BRRRR….! 3 FOODS YOU HAVE TO EAT WHEN IT’S COLD IN HK
As of Jan 24, 2016, HK is currently experiencing the coldest weather it’s ever had in 59 years!!!! On Jan 25, the Education department has announced that primary schools were closed for the day BECAUSE it’s too cold. It’s not a Snow Day (when schools are closed due to snow in Canada), but a Cold Day! To be fair though, the same temperature in HK and Canada will feel a lot colder in HK because it’s so humid here AND there is no heating in homes. I’ve been glued to my portable heater the whole day HAH.
So, when it gets cold in HK, these are the foods that you have to try because it just HITS THE SPOT! And makes you feel all warm and cozy!
ONE. HOT POT (火鍋)!
Hot pot is the greatest invention ever. The concept is very simple and the name says it all. You have a hot pot of broth with raw and uncooked vegetables, meats, and other various items on the table. You choose, and cook whatever you fancy in the hot and flavourful broth. It’s a really popular concept within Asia and you have a lot of different varieties and variations of hot pot. For example, Shabu shabu, is Japanese style hotpot, with Japanese broths and everybody gets their own individual pot vs. sharing a communal pot. Or there is Taiwanese “ma la” (spicy) hotpot whereby, when you order the spicy broth, it already comes with a lot of balls (fishballs, squidballs), and various items in the soup. There are many other types and all of them are sooo good!
With a boiling pot of soup in the middle of the table, it warms everybody up, and really HITS THE SPOT! It can be very healthy too, depending on what broth you choose and the items you cook. I love hot pot so much that I eat it in the summertime too, I just have to turn up the AC (hah!). And sometimes, I even hot pot at lunch teehee!
TWO. CLAY POT RICE (煲仔飯)!
The best clay pot rice requires patience. This is because the best part pot of clay pot rice is the rice krispies that are at the bottom of the clay pot, which only forms if you cook the rice in the clay pot from the beginning. This means that if restaurants try to save time and precook the rice in a different pot or rice cooker, the rice krispies will not form. Or alternatively, if they cooked the rice in the clay pot first and placed the toppings on afterwards, then the rice wouldn’t be able to absorb the aroma of the toppings and it wouldn’t come out as fragrant and aromatic. Consequently, they can only start to make the clay pot rice after you’ve ordered it, and you literally wait for the rice to cook from scratch, and you have to factor in the fact that the restaurant might only have say 10 little stoves and 50 orders.
THREE. SOUR AND SPICY NOODLES IN SOUP (小鍋米線)!
The Chinese name for these noodles in English directly translates to: little pot noodles. You can eat noodles in soup year round; however, when it is wintertime in HK, I like to get this particular kind, the sour and spicy noodles because it really gets me all warm and heated up. The noodles that are used are called “mixian” which is a type of rice noodle and it’s my favourite type of noodle because it’s very chewy and al dente. This noodle soup originated from the Yunnan province in China, and it’s called little pot noodles because traditionally, you cook and serve it in the same pot. This ensures that the noodles and soup are piping hot because people in Yunnan believe that you should be sweating when you are eating your noodles.
To increase the chances of sweat, the soup base is very hearty and flavourful with a lot of spice. Before you even order the toppings for your noodles, the soup base alone will come with pickled cabbage, minced chilli pork, bean curd, bean sprouts, leaks/onions, and a lot of chilli oil so that it’s SPICY, HOT, AND SOUR! It is the best combination and not to worry if you can’t take spice because you can always choose your spicy level. My favourite place for this? Nam Kee Spring Roll Noodle Co Ltd. Get the little spicy, spicy and sour mixian noodles, with the spring roll and beef shin as toppings and get the cold soy milk. Enjoy =)
BONUS. ROASTED CHESTNUTS (栗子), YAMS AND SWEET POTATOES (番薯) !
I put this into the bonus section because they’re somewhat hard to locate and it might be by chance that you pass by one of these street vendors. These little roasted chestnut carts operate only during the wintertimes in HK and each cart usually operates around the same vicinity and street corner. The chestnuts are really good because they slow roast it in charcoal and it just smells divine. It’s roasted whole with the top slitted in charcoal and to eat them, I usually bite and crack open the shell perpendicular to the slit and just gently wiggly it out. If you do it right, the entire chestnut will come out, if you don’t, then you’ll get each half of the chestnut stuck in its shell but you can still scrap it out with your teeth. Whatever works.
With the amount of strenuous labour required, it’s unbelievably cheap – about $40 HKD ($5USD) for an 1 pound bag, which is more than enough as a snack for two people or you can buy about a minimum of half a pound for just one person. The roasted yams and sweet potatoes are equally as good too and I like to dip the yams in sugar.
There’s a guy (pictured below) that has a cart near one of the North Point MTR exits (sorry, I can’t be more specific) and a granny that has a cart near Temple Street in Yau Ma Tei (she rarely changes her spot).