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In Hong Kong
with Joachim Textor
gourmet articlesarchivein hong kong with joachim textor
August 2002
Our recent short trip from Singapore to the bustling island of Hong Kong was again an eye-catching journey.

Hong Kong has become one of the busiest cultural and business centers in the whole of East Asia. Laying just south of the Tropic of Cancer and with a total area of some 1100 square km and 733 km of coastline the island and its neighboring Mainland China has an interesting past. What started with a small fishing community of 33 000 people in 1851 grew to a city with more than 7 million habitants by 2002.

Gone is the time when I had arrived 10 years ago at the old airport direct in town, you really saw into peoples' apartments prior landing on the island. Now it takes you about 45 minutes by bus from the new airport to Hong Kong. We were lucky enough to be shown around by Mr. Urs Besmer the Executive Chef from The Marco Polo Hotel who previously held the position of President of the Hong Kong Chefs Association. He has lived there on and off for the past twenty years and told us about the changes over the past five years, when in 1997 it became the Special Administrative Region of the Peoples Republic of China. Only recently the government changed the rule from allowing only 2000 visitors a day to come into Hong Kong from Mainland China. It is now open and people streaming into the city unaccounted daily from all over the big awakening giant.

We visited many places in the heart of the metropolis Hong Kong Island and Repulse Bay/ Deep water Bay nestling in the shadows of the mountainous terrain, build on streets that climb the almost vertical slopes. It reminded me of the Cot Azur around the Nice area in France. Individual Villas perched on steep hills with a beautiful ocean view. Film Celebrities like Jackie Chan and business moguls have their second homes there along the coastline; nearly 75 % of Hong Kong Island is countryside.

All this was actually seen on our way to Aberdeen where you still can find hundreds of people living on boats (Chinese Dschunkas) for their entire lives. I would say it's a must to see this place when you are in Hong Kong. In the same area you can discover the Stanley market where silk products, Jade, old Burmese sandal wood furniture, ceramic statues and other Chinese heritage items can be found. We found it amusing to see the old way they count money with a wooden board. Over the past few years a bunch of trendy, restaurants have opened up in this region.

Lan Kwai Fong was another interesting stop where sanitary and hygienic are sometimes words unknown. It is a street with many small authentic local restaurants where a lot of fish, snakes and other partly endangered animals are slaughtered prior an a la carte order. We just restricted ourselves to a good freshly simmered Ginseng Soup garnished with Black Chicken meat scented with hawberreis. Later that evening we also strolled around at Mongkok/Ladies Street, which is one of the most densely populated districts in the world. My wife really enjoyed shopping at the area's night market.

On our third day towards the evening we also took the Tram to visit the Victoria Peak. At 556 m above sea level, you have the best view over Hong Kong. It was beautiful to stand up there and look into the glittering lights of the city. It is really a photographer's heaven.

On our last free day we had to decide on what tour we wanted to choose; Lantau Island, Shenzen (opposite the border in China), Po Lin Monastery, Ocean Park, Macau or Lamma Island. So finally we decided on the lesser-known Lamma Island.

It took us only 40 minutes by speedboat from H.K. central station, Pier 7. (Tip at the end: Prior departure at H.K. central pier 5 or 7 make sure you ask for the ferry which goes direct to the rainbow restaurant pier on Lamma Island! otherwise you will arrive on the other side of the island like us. Then you have to walk first 1 hour 20 minutes over several hills to get there) Over the past few years Lamma Island has become known amongst the local community for the freshest Fish-Seafood and Mollusks in the region. We had a good luncheon at Rainbow Restaurant one of the island's best eateries. They had a wide selection of fresh fish, Prawns, Razor Clams, Sea Snails, Abalone, Squid, Scallops and the unique species called Squilla (same family as the slipper Lobster) I was told that it is brought in direct from Vietnam - it looked pre-historic.

It was a great experience. We enjoyed the freshest seafood in superb tranquil surroundings hidden behind a few hills looking towards the blue ocean bay. For people who might be interested in joining the fishermen early in the morning, contact Mr. Alan Ng at the Administrative Dept. on his e-mail [email protected] and tell him I sent you…

Joachim Textor
Executive Chef
The Mandarin Hotel Singapore

Joachim's food and travel photographs are now available on CD! To find out more e-mail Joa at [email protected]

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