Street Food Touring, Part 1
Chatteris' own Danny Boyle ventures on a thrifty exploration of Hong Kong's varied street food culture because, in his own words, 'no money la.'
When roaming the streets of Hong Kong it's impossible not to see street food absolutely everywhere. From the dim sum shops with their huge bamboo steamers to the snack stalls packing enough deep fried delights to clog an artery, whether you just want a little treat or to hop stalls till your fit to burst, this city has you covered.
But as nice as all the fried chicken and hot dogs are, what about the street food that looks a little bit more... obscure? This is a blog to delve stomach deep into the local street food scene and take a nibble at any other organs we encounter along the way.
Our first port of call are the humble Hong Kong snack stalls...
You can find these absolutely anywhere and everywhere and although you can be pretty safe going up and ordering a hotdog on a stick, that's just the tip of the anatomical iceberg for what these guys can offer up.
Fish balls, Gaa Lei Yu Dan, 魚蛋 $6-8/ skewer
|When you're serving up hundreds of these skewers everyday presentation doesn't count for a lot...|
So what actually are they? Balls of fish, obviously. If you want to find out what fish and what parts of its body you're eating then you’re probably expecting too much. You can get either more common factory made fishballs and more traditional handmade fishballs, but as someone who’s had a lot of both I can tell you that they all taste pretty simillar.
So what do they taste like? Chewy balls of fish bits in a delicious curry sauce. If fish bits doesn’t sound appetising then know that they’re the kind of food that’s too heavily processed to ever be repulsive, a bit like the chicken nuggets of the sea. The sauce they come with can differ a lot depending on the snack stall and it’s definitely the main draw. Find a snack stall with an ace curry sauce and you’ll find yourself going back daily.
Overall a solid 6/10, you won’t find yourself writing home about them but they’re pretty tasty in their own modest way.
Fried Pig Intestines, Jaa Ju Cheung, 炸大腸 $12-15/ skewer
For me these didn’t actually look too bad. They seem a bit unappetising when they're laid out raw in the snack stall but once they’ve been deep fried they look a bit like a jolly bacon lollipop. So, how do they actually taste?
Aite… It’s kind of like the lovechild of pork scratchings and a Curly Wurly that got sent away to Scotland and deep fried to death. It’s got all the smokiness and some of the crispiness of fried pork but an overly tough texture.
Overall I’d give then a 5/10. The flavour is decent but not a fan of the texture.
Stinky Tofu, Cau Dou Fu, 臭豆腐 $8-10/ piece
|A brave soul if I ever saw one|
Next up we have one of the most infamous delicacies in Hong Kong, the aptly named stinky tofu. For this venture I had to seek the help of one brave comrade, Alex Griffiths. Stinky Tofu has a storied and controversial past and you’ll often mistake it’s aura for an open sewer when you’re exploring Hong Kong. It’s basically just tofu that sits marinating for months in a specially made ‘stinky sauce’, that used to be made from rotting meat.
However, in the 1980’s it all got a bit too much and they found that the smell was disrupting the flow of daily life. A law was passed to outlaw tofu that's too stinky and at present you can actually make a complaint to local authorities if you find a street hawker’s tofu too offensive and they could be fined as a result. They changed the recipe to accommodate these new standards of aromatic hygiene and now the ‘stinky sauce’ is just made from vegetables.
So what does it actually taste like? Alex had the first bite... “I just don’t understand why someone would do this to tofu.” I’d heard from some locals that you’re meant to slather it in sauce to complete the experience but for both of us it didn’t make much difference either way.
Overall stinky tofu gets a firm 1/10 from us.
Deep Fried Tofu, Tau Fu Pok,豆腐泡 $10/ skewer
Last on the list we have tofu’s redemption, Tau Fu Po. This can be somewhat trickier to find as a lot of the snack stalls don't have it but if you ever find yourself at a wet market it'll usually be there.
They’re skewers of fried tofu that are braised in soup. Sometimes they'll be stuffed with meat but these ones had heaps of chilli instead. They serve them sliced up with some of the soup and for $10 you get a pretty good feed.
So how do they taste? Absolutely delicious. The soup is fiery and packed full of flavour and the tofu has a nice crispy outer texture and does a great job of absorbing all the broth. Without meat they make a nice vegetarian alternative to fish balls and are probably one of the few Hong Kong street foods you can really indulge in.
Overall I’d give Tau Fu Pok an 8/10 and recommend anyone to pick some up if you manage to spot one of these stalls around.
Stay tuned for part 2, it'll be absolutely offal... Just like that pun.