There seems to have been a crackdown on food vendors in Hong Kong recently. Friends who went to Hong Kong a few years ago came back with tales of delicious night market eats. However, in the three days I was in Hong Kong, I saw nary one street vendor selling anything of the edible variety. The tourist booklet I got at an information booth in Hong Kong even warned of eating at a street vendor if I were to ever find one. Needless to say, I had every intention of ignoring their advice, but coming up short after a thorough crawl up and down Temple Street, David and I settled at Aberdeen Seafood Restaurant, a street-side restaurant with fresh seafood practically crawling at our feet.
After seeing the crabs and shrimp splashing about in the buckets outside of the restaurant, we couldn’t decide which to order, so we ended up ordering a small order of each. When in doubt, order everything.
First to the table were the crabs. We ordered the crabs spicy, but we ended up with something better. The crabs were “typhoon shelter-style,” fried with tons of garlic, scallions, and spicy chili peppers. As I understand it, before the 1990′s, during the boat culture heyday in Hong Kong, when the “boat people” couldn’t go out to fish or sell their catch at the market because of a typhoon, they would make this dish with their stock right on the boats within the typhoon shelters. Coincidentally, we happened to have arrived in Hong Kong in the middle of a typhoon. As can be imagined, the crabs were salty, spicy, and incredibly delicious. It would be hard for anything to taste bad underneath the heaping mound of crunchy garlic made spicy from the the fried chili pepper. David complained his fingers were burning as he ate it, but I noticed he didn’t stop until all the crabs were gone.
The shrimp, as they were prepared “typhoon shelter-style,” were also good, but they were more interesting to me because they were made from mantis or affluent shrimp, which I never had before. Imagine a shrimp with an elongated tail like a lobster, but not as meaty. It was tasty in that the meat wasn’t as flavorless as some shrimp can be, but it was definitely difficult to eat, and for the small ones, there was a lot of work involved for only a little bit of meat. The sharp edges were also dangerous if you weren’t too careful. Proceed with caution when eating these little guys. However, that said, I actually cut myself on the crab and not the shrimp. I think I may have been attacking the crabs with a little bit too much zeal. The crabs were crazy good.
To wash the spicy seafood down, I ordered a cold San Miguel beer, recommended by the waiter because it’s bottled locally. The cold beer soothed my scorched taste buds and was completely refreshing in the hot muggy Hong Kong air. It was one of the best meals of the trip, and also one of the cheapest. The entire meal of shrimp and crabs, including a 32 ounce beer and a soda, was around $23 (HK $180).
There was no food vendor love to be found in Hong Kong, but we didn’t leave the island disappointed. Even with the typhoon in full force.
Aberdeen Seafood Restaurant
105 Woosung Street (at Nanking St; map)
Jordan, Hong Kong