When In Roam

Carl Chu's Food & Travel Blog

Friday, June 30, 2006

18 Hours In Hongkong

The tea tour ended on Thursday afternoon, and everybody in the group except for me flew to Shanghai that night. Because I was headed to Taipei next, I needed to get to Hongkong. However, there were only two flights a week from Wuyishan, leaving on Wednesdays and Saturdays. After two weeks in China, I was eager to leave the country. So on Friday afternoon I flew to Guangzhou and took a bus to Hongkong, where I spent the night before continuing to Taipei Saturday afternoon.

Well, I actually did not venture into Hongkong Island itself. Instead, I stayed at the Holiday Inn in Kowloon, at a terrific location not far from Nathan Road and within earshot of Victoria Harbour, the Peninsula Hotel, and Chungking Mansions (not exactly a nice place, but in Hongkong a must-see). At the Star Ferry terminal after nightfall, I snapped a few views of the Hongkong skyline.

The next morning I ate dim sum at Super Star Seafood Restaurant, a popular local chain. I had eaten at another branch location before, and always liked its dim sum in cartoonish shapes. Not only were they fun to eat, but their quality was also quite good.

I ordered a pot of shui▪xian () tea, a type of oolong, instead of pu▪er (普洱) tea that I normally get with dim sum. That’s something I had learned from the Fujian trip—you don’t always have to drink puer with dim sum. Shuixian is well-matched with dim sum because it has dark and earthy characteristics more similar to puer than other oolong teas. As a matter of fact, shuixian is the second most popular tea, after puer, for dim sum in Hongkong.

Super Star is not one of those places that put their dim sum on roving pushcarts. Instead, you order from a colorful menu filled with traditional and interesting shaped dim sum. I clicked off three choices, my breakfast for today.

First came Fish Soup, made by slow-cooking cod and various herbal ingredients. It had a thick consistency, but yet a very mellow flavor. A dash of ground white pepper really drew out the subtleties of the fish. And because herbal ingredients were used, the soup could be eaten as a tonic—definitely a nourishing way to start the day.

Next the two other dishes—the Penguins and the Clown Fish—arrived together. The Penguins turned out to be Chaozhou-style fun gor (粉果; fen▪guo), made with a sticky rice flour wrapper on the outside and a filling of minced shrimp, mushrooms, and peanuts on the inside. The penguin’s “tuxedo” was the same sticky rice flour wrapper colored with black food dye. Very clever, and mighty tasty too.

The Clown Fish were pumpkin dumplings wrapped in sticky rice flour. The filling was a mixture of pine nuts, mashed pumpkin, and crème fraîche—a strange and definitely not classic combination of ingredients. The use of crème fraîche was especially interesting, because dairy is almost never used in Chinese food. It gave the dumplings a sweet-and-tart flavor that was a bit disconcerting. At least it was an honest attempt to innovate, but I doubt I will ever see this dish anywhere again.

This was a short stay in Hongkong. After the dim sum breakfast at Super Star, I checked out of the hotel and took the Airport Express to Chep Lap Kok for the afternoon flight to Taipei.