Food is often the best and probably the most fun way to learn about a new culture when you travel – Hong Kong is famous for its cuisine, whether it’s Hong Kong Cafes (Cha Chan Teng 茶餐厅) or amazing dim sum restaurants, and I’ve had my fair share of all that in my various visits to Hong Kong.
Previously I was approached by the folk from Traveling Spoon who are all about sharing culture through local food experiences, because I wasn’t travelling then, they linked me up with a Singapore host to enjoy a home cooked meal of local delicacies by a lovely Singaporean lady. Now I could see it being a great experience for visitors to Singapore who were new to our food, but it wasn’t particularly revelatory for me.
So I approached them again when I was headed to Hong Kong, and this time they linked me up with a Hong Kong host so I could see a more local and home-cooked view on HK’s cuisine. I also requested if the host could be located out of the central area if possible, so I would have the chance to explore Hong Kong a bit more. What I like is that you can be a bit more specific about the type of experience you are looking for, and they’ll do their best to match you up with someone appropriate.
Traveling Spoon linked me up with Grace Choy who lives out in the New Territories and has gained herself quite a following, with over 175,000 people following her on her facebook profile and a cookbook of recipes to her name.
A and I found ourselves at her little Choy Choy Kitchen storefront in Kam Sheung Road one rainy afternoon – Grace used to run a mixed-goods store and a little eatery here and owned the upstairs room as well, but since then she’s sold off the upstairs room and only does private dinner engagements on appointment at the little kitchen she has left.
Cooking Lesson time
For this particular Traveling Spoon experience, we were expecting a meal and cooking lesson for two dishes, but alongside trying our hand at cooking, we ended up being fed a veritable slew of delicious food we could hardly say no to. It was Asian hospitality at its finest and at its purest desire to ensure guests are filled to the brim with good grub – here’s what Grace had prepared for our arrival:
We ate in the porch area, facing the main road and people-watching as we ate. Some hopeful passers-by eager to get out of the rain asked if there was food being served, though sadly they had to be turned away. The indoor area is literally her entire kitchen and a rather small one at that – it was a bit of a squeeze for the three of us in this space – her helper poked her head in to the window from outside when we were in the kitchen.
Grace’s view on food is quite practical – dishes that are simple to prepare and don’t require too much prep work and fancy equipment. She also believes in healthy food – not too much seasoning or additional condiments, but by no means does that compromise on the taste of her dishes, my extremely full belly can attest to that.
The first dish we prepared was flower crabs in steam egg:
The second dish we prepared was minced pork patties with lotus root.
There was so much to eat between the two of us that we had to bring the extras back! Topping off the meal was this homemade ice cream – in ginger flavour (surprising, interesting) and cucumber (really cucumbery)
After all that, Grace even took the time to bring us around the Kam Sheung Road neighbourhood, which is not a part of the paid experience but a kind gesture on her part as a local to introduce her neighbourhood. Look out for the next post on things you can do in the New Territories to find out more about what we explored!
It made for a pretty fun afternoon and I really enjoyed it – definitely something different than what one might expect from a trip to Hong Kong! Big thanks to the Traveling Spoon folk for setting up this complimentary experience for me :)
Getting to Kam Sheung Road
Take the MTR on the magenta West Rail Line to Kam Sheung Road Station. Take Exit B at the back and walk along the little winding footpath to the main road where you turn right. Choy Choy Kitchen is on the left side of the road.