Hong Kong has a reputation as a paradise for foodies, and in the three days I was there I had three memorable meals, though not all for the right reason.

On the evening of the first full day I went to Kowloon’s Temple Street Night Market. The market itself is of little note. Just another crowded, closed off street lined with stalls selling tat of various descriptions. However, the area also houses a large number of restaurants, many with outside seating areas. I sat down outside one such restaurant and ordered a couple of firsts for me: stewed goose and mantis prawns. The large portion of goose breast arrived sliced, on a bed of peanuts and dressed with a little gravy accompanied by a tiny saucer of a vinegary dipping sauce. It was pleasant enough, though rather tough and not as rich and fatty as I’d been expecting. The mantis prawns were (I think) coated with salt and barbecued. They look a bit like miniature rock lobsters, with a flat, plated body. They apparently have a fearsome reputation for their aggression whilst alive. According to Wikipedia they “sport powerful claws that they use to attack and kill prey by spearing, stunning, or dismemberment” and are known in some circles as “thumb splitters”. In death they are simply incredibly well armoured, and it takes a lot of work to extract the tiny shred of (admittedly rather tasty) meat from within.

The following evening my companion spotted a restaurant he’d read about, Peking Garden. Apparently, there are few places in Hong Kong serving Peking duck, and this is reportedly one of the best. I rather doubted we’d get a table since it was the weekend, but we were in luck. Not having the capacity to demolish a whole duck (though personally really not lacking the willingness to try), we ordered stir-fried beef with scallions, chilli chicken and hot/sour soup – hardly the most adventurous of choices, but the food was excellent (as was the service). However, the almost endless procession of enormous, beautifully lacquered ducks being taken past, presented to the table, then carved in the restaurant was a might distraction, and my heart sank just a little with each passing bird. If only I were there as part of a larger group…

The final “memorable meal” was breakfast. It was at a café close to the hotel which was always packed whatever the time of day. As I write, the name of the place eludes me, much as I would like to name and shame. Perhaps the awfulness of the experience has blocked the name from my mind. Anyway, one ordered at the till on entering, then joined a line to pick up one’s food. I ordered an omelette with hash brown. Well, let’s just say that the “brown” part was a misnomer. It was a blob of semi-raw, watery, grey grated potato. And as for the omelette, to be positive, one side of it was cooked – albeit to a strange leatheriness. The other side was untouched by the effects of heat. Mercifully, it was very small.

Ah, Hong Kong! A gourmet’s paradise.

[HK&M 3]

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