The wide variety of interesting/intimidating/intriguing foods I have found in the last couple of months in Hong Kong and in my travels in Asia combined with my near obsession to try different food deserves at least a couple blogs 🙂
Really fresh (aka live) crabs at a night market in Bangkok:
This is a strange looking fruit that I found in Thailand. You have to break open this hairy outside to reveal a sweet white fruit inside:
Hotpot!! Hotpot is one of my favorite finds in Hong Kong and China. Hotpot is essentially a large pot that is placed on a burner at your table. The pot is filled some kind of broth (you can usually choose spicy or not). Then you select a variety of raw meats and veggies and place them in the boiling water. After they are cooked, each person reaches into the pot with chopsticks or spoon to grab what he/she wants. This process can take hours as you can continue to add things little by little and order more and more food. Hotpot is best enjoyed with a large group of people.
Traditionally hotpot began in Hong Kong during the winter as a way to warm up from the cold. Now it can be experienced year around but is still most popular as a late dinner in the winter months.
Steamed fish is another excellent Cantonese food. So long as you can stand the site of an entire fish (head/eyeballs/tail), you are in for a real treat! Beware of fish bones.
Dim Sum!! Dim Sum is a traditional Cantonese food usually enjoyed at breakfast, lunch or tea. There is also at least one place close to campus that opens at 3am! Traditionally, dim sum was served by women pushing carts around filled with the bamboo steamers filled with the dumplings. Now, there are only a few places that still serve it on carts. Most restaurants offer it and make it fresh when you order it. Going to a traditional restaurant with the carts can be a real experience (see the pictures below of the fight for food at a popular dim sum restaurant in SoHo). In these few remaining places, getting food is more like a fight and they often run out of certain items (good to go early). In addition, space is limited so you will likely be sitting at a table with strangers.
Dim Sum is kind of like the tapas of Chinese food. It comes in small portions (usually 3-4 pieces). The most typical dim sum dishes are some kind of dumpling filled with meat and/or veggies. The outside is made of a thin rice paper. Some of my favorites are: turnip cakes and shrimp dumplings. Things I avoid: chicken feet and other undefinable meat looking dishes.
In Singapore, I tried the Spicy Crab (local specialty). This crab was huge and fed four of us!
Durians are a popular fruit in Southeast Asia. (I tried it in Singapore). They smell awful. So bad in fact that they are banned from public transportation!