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Dim Sum Diaries, Hong Kong

Heavenly morsels

It’s been exactly ten days since I moved back to Hong Kong. Although my Spanish adventures are over for now, I still have many stories to share from the past month of European travels. Here is a little introduction as I begin blogging about life in this pulsating Asian metropolis.


We are standing under the blue-green, almost aquatic light of a glossy shopping mall. In the background a pair of escalators churns by, colouring the scene with a low, discernible hum. Below us the polished floor echoes to the hurried footsteps of men in tailor-made suits.

“Do you want to eat shrimp dumplings?” My grandmother asks me in flowing Cantonese. Before I can answer her properly I wake up with a start. Dazed, I look around at the bare yellow walls, softly lit by beads of sunlight filtering through the window shade. I am still in Spain.

It may have been only a dream, but grandma is quietly thrilled about it when we talk on the phone – I can just imagine her with that smile spreading across her face. She chuckles at my words. “Well, once you come back I’ll take you out for yum cha.”

My grandmother keeps her promise. On my birthday she rounds up all the cousins, aunts and other family members I haven’t seen for six months. Once again we are in the usual restaurant at the table in the corner, with a view to the ever-growing skyline of Kowloon beyond an ever-shrinking harbour.

Before us a parade of bamboo steamers, filled with the morsels that I could only have dreamed of tasting back in Salamanca. As a child these were the dishes I would look forward to every weekend when we saw our grandparents. The waitress swirls the Lazy Susan around and makes space for the next batch of little delicacies. Har gau. Char siu bau. Siu mai. Jue cheung fun. Even when I could barely speak Cantonese I still knew the names of those Dim Sum dishes off by heart.

Among the new arrivals are three baskets of haa gau – the steamed shrimp dumplings that found their way into my dream. Glistening with the tiniest drops of water vapour, the fists of shrimp meat are lovingly draped with delicate skins of rice flour. When I am not looking, my grandmother reaches over and drops one into my bowl. She pretends nothing happened. I steady my chopsticks – with a smile – and lift it gently to my lips.

Bamboo steamers loaded with goodies

Har gau, steamed shrimp dumplings

Shrimp dumplings, close-up

Siu mai, steamed pork and shrimp dumplings

Wu gok, deep-fried taro dumplings

Bo lo char siu bau, sweet-crusted barbecue pork buns

Char siu bau, steamed barbecue pork buns

Daan taat, miniature egg tarts

11 Comments Post a comment
  1. I love the look of those pork dumplings – and everything else. I will look for them when I am in Hong Kong in September. I love the food in Hong Kong!!!

    July 19, 2011
    • I can guarantee that you won’t be disappointed! There’s a chance that I might be out of town in September – if I’m not then it could be a point to take you there!!

      July 19, 2011
      • I will be in Hong Kong late September for 3 days. I have friends on Kennedy Rd that I stay with. I would love to meet you if you are around.

        July 19, 2011
  2. Hopefully I will be; it would be wonderful to show you around! There are those spots that everyone goes to, but there are some others that are surprisingly beautiful – for a city of its size Hong Kong packs in a lot of punch!

    July 19, 2011
  3. In Western Europe The Grass is Juicy #

    Nice! I hope I will visit hong kong once and of course have time to taste all that delicious food.

    July 20, 2011
    • I’m sure you will – all you need is a sense of adventure!

      July 20, 2011
  4. James, I am officially drooling. This is unfair.

    July 29, 2011
  5. Some great food photography! I loved the diversity of cuisine when I was in Hong Kong!

    March 28, 2012
    • Thanks Lucy! It can be difficult to shoot under bright yellow lighting – thankfully my camera just about managed to pull it off. We’re certainly spoilt for choice here, I wouldn’t recommend coming to Hong Kong for anyone on a diet!

      March 28, 2012
      • Indoor lighting is always tricky! Who would want to go to Hong Kong on a diet? There’s too much food to enjoy!

        March 28, 2012
  6. Hi James, I will go to HongKong in August. Could you give out few of your favorite restaurants for me to try? Everything in HK taste delicious, but a list will be a great help. Have not finished browsing the rest of your HK posts, just direct me to the right title if it’s there already ^^

    April 18, 2013

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