I left my heart, but not in San Francisco

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I left my heart in a city that has the absolute best food, an amazing cultural diversity within the constraints of its own homogeneity, a rich and fascinating history, a lively art (esp. cinematic) culture, great weather, and is extremely convenient to get to and around.

I’m talking, of course, about Hong Kong.

hong kong at night light show tsim sha tsui

across the river in tsim sha tsui

I grew up watching and adoring Hong Kong cinema and dramas, eating Cantonese-influenced Chinese food (my high school was in Chinatown, and most of the Chinese food in Vietnam is Cantonese), and speaking, well, Vietnamese, which shares a lot of vocabulary as well as phonetic similarities with Cantonese. A Hong Kong friend of mine and I used to have this little game where we said random words in our own language and the other person had to guess what it meant, and most of the time, we could. My mom would buy fashionable clothes from Hong Kong for me whenever she went there for a business trip. Aside from Japan, it’s a place that I had been dying to visit since I was young, and finally got to last year.

It was a very short 2-day trip, but D and I ate and ate and ate, thanks to our walking non-stop from 9am to 11pm every day while we were there. My only regret was not being able to have an authentic, traditional, pushing cart dim sum, since when we got to one of the only two or three places left that still do this traditional cart style, no one spoke English and it was really crowded. We panicked, and, uh, ran away.

Equipped with a cheap rented smartphone that has every information about where to go and what to eat, and guided by a local friend, we tried as much as we could. There is no good way to describe it, except that everything we had, even the random restaurants that we walked in, was amazing.

beef tendon noodle in Hong Kongfish congee Hong Kong

This was the first meal we had, beef tendon noodle soup and fish congee. I tear up just looking at these pictures. Hands down best beef tendon noodle I’ve had anywhere, and this is just a random restaurant that we walked in. The congee is true Cantonese style, smooth without visible rice grain. Perfect food for a winter day (“winter” in Hong Kong is around 50F, but the restaurant was running air conditioner on high, probably to compensate for the amount of people cramped into the small space. Crazy people!)