It hasn’t always been the case.  There was a time when I didn’t really enjoy going back to Hong Kong, where I was born.  Most of it is because after a few days, I get really bored.  Now that I’m older and definitely more to be nostalgic about, I really enjoy going back.  Of course one of the things that I enjoy about Hong Kong now, are the reasons I never really thought was all that unique.  Hong Kong, at its core, is as Chinese as any city in China.  But what makes it so unique is not that it is a thriving metropolitan financial behemoth, which in itself would have been enough to visit and write about.  It’s that it was a British colony for over 100 years.  Trade wars, opium wars, and being subjects to Britain’s monarchy has made this singular city an intersection where Occidental collided with Oriental.  And none of that comes through as well as the food.  With its foundation set on Chinese cuisines, Hong Kong has embraced the European expats in the way they have infused its own spin in its foods.  And let’s not forget Thai, Malaysian, Indonesian, etc. on top of about 20 other provincial Chinese cuisines.  And what you have is not just a monotonic way of cooking and eating food here in the Big Lychee.

Places like Cafe de Coral are what people in Hong Kong live on.  It’s good, cheap, and the menu is always changing, if only a bit.  At any given point during the day, it will be packed with people from tourists who want a break or Hong Kong lifers who want the same.  It’s a typical cafeteria where you walk in and look at the menu on the wall, walk up to the cashier, order, and at the end of the line, pick up your food and try you hardest to find an empty table.  If you’re queasy about sharing a table with a complete stranger, this probably isn’t the place for you.  But there’s something comforting for me, to go in to a place like Cafe de Coral and order something very Chinese, like sausage and rice in a clay pot, and then order a Hong Kong style milk tea.   Or baked Portuguese pork chop rice and a lemon ice tea.  It’s the East meets West all in one meal.

There’s nothing like that here.  At least not an East meets West kind of food experience.  Here, we have more a South meets North, like a Baja Fresh or Rubios, where Mexican street food meets an American twist.  We do have some Hong Kong style western restaurants here, but it’s not very Cafe de Coral like.  I keep wondering if they will open one here, because it would be crazier than a Kogi truck.  I can’t wait to visit Singapore again one day, where food has become so integrated between the different Asian cultures that it has created is very own Singaporean cuisine.  I can’t wait to go back to Hong Kong again, where I get to try all different kinds of East meets West foods again.

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