Korean dinner in Hong Kong

Today has been rough starting with only about two hours of real sleep in 48 hours, followed by losing one VERY EXPENSIVE iPhone upon arrival at our last stop at Hong Kong International Airport (and I just purchased a new case & screen cover, so those are gone, too). I exited the airport fatigued with back pain and a $600 bill to Verizon to payoff my phone so I can have another one by the time I return home next week.

Alas, all the stress crumbled away when “the boy” arrived at the hotel to greet us this evening and head out with us to Mong Kok for some dinner and open-air market shopping. Which means, this is my first taste of REAL Asian food–Korean, Thai, Chinese. Not from Le Le in my beloved Tacoma or the rinky-dink Suda Thai in Arlington, Washington, but really, seriously, real Asian food. A half a world away.  I wasn’t sure looking at the menu. I wasn’t sure when I got my food. Definitely not sure about trying Kimchee again since my recent experience with it from the local Safeway in Arlington for my Korean Barbecue Bangkok Burritos that I made a couple of weeks ago. But of course, it was all amazing, even the Kimchee.

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The sounds… Luke’s rice bowl came loaded with toppings, but what he explained to me, and let me taste, was the intense flavor of rice frying in a scalding bowl, getting all toasty and crunchy and smokey as he quickly stirred in the toppings…and kept stirring…and kept stirring…as it kept sizzling, until it was a colorful, sensational, toasty mix. Delicious.

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The sights… Ben’s meat dish was chock-full of chicken, pork and beef–all very fresh, I’m assured by Luke. He explained the importance of freshness here, so much so that buying a chicken at the fresh market involves selecting a live chicken from a cage behind the butcher and watching the him slice its throat in front of you before bagging it up. Butchers with meat of the already-dead variety hang it in the open air along with heads so that inspecting customers can see evidence of each creature’s recent demise and be assured of its freshness.

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The textures… Lastly, my dish, for me, was the most perplexing upon arrival because it was called “sweet potato noodles with mushrooms and chicken.” But from what you can see, these are not sweet potato noodles. They are like vermicelli noodles with a few shreds of sweet potato into them. Or perhaps they are cooked in starchy-from-sweet-potato water? I don’t know, and it’s not like the server or chef spoke English very well, so I didn’t bother asking. In the end it didn’t matter, because it was this fantastic, exotic mix of sweet and spicy and crunchy and smooth with gelatinous texture from the noodles and mushrooms and crunchiness from the three vegetable sides that accompanied it:  sautéed spinach, bean sprouts, and you guessed it, Kimchee. But fresh this time. No more bubbling Safeway-quality Kimchee for me. Only fresh.

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