October 7, 2008

Eating Out

I've discovered a slight flaw in my plan to eat my way through Hong Kong.

It's rather insidious, actually. Or maybe that's not the word I want. How about naive? I didn't really think this through. I went from point A. Mmmmm, Chinese food!! Dumplings!! Street food!!! to point B. What else is there to eat?

The thing is, I'm discovering that I'm only familiar with a tiny bit of Cantonese cuisine, and precious little other Chinese cuisine. So when we go out, I order things that look familiar. We've gone out enough times that while I haven't ordered everything I know about, I've come close.

And the menus we see are vast ... So part of the problem, I think, is the language -- in two ways. First, the menus available in English are only a small part of what is really available. I know a lot of things fall under the "Not for you, Western eater" category. But it's more than that.

At the Nice Garden restaurant, where Paul and I have eaten twice, we have seen billboard-like advertisements on the wall, offering specials and dinners and all sorts of deals, it looks like. But when we get the menu, it's pretty small and straightforward. No specials. No deals. There are tanks full of fresh fish, but no seafood on our menu.

The second problem is my apparent lack of adventurousness. Do I really want to try pig knuckle and beef tendon? I've already made up my mind about chicken feet. And I'm not a big fan of tripe. And these are the things that are on the Western menu.

So I'm not sure how to proceed. Do I go to the little restaurants, ask for something generic (soup, please) and see what I get? In the little places, there are signs on all the windows but they are all in Chinese. There are dozens and dozens of dishes. I don't know what any of them are. I could point, blindly, and see what comes out. I'd like to go in and have someone just bring me food, knowing I'm a Westerner and taking that into account.

I wonder how that works.

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