Hong Kong's Fourth Meal Tradition Sounds Delicious
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Like a steadfast Hobbit, those in Hong Kong have found the joy that comes with an extra meal packed into the transom of the day.
BBC Travel’s Sarah Treleaven introduces us all to the concept of late-night eating, which is so beloved in Hong Kong that it has a name: siu yeh.
Now, the idea of snacking well after dinner is nothing new. In fact, having a couple beers or a few glasses of wine with dinner typically ensures that you will raid the refrigerator a little later in the evening.
Hell, even Taco Bell saw the notion as a reason for an innovative marketing campaign.
This, though, is a massive cultural embrace of the idea that is late-night snacking in Hong Kong. More than a mere phrase, the meal is an institution that sounds amazing and delicious.
Treleaven spoke with Celia Hu who is the editor-at-large for a Hong Kong publication named Foodie Magazine.
When you want to learn more about siu yeh, you ask an expert. And Hu is certainly that. He explains the wide variety one can enjoy when marching through the area hunting down delectable treats: “It's not just a sloppy kebab after a dizzying night of partying. In Hong Kong, lots of the late night or all-night restaurants have full menus offering fresh seafood, intricately folded wontons and freshly steamed dim sum.”
As explained in the article, siu yeh is pretty much any meal that comes between that meaty span of nine in the evening and six in the morning.
As most travelers can attest, this marks that wonderful span when food – as sinful as it might seem – tastes the most rewarding. You almost feel like you are enjoying an additional holiday by snacking when you shouldn’t.
Well, in Hong Kong, the rule is not to conform to the practice of an early dinner with nothing coming until breakfast. The push, rather, is to enjoy the sumptuous joy that comes with a food cart meal after dark.
Treleaven points to warm weather being the possible impetus behind the culturally significant meal. BBC.com also spoke with Island East Markets’ Janice Leung Hayes who explains: “Some say that in southern China we have longer days, so we tend to be awake for longer and have more meals, while others say it came from a Guangdong culture of meeting for tea or wine after dinner. Ancient Chinese texts from as far back as the Tang Dynasty mention the practice.”
Now you can play this game from home, visiting a taco truck or late-night diner and say you are honoring ancient tradition. Or, what would be far more delightful, would be enjoying a trip to Hong Kong to sample what certainly sounds like a delicious way to immerse yourself into the area’s amazing food culture.
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