|Trolley street vendor|
|Stinky tofu (top 2 pictures), skewered curried fish balls (bottom left), skewered fish siu-mai and skewered fish balls (bottom right)|
Those trolley vendors who can afford store leases now sell a number of former street-side snacks – from stinky tofu (臭豆腐), skewered curried fish balls (咖哩魚蛋) and skewered fish siu-mai (魚肉燒賣) pictured above, to stewed mixed beef offal and pan-fried stuffed tofu and vegetables. These snacks are great to grab on-the-run when needing something warm and savoury, hence their popularity especially in winter. But the best part? Each snack will only set you back HKD$10-$18 (currently AUD$1.25-$2.25).
|Egg waffles (top 2), bak kwa (bottom left), HK-style waffle (bottom right)|
For those needing to satisfy a more sweet craving, there are vendors who sell egg waffles (雞蛋仔) – the one above served in a hole-punched bag to decrease sogginess from condensation – and a local version of waffles (格仔餅) which are large, round, and served folded over to sandwich butter, peanut butter, condensed milk and a sprinkling of sugar. And for something with a foot in each camp there is “pork jerky” (豬肉乾) or bak kwa with its slightly sweet, sticky glaze. I ate much of this whilst enjoying late night television and discovered that my favourite chain selling this actually originates from Singapore!
|(clockwise from top left) Bakery bun, egg tarts, steamed rice cake, traditional Chinese "cake" store|
More sweet foods come in the form of individually-packaged bakery buns and egg tarts. Egg tarts are rarely available at yum cha in Hong Kong, rather your freshest option can be purchased from bakeries at around 3pm each day. Between 3 and 4pm on weekdays is when this snack is most popular as the time coincides with children finishing school as well as office workers needing mid-afternoon sustenance. Traditionally, bakeries only made either puff or shortcrust pastry variants but now it’s becoming common to offer both under the same roof. In contrast, a traditional Chinese “cake” shop offers no baked goods but rice flour based cakes which are steamed. A popular example (砵仔糕) is seen above (bottom right), which are steamed with azuki beans in small bowls and unmoulded to be served skewered.
‘Candy coconut wraps’ are an approximate name for the sweet snack pictured below top. Known in Chinese literally as “sugar spring onion crepe/pancake” (糖蔥薄餅), it apparently hails from either the Teochew or Hokkien areas and is named such as the snack is a small, thin crepe enveloping a portion of sugar “honeycomb” – melted sugar and/or maltose pulled into long adjoining strands resembling spring onions – and sprinkled with sugar, dessicated coconut and sesame seeds.
|"Candy coconut wraps" (top 2), phoenix egg rolls (bottom left), Dreyer's ice-cream cone (bottom right)|
Phoenix egg rolls, filled with sugar, coconut and sesame seeds (seeing a trend with Chinese sweets here?), by Choi Heung Yuen Bakery from Macau are amongst my favourite and were a gift from my cousin’s daughter, although are actually available in Sydney these days. Dreyer’s Ice-Cream is one of those childhood food memories and hails from America but, as with many parts of Asia, imported foods in Hong Kong are commonplace. Vitasoy soybean milk is a local product, however, and in winter can be found in glass bottles warmed in chests of hot water at convenience stores. The bottle pictured below is the malted variety and, after enjoying your warm drink, the bottle (as with glass milk bottles) can be returned to any convenience store for a small cash refund.
There are street snacks a-plenty in Hong Kong and this is but a selection. More to come in my Hong Kong Series on noodles!