As a lot of you may know, last week I said goodbye to a good friend. She relocated to the UK after a 3 year stint in Hong Kong. One of the many reasons we connected was because she reminds me of myself….Western on the outside yet Chinese on the inside. She had embraced Hong Kong and China and all that it has to offer. Ironically before she left she took me to her favourite scroll shop in Macau – 41 years in Hong Kong and I had never heard about this scroll shop…..She showed me something about my world! She loved the local culture and was addicted to the local cuisine…..egg tarts 蛋撻 (daan tat) …..dim sum 點心 (dim sum)……even that congee stuff 粥 (juk)
The fact that she loved congee made me smile from ear to ear and I knew we would be good friends for life because I love 粥 (juk)! I do have a lot of newcomers moving to Hong Kong who could never envisage eating this for lunch or dinner never mind breakfast!
Then it dawned on me, perhaps understanding and enjoying congee was much like finding a home in Hong Kong? I can see you rolling your eyes and thinking my god that Stella must have property on the brain (which I will readily admit I do), but trust me on this. Here’s why:
You have to try it a few times before you understand it
In the food sense, the congee is a bit like the olive or the blue cheese. You don’t always love it on the first try, but there’s something about it that is oh-so-more-ish and makes you want to try it again and again until inevitably you succumb to the taste!
No matter how much I and the team try and prepare new Hong Kong residents for the property market it is always a shock. The apartments and houses are smaller and they are always more expensive, this is the reality of the Hong Kong market but it is very hard to actually believe until you see the evidence with your own eyes. That’s why seeing a good handful of apartment or houses can help you understand the market, and not feel quite as bad when you don’t get that ‘this is the one’ (must be said dramatically and with conviction) feeling when you walk in. Instead you are able to make an informed decision on what a good Hong Kong apartment is all about.
You need a local to take you to the good restaurants
It can be hard to know which of the local restaurants serve good congee – you certainly can’t tell just by looking at them (we definitely don’t have congee super powers!). Sometimes it is a little bit of trial and error but the best thing to do is ask someone in the know. My team all have their favourites.
It’s the same with apartments and houses. You need to be working closely with an agent who not only knows the local market well, but who also has good relationships with our local landlords. Landlords ultimately have what we want!
It wasn’t what you thought but you end up loving it
You thought congee was going to be slimy and tasteless didn’t you? Well it isn’t! It’s packed full of taste and here’s the key point: It isn’t meant to be a Chinese version of porridge! It’s unique so embrace those differences!
You thought you were going to end up living in a dark small overpriced apartment – but it won’t be as bad as all that! Yes it is probably smaller, and more than you paid in your home country but you’ll end up loving all the extras you didn’t have before – an amazing skyline view, the extra property facilities and the excitement of Hong Kong living.
With that I’ll leave you with my favourite congee restaurants to try:
On the darkside
- Lin Heung Kui 蓮香居 – 2-3/F, 46-50 Des Voeux Road West, Sheung Wan
- Wai Kee Congee Shop 威記粥店 – G/F, 82 Stanley St., Central
- Sang Kee Congee 生記粥品專家 – G/F, 7-9 Burd St., Sheung Wan ****Pulled pork congee is a must try!
- Fuk Kee Congee 富記粥品 – 104-106 Fa Yuen Street, Mong Kok ****It’s worth venturing to the dark side for this, I promise!