After 3 days of intense immersion into and around Hong Kong, our group gathered in the hotel lobby to head out in search of some dinner & nightlife. Following the usual group dynamic of trying to make a decision on where to go, Julia took the bull by the horns and suggested we head over to Fok Loi Kui Seafood Restaurant in the Mong Kok neighborhood. Joining the throngs of people on the MTR, we made the trip 4 stops north on the red line, paying about $1USD each for the journey and marveling at how efficient and easy mass transit is here in Hong Kong. Emerging from the station, we entered a cityscape unlike anywhere else on earth…….lights, signs, street life and people everywhere……trying to get our bearings but not really caring if we got a little lost on the way.
Arriving at the restaurant, there were no tables big enough inside to accommodate our group. The owner promptly set up a table for us on the sidewalk in front of an adjacent business that was not open in the evening. Others soon joined us on the sidewalk and before long, there were more people outside than inside. Waiters were running food orders up and down the sidewalk and across the street to serve the overflow crowd. Apparently, it’s like this every night.
Julia, Mark, Chris and AP went over to the styrofoam coolers sitting on the sidewalk filled with all types of seafood. They pointed to what they wanted to order, the staff scooped them out of the water and brought them back to the kitchen. We had no idea how they would be prepared or what anything cost. What came to our table was beyond amazing. Razor clams in black bean sauce, snails with a couple of yummy dipping sauces, a beautifully prepared rockfish in a light sauce, and a prehistoric looking crustacean that seemed to be a cross between a jumbo shrimp and a baby lobster. Our desert order of a fruit plate was interpreted by the waiter as fried calamari and pork ribs. Not what we wanted, but the plate was empty when we left.
The food was only surpassed by the quality of the conversation. Sitting at a sidewalk table on a drizzly but mild evening, eating authentic local food, and having a few glasses of beer allowed us to reflect, debate, challenge and wonder about everything we had been exposed to on this trip. Talking about politics, development, beauty, density, and quality of life. It was one of those rambling conversations that are impossible to capture in words, but expands the mind and enriches the soul. If every meal could be like that, we would all be so lucky.
Our walk home got interrupted by a not-so-brief stop in a karaoke bar. Yes, we all sang. No, videos will not be posted to YouTube (right Julia?). Morning has come all too quickly.