Hong Kong Series: Street eats & snacks

It is simultaneously difficult and easy to explain my strong feelings towards Hong Kong. In one of the most touristy cities in the world, known for its food, shopping and night life... of food and more shopping, I don't actually play the tourist. I have family here and, having lived here between the ages of 10 and 14, trips to Hong Kong always feel more like a return trip home rather than a holiday to explore somewhere. I didn't grow up in Hong Kong, but I grew into myself there. Each trip is laden with nostalgia and memories of people, places and, of course, food.

Trolley street vendor

Hong Kong is one of those Asian cities known for its street eats but which, over the last 20 years, have been gradually moved into small, street-front stores in favour of increased hygiene and eased paedestrian traffic. Licences for trolley vendors, like the one above, are no longer being issued nor renewed and I sadly feel that a distinct part of the local landscape is slowly being lost. The business nature of remaining trolley vendors has changed as a result, with many selling multiple foods – like the lady pictured above selling roasted chestnuts, roasted whole sweet potato and salt-roasted quail eggs – as opposed to specialising in just one or two items as previous.

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!

happy eating!

27 comments:

  1. I love egg waffles! They are my fave HK street snack.

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  2. Oooo.......all looks so yummy, can't wait to eat the food in HK :)

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  3. What an awesome round up of just some of the street snacks available. Feeling a little hungry now ;) Especially for coconut candy wraps and egg waffles!

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  4. mmm so much delicious eats and eeee i want egg waffles!

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  5. Yum I love street food, and now I really have a craving for egg waffles!

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  6. I miss HK. Haven't been for a couple of years and the most to miss from HK is the FOOD! Love to shop into CitySuper in Times Square, finding all these different products.. I also love the egg waffles!

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  7. i love hk! i really cant wait for our move in June / July! excited about up coming work trip too! although i wasnt born in HK - its like a 2nd/ 3rd home for me! love it!

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  8. Fabulous stuff! I'd love to go to HK be able to find great food like this (and be able to ask for it in decent Chinese).

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  9. :O That's exactly the same way I feel about Hong Kong!! I've never actually lived there, but my mum's taken me there about once every two years since I was born so it's sorta grown on me :) I LOVE fish sui mai!! Shame you can't really get it here... :(

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  10. Food! SO much food!!!!! Hungry for most everything except the stinky tofu :/

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  11. Eating on the run. Love it! And love Hong Kong! I was there in November. It was a none-stop food fest. The highlight was a dim-sum class with a dim-sum master of 30 years experience. Humbling.
    Thanks for sharing your tips and insight into Hong Kong street treats! I'm a bit partial to an egg tart and those ones look great!

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  12. I've never tried the egg waffles in Hong Kong. Maybe next time I'm there, though I'm not sure about the stinky tofu!

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  13. oh I loooove egg waffles so much!!! And stinky tofu and all those other wonderful street foods! Might have to get me an egg tart for lunch today to satisfy my cravings after reading this post! :)

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  14. Gahh everything there is so delicious! Never had a stinky tofu before though.. hehe can't seem to muster the courage to take the first bite cause of the smell ^^" same goes with durian too!

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  15. i miss egg waffles already! can't stand the stinky tofu though haha

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  16. Ohh are you in Hong Kong too? :) I've been here for the past 2 months and i've been indulging in all the Honkie goodies you have talked about ~ But i'm haven't had good egg waffles yet sigh :( i eat the Chinese 'cakes' in the cups all the time ~ Btw your photos are amazing! I'm still learning how to take better photos :)

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  17. Wonderful round up of Hong Kongese street food - and how lucky you are to have come into being (at least a part of you) in a wonderful city - I can imagine the smells! Have fun

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  18. zomg i LOVE the sweet potato vendors! i remember chasing them down the block cause they move around too much! such a sad story, i know

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  19. Yum, I'd love to try all these street eats! I wish we had something like it here, instead of dodge kebab shops, lol.

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  20. Man, I missed out on so much awesome food when I travelled to Hong Kong. Love the double-barrelled hotdog, particularly that the bun is customised to fit it.

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  21. I love HK street food but I am yet to find the courage to eat stinky tofu!

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  22. This looks amazing! I love how quirky all of that food is!

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  23. Fishballs and egg tarts and friggin a 7-11 that sells EVERYTHING YOU NEED. I love HK. I miss it!

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  24. Hey mistress, hope you're having a great time!

    Hey Sara, it's all about snacking on the go, "proper" fast food style!

    Hey chocolatesuze, egg waffles are something I always miss in between trips there.

    Hey Phuoc, lol but have you tried any of these yet?

    Hey Helen, I know there are egg waffles in Chinatown but have yet to try them for myself...

    Hey Sophie, the city'super/taste supermarkets amaze me with their breadth of products!

    Hey gastronomous anonymous, not long now, my friend, not long at all!

    Hey Bel, there's always the point-at-it option =D

    Hey Von, I tried a brand of frozen fish sui-mai here which were okay-ish...

    Hey Tina, you gotta try stinky tofu - it's less pungent than blue cheese!

    Hey The Food Sage, egg tarts remind me of the end of a school day =)

    Hey john, you should try both then! *hint hint*

    Hey jack, I miss the convenience of it all, really.

    Hey Vivian, you've gotta try it - it smells more than it tastes!

    Hey Jacq, I'm missing bak kwa even more haha!

    Hey Daisy, thanks *blush blush* Came back at the beginning of January...stupid thing called work haha.

    Hey Kitchen Butterfly, the smells...definitely one of the first things I noticed the first morning I was there.

    Hey sugarpuffi, lol too cute! Sweet potato is probably one of the few things I don't tend to buy though.

    Hey JasmyneTea, haha yeah, many more street food options in Asia.

    Hey Simon, you gotta get a local to show you around!

    Hey Food is our religion, it pretty much tastes like deep-fried tofu puffs, trust me!

    Hey Cass, so different to what we can get here, eh?

    Hey catty, I know, what can't you get/do in a 7-11 these days?!

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  25. I might be planning a trip to Hong Kong this year, so will be keeping all your posts in mind! One of the best things about travelling is getting to try all the amazing (and cheap) street food on offer!

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