Hong Kong Food Guide – You’ll need one; the city can be a minefield of strange smells and even stranger tastes, and before you sit down at the city's restaurants, you should take a look at what you might be sinking your teeth into. Below, you’ll find a profile of ten weird Hong Kong foods, including an eatable rating, helping you decide what’s just unusual and what’s simply disgusting.
1. 1000- Year Old Eggs
If you can brave a thousand-year old egg, you can consider yourself an honorary Hong Konger – these things are potent. Made from duck or quail eggs, the eggs are buried in a clay, sand and salt mixture for a couple of months, melting their insides to jelly. The shell of the egg turns a browny, black, but it’s the inside where the real surprise awaits. The yolk turns a dark green and boasts a powerful smell of, well, eggs that have sat around for a couple of months. The eggs can be picked up whole from street vendors around the city, or found sliced up in noodle dishes.
2. Birds Nest SoupOne of Hong Kong’s most prized delicacies, Bird’s Nest Soup is a gelatinous mix of chicken broth and swiftlet’s (a type of bird) saliva. That’s right, you’re eating swiftlet's spit. Swiftlets make their nests from saliva and each year, after the bird has left the nest, it’s harvested and added to the soup, which, like many things in the city, is famed for its health benefits. Eatable 7/10
3. Shark Fin Soup
One of the world’s most controversial dishes, demand for Shark Fin Soup
in Hong Kong and China is apparently critically reducing the number of sharks in the oceans. Chopping up Jaws may not seem like an issue to lose any sleep over, but the lack of sharks is causing critical changes further down the food chain. The soup itself is mostly prized for its premium price tag and is a firm fixture on wedding and graduation party menus. The taste is by no means disgusting, but nor is it special, just slightly fishy. Eatable 8/10, or with environmental concerns 0/10
4. Chicken FeetYour biggest obstacle here is the appearance, these wrinkled, claw like chicken feet look like something from a witches cauldron. Luckily, they taste better than anything else the wicked witch could cook up, if a little crunchy. Eatable 7/10
5. Chicken TesticlesOur second entry in 'parts of the chicken you didn’t think you could eat', Chicken testicles pop up on many a Hong Kong menu. The testicles themselves are boiled or fried whole and look a little like chipolata sausages, with a soft interior. They’re served with rice, or noodles and broth. Eatable 4/10
6. Turtle JellyLike Shark Fin Soup, Turtle Jelly is another naughty delicacy that doesn't impress the WWF. Hong Kong and China’s penchant for these shelled creatures is having a devastating effect on their numbers and you should give Turtle Jelly soup a miss. You can spy the Turtle Jelly shops in Hong Kong by the empty turtle shells piled up inside. The turtles are boiled for up to twelve hours, mixed with herbs and lotions and served up as a type of jelly like soup. The draw here is, again, the medicinal properties, certainly not the taste. Eatable 1/10
7. Coffee and Tea Together
Like tea? Like coffee? Why choose? In Hong Kong, you can have them mixed together in the same cup. Known as Yuenyueng, the drink mixes two thirds Hong Kong style milky tea with one third coffee, and can be served hot in winter or, in the sweltering humidity packed with ice cubes. Dai Pai Dongs
are a great place to pick up a cup. Drinkable 8/10
8. Chinese Herbal MedicineAs soon as you set foot in the city, you’ll be hit by the pungent smell of Chinese herbal medicine wafting from the many street side stands. There’s no polite way to put it, this stuff stinks. The medicine is stuffed with up to twenty herbs, as well as mysterious pills and powders which are all boiled down and served in espresso sized portions. It’s best to take the frat party approach to the concoction and get it down in one, as the smell can make you gag. The taste itself is fairly benign. There are many different liquids, all aimed at fixing some part of your internal organs. Eatable 3/10
9. Snake SoupA favourite winter warmer in Hong Kong, snake soup is considered somewhat of a gourmet dish. Most of the city’s snake meat is now delivered chilled or frozen from China, but to try the meat and the soup at its best you need to have it fresh, which means braving the handful of live snake restaurants that still exist in Kowloon. Here, you pluck your favourite python or cobra from behind a cage and watch him slither to the chopping block, with more unusual snakes attracting heavier price tags. The soup comes with the snake shredded inside, although, if you’re braver, you can try sliced snake in a host of other dishes. As it seems with almost all exotic meats, many say it tastes like chicken. Eatable 6/10
10. Sea SlugsYou’d think Sea Slug would be slimy and slightly rubbery and you’d be right. Not unlike biting into a trampoline, Sea Slug definitely doesn't taste like chicken. Beginners should try it fried, which takes away some of the slippery texture, on a bed of noodles or rice with an accompanying sauce. Eatable 3/10