Where to Eat in Hong Kong
A non-descript pop-up in the alleys of Sheung Shui in the New Territories serves up some of the best street food in Hong Kong. Included is what could be the SAR’s best sweet and sour pork. Let’s hear it for Hong Kong street eats!
Where Michelin Star Chefs Dine
Ask Michelin star chefs in Asia where they dine on their days off, and there is a good chance they will NOT say Michelin star restaurants.
In fact, I’ve had the chance to interview several fine-dining chefs – from Bangkok to Bali to Beijing – and they usually say the same thing.
On their days off, they like to dine at night markets and street-side stalls.
Not only do they find the food yummy. In addition, they like to discover new flavours. And they also find inspiration for the dishes they will eventually serve diners at their own restaurants.
Needless to say, they have to tweak things considerably to elevate street eats to the level of haute cuisine.
And that includes more than experimenting with recipes, which can take weeks or even months to fine-tune. In addition, they have to work on presentation.
But the inspiration for many of those mouth-watering dishes you enjoy at Michelin star eateries often comes from the bottom, not the top.
Hong Kong Street Eats
A few months ago, I was going to meet a friend for dinner. But I still wasn’t feeling good about dining in enclosed spaces.
So I paused as I passed an outdoor eatery to peruse the menu.
A waitress ran up and tried to lure me inside. So I explained that I was just checking out the menu as I was going to meet a friend for dinner.
“Why don’t you come back with your friend?” she suggested. But I couldn’t find the dish I was craving.
“Do you serve sweet and sour pork?” I finally asked in Cantonese.
“Yes!” she said tersely.
“Does it have bones?” I asked.
“Yes!” she replied, telling me what she thought I wanted to hear.
“I don’t like bones!” I said.
“No!” she responded, realizing she had said the wrong thing.
Does It Have Bones?
When I met my buddy, I asked if he wanted to give the place a try, and he said yes.
Because he speaks Cantonese MUCH better than I do (I’m a Mandarin speaker), I asked him to verify with the waiter if their pineapple sweet and sour pork had bones. And he confirmed that it did not.
So we ordered sweet and sour pork together with a few other dishes.
And I must say, we both thought the food was about as good as it gets.
Introducing Chiu Chow Darling
Chiu Chow Darling is a pop-up eatery in the town of Sheung Shui in Northern New Territories of Hong Kong.
In fact, it serves Chiu Chow cuisine, which is one of the most popular cooking styles in Hong Kong. To clarify, it is a sub-category of Cantonese cuisine.
And it is based on the cooking style of a town called Chiu Chow, which is spelled Chaozhou in standard Mandarin.
The food at Chiu Chow Darling comes from a kitchen in a storefront with a totally different name.
I can only assume that the owners have rented the space but didn’t splash out on new signage.
All they invested in were large round tables and plastic stools.
Should I describe this place as a “pop-up”? In fact, it has been there now for several months. And it is VERY popular.
Will it survive?
Hong Kong Street Eats – Dining Al Fresco
Since that memorable evening, I’ve returned to Chiu Chao Darling a couple of times.
And I have always ordered the same thing: pineapple sweet and sour pork with a bowl of white rice.
My only complaint is they don’t serve beer. In fact, they don’t even serve that Hong Kong staple, iced lemon tea. So I’ve had to settle for Coke.
The place doesn’t open for breakfast or lunch. It only serves dinner.
In fact, there is a flurry of activity just before sundown as workers set up round tables and plastic stools in front and along a nearby alley.
I usually choose a table in the nearby alley, where I can practise social distancing.
Dining al fresco is very popular in Hong Kong. Don’t always expect starched linen tablecloths or waiters wearing tuxedos.
But the food can be very, very good!
Chiu Chow Darling – San Kan Street, Sheung Shui, NT, Hong Kong.
The street is more of an alley than a street. It runs off Fu Hing Road, across the street from the Better Ole, the oldest British style pub in Hong Kong. It is a short walk from the Sheung Shui MTR station.
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