February 14, 2013

Chinese New Year

This year, Chinese New Year fell on February 10. We had a family lunch at 東方小祇園齋菜 (Tung Fong Siu Kee Yuen) in Wanchai, a well-known old vegetarian restaurant that's been around since 1905. "China was still in the Qing Dynasty when this restaurant started", my dad mentioned as we sat down to our first meal of the new year. This restaurant has seem the fall of Chinese emperors, the rise of Communism, the Japanese WWII occupation, the Tiananmen 6/4 protests, the retreat of the British empire, and the rise of the Chinese 21st century. Through it all, I'd wager that the food at Siu Kee Yuen hasn't changed very much at all.  Food for thought...

A Hong Kong institution since 1905

Veggie feast

As it was new year's, there were no a la carte dishes available; only various set menus on offer. The food was pretty good, if slightly heavy with corn-starch-thickened sauce. Highlights included peppery stir-fried rice noodles, mushroom braised soy e-fu noodles, fried taro puffs and fried honeydew melon fritters, mock duck (tofu skin), wheat gluten mix, etc. Chinese Buddhist vegetarian can be heavy on the fried foods and gloopy sauces, so I normally avoid it. I prefer the Shanghainese vegetarian cuisine which tend to include more steamed and fresh vegetables, rather than tofu/gluten dressed up as mock "meat". 

After the meal, Jon and I decided to walk off the feast. We ended up walking from Wanchai to North Point! In actual terms, it's only about two miles or three km, but it seems much further due to the incredible urban density of Hong Kong island. Wanchai District houses more than 150,000 people in less than four square miles, while Eastern District (which includes North Point) squeezes around 600,000 people in 7.3 square miles. I've always thought that there's as much life in one Hong Kong block as there is in three New York blocks. 

We ended up at North Point, where there is an outdoor market every day, and an informal flea market every Sunday that caters both to the local ethnic Chinese, but also to the larger Southeast Asian and South Asian diaspora. This is the place to go if you're a bargain hunter who loves to unearth hidden treasures...or just like digging through random crap. 

Oranges and other citrus are commonly gifted during their new year, as their round shape and golden color signify wealth and prosperity in the year ahead. 

Jon found a Sega Megadrive (16-bit), mint in the box! 

I found a box of tools (note the French packaging).

Here's the Doctor Who Dalek toy that I picked up for US$2 at the same market during the Chinese New Year holiday in 2010. (Cat not included.)


  1. You made your Chinese New Year really memorable with that sumptuous family lunch and outdoor strolling. All the best for you and your family !

  2. There's so much history going on in this restaurant. I bet you had a wonderful Chinese New Year. I'll be looking forward to your future write-ups. :)