Hong Kong, a British colony for around one hundred and fifty years, has been maintaining a distinct cultural identity even after its annexation to mainland China in 1997. Food has a pride of place in the culture of Hong Kong. One can have dim sum, hot pot, fast food, and rarest of delicacies there. Hong Kong cuisine has the influence of both the western and eastern countries having its unique style (Okumus, Okumus & McKercher, 2007). According to Okumus et al. (2007), “Hong Kong, makes extensive use of food as part of its core positioning statement” (p.253).Numerous types of meals are served for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even for afternoon tea. The Hong Kong-style French toast as meals, and the Hong Kong invented drinks such as yuanyang and lemon iced tea are famous for their taste and flavor. One can have myriads of special foods and drinks, and pastries. Hong Kong style Chinese pastries such as pineapple buns, egg tarts, wife cake, cream bun, Portuguese egg tart and many more are abundantly available, and people savor them with gay abandon. That is why; Hong Kong is labeled as “Gourmet Paradise” and “World Fair of Food”. In the present treatise, an effort has been made to examine whether Hong Kong can rightly be called "a gourmet city"?.
Culture, Cuisine, and Customs
There is a maxim that claims there is no place quite like Hong Kong, the eastern oasis. It boasts numerous restaurants of note and includes little-known hole-in-the-wall jewels to the topmost Michelin starred ones where one must have a seat reserved in advance to enjoy their offerings. Hong Kong has developed a distinct culture and customs in the context of cuisine. A king of Chinese dining, it is a melting pot of excellent cuisine from all over the world. Its gastronomical landscape encompasses both local and international flavors. Also, it being an important hub of shipping and business in the continent, Hong Kong's over 4000 restaurants are replenished with fresh and exotic food stocks perennially. (Chan, 2015; Kivela and Crotts, 2006).
Synopsis on Restaurant in Hong Kong and Neighboring Countries
Hong Kong has been officially acknowledged as having the “World’s Best Restaurants” among the Asian cities (Wu and Cheung, 2002). Guangzhou has a population of 12700800 and has 5680 restaurants, whereas Shanghai and Beijing have 12490 and 9346 restaurants with populations of 23019148 and 19612368 respectively. However, Hong Kong with a population a little over 7060000 possesses over 4000 restaurants. Thus, while Guangzhou, Beijing, and Shanghai have one restaurant per 2236, 2098, and 1843 persons respectively. Hong Kong has a restaurant for every 1709 people, and it is the highest per capita density of restaurants among the Asian cities. It has a buzzing wine culture and a number of Michelin Star restaurants. With the government abolishing the duty on beer and wine, Hong Kong relegated New York to second place in 2010 by becoming the world's largest wine auction center.
As per a survey by the Restaurant Magazine, Shanghai and Bangkok have only two each world’s best restaurants. Tokyo and Singapore have three and four such restaurants; Hong Kong possesses five World’s Best Restaurants; more than any other Asian city. Every 24 hours, the city devours 833 tons of rice, 2290 tons of vegetables, 36 tons of poultry, 4480 tons of pigs, and 71 cows. The total value of restaurant receipts amounted to a hooping 93748 million U.S. dollars in 2012 (The Culture, 2014).
Dinning Manners in Hog Kong
Many restaurants offer the best cultural dishes of a different country and local dishes as well. Dim sum restaurants using traditional trolleys are in abundance where one can enjoy delicious dishes in adorable settings. Then, there are some interesting dinner table manners. One can feel free to lift his bowl directly to his mouth whether on street café or a formal restaurant. One should not be first to pick from the served food unless, of course, so requested by all others partaking the dish. One should fill the teacups of others before filling his own. The most respected person should start the proceeding of taking food. Also, it is not customary in Hong Kong to give a tip that is usually included in the bill. It being symbolic of a boat capsizing, one should not turn over the fish on the table. One should also not pile up his bowl with food; he should reach out for the next item only after finishing the existing food on his table. One should not keep his chopstick on his bowl in between bites, but on the chopstick rest. These don'ts and dos make one’s entire experience exotic and exhilarating. All these make Hong Kong a haven for gourmets (Hjalager and Richards, 2002; The Culture, 2014).
Future Strategies and Food Tourism
Hong Kong offers a blend of local as well as international varieties of food. It is constantly trying to augment tourist inflow by using food in its marketing activities as more and more people are traveling now for reasons of gastronomy (Tse & Crotts, 2005). Food tourism has gained importance in destination marketing as food has now been influencing people in selecting travel destinations. As cuisines are branded based on nationalities such as French, Chinese, Italian, Mexican, Turkish, and the likes. Tse & Crotts, (2005) mentioned that, “Hong Kong has emerged as a culinary destination with no less than five unique dimensions, e.g., Chinese, Asian, Western, Siu Mei, Noodles and Congee, and Cha Chaan Ting” (p.965). Hence, there are opportunities galore to create an association between a particular style of food and destination. Hong Kong can take advantage of the situation, and can attract tourists, on the basis of its rich cuisine varieties. It can increase tourist inflow many folds in next five years from now as studies have found food to be the fourth important things attracting tourists worldwide.
The studies show that food has been the fifth most important attractor of tourists for Singapore, fourth for Bangkok, and the second for Hong Kong. Thus, vigorous and widespread marketing strategy keeping food as a product can do wonders for Hong Kong in next five years in terms of the tourist influx. (Okumus, Okumus & McKercher, 2007; Tse & Crotts, 2005; Wu and Cheung, 2002).
In addition, Hog Kong need to introduce cuisines acceptable for Muslim nations particularly for neighboring countries like Indonesia, Malaysia and so forth. There are many Muslims all over the world who used to visit Hong Kong for leisure and business but the unavailability of vegetarian or Halal Food, they feel difficult to prolong their stay. Hence, to entertain this community in a good manner, there must be amendments in policy on a priority basis. Moreover, another recommendation is to organize the food events and festivals having a variety of cuisines keeping in view the different culture practiced in Hong Kong. It will surely provide a positive message to the world through the visitors that this country has immense love and care for all the culture and communities.
Hong Kong has been widely acknowledged as one of the best places to enjoy a variety of cuisines from all over the world. It boasts of roadside stalls to the poshest restaurants in the world and offers an unlimited variety of food available all over the world. It has more top class restaurants than any other cities of Asia, and the highest density of restaurants with respect to its population. It possesses top brand restaurants from all over the world. One can find Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, French, Argentinian, and almost every country's foods and dishes. The hourly consumption of rice, meat, vegetables, and poultry in the city exhibit how people eat there with gay abandon. The consumption level of wine is a testimony to the fact that people here revel in wine. The Hong Kong-style French toast as meals, and Chinese pastries such as wife cake, egg tarts, pineapple buns, cream bun, and pastel de nata, a Portuguese egg tart make visitors’ palates crave for more. Hong Kong can further enhance food tourism by marketing, festivals and inclusion of cuisines acceptable by the Muslims community. Nobody can dispute the nickname bestowed on Hong Kong as the “gourmets’ paradise.”
Chan, S. (2015). Hong Kong: The Gourmet- Guide. Hotel, Club Hotel and Travel Blog. Retrieved 17 June 2015, from http://www.hotelclub.com/blog/hong-kong-gourmets-guide/
Hjalager, A. and Richards, G. (2002). Tourism and Gastronomy. London: Routledge.
Kivela, J. and Crotts, J. (2006). Tourism and Gastronomy: Gastronomy's Influence on How Tourists Experience a Destination. Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research, 30(3), pp.354-377.
Okumus, B., Okumus, F., & McKercher, B. (2007). Incorporating local and international cuisines in the marketing of tourism destinations: The cases of Hong Kong and Turkey. Tourism Management, 28(1), 253-261.
The Culture, (2014). The Gourmet-Guide to Hong Kong. An online travel & culture magazine for the socially conscious citizen. Retrieved 17 June 2015, from http://www.thecultureist.com/2014/04/02/food-in-hong-kong-gourmet/
Tse, P., & Crotts, J. (2005). Antecedents of novelty seeking: international visitor’s propensity to experiment across Hong Kong's culinary traditions. Tourism Management, 26(6), 965-968.
Wu, D. and Cheung, S. (2002). The globalization of Chinese food. Honolulu: University of Hawaiʻi Press.