Sai Wan Ho’s population is mainly local Hong Kong with reasonably large Japanese and Korean populations. This is due to the location of the Korean International school in the area. At first, it was quite daunting, not being able to communicate with store owners and restaurant staff but through these teething problems, I have really fallen in love with the area and I am much closer to feeling like Hong Kong is becoming home.
Some of the best things about Sai Wan Ho are:
The area is full of incredible local restaurants, serving up amazing dishes at low prices. Some of these restaurants have survived decades and are fiercely proud of their well-earned reputation.
One of these, On Lee Noodle Soup, makes their own, unique soy sauce noodles and fish cakes fresh every day. They marinate their beef brisket for at least 24 hours, before cooking and combining all of these in a bowl filled with their famous soup base. Don’t bother asking for the recipe though – it is a secret the family guard with their lives!
The famous Tai On building houses dozens of stalls serving some of Hong Kong’s best street food.
One of the most traditional street food specialities in Hong Kong are fish balls or yu daan (魚蛋). These are shaped out of homemade “fish paste” (fresh fish pounded until it reaches a bouncy, springy consistency plus salt and pepper and other spices), that are then dropped into boiling water until cooked and ready to eat. The ones that we tasted were speared onto wooden skewers and then dipped in a delicious satay sauce.
As a drink, one of the stalls sells the famous “bubble tea”, a milky tea or coffee with spherical pieces of tapioca at the bottom. This is served with a jumbo straw so the tapioca can be slurped along with the rest of the drink.
This stall takes great pride in satisfied customers and personalises your drink to your specific requirements. As an example, one can choose ones drink to be 100%/75%/50%/25% or 0% sweet – talk about customisation!
For dessert, we sampled another HK staple, egg waffles or gai daan jai (鷄蛋仔). Made out of an eggy leavened batter cooked between two hot griddles indented with small round cells, they are best served hot and often eaten with condensed milk and butter smeared all over. The name in Chinese literally translates to “little chicken egg” due to their egg-like appearance.
Rich cultural history
Sai Wan Ho and its neighbouring area, Shau Kei Wan were traditionally home to the fisherman community of Hong Kong. Both Tam Kung and Tin Hau are deities associated with the ocean and are considered the guardians of the fishermen community, ensuring their safety and success while at sea.
These deities are so important that to this day that they still have their own festivals each year, the Tam Kung festival in April/May and the Tin Hau festival in March/April.
On these days in particular, locals will flock to the Tam Kung and Tin Hau temples which are focal points in the community to pay respects to the deities and pray for health, wealth and good fortune.
These are just some of the reasons that I love living in Sai Wan Ho. As a bonus, the sea front is only a few minutes walk, with a lovely promenade. A stroll along that is the perfect way to relax after a hard days work!