I have recently got back from Hong Kong, one of my favourite foodie capitals in the world and famed for the best dim sum, hand cut noodles and Crispy Peking Duck.
There are so many fantastic restaurants and hidden side street cafes to choose from, but I think one of the most exciting ways to experience the tastes of the city is a trip to one of Hong Kong’s bustling wet markets if you like to really see how the locals eat.
Wet markets have a long standing tradition in Hong Kong dating back to before the British arrived in the 19th century, and locals flock there to buy the best quality meat, freshest fish of the day, slabs of tofu and seasonal fresh fruit and veg, all at bargain prices compared to the much most expensive supermarkets.
Fresh is the operative word, so be prepared for a few stomach churning sights including headless eels still slithering around in their blood, steaming bowls of chicken feet and freshly butchered sharks fins – not for the faint hearted! And if you’re wondering why they are called wet markets, it’s from the constant hosing down that takes place to wash away the blood and grime, so make sure you come prepared with the right footwear (the Loubie’s can stay at home)!
The best way for you to see the markets is with a local guide (all the prices and signs are in Chinese). If you stay at The Upper House (which is on this year’s Conde Nast Traveller Hot List), they offer a Wet Market Culinary Journey where a chef from their Michelinstarred restaurant Cafe Gray Deluxe takes you on a private tour of the markets to handpick all the local ingredients together. The chef then prepares dinner in the evening with the ingredients you’ve selected and gives you the recipes to take home with you after.
Perfect if you’re looking to include some new Asian-inspired recipes into your collection as you’ll leave feeling very inspired to try out some oriental style dishes at home, like the crunchy waterchesnut and ginger salad which was so refreshing and perfect for the Dubai heat! The view from Cafe Gray Deluxe is also incredible, up on the 49th floor overlooking Victoria Harbour and the sparkling Hong Kong skyline. I’m already planning my next trip back!
INFO: Jessica Hudson is co-founder of the chic collection travel. Perfect for a getaway with a difference, The Upper House has a special Upper Suite package with Wet Market Culinary Journey until 31 December 2011 at Dhs10,000 for two nights, which includes a local wet market journey with chef, wine-pairing dinner for two at Café Gray Deluxe, complimentary daily breakfast, round trip limousine airport transfers and a bottle of champagne. Visit www.theupperhouse.com for more information and reservations.