Hong Kong Street Food: What to Avoid

Practically the first thing you notice about Hong Kong is its smells, many of which come from the numerous Hong Kong street food stands. You want to be very careful, however, as there are some foods you want to avoid.

Hong Kong does not have the stringent food laws that North America and Europe have, and unfortunately, many Hong Kong street food vendors take advantage of this and have their food shipped from the mainland. This means that the food may not be inspected as closely as should be. If you have any doubts as to whether or not the food has come from somewhere on Hong Kong island, you might want to find another place to eat. Many of the Hong Kong street food vendors display their foods right out in the open, with no covers and no way to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. If it is obvious the food, in particular meats or seafood, has been out for a while, especially in high temperatures or high humidity, or if there are insects present on or in close proximity to the food, do not eat at these places.

It is probably best to avoid seafood anywhere in Hong Kong, including Hong Kong street food vendors and restaurants. This is because it has usually been caught in South China Sea waters, which can be very polluted. With lax health inspections, it is possible that contaminated seafood can slip through. Use common sense when eating Hong Kong street food, even if you are just sampling. This can make the difference between enjoying the rest of your stay or trying to describe to the local emergency room physician exactly what the Hong Kong street food you just gave back looked like in its “original” form.

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