Hong Kong TV programmes

I can’t believe it, I cannot imagine that one day I’d miss Hong Kong’s…TV programmes.

There’s something endearing about those Hong Kong TV programmes targeting homebuyers: introducing new property sales launches and the features of each property; the in-depth analysis or feng-shui of a home; tips and advices on how to buy a property or furnish a property; very comprehensive comparisons of housing prices and so on. With a less vigorous or less volatile primary property market in the UK, there’s probably much less demand for such TV features here. On a social level, I think it also reflects how important homebuying decisions are for Hong Kong people, and their extensive research process prior to investing their lifelong savings into a property (an apartment can easily cost millions of Hong Kong dollars). On the other hand, property-related programmes in the UK tend to focus more on how to decorate and do up your home, tend to your garden or entertain guests at your home.

Master So

I also missed those fengshui class TV programmes that are so popular in Hong Kong. You see the keen TV audience and fengshui class participants divided into teams. They are tested on their knowledge about fengshui or Chinese palmistry or fortune-telling, and get the first-hand opportunity to ask the fortune-telling veteran/celebrity questions about their fates: what jobs should they go for or whether they should move house, something like that. The celebrity fortune-teller would offer tips how to tell a person’s character from his/her facial features, palm lines, birthdays, horoscopes etc. Sometimes pop singers, socialites or TV actors are invited for the fortune-telling session. To foreigners this must be a very alien catergory of TV programmes. My mom used to watch these programmes from time to time. I don’t think many take these superstitions very seriously, but it’s fun and engaging: as with most things, people get very interested because it has a practical application in daily life and the information is offered in an entertaining way. To me, these are comparable to the popularity of celebrity chef programmes in England.

Authentic Chinese food

In England, if you mention Chinese food, people think of sweet and sour chicken, or sweet and sour pork. To a lesser extent, stir-fried beansprouts, broccoli and carrots (the famous Marks and Spencer Chinese food series).

In Hong Kong, I don’t think sweet and sour food enjoys the same status as it does in England. I am certainly not a fan. Sweet and sour doesn’t sound right. It is too much confusion, too cliche, too readymade.

Personal preferences aside, I believe that rice or noodle dishes with chau siu (juicy barbecued pork) is the most embraced Chinese food in Hong Kong. It is so cheap as well. On average, you can have barbecued pork with rice for under three quid. There is a famous local eatery on 265 Hennessy Road, Wanchai called ‘Zhoi Hing’  which offers the best barbecued pork with rice in town. I used to work in that area, and every time I passed by the eatery, there’s always a long queue in front. However with only four or five tables in the eatery, the best thing is to go there during non-peak hours, or to order takeaways.

For me, checking out the Chinese food series in England’s supermarkets is a highly fascinating experience. The package designs and presentations betray many underlying western ideologies.  The oriental clouds that decorate the readymeal lunchboxes are quaint and amusing. I marvel at these elegantly designed lunchboxes in London, and consider how our cuisine is defined and appreciated: roast duck in plum sauce, spring rolls, prawn toasts, chicken in black bean sauce (it always takes me two seconds to recall what ‘black bean sauce’ is, as we call it ‘dou si’ in Hong Kong), Shanghai stir-fry noodles…Every now and then, I am tempted to try it out to see how authentic it is. But of course authenticity is a relative concept. To me, a born Hong Konger, the presentation and names for these dishes can be alien-looking. But to be honest, they are very delicious. In general, I prefer the Chinese takeaway package design at Waitrose to that of Marks and Spencer. It’s hard to explain why, but I think Waitrose’s package designs are slightly more ‘authentic’. Perhaps because of the bright red and white colours.

Sometimes I wish there are more such Chinese-style readymeals in Hong Kong, though I suppose we lack the market for it.