We arrived at Tai-O after a 20 min ride on Bus No 21 from Ngong Ping which costs HK$6.60; Walking from Tai-O’s Bus Terminus we got to Wing On Street. There is a 16km walking trail starting from Tung Chung to Tai-O which would take at least 6 hours. We met 2 young men whilst sharing a table for Bean-curd dessert, who just did the hike but would be catching the bus back.
Glutinous Rice desserts filled with Coconut & Peanut fillings. Looks tempting but I did not buy any as my companions had gone way ahead.
Many road side stalls like this one line the streets in this little township of Tai-O on Lantau Island. They peddle a wide variety of dried seafood like clam, shrimp, oyster, fish maw, scallop, sea cucumber, abalone, salted fish, shark-fin etc…
Dried Fish Maw strung up.
Dried Oysters neatly skewered; an unusual sight as most of them are sold piled up in a container or sack & are usually of a much darker colour… almost black!
Gan Chăo Niú Hé – Fried Beef Hor Fun (Broad rice noodles). We stopped for lunch at Wah Kee Restaurant located at 35-37 Wing On Street. This Hongkong-style, no frills eatery was surprisingly full of customers. This Hor Fun looked a little pale but it turned out to have “wok hei” – Cantonese term for food that is cooked at high heat in a versatile, concave round-bottomed cast-iron cooking vessel which has a faintly burnt taste that is absolutely delicious.
Xia Jiàng Chăo Fàn – This Shrimp Paste Fried Rice was flavourful & totally enjoyable but my stomach was a little queasy after that because it was too greasy. The portion was huge & I could only finish two-thirds of it.
Spaghetti Bolognese – the sauce was sweet because they used tomato ketchup in it a little liberally. It is still edible though it is an adulteration of the Italian meat sauce & probably tastes like a Hongkong Chinese version with pieces of beef instead of minced beef.
Zhu Pái Fàn – This Pork Cutlet Rice was nice. The cutlets were tender & the Gan Lán (Chinese Kale) was cooked but crunchy to the bite. The portion was large & it would certainly satisfy those with a hearty appetite.
Fresh Catch of the day at Tai-O fishing village located on the north-western coast of Hongkong’s largest isles, Lantau Island. Popular for its fishing culture, you will find many live seafood restaurants dotting the island.
This cute little blue drawbridge is manually operated & it spans a narrow creek that divides the town. A rope-drawn boat used to be operated here for 85 years to ferry passengers across until it was replaced by this drawbridge.
After crossing the Blue Drawbridge, walk down Tai-O Market Street & turn left to get to the Tai-O Market. It makes a nicer visit during the week, where strolling the small alleys can be leisurely & contrasting to the hustle & bustle of downtown Hongkong. It gets very packed during weekends as Tai-O is a popular photography spot & crowds throng this place to ironically experience the laid-back lifestyle & enjoy the street food & snacks.
A local product is this handmade Shrimp Paste by Sing Lee Shrimp Paste & Sauce Manufacturer that has been in business for over 80 years. The waters around Tai-O abound in Silver Shrimp & it became natural home to high quality shrimp paste & XO sauces. This flavour enhancing condiment is used in Cantonese cooking & East Asian dishes. My favourite would have to be Shrimp Paste Fried Chicken – “Har Cheong Gai” in Cantonese.
Puffer Fish (lagocephalus sceleratus) stuck to a branch & turned into ‘Birds’ only in Tai-O souvenir. There are over 120 species of Puffer fish worldwide & they are also known as Blowfish, Toadfish or ‘Fugu’ in Japanese. Their habitat includes both tropical & sub-tropical waters & almost all pufferfish are lethal to other fish & humans. They range from pygmy 2.5cm to giant 61cm in length & have 4 teeth fused together in a beak-like form.
When threatened, Puffer fish (Tetraodontidae) can inflate up to 2-3 times their actual size by sucking in air or water, bearing all their spines. The 2nd most venomous vertebrate in existence, Puffers contain a foul-tasting toxin called ‘Tetrodotoxin’ which can kill 30 adult humans & it is up to 1,200 times more poisonous than cyanide.
Signage that gives you the general direction to all the interesting sightseeing spots to hit in Tai-O. In the face of modernity, the young people on the island prefer to live downtown & hold 9 to 5 jobs. The traditional fishing culture of Tai-O is gradually diminishing & efforts have been made to revitalize the village & focus on tourism.