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Hong Kong Street Food: Looks Can Be Deceiving

Let me begin this post by saying that I’m not all that adventurous when it comes to weird animal parts. I can’t even think of eating Betamax because the thought that it’s coagulated chicken blood gets me all iffy. I don’t eat the baby duck in the balut, because when I see a baby anything, all I want to do is make funny faces so it laughs and loves me back. Neither do I particularly enjoy the Chinese-style steamed frog legs because it’s severed legs from what could have been a prince. You get it, I don’t like nomming weird animal things.

Wah Kee Snacks serves street noms Hong Kong style!

When we went to a street food place in Hong Kong freezing in socks and scarves, I wasn’t the most excited. I wanted to try new noms but I wasn’t all that worked up about eating (or even seeing) pig eyes on a stick or something. Mind you, although it’s called “street food”, it isn’t a setup where a vendor sets up a push cart with his cookware and meatstuff on the sidewalk of a  particularly crowded street. It’s actually a corner stall in the ground floor of a building with an actual kitchen area, prep area, and a cooking/serving area. Nothing fancy, but it’s legit.

The first section we saw had a bunch of normal-looking, even pleasant, skewered balls perhaps made of squid or crab or lobster (or cat, who knows really?) being boiled in some spicy-smelling murky liquid. That was fine by me. I could eat those.

These look vanilla.

Then in another corner, there was a selection of safe-looking cheese dynamites (or whatever they call it), some sliced sausages, skewered eggs, some wings, all on sticks ready to be fried and served. By this time, potential hurling had been averted because the food actually looked pretty good.

Nothing too strange here.

And then in the next one, I saw these vile-looking creature things sitting in thick, brown, murky, and smelly unidentified liquid.  This is about the time when my eyes started to water and dinner started making its way back up my esophagus.

Chocolate-y! Not.

Upon further inspection, they looked like (hopefully) cooked (hopefully) beef and/or pork (hopefully) liver all ready to be gobbled up by a local or an unknowing brave tourist. This isn’t anything revolutionary though, Filipinos also find a way to incorporate liver into our menus- be in pancit, or mechado, among many other Pinoy noms. If you like the taste of liver, you’d probably have a blast with this one.

Then I came to the last section of the store and it wasn’t a pretty sight, to put it mildly. In a doughnut-shaped pan were strings of what looked like some sort of animal part/product that you don’t even want to know because whatever it is comes in various unpleasant shades of brown and yellow and goop.

“Looks like kikiam. It’s probably kikiam. I hope it’s kikiam. Oh god, please let it be kikiam.”

When the initial shock wore off and I noticed that no one around is vomiting or dying of some unknown instantaneous death, I started thinking that it might actually be good stuff. The thing looked like pig (or cow?) intestine stuffed with something. We’ll call it intestine goop, for future reference. In the middle of the preparation pan where the doughnut hole would have been is a pot of hot seasonings and oil; this is where they dunk the sticks of Hong Kong-style isaw and let it simmer in the sauces for a few minutes before serving.

When served, you can choose to squirt a couple of sauces on it. A brown one- sweet Hoisin sauce, and a yellow that’s some kind of mild mustard sauce. Combined with the unique taste and texture of the Hong Kong Style-isaw and the intestine goop inside it, it actually makes for a very, very tasty snack. A snack we came back every night for.

It wasn’t kikiam. It’s Hong Kong’s version of the Pinoy favorite isaw (grilled intestine).

These street food stores are everywhere too. This one shown in the pictures is Wah Kee Snacks, located at the corner of Hart avenue and Prat avenue in Tsim Sha Tsui in Hong Kong. Their store is only a couple of streets away from where we stayed and it became a favorite midnight snack destination for us then, specially for my little munchkin cousin (in picture) who once ate all of 4 isaw sticks in one night.

The sticks are sold for 10-20 HKD each, depending on which one you want to risk your life for. Honestly, it all looks to be safe, unless you have a particularly weak stomach for these kinds of noms, literally and figuratively. To help ease your mind,  these street food stalls were busy every night we stopped by. A bunch of regulars, local fashionable yuppies, can usually be seen stuffing their faces with these boiled/fried street food in the wee hours of the morning whilst chatting up with each other, not unlike the afternoon situation in Makati Jollijeeps.

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