Hong Kong: My First Asian Metropolis

Hong Kong was the type of city I was supposed to hate: a city of traffic, pollution, crowded sidewalks, with little to no nature.

But I didn’t hate it. I actually really like Hong Kong. Standing outside in the street breathing in the city’s heavy humidity, with the air conditioning units dripping down, and the people hurrying down the sidewalk and chattering in harsh Cantonese, I found the energy intoxicating.

While Hong Kong is a city I doubt I handle long-term, I loved the four days I spent there.

From the $3 beef brisket noodles…

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To the $5 manicures…

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To the beautiful views…

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And really, just the differentness of the city. Hong Kong was so starkly different from anywhere I’d been before.IMG_8054

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And as this was a weekend of firsts, it was the weekend of my first xie long bao, or Shanghainese soup dumpling. The way you are meant to eat xie long bao is by biting the skin to release the steam from inside, and then sucking the broth out of the dumplings.

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YUM. I heart dumplings.

An on my final morning in Hong Kong, I finally indulged my biggest Hong Kong craving- dim sum. After much deliberation and being advised by several locals, I headed to Tim Ho Wan, called ‘world’s cheapest Michelin star restaurant’.

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And though there were no food carts (what?) and it was located within a shopping mall (double what), it was definitely the real deal.

We started out with turnip cakes and then ordered about half the menu. When in HK, right?IMG_8414

The slimy-textured turnip cakes that I first found unappealing but strangely grew on me.

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Shumai, pork and shrimp dumplings.Dim SumThailand

But nothing came close in deliciousness level to char siu bao, or barbecue pork buns. They were sweet and crispy on the outside, and savory and meaty on the inside. If they weren’t so rich I would’ve ordered a second one. Or third.

IMG_8427Crack.IMG_8431Not my favorite. The slimy rice wrappers kind of reminded me of grubworms.IMG_8432

A deliciously tender beef dish I can’t remember the name of.

Have you ever been to Hong Kong? What did you think of it?

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About Ashley Fleckenstein

Ashley is a travel and lifestyle blogger who lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Since college she has au paired in Paris, backpacked the world solo, and lived in Uganda. Her work has been featured by Buzzfeed, Forbes, TripAdvisor, and Glamour Magazine.

32 thoughts on “Hong Kong: My First Asian Metropolis”

  1. I had precisely the same feeling when I went to Hong Kong. I LOVED it, and as I haven’t seen all that much of Asia to date, I loved its differentness.
    Those dim sum dumplings are my fave. x

  2. THAT is such an accurate description! Its incredible how Hong Kong lured me in when I went there. Though my focus wasn’t indulging in the food, I loved the atmosphere. Victoria harbour was one of the places I simply felt relaxed at, despite e large crowd. Hopefully you didnt miss that!

  3. I haven’t been to HK but I’m hoping to make it there in the Easter holidays as my friend is teaching English there – heard so many interesting things about the city!

    • That’s great, I’m sure you’ll have an amazing time! I wish I would’ve explored a bit more but I wasn’t feeling so great due to the jetlag and a cold I had at the time. Next time though!

  4. Lou says that he was there in 1946–you can imagine. They were still taking
    Japanese air plane pieces out of the rooftops. there were sunken ships all over the harbor. Hundreds of families were living in junks in the bay.
    Not so when I was there in the 80s–beautiful dinner with rose in the middle of the lady’s plates in a high building, restaurant on top.

    Lou also said that during his sailor days he was at the St. Francis Hotel, Dec. ’46, and sang the “Hong Kong Blues,” accompanied by a Chinese band who
    didn’t know what he was singing, and he didn’t know what they were playing,
    but they got a hand anyway!

  5. We just came back from Hong Kong where we had a nice dim sum with Audrey of That Backpacker and Sam of Nomadic Samuel. We ordered some shrimp and beef dumplings, streamed buns and sausage rolls. So yummy!

  6. I love big cities, so I suppose it’s not surprise that I took to Hong Kong like a fish to water! It’s like the biggest, bestest Chinatown, and the food! We stayed 9 days and had not one bad meal during our time there.

    I think there must be multiple Tim Ho Wan locations because the one we went to definitely wasn’t in a mall, but did feature an hour+ wait! Everything we had there was scrumptious, but you’re right that the char siu bao are unbeatable!

  7. These dumplings look mouthwatering! I want to have one right now! ;) I think I would have ordered half the menu as well and not felt bad about it in the least. After all, how often will you have this opportunity? ;)

    xx

  8. I am just living vicariously through you right now – Dim Sum in Hong Kong is my dream and my new bff here is from there and she talks about some of the craziest stuff. You are right, there sheer differences make it so lovable!

  9. if i dont go there for any other reason…ill go for the food! <3 (btw…i can finally comment on blogs again so im back in the game and will probably have a lot coming your way over the next few weeks!)

  10. I was also surprised that by how tall the buildings are and yet how small the space is, it still wasn’t overwhelmingly crowded. It was actually quite nice with a beautiful view up on the peak. =)

  11. I haven’t been to Hong Kong but I get similar feelings when I venture into Seoul. The atmosphere is both chaotic and peaceful at the same time. A great mix.

    Like you, I can’t see myself in living such an environment for the long-term but it’s always nice to visit. I hope to see Hong Kong soon. The food looks great!

  12. Ashley, the deliciously tender beef dish you mentioned is actually steam pork spare ribs aka – paai gwat = spare ribs. The slimy rice wrappers is steamed beef wrapped in rice noodle (next time, please order it in shrimp – taste better & add soy sauce). Also, skip the shumai and order the har gow. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dim_sum You know what, HK is even more amazing if you have $$$. Check out JohnnyJet.com’s blog on his trip to HK a few years back. I so wished you experienced The Peninsula Hong Kong. The Peninsula is worth staying at least once in a lifetime. Last but not least, did you enjoyed the nighttime harbor light show?

    • Wow thanks so much for all this info! I will definitely try har gow next time :). And I stayed at the Peninsula in Chicago and it was an absolute treat- if only I could afford it on my own dime! And I actually didn’t make it to the nighttime harbor light show due to terrible jetlag. Ugh!

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