The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Street food and local eats in Mongkok

The other week, my aunt and uncle visited us from Malaysia. That was only a week after my sister had gone back to Australia, and my body hadn't yet recovered from all the pigging out we did with her. For the whole week that my relatives were with us, my body was in constant need for wholesome eating, but I duly ignored it in favour of showing them a memorable foodie experience of Hong Kong. And boy, did we eat! We did all the important things to do, see and eat in HK, plus more! My relatives were very keen to try out anything local, and my uncle can speak Cantonese, so he took the opportunity to learn more Chinese with almost everyone he met on the streets, trains, shops - just about anyone willing to converse with him. One day, after we'd been to the Yuen Po Street Bird Garden and on our way to the markets in Mongkok, we came across a lone peddler on the footpath selling some kind of sweet. Neither of us had seen this kind of sweet before, and my uncle could not resist yet another opportunity to practice and learn Chinese with the locals. The peddler himself was rather reserved - I suppose he wasn't used to customers making chit-chat - but there were a couple of people waiting in line who were happy to answer my uncle's questions. All I got was that the sweet is called tong cong peng - 'tong' for sugar, 'peng' for cake/biscuit, and I have no idea what 'cong' means. The sweet had a simple flavour profile - sugary sweet with a little coconut flavour - and the chewy pancake contrasted the crunchy filling.

One for HK$6:

A closer look at the filling. The hollow columns tasted of pure sugar, and that is dessicated coconut being sprinkled on top:

Folding it up:

How the finished product looked:

After buying the sweet, we stopped by in a local cha chaan teng for coffee (and to eat the sweet), but we ended up having a second lunch less than 2 hours after lunch! Drinks cost HK$16, which is much cheaper than Starbucks, but if you order food (between HK$20 and HK$25), you are entitled to one drink per plate. I don't even know the name of the shop, nor do I remember the street it was on, but it is a typical local establishment that can be found just about anywhere in Hong Kong. My uncle ordered two dishes, and the food was good, but we probably would have appreciated them better if we weren't already full from lunch!

A local HK cha chaan teng ('tea restaurant') where food are cheap and drinks are tasty:

Fried chicken with potato salad. Uncle said the chicken was really good:

Condensed milk on toasted bun, which is a typical and popular item at cha chaan tengs in HK:

We were well-fueled for the task ahead, which was to tackle the markets!


  1. condensed milk on toast?! why didn't i think of that?!

  2. Yes! If you like drinking coffee with milk and sugar, you should try adding condensed milk to black coffee :)