Need to cool off during sweltering Hong Kong summer spells? These tasty favourites will be of help.
The continuous turn of seasons is a veritable indicator of specific lifestyle changes: lighter wardrobes, weekend pastimes now spent in the sun, and as it turns out, comfort eats in Hong Kong. These are ones to grab whenever Mercury spikes, or when you need a quick cool-down; some even work to rebalance the ‘cool’ in the body. As we slowly inch towards the tail-end of sunshine season, here are a few favourites to dig into before summer ends.
That first spoonful into a fresh bowl of tofu fa (豆腐花) is irreplaceable; a satisfying dip into the undistributed silky smooth tofu surface, precariously scooped out of the generations-old wooden barrels with giant wooden slabs. The traditional dessert, made with a soy milk base from the meticulous grinding of soaked soy beans, is a sweet simple pleaser; faint hints of soy bean tempered against a heaping of red sugar granules that eventually melt and seep into the accompanying ginger syrup. It’s a refreshing midday nibble, especially after rigorous hikes.
Granny’s Tofu Pudding (亞婆豆腐花), Shop 2A, 6 Tai Kwong Lane, Tai Po, New Territories, Hong Kong
Kung Wo Beancurd Factory, G/F, 118 Pei Ho Street, Sham Shui Po, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Sugar Cane Juice
If you can bring yourself to look beyond the almost fluorescent shade of yellow-green, I reckon you’ll find sugar cane to be a favourable ally mid-summer. The sweet, syrupy juice, believed by traditional Chinese medicine to quell excess ‘heat’ in the body to retain cooler temps, has since evolved from the rudimentary bite-and-chew of bare sugar cane to the now machine-pressed sap of the titular plant – unpeeled and steamed before squeezed. Served chilled and fresh everyday, it’s a soothing replacement to your go-to iced coffee.
Kung Lee Sugar Cane Drink, 60 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2544 3571
Mixed cold noodles
The Hong Kong-style mixed cold noodles hold a reputation of its own. You’d likely have spotted ground-level shops fronted by glass cabinets, filled with neat rows of ingredients-stuffed bags and separated by colourful baskets. Maybe less so now, as we become more conscious of what we consume. Nevertheless, the mixed cold-noodles-in-a-bag is a nostalgic favourite: You pick three to four ingredients of choice — normally two pouches of starchy noodles — followed by measured spoonfuls of oyster sauce, soy sauce and sesame oil, mixed with heaps of minced garlic. Served and enjoyed with two bamboo skewers.
Bai Wei Shi Pei (百味食品), various locations including Shop G10, CTMA Centre, 1 Sai Yeung Choi Street, Mong Kong, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Pineapple bun with chilled butter
It’s hot, it’s sweaty. You and your very low-patience just want something simple and easy. No overstuffed, grogginess when hobbling around the steamy streets, please. Go for something light but still satisfying. Something like the pineapple bun. But not just its usual caramelised sugar-topped self (that’s a not-so-exciting year-round staple), instead one shoved at the centre with a blast-chilled slab of creamy butter. It’s the perfect meeting of warm bun against cold butter that melts instantly into one glorious bite.
Kam Wah Cafe & Bakery, 45-47 Bute Street, Mong Kok, Kowloon, Hong Kong, +852 2392 6830
Summertime brings with it a lot of things: picnics, beach days and a disdain for loitering in stuffy kitchens cooking on gas stoves. So if there’s a dish you can make once and stick in the fridge for endless meals that keep on giving, it would be this magical creation: Hand-shredded chicken. It’s essentially a whole poached yellow chicken, hand-shredded then marinated in a beautiful mix of sesame oil, chili flakes and sand ginger powder for a peppery, spicy and savoury dish. It’s versatile too; mix it in with sliced cucumber for a light salad or thrown atop cold noodles for an easy lunch. You can even pack it inx sandwiches for long days out in the sun.
Hau Xing Yu Shredded Chicken, various locations including G/F, 99 Shanghai Street, Jordan, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Mango Pomelo Sago
The Mango Pomelo Sago (楊枝甘露) has been an enduring city-wide favourite since its ideation in 1984 by Lei Garden. It’s a post-dinner classic of any time, really, but especially comforting during the searing hot summer months for a delicious cool-down. It’s a chilled, sweet and creamy milk-blended mango base swirled in with coconut milk with a balanced mix between three ingredients evident in its name: diced mangos, boiled chewy sago and zingy pomelo pulp.
Honeymoon Dessert, various locations including Shop 4-6, G/F, Western Market, 323 Des Voeux Road, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, +852 2851 2606
Lei Garden (利苑酒家), various locations including, Shop No. 3008-11, 3/F., International Finance Centre, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2295 0238
Red Bean Ice
When finally acquainted with the layered components of the very rich, very indulgent red bean ice beverage (紅豆冰), it’s going to be love at first sip. This bing sutt classic — still served today in its classic tall, parfait-style glass — is more satisfying than any 7-11 lemon tea box; more enjoyable than any chewy bubble tea. It’s set with a base of red bean paste (similar to the chilled bowls you’ll find in traditional dessert houses), then poured in with evaporated milk and shaved ice. Sometimes, it’s even topped with a dollop of vanilla ice cream. A drink that gratifies all summer cravings.
Guong Shing Ice Cafe (廣成冰室), G/F, 10 San Shing Avenue, Sheung Shui, New Territories, Hong Kong, +852 2870 4501
Hoi On Cafe (海安咖啡室), G/F, 17 Connaught Road West, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
The chilled and cubed grass jelly is often served in all sorts of variations: dunked in icy fruit teas; soaked in a bowl of pure sugar syrup. A better way to enjoy, in my opinion, is this said to be “body-cooling” leung fun (涼粉). It anchors on the grass jelly as the main ingredient, loaded up with anything from a drizzle of condensed milk to pieces of perfectly cut fruit, tapioca pearls, red bean paste — you get the idea, every bowl is a personalised combo of favourites. Made from Chinese mesona plant extract, the antioxidant-rich grass jelly sits within the mint family with a bitter, herbal-tinged aftertaste — luckily the accompaniments are always tip-top tasty.
Kei Kee Dessert, Shop 4-5, G/F, Kam Lung Mansion, 22 Fung Kam Street, Yuen Long, New Territories, Hong Kong
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