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Friday, November 4, 2011

Hong Kong Off the Beaten Tracks

This is a media trip made possible by Canon and Tourism Hong Kong.

It isn’t wrong to say that Hong Kong is all about food and shopping, but it isn’t right to stop just there too.

The highlight of the Hong Kong trip was to eat snakes. I have always wanted to try these exotic meats but never got the guts to until Hong Kong! With the assurance from Michael that snake eating is part of a weekly diet, I tried it out!

Located at 170 Apliu Street,Shamshuipo, Kowloon (HKR Station, Exit A2, turn left), you will find 2 snake soup shops.
We went to this one which was featured by many foreign TV stations including Gordon Ramsey and .
The guy in the background was peering through the glass at me with interest.
I caught sight of snakeskin handbags and clutches hanging outside the shop. I started feeling a little queasy. It was a mistake pressing my nose against the glass filled with grime but I had to have a predator-meet-prey-moment. After all, since Eve and the serpent, the creature that crawls on its belly becomes women’s eternal enemy.
I was fighting a flu since the Cathay flight, I was told that snake soup is a favourite in winter times. Indeed my flu stopped for a while after consumption. Snake soup is also said to make the men virile and cures women of cold hands and feet (a.k.a dead fish?).

We cowardly asked for a bowl to be shared among 3. Though the serpent is my eternal enemy, I felt obliged not to waste its life in the event that I couldn’t stomach it. It arrives and I was surprised to see it not like a medicinal brew but like sharks fin soup or a more familiar hot and soup soup! Starchy, filled with black fungus and mushrooms.
The snake meat has been shredded like chickens strips and guess what, it does taste like chicken!  A little chewy, white and thoroughly cooked, it is very much edible. Chrysanthemum, lemon grass, vinegar and crackers were added to tone down the original flavor of snake.

I’d suggest sharing a bowl of snake soup with friends, as I don’t think I can drown an entire bowl. After couple of mouthfuls, it does feel rather jerlat, which could cause a gag reflex.

It is important to choose a shop where you can eat snake soup fresh, but it’s not wise to visit the kitchen before eating.

Michael spoke some fluent Cantonese and got me to slither into the kitchen for a peek.
No other pictures as i didn't get to see them kill the snake etc. All i saw was them frying chunky meat in a wok above a huge flame in a slippery kitchen.
Coming out, they snuck me some fried snake from another table’s order. Deliciously spiced and marinated, the fried snake was spicy and peppery like tough stingray chunks!

Sounding very bimbotic, I honestly did not expect to see bones! I always thought snakes were made up of strong muscles. I blame this picture!

Joanne, my travel companion declined to take any bite of this adventurous meal because she is an animal lover of any kind. To my awe she asked to pet a snake! Predator-meets-prey-moment turns Murderer-meets-victim’s son-moment. Will the snake attack having smelt our “bloodied” hands?
To my amusement, the shop owner owns a pet python and calls it lovingly “Mao Mao” which means ‘cat’ in Mandarin.
The next highlight of my trip was a visit to High Island, Leung Sheun Wan.  You’ve to take a taxi to Camden Town, Sai Kung first and then switch to another taxi that is designated to circle around High Island. There is no direct transport, so to speak.

Often tagged as the city that never sleeps, I believed that Hong Kong only has skyscrapers. I was proved wrong with the sight that beholds on High Island.  Hiking 20 minutes to Long Ke Beach, it is a secret spot with little discoverers.
Walking in Camden Town, Sai Kung at the foot of High Island was also a different sight.
A seaside town, seafood restaurants with a wide variety of fresh seafood line the sea front. However, you don’t find a beach here but instead sampans sail up the bank to hawk their catch.
Being a city girl, this was my first time watching a fish having its guts spilled, skin peeled WHILE ALIVE. Not for the faint hearted.
My stomach churned and I turned vegetarian. At least just for the next meal.
My first vegetarian meal at the Po Lin Monastery. SGD 10 per person! The Giant Buddha is accessible via the Ngong Ping 360.
 While you are at Ngong Ping, you must visit Tai O fishing village, the “Venice of the East.”
Another highlight of my trip, it’s an environment that Singapore lacks! A rustic old town, we come to Solo, the ONLY café by the river that serves full meals. G/F, 86 Kat Hing St. It will be a feat to find it, I followed Michael blindly. But I know you will pass this
 And this, on your way to Solo.
 SOLO serves awesome real coffee (by the drip), yogurt cake and cheese cake!
Discovery Bay, a spot definitely off the tracks of a tourist is a private residential area. However, what’s so special about this residential area is that private cars and taxis are not permitted to enter the area. 

Housing 16,000 residents, I expect the teenagers to be a studious bunch, no late night partying! Either that, or they are a rebellious bunch, not going home till the next morning. Nah, they do have a 24-hour ferry service from Hong Kong Island and then a 24-hour shuttle service to take you to your apartment. 

Abit like Singapore’s Kallang River, we dined at a large alfresco Italian restaurant called ZAKS right at the ferry pier. Large servings, we were so stuffed! I used to think if a man were to propose to me with fireworks, I would say ‘yes’. If I hadn’t know about Discover Bay where Disney fireworks could be seen every Sunday 9pm, I would have been tricked if a man proposes to me at ZAKS.
Not forgetting CITY GATE around the area where factory outlet shopping is awesome with brands like DKNY, Burberry, Kate Spade, Coach and more.
I love Hong Kong for it’s a country of the old and the new. We all know if it’s food and shopping but do we know of these other sights it offers? Hong Kong off the beaten tracks, go discover.


Anonymous said...

the snake soup look wicked! think i might give it a try when im in hongkong. how much is a portion btw?


Anonymous said...

oh sorry, i only see the comment now. i can't remember but i think it was sgd 6

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