Hong Kong: The Art of Drinking
Updated: Aug 19, 2020
Tea is one of the most common beverages consumed in homes and restaurants all over Hong Kong. Regarded as an essential accompaniment to a good meal, tea is preferred to alcohol as it cleanses the palate and also helps to aid digestion. It has been grown in China for over five thousand years and actually cultivated for consumption as a drink for over two thousand years. The tea shrub itself became known worldwide about a thousand years ago when along with silk and porcelain it became an important export for China. Today there are close to fifty countries producing tea worldwide with Asia alone accountable for around 90% of the world’s overall tea production.
In Hong Kong it is hard to dine out without being offered tea as most traditional restaurants will serve it as a matter of routine to accompany a meal. You will also find that you will be offered frequent refills so the volume you can consume in the course of a meal can be quite high. Unlike the traditional English tea served in the U.K. Chinese tea is normally served black in porcelain bowls to preserve the taste and full flavour of the leaf. Chinese tea is generally mild in taste, very refreshing and medicinally it is regarded as beneficial to digestion, metabolism and general well being. Chinese tea differs greatly from Western tea and the closest you may get to a traditional cup of English tea in Hong Kong is something called milk tea. This is usually a mixture of several types of black tea filtered 6 or 7 times through a cotton bag for a smoother and intense flavour, then sweetened with evaporated milk. The filtering process gives it the local nickname of silk stocking milk tea presumably as the tea stained cotton filter resembles a silk stocking. Once filtered it is served with sugar (the tea not my neighbour’s wine) and has a strong intense flavour with extremely high levels of caffeine which although a million miles away from a cup of traditional English tea is actually quite enjoyable although very strong and guaranteed to keep you awake for a fortnight.
It is more commonly referred to as Hong Kong style milk tea and originates from the British colonial rule over Hong Kong being influenced by the British practise of adding milk and sugar to their tea. Milk tea is part of the daily routine for the majority of people in Hong Kong and may be found in most restaurants or teahouses. It is also commonly drunk at the dai pai dong food stalls and may be drunk throughout the day similarly to the way coffee is drunk in the west. A good cup of milk tea is expected to be rich, creamy and smooth with a high concentration of butterfat in the evaporated milk giving the tea a distinct creamy and full-bodied taste. A sweeter version of the tea is occasionally seen in Hong Kong, which called Cha Chow. This is made in exactly the same way as milk tea but the evaporated milk is substituted with condensed milk which gives the tea an even sweeter taste for those with an exceptionally sweet tooth.
Milk tea as a beverage may be served hot or cold, with cold milk tea being prepared in one of two ways. Usually cold milk tea is prepared first as a hot tea and then cooled with the addition of ice cubes, but some milk tea enthusiast’s claim that this dilutes the taste of the original tea making it weaker. The more traditional way is to make the milk tea hot and then cool it in a fridge as this retains the original strength and taste of the tea. Hot or cold it is definitely an acquired taste and one that has caught out many English tourists seeking what they see as a cup of English tea.
Another type of milk tea seen frequently in Hong Kong and across Asia is the curiously named bubble tea. This is a fairly recent variation, which is said to have originated in Taiwan in the 1980’s. It is also referred to as tapioca or pearl tea and consists of a sweetened milk tea with the addition of little edible balls of tapioca, which rest, in the bottom of the cup or glass. The tapioca pearls, as they are known are made from starch taken from the cassava plant, which is heated with caramel and then passed through a sieve to create the distinctive pearl shape. The pearls can vary in size but usually they have a diameter of at least 6 millimetres which is a lot larger than those found in a traditional tapioca pudding. You may at times even see the addition of batons of sweet coconut jelly as these have a crisp texture and a creamy taste which helps to give the tea a somewhat lighter feel. Quite often bubble tea will be ordered with half tapioca and half coconut jelly, which gives an interesting combination of taste and texture to the finished drink.
Bubble tea like milk tea may also be served hot or cold, you may even see various fruit or milk based drinks containing tapioca pearls referred to as bubble tea irrespective of the fact that they carry little or no tea ingredients. Drinking Bubble tea is a bit of an art form as usually you are given a large straw through which you are supposed to drink the tea and pearls simultaneously. In practise the straw is just about big enough to suck up the pearls about halfway so they are guaranteed to stick in the straw before they reach your mouth. You then have the choice of trying to suck the tapioca through the straw itself while going red in the face or by trying to blow them back out the other end. This as it will come as no surprise can be quite messy because you always seem to blow just that little bit too hard leaving your dining companions with a free bubble tea face wash. I have done this several times and I still do not learn, as every time I stubbornly think I may have got my technique right, I always seem to end up searching for some napkins with an apologetic look on my face.
The drink itself is very nice whether drunk hot or cold although the pearls can be a real shock if you are not expecting them. The first time I tried the drink I was on my own having lunch in a Taiwanese restaurant. I was expecting a sweet milk tea so the sudden feel of the gelatinous pearls was shocking to say the least and had me nervously thinking about frogspawn and large fish eggs. Surely they didn’t put these in tea? I was hoping and praying, with my mouth cradling a couple of the gelatinous lumps. It was with much care that I actually bit into one and with great relief when I realised it was just an oversized piece of tapioca. I am still not too sure if they really have a place in a cup of tea but they work surprisingly well and give you endless amounts of fun as you try to pick them up on the end of your straw without dropping them.
On your travels you may hear about or come across another unusual type of beverage in Hong Kong called Yuanyang or Yeunyeung. This is a popular mixture of half milk tea and half coffee, which again can be served hot or cold. Yuanyang means literally Mandarin Duck, a reference to the birds, which are seen as the symbol of everlasting love in Chinese culture as they are frequently found living in pairs often pairing for life. This symbol of joining together is echoed by the pairing of tea and coffee to create a drink that is a happy marriage of the two beverages.
In a hot Asian climate as strange as it seems hot tea dispels the heat from the body cooling and relaxing at the same time. Tea contains a high proportion of tannic acid, which is said to act as an anti-inflammatory agent; it also contains caffeine, which as a metabolic stimulant along with various vitamins, offers a rejuvenating quality to the cup. Chinese tea and in particular Green tea contains catechin polyphenols, which are powerful anti-oxidants that are purported to inhibit the growth of cancer cells. It has also been effective in lowering the body’s cholesterol levels, and inhibiting the abnormal formation of blood clots which is particularly helpful for people suffering from heart disease. All tea surprisingly originates from the same plant Camellia sinesis with the difference in the finished tea coming from the processing and fermentation undertaken after harvesting. A new tea-plant must grow for five years before its leaves can be picked and can last for another 25 years before it ceases to become productive.
Once harvested the tea leaves are normally fermented and in general the longer the fermentation the longer the tea can last without significant deterioration. The actual harvesting of the leaves is treated with much reverence similarly to the harvesting of grapes in wine making. It is even reported that the leaves were once picked by young girls who had to grow their fingernails long to ensure that the leaves would not touch their skin such was the obsession. The most common form of tea is Green tea, which is not fermented and results in the one of the purest forms of tea retaining the natural colour of the leaf. Green tea has a sweet taste with a slightly greenish yellow hue and a mild aroma, which is quite often scented with jasmine. The leaves themselves are first pan-fried at high temperature to kill an enzyme in the leaf that causes oxidation and discoloration. You may well see examples of green tea such as Long Jing or Dragon Well, which is one of the most expensive green teas grown in the hillsides of Hanghou.
Black tea sometimes known as Red tea is actually fermented prior to baking which gives it its distinctive colour. Bo lei is a common example and it is frequently drunk as an accompaniment to Dim Sum. A combination of both Green and Black tea is Oolong tea which is given only a partial fermentation and is a speciality of Taiwan, Fujian and Guangdong. Da Hong Pao (Great Red Robe), Tie Guan Yin (Iron Goddess of Mercy) and Shui Xian (Water Fairy), are good examples of this tea. One of the most popular tea categories is that of the scented tea. This is a mixture of fragrant flowers and tea leaves such as jasmine, chrysanthemum and magnolia and is popular throughout Hong Kong. The final classification is that of Brick tea, which is essentially a black tea compressed into a block making it ideal for transportation and exporting.
Tea drinking was very popular in ancient China often being used as a medicine up until the 8th century B.C. when it was regarded as one of the seven daily necessities of life, along with firewood, rice, soy sauce, salt, oil and vinegar. There are many disagreements about the origin of tea drinking with numerous legends surrounding its beginnings. One of the most frequently recounted claims that Emperor Shen Nung was sat under a camellia tree around 5,000 years ago when some of the tree’s leaves were blown into a bowl of boiling water. The resulting fragrance was so tempting that it enticed the emperor to sip the infusion marking the very beginning of Chinese tea culture. Another legend that is a bit more difficult to believe is about a meditating monk who kept falling asleep. The legend says that the monk was so devout to his meditating that he punished himself for falling asleep by cutting off his sleepy eyelids and throwing them on the ground. Where they landed the first tea plants grew and this according to the legend is why tea helps you stay awake.
Whatever the origins of tea it is widely accepted that Zen Buddhism helped spread the word about tea across Asia. Due to their religious beliefs meditating Buddhist monks were not allowed to eat or sleep during this time. Tea then became a firm favourite amongst them as it helped them to relax and also kept them awake. Soon people who came into contact with the monks noticed the aroma from this enticing brew and consequently the popularity of tea soon began to spread worldwide. Even today there is a certain reverence given to the serving of tea and in some areas of Asia it is taken extremely seriously. The act of pouring tea is a common gesture that is routinely undertaken to show deference and respect towards a superior or elder. It is not unusual to see the younger generation pouring tea for their parents or a subordinate worker pouring tea for his boss.
Tea forms the backbone of society and is often served at business meetings to seal or conclude a deal. At a traditional Chinese wedding the bride and groom kneel in front of their parents serving them tea to acknowledge an appreciation for their upbringing and the sacrifices that their parents may have made. Drinking of the tea signifies acceptance into the family while refusal to drink symbolises an opposition to the wedding. It is all very serious stuff showing that tea to many families is not simply a beverage but more of a way of life.
In Japan the serving of tea is accompanied by elaborate tea ceremonies and in China too tea making is considered an art. Lu Yu (733~804) a Tang Dynasty poet and scholar offered a definitive guide to tea making in his 1200-year-old book Cha Jing, (The Classic of Tea). The book ritualises the art of tea making giving the whole process a religious feel. He sets out the 27 pieces of equipment that should be used, in the tea making process, even the appropriate state of mind and atmosphere you need to achieve to enjoy the perfect cup. He tells us to use water from a mountain stream heated over a smokeless charcoal fire until in boils like the sound of rolling waves. The heated water is then poured over a quarter of an ounce of the best tea leaves in a pure white porcelain cup that is fine enough to hold the heat and not burn the hand that holds it. The first cup contains impure materials and foam so this is discarded while the second is poured with a circular motion to prevent scattering the fragrance and creating more foam. The first sip will always be slightly bitter but gradually the sweetness will settle revealing the true taste of the leaf.
In today’s busy Hong Kong society tea ceremonies are very rarely followed outside of the traditional teahouses. These tend to be frequented more by tourists and the older generation of locals with youngsters becoming more and more involved with the café culture of places like Starbucks and Pacific Coffee. Despite the advent of tea packets or teabags as they are more commonly known, many families who do drink tea at home still choose to brew their tea the old way. It is not uncommon to see a family enjoying tea brewed in small clay teapots in the belief that the smaller the pot the better the tea. The idea is that these small clay pots retain the warmth and the fragrance of the tea making the final brew stronger as it preserves the full flavour of the leaf. Tea it seems can be enjoyed by everyone and no matter whether you want the convenience of an instant cup from a processed tea packet or a finer tea brewed with care you will not have to look far to find what you desire. There is an art to tea making with many varying opinions on the best tea or techniques to be used so perhaps the best place to experience it is a traditional teahouse.
Tea in Hong Kong was historically enjoyed in teahouses, which were regarded as places for gentlemen to relax and conduct business. Even today many deals are struck and disputes settled over a cup of tea within the confines of a traditional teahouse. Although their numbers are dwindling you can still find teahouses in some of the older districts of Hong Kong. One of the most famous is Luk Yu Teahouse on Stanley Street in Central, which is Hong Kong’s very own tribute to Lu Yu. This is the oldest traditional teahouse in Hong Kong, which proudly retains a 1930’s style Art Deco interior with private carved wooden booths and marble backed chairs sitting resplendent amongst stained-glass murals alongside framed scrolls hanging on white walls under the teahouse's original black ceiling fans. An aging wooden staircase separates the upper and lower floors gazing over a packed restaurant that remains largely unchanged since it first opened its doors in the early part of the twentieth-century. The teahouse is famed not only for its dim sum but also for its waiters who are renowned somewhat unfairly as some of the grumpiest in Hong Kong. By Hong Kong standards it is not cheap but if you want to eat authentic dim sum in an authentic Hong Kong teahouse then Luk Yu is worth a visit. It is a particular favourite of the locals despite the prices so it is best to come early or at least outside the busy lunchtime period when most seats are reserved for regular customers.
The working class of Hong Kong frequently have breakfast in small local yum cha houses in the early morning enjoying what has become known as ‘one bowl and two pieces’. This is usually a cup of Chinese tea accompanied by two steaming hot buns filled with melted butter known as bow law you, or the delicious deep fried dough yau char gui. Quite often people will sit reading newspapers and watching the world go by before going off to work for the day. These restaurants often open as early as 4:00am and close around midday and nowadays are more popular with the older generation who gather for the company and conversation as much as for the tea and Dim Sum.
Coffee is actually a fairly recent addition to the beverages served in Hong Kong and despite an early resistance to it from many of the locals it is now enjoyed by a good proportion of the population. Until fairly recently harsh instant coffee and powdered non-dairy creamer was served in even the top restaurants and hotels. Since the arrival of Starbucks and Pacific Coffee Hong Kong has literally been forced to wake up and embrace the art of good coffee. In many homes the favourite coffee is a proprietary brand of three in one that contains coffee, creamer and sugar in an instant powdered mix. Cappuccino surprisingly is the most popular coffee bought by Hong Kong coffee consumers followed by mocha both of which are consumed ahead of regular coffee. This is probably due to the more diluted and sweeter nature of these which is more suited to the local palate.
Starbucks first arrived in Hong Kong as recently as May 2000 in Central’s Exchange Square followed shortly after by another outlet in Hysan Avenue Causeway Bay and a further 7 by the end of that first year. To date there are in excess of 65 stores Across Hong Kong with branches opening daily all across the island. The main rival to Starbucks in Hong Kong is Pacific Coffee which surprisingly is a Hong Kong based company that paved the way for the coffee revolution. Pacific Coffee was founded in March 1993 with the first outlet situated in the Bank of America Tower. The company now boasts 39 stores in Hong Kong and a further 3 in Singapore and even has the contract to serve coffee on the Hong Kong-based airline Dragonair.
The comfortable chairs, air conditioned atmosphere and good coffee always make Pacific Coffee and Starbucks appealing to me. There is nothing quite as satisfying as that first cup of coffee after a day spent negotiating Hong Kong’s busy streets and without fail it is always something I look forward to. Give me a cup of coffee and a Danish pastry and I will be your friend for life. I love the easy chairs that seem to caress you as you take the weight off your feet and the worries off your mind and most of all the delicious aroma of freshly ground coffee that assaults your senses as soon as you walk through the door. My favourite Starbucks is situated in the Century Square Building on the corner of D'Aguilar Street and Wellington Street in Central which although small is always a welcome retreat for me. I always aim for one of the relaxing chairs beside the window as these offer a good view of the busy streets outside. You can sit in air conditioned comfort while watching the world go by. My Favourite Pacific Coffee outlet is situated on the ground floor of The Bank of China Tower just along from Pacific Place and opposite Hong Kong Park. This really is a calm oasis in the middle of a busy metropolis and although hidden away it is worth a visit. I would recommend a trip up to the public viewing lounge of The Bank of China Tower to see the panoramic views followed by a relaxing coffee in Pacific Coffee downstairs. If you want to combine stunning views with a cup of good coffee then you could do no better than visiting Pacific Coffee at shop G10 on the Peak Tower. Sit by the window and look out over Hong Kong’s famous skyscrapers and across the harbour to Kowloon it is really hard to beat.
One of Hong Kong’s best kept secrets is Café Zambra which arrived in Hong Kong after the big two in March of 2002. Situated near the Novatel Century Hotel in the middle of Wanchai at 239A Jaffe Road it is decorated in Zambra’s traditional ochre and azure it offers comfortable seating in a large split level coffee house. Downstairs offers a quick take out service and practical wooden seating while upstairs on the mezzanine floor offers soft sofas and an open balcony in a light airy atmosphere. The Mediterranean music can be a bit loud if you sit too near the speakers but in general it has a nice relaxing atmosphere.
Zambra has an excellent selection of food including salads, cakes and pastries but it is the coffee that it is most famous for. It boasts the largest range of Specialty Coffees in Hong Kong offering a choice of 2 coffee varieties from different regions of the world which are changed daily. Try the Mexican Spiced Hot Chocolate or a Hazelnut Cappuccino or one of the delicious fruit smoothies and you won’t be disappointed. The roasting of the coffee beans is done on site so you can be sure to get the freshest coffee and along with an excellent bakery menu it really is worth checking out. Café Zambra are also practitioners of what has come to be known as ‘Latte Art’, the practise of drawing designs in the top foam of the drink. Check out the leaf or heart designs on top of your latte they are pretty cool and a nice touch. The coffee here tastes pretty good as well so it is well worth a visit if you are in the area. I am a big fan of Pacific Coffee and Starbucks but Zambra is pretty good and up there with the big boys and a place I always seem to visit when in Hong Kong. There is smaller outlet in the Great Food Hall at Pacific Place if you fancy a Zambra caffeine fix while out shopping for those bargains!
If you are after something a bit stronger than coffee or tea, there are a wide variety of Chinese wines available throughout Hong Kong. The term wine is a bit misleading as generally this may be applied to any alcoholic beverage made from rice or grain. For the majority of the population wine is viewed very much as a drink which is consumed separately from a meal or at the most as a toast between courses. In recent times this is changing with wine becoming a symbol of wealth and sophistication amongst the affluent members of society. There are many fine wines for sale but beware due to the humidity and poor storage facilities many corks dry out resulting in many instances of oxidised wine being served.
Chinese wine has a character all of its own and although there are Chinese wines made from grapes you will be more likely to come across wines made from rice, wheat, fruits, herbs, flowers and even fermented milk. It is believed that China has one of the longest histories of wine making which can be traced back to the reign of Shennong more than 7,000 years ago. There are two main varieties of Chinese wines; fermented wines known as huang jiu or yellow liquor, and the paler distilled liquors known as bai jiu or white liquor. Yellow liquor is brewed from grains such as rice, millet or wheat but it is not distilled, and actually contains less than 20% alcohol. The wine has a balmy fragrance and has a sweet taste making it ideal for cooking as well as drinking. White liquors are usually distilled from wheat, barley or sorghum and given the nickname of shaojiu which means hot liquor or burned liquor. This is presumably because at more than 30% alcohol they leave a burning sensation in the mouth or maybe because they are traditionally warmed before being consumed. The temperature to which the liquor may be warmed ranges between approximately 35 and 55 degrees. The warming of the liquor releases the aroma without losing too much alcohol making it a beverage that can be enjoyed by all your senses.
One of the most popular varieties of huang jiu is the fragrant yellow rice Shaoxing wine which has been enjoyed since ancient times. It is said that families would often make Shaoxing wine from glutinous rice and wheat to celebrate the birth of a baby girl. Once the wine was produced it would be sealed into decorated containers and then buried in the ground. Only when the girl was old enough to be married would the containers be dug up and shared with friends and family on the day of her wedding. The wine was originally known as nu'er hong wine but nowadays it is commonly called flower carving wine because of the brightly coloured carved containers which is used to house the wine and which are often given as a wedding gift.
There are many types of huang jiu wine which vary in colour from almost clear to reddish brown. There is the unique Fujian glutinous rice wine which uses a combination of Chinese herbs and glutinous rice added to a distilled rice wine resulting in a pleasant orangey red coloured wine. Another common example is hong lu jiu or red dew wine which is a low grade wine used primarily for cooking made from red yeast rice which imparts a reddish colour into the wine. You may also see an aged version of this wine called Shaoxing jiu which is better quality and suitable for both eating and drinking.
Rice wine is also used in the notorious snake wine which thankfully is not seen very much nowadays. The wine originates in Vietnam but at one time was seen throughout Southeast Asia until a restriction was placed on its exportation due to the number of endangered species used in its production. A large venomous snake is placed in a glass jar along with several smaller snakes, it is then covered with rice wine and blood drained from the snakes. It is allowed to ferment for many months before it is ready for consumption. It is highly prized as a medicinal drink that can cure rheumatism, migraine, hair loss, constipation and even boost sexual performance. Somehow I think I would rather suffer with a headache than try this horrific looking drink.
White Liquor or bai jiu has a distinctive and unique flavour and with 40 – 60% pure alcohol it is a particularly potent spirit reminiscent in appearance of Russian Vodka. It is usually found in a ceramic bottle and served in ceramic bowls either warmed or at room temperature. It can be unflavoured like the strong clear erguotou or the original Chinese sorghum white liquor fen jiu. Flavourings are commonly added such as fragrant herbs in sanhua jiu (three flowers wine) or tea and hawthorn berries in chajiu (tea liquor) which has a light reddish brown hue.
Perhaps the most famous Chinese liquor is Maotai which originates from the south-western Chinese province of Guizhou. It is distilled from the fermented sorghum and is claimed along with whisky and cognac to be one of the world’s best known liquors. You may also come across a Korean drink called soju which is an alcoholic beverage made from the distillation of rice in combination with tapioca, sweet potato, barley or wheat. Soju is clear in colour and has a taste bearing a similarity to vodka although it does have a slightly sweeter taste. It is relatively cheap and is one the most popular drinks in Korea which is slowly catching on in Hong Kong and China.
The most popular spirit among the more affluent is Cognac which is consumed in large quantities with Hong Kongers responsible for consuming around 11% of the worldwide market. The traditional way to drink cognac is to warm the glass with the heat from your hands and to sip slowly so you experience both the aroma and taste at the same time. In Hong Kong this does not apply and it is quite common to see cognac downed in a single hit as a wake up for the system.
If beer is more to your taste then you will find that Hong Kong has a staggering array of bottled beers on offer from all over the world. Beer became hugely popular in the days of British rule with the armed forces consuming vast amounts of the stuff. Nowadays despite the fact that Hong Kong doesn’t produce a branded beer of its own the demand is still strong with every major brand available alongside a few notable Chinese beers that are worth trying. The main drawback to drinking beer in Hong Kong is the price as over recent years the prices have steadily climbed. Anybody who goes out for a night in Hong Kong and trying to work their way through all the beers on offer will wake the next day to find their head a little heavier and their wallet a lot lighter.
Unlike spirits beer has a much lower alcohol content and is traditionally made from barley and hops. Beer was not produced in China until the early twentieth century although there are reports of an early sweet wine being produced in China using malted barley over 3000 years ago. Today most Chinese beers are made in imitation of the Western pilsner and have become increasingly popular in recent years. The most famous beer in China which is exported worldwide is Tsingtao from the Shandong province. The Tsingtao brand is sold in more than 50 countries worldwide and accounts for more than 50 percent of China’s total beer exports. Despite a heavy emphasis on its Chinese connections Tsingtao was actually first produced in 1903 by German settlers in Qingdao, China. Tsingtao is produced with spring water from the mountains of Laoshan using hops, yeast and barley imported from France, Australia and Canada. Along with domestically grown rice. It has a pleasant aroma with a distinctive malty flavour that gives the beer a character of its own. It is not unpleasant and after a few bottles you find that it is quite acceptable to Western tastes and as it has no added preservatives it lacks the clinging chemical aftertaste of many mass produced beers.
The official state beer of China is Yanjing beer which has a distinctive taste and a golden hue; it is a smooth and sweet, malty tasting beer produced in Beijing by the Beijing Yanjing Beer Company which is the largest beer manufacturer in China. The beer is exported all over the world and is one of the major sponsors for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Another popular beer seen occasionally in Hong Kong is Harbin Beer which is a wheat beer very reminiscent of the popular Belgian Hoegaarden. It is a very light and surprisingly palatable beer with a light golden colour and mild taste. Yanjing beer is brewed using Chinese and European hops is considered to be the most drinkable of any Asian Beer.
Whatever you choose to drink Hong Kong has it there for you in abundance.
Whether you prefer a cup of authentic Chinese tea, an American style coffee or something more exotic the cafes and restaurants in Hong Kong will cater for your taste. The drinks will delight and amaze you in equal measure, some will become firm favourites while others will leave a not too affectionate mark that your taste buds will remember for a long time. Wine and beer in Hong Kong can be problematic but there are some unexpected gems out there waiting to be discovered. Every one of us is different we all like different things and part of the appeal of Hong Kong is that you get the chance to try a wide variety of food and drink that may otherwise have passed you by. Take a chance and be brave and I promise you will be glad you did. You may have to sit through a few hangovers or be forced to stay awake all night in a caffeine induced haze watching strange films in Cantonese but it is worth it for that one gem you may find.