Monday, 24 March 2014

An Afternoon in Cheung Chau

Boats in various colours lined up along the beach at Cheung Chau
My mom is visiting these few weeks and today we were planning to go to Yuen Long and eat some local dishes there. However our transportation didn't work out (long story) so we decided at the spur of the moment to go to Cheung Chau for lunch.

It's a place my mom hasn't visited in around 50 years since she was a student, and the weather was just perfect to be outside. We happened to catch the 12.15pm ferry which took almost an hour to get there.

When these orangey-red flowers bloom, spring is here!
The last time my mom was there was to visit a classmate of hers whose family lived on the outlying island. She remembers it having one-storey houses so she was surprised to see it quite developed, with three-storey houses and the waterfront lined with souvenir stands and restaurants.

We wandered down the promenade and saw the many fishing boats moored there, and the small stands selling the famous Cheung Chau bun-themed souvenirs, cloth bags that look like colourful fish and other handicrafts.

The restaurants are doing a brisk business, with staff holding out menus and quoting prices for two seafood dishes and a vegetable one. The prices ranged from HK$118 ($15.20) to HK$198 and we picked the one which was busiest -- which was the cheapest one!

Fantastic steamed fish with black bean sauce
Most of the outdoor tables were occupied so we sat inside -- with the air conditioning and fans turned on. We ordered prawns, sliced in half and steamed with loads of pan-fried garlic, but it was a pity they were slightly overcooked and so the meat was limp. However the steamed fish, butterfly, with black bean sauce was excellent and great with a bowl of rice.

The vegetable dish came free and we asked for choi sum that were the young shoots so they were delicious with again lots of minced garlic. However after our mini feast we weren't quite full (sharing a bowl of rice), so we also ordered a seafood wok, that was basically braised tofu with prawns, fish fillets, squid and vegetables.

Here the prawns were crunchy, and the tofu silky delicious. Needless to say we were stuffed by the end of that for HK$160! We waddled out and then wandered around a bit to walk off the lunch.

Constructing the Cheung Chau bun tower
We passed by the basketball court where men were constructing the steel conical frame for the upcoming Cheung Chau Bun Festival from May 3-7. People compete to scramble up to the top of the bun tower (made of plastic buns!) for bragging rights.

Visitors descend on Cheung Chau during this period and bakeries do a brisk business selling those famous buns that I have yet to try.

Next to the basketball court a giant bamboo theatre was being erected with a stage at one end and a slope towards it for the audience to sit. Here Cantonese operas will be performed during the same period.

And also nearby is the local temple, though the building is new-looking, the altar is quite old...

A makeshift theatre nearby being built out of bamboo
We passed by the beach and saw a golden retriever enjoying being in the water. He was constantly wagging his tail, but didn't seem to have any goal in mind, just hanging out in the water, then coming out, shaking all the water off, rolling in the sand and then repeat. Bless his owner who must have a heck of a time washing him afterwards...

The next stop was the snack street and little boutiques selling handmade items like jewellery and batik shirts, leather bags and postcards. These were fun to look at, but for the most part quite expensive.

We made it back to the ferry pier with time to spare before the next ferry and spied the famous fish ball stand didn't have a lineup and decided to buy a cattie of fishballs to take home to try.

The temple has a mix of old and new
And since we were so full from lunch we decided to have a simple dinner of vermicelli, fishballs and Chinese spinach with turkey broth. The fish balls aren't smooth like those at Tsui Wah, but quite chewy. Yum!

1 comment:

  1. Wow, sounds like the two of you had quite the feast on Cheung Chau! Tell me when you want to go to Cheung Chau again. I really like visiting that place, to walk and also eat! ;b