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Last month I took a quick trip to Hong Kong, made even quicker due to the fact that I messed up my plane tickets and spent more time waiting in airports grumbling about having to buy last-minute seats than actually seeing Hong Kong. Apparently travel mishaps were the theme of March.
Anyway, it was my first time to the city and between rainy weather and only a couple days there, I didn’t get to explore as much as I originally hoped. Fortunately though, I did manage to wander around the city a bit, cheers with a new friend overlooking the skyline from a roof top bar, sing karaoke for the first time ever (five years in Asia and I had somehow managed to never step into a booth) and squeeze in a surprising amount sightseeing and taste testing with Context.
When I found myself about to leave for Hong Kong with no plan to tackle its food scene I immediately contacted the company hoping I could fit into their “Hungry for Hong Kong” tour. Context has a unique approach when it comes to tours…they don’t really offer tours. Instead they organize opportunities for travelers to meet with a local expert, often scholars or specialists regarding the place or topic at hand, and experience a place with a very small group (never more than six people).
As with the Context London food tour I did last year, my group in Hong Kong consisted of three people and the docent, a Hong Kong woman who lived in the area we were exploring and who had owned Chinese restaurants in the U.S. Because of the intimate group size and no strict itinerary, the docent can easily tailor the day to the group and you never know where you’ll end up. For example, on the website it said the Hong Kong food tour was 2.5 hours…mine lasted about five.
To be perfectly honest, the food we tried didn’t wow me and I was actually surprised by how almost everything we ate was the same color…different shades of beige. I think part of it had to do with the fact that I can easily get many of the dishes we tried in Thailand, so they weren’t that new or different for me. That said, I still completely enjoyed the tour and it was the perfect way for me to get a crash course in one of Hong Kong main neighborhoods (Central) about the city’s history, layout, food, restaurant scene, etc. – the latter of which was a little intimidating.
We started in a small but busy congee (boiled rice soup) shop, made our way through fresh markets, stopped for a while in an old-style tea and dim sum shop (which would have been terrifying to walk into alone as everyone was barking orders and hot water was being sloshed onto the tables), bought treats along the way and wandered through back alleys criss crossing the district.
Along with the dim sum shop, other highlights of the tour included a traditional Chinese medicine shop where customers would go in and consult with the doctor, then pharmacists would gather and weigh bundles of dried flowers, herbs, roots and more to make a package of medicine that was to be boiled and drunk, a temple, and simply wandering through the city since it looked distinctly different to other places I’ve traveled to – I loved all of the colorful signs in Chinese vying for attention.
Although, I would have liked trying some more new-to-me dishes, I really appreciated seeing and experiencing as much of the city and different eateries in such a short amount of time. Plus I got to check off all of the ‘must eat’ iconic foods of Hong Kong like egg tarts, milk “stocking” tea, dim sum, congee and Chinese donuts.
You can find all the details for Context’s Hungry for Hong Kong experience here. It costs $75 USD (HKD580) per person and is only held on certain days so check the calendar carefully.
*Note: I was a special guest of Context but all opinions are my own.