Today I’m speaking with the organisers behind the Hong Kong Foodie Tours in Hong Kong. Cecilia and Silvana are the great masterminds behind this concept, where they take food lovers on a tour of backstreets in Hong Kong, so they can taste different culinary highlights and learn about the history of the district as well as the restaurant/cafe/shop.
I have been on their Central and Sham Shui Po tours and enjoyed both events very much – it is a great way to find out more about Hong Kong, even after having lived in the city for over three years now.
For today, let me interview Cecilia about her love for local Hong Kong businesses serving great food and drinks:
What made you start the Hong Kong Foodie Tours?
We are passionate about Hong Kong and about our food. We also are avid travellers who love exploring local food when visiting a foreign city/country. We thought a walking tour exploring Hong Kong’s culinary culture would be a great way to showcase not just our food but serve as a great introduction to our city.
How did you uncover some of the places that you visit in Central and Sham Shui Po? Are those childhood memories or do they come recommended from your family and friends?
Some of the locations are eateries we frequently visit ourselves. Others are ones we discovered while exploring the neighbourhoods on our own. We tried all sorts of restaurants and cafes, tasted tasting many, many different dishes so that we can put together some perfect itineraries for our participants.
What has been your highlight so far, of running the Hong Kong Foodie Tours? I’m sure you must have met some very interesting characters and had some unique encounters! Are there any that you can share?
One of the highlights is always seeing our participants’ happy faces and knowing they have truly enjoyed themselves. One of our other goals is to help preserve Hong Kong’s culture as well as to support small local businesses. Through our tours, we have developed a very strong relationship with the eateries we visit as well as the people in the local communities. As you know, recently many small, independent shops, which have been serving Hong Kong for decades, were forced out of business due to soaring rent. We hope that we can do our little part to help sustain the small, family-run businesses in the neighbourhoods we visit. We will always treasure the relationship we have developed with them.
Do you have a favourite shop or restaurant that’s part of your tours?
We love all of the eateries for different reasons. It’s very difficult to choose a favourite.
As a foodie, do you prefer to cook yourself or to eat out? If you prefer to cook, do you cook HK style food or what are your favourite recipes?
You’ve actually hit on a great dilemma that we constantly face. Cook at home or eat out? We love to eat, we love to try new places and dishes but we love to cook. On Chinese festivals or big holidays, we prefer to celebrate at home with our families. HK-styled dishes are what we typically make for Chinese festivals but on Western holidays like Christmas, we usually make Western dishes. Many favourite recipes exist but we are also constantly testing out new ones. One in which we would like to perfect is Sweet & Sour Pork. Many people think this is not real local food but to us, it is a quintessential Hong Kong dish. When our grandmother was alive, she used to make them every Chinese New Year. It was such a treat that my uncles and I used to fight over it. When eating out, we try everything, local Cantonese food, Chinese food from other provinces, regional Southeast Asian restaurants, international ones, you name it. As long as the food is good, you will find us trying to get in.
If someone visits Hong Kong for the first time, what three dishes would you recommend he/she tries first?
There are so many things to try! Going to dim sum trying items such as shrimp dumping (Har Gao), Pork Dumplings (Siu Mai) and BBQ Pork Buns is a must. For dinner, go to a seafood restaurant to try a steamed fresh fish. The sweetness of the fish cooked this way is different from any other way of cooking it. Another must-try dish is roast goose with sour plum sauce. It is difficult to find Hong Kong-styled roast goose elsewhere, let alone ones cooked perfectly — crispy skin but with juicy and tender meat. One tip for visitors — always keep an open mind to try new things when you visit any new community or city or country.
Thanks Cecilia, it was nice talking with you.
[All pictures in this post belong to Cecilia and Silvana at Hong Kong Foodie Tours]
PS: Missed a previous interview with a Hong Kong blogger or expert? Check out my series here.