Hong Kong: more food and travel

I will be in Hong Kong two more days (including today), heading home on the 16th. The time has flown by on this trip, but it’s been immensely enjoyable and I’ve learned a lot about an area of the world of which I was largely ignorant. I’m using my last two days to see the island of Hong Kong and surrounding areas (today I head for Macau), so posting will be spotty until I’m back and settled on the 17th. In the meantime, a few photos from Hong Kong. (Some of the photos of other food experiences, especially formal banquets, will be forthcoming.)

First stop: Kam’s Roast Goose, an unprepossessing but famous place (but not a dive) that has one Michelin star–for its justly renowned roast goose. We went on Sunday, and even at about 11:45 a.m. the line was already down the block. It was an hour wait to get in, but that was okay as I chatted with Winnie, my genial friend who lives here and speaks Chinese, and who has taken me around the city the last couple of days.

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The roast geese aren’t visible in this photo, which shows the variety of BBQ meat you can get, but the geese are sourced from mainland China and roasted locally.

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The prized dish: a quarter goose with drumstick. They had a few left. It was without doubt the most delicious fowl I’ve ever put in my mouth.

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The goose came with a soup containing veg, goose broth, and big rice noodles. You eat the soup and dip the roast goose in a special sauce they provide:

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Winnie ordered goose-liver sausages, which she loved but I found a bit too gamey (I don’t relish the inner organs of beasts and fowls):

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We also split a plate of pork roasted two ways:

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On the street I saw my first shop cat. He had a docked tail, which makes three out of three cats I’ve seen here and in Hong Kong that had stumps for tails. I’m now pretty sure that they do this deliberately—for some reason I can’t fathom. We asked the shop owner what the cat’s name was, and he said it was something like “Bal Zoi”, meaning “little ball” (singular). Bal Zoi was very friendly and came out of the shop, meowing for petting.

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We then repaired to the Peak: the top of the island that overlooks it all, giving a 360° view. At the top, typical of new Hong Kong, is a big shopping mall. And, also typical, the sterilization procedures (a remnant of SARS) that are prominently posted on doors and in rest rooms:
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Winnie also found out the location of one of the “lucky cat”  (maneki neko) stores in Hong Kong, which sell the cat statues, usually with one paw raised, said to bring luck. They have been culturally appropriated from the Japanese.  the cats’ color, the items they carry, and which paw is raised all convey what they’re supposed to bring: prosperity, good luck, love, health, and so on. Here are a few:

Look at all those lucky cats! The most traditional one is the calico, but there are black ones too.

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A lucky cat.  Traditionally one one paw is raised, though there’s a difference between the meaning of the left and right that I can’t recall. The two-paws-raised version, below, supposedly originated during the world financial crisis, when both paws had to be raised for extra luck:

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A very fancy lucky cat with ancillary cats:

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A lucky cat piggy bank:

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A lucky cat spoon that came with a matching bowl. I was tempted to buy it, but confined myself to purchasing two smallish maneki nekos:

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My store!

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The south and southeast side of the island are largely undeveloped, a real change from the towering skyscapers of Hong Kong’s north side and Kowloon across the harbor:

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The city itself enveloped by mist. Foreground: Hong Kong proper (the “central” area), with Kowloon and its tallest building (the financial center) across the harbor. The combination of mist and cloud made, I think, for a lovely picture:

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And so on to Macau today.

 

 

22 Comments

  1. Stephen Barnard
    Posted November 14, 2016 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    That last photo is excellent.

  2. Paul S.
    Posted November 14, 2016 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    Hong Kong seems a lovely place and the food delicious. Meanwhile back home, ….The Cook County board on Thursday voted in favor of a new penny-an-ounce tax on pop, sports drinks, lemonades and iced tea. The tax also affects diet drinks with artificial sweeteners like Splenda…..

    • dabertini
      Posted November 14, 2016 at 8:58 am | Permalink

      They should tax bottled water instead.

  3. dabertini
    Posted November 14, 2016 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    I can’t imagine the food prep that goes on in those restaurants. Not to mention the amount of clean-up when all is said and done. Great pix, although I do miss PCC(e) when he is overseas. Thanks to Grania et al. for keeping the site up and running while pa is gallivanting!!

  4. rickflick
    Posted November 14, 2016 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    I’ve been watching some of Ang Lee’s films which feature Chinese culture. The last picture here feels like a setting for these films.

    “Lust – Caution” (set during Japanese invasion).

    “Eat, Drink, Man, Woman”

    The later film is a touching family drama which features lots of Chinese food. The opening scene is an extraordinary 5 minute sequence showing a chef preparing many dishes. Highly recommended.

  5. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted November 14, 2016 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    “I’m now pretty sure that they do this deliberately—for some reason I can’t fathom.”

    It could be any number of reasons, but the one I have seen is when outdoor cats grow up among well fed rats (say, around a mill). They either loose their tails as kittens or their owners take the precaution when they get hurt as adults. One or two well fed rats is a match to a cat, and certainly a kitten, in a fight. I am not even certain the cat masses the most in some cases I have seen…

  6. geckzilla
    Posted November 14, 2016 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Never had roast goose or goose liver sausage. We have a lot of roast duck and duck liver sausage, though. There’s nothing quite like a nice, crunchy roast duck with that crispy skin and layer of fat underneath.

  7. James Walker
    Posted November 14, 2016 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    When you go to Macau, stick to the old city, not the Las-Vegas-style-hotel-casino-strip-mall that the other island has become.

    If you have time in Hong Kong, I’d also recommend visiting the giant Buddha atop the island of Lantau, near the airport.

    • Posted November 14, 2016 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

      We went to both, as there’s a terrific Shanghai-style dim sim restaurant in one of the Casinos, and it was a trip to see Chinese gambling. But then we spent most of our time in the lovely old city, which is picturesque and full of interesting food (including what they call “jerky”).

  8. Posted November 14, 2016 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    The goose stuff reminds me of the gist of the “Beijing duck” idea: prepare duck as many ways as possible. I’ve never seen goose on a Chinese menu, either. Interesting.

    What does “JC Shop” sell?

  9. barn owl
    Posted November 14, 2016 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    Love the photo of Hong Kong and Kowloon in the mist!

    I was very tempted by the maneki-neko in shops while I was in Japan, but I had limited space in my luggage, and was even more tempted by the lucky owls.

  10. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted November 14, 2016 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    There is a breed of cat known as the bobtail, and maybe these cats are those.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted November 14, 2016 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

      What strikes me as odd is that the pictured cat has lost about half it’s tail. In my experience, people who dock cat’s tails for entertainment take the whole organ off, whereas partial amputations are more associated with accidental injuries.
      There is a phrase loitering in the dpths of my mind that one can be as “nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs” ; I could see that potentially applying to cats in stores with spring-closed doors.
      3 of 3 is high stats for accidental amputations, but not incredible.

  11. Steve Pollard
    Posted November 14, 2016 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    Great pictures! I spent a lot of time there in the early 90s in the prep for the handover of HK to the PRC. I went back for a few days’ holiday with the family about 10 years ago. It is interesting how much of the colonial HK has survived: the street names, the Anglican cathedral, even the statue of King George V in the Botanic Gardens. The south side of HK island is indeed less intensively developed than the north, but hardly undeveloped: there is a huge cluster of high-rises at Aberdeen (plus a fantastic harbourful of floating seafood restaurants), as well as the apartments at Repulse Bay, the former British barracks at Stanley, and the cemetery there, which includes the graves of the many civilians murdered by the Japanese in 1941. Jerry, did you walk round the Peak from the tram terminus? It is a magical experience, especially at dusk.

    Go now, while ‘one country, two systems’ is still operative!

    • Posted November 14, 2016 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

      Yes, we did take that 45-minute walk around the peak, which was gorgeous, verdant, and very peaceful. We took a taxi up and a bus down ($10 HK for the latter) to avoid the huge crowds at the tram.

  12. allison
    Posted November 14, 2016 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

    I envy you so much for having friends in foreign countries and for being able to see amazing places like those you’ve shown us at WEIT.

  13. madscientist
    Posted November 15, 2016 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    I think it’s funny how the cats seem to have replaced the traditional 3 gods bringing long life, wealth, and prosperity.

  14. Forse
    Posted November 16, 2016 at 2:04 am | Permalink

    Hello Jerry,
    Good to meet you here in Hong Kong: Thursday night at the Fringe Club. I enjoyed the talk very much as I’m enjoying your book too.
    I’m very glad you found our food so tempting and delicious. (I say “our” as I’ve lived here on and off since 1976, and full time since 1990, so this is home).
    Since you like noodles so much, next time try Dan Dan Noodles (抇抇面). They’re a spicy Sichuanese specialty, not often done well in Hong Kong, but I know where!
    There’s also a good deal of well made cuisines other than Chinese.
    Wishing you all the best in future travels and keep up the good fight(s)!
    Cheers,
    Forse
    (the tall grey-haired Aussie guy who came in a touch late and sat in the front row)


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