a popular snack for everyone. Only a handful of old-fashioned Cantonese restaurants still serve the handmade egg tarts, but they are well worth hunting down for the buttery, eggy, and custardy goodness. If you’re not too bothered about eating traditional handmade tarts, you’ll be able to dine on these gems at any dim sum restaurant too.
Stinky Tofu (Chau Dau Fu)
It might be a good idea to bring a nose plug with you if you dare try this street food snack. Known for its pungent odor, this is a smell that no one can seem to forget and is often said to be the effervescent scent in Mong Kok. That sweet, sweaty and rancid smell drifts unforgivingly into your nostrils, but the taste can actually be quite pleasant. This smell is the result of the fermentation process involving milk, fish and meat that can last a couple of months. It does taste better than it smells. Promise.
Pineapple Bun (Bor Lor Bao)
Reputedly first made in Hong Kong in the 1960s, these buns are topped with a walnut pastry that is incredibly addictive. The appearance of the topping, in its checkered pattern, spikes after baking – hence the name. If you want to try a real pineapple bun, then opt to include that thick, slick slice of butter many traditional dai pai dongs serve it with. Inserting the butter into the bun after baking so that it melts and oozes a beastly number of calories makes all the difference in taste. If your stomach (and heart) can handle it, that is.