What to do in Hong Kong?
What to do in Hong Kong if you’re looking to travel deeper? Without a doubt, the most culturally authentic experience I had while in Hong Kong was visiting a Chinese herbalist. Hong Kong, with direct access to mainland China’s vast herbal cornucopia, has the most flourishing herbal medicine trade in the Far East.
Visit a Chinese Herbalist
As soon as I caught a glimpse of the rows of orange labeled jars filled with mysterious dried shapes, I gestured to my guide and entered the tiny, cluttered shop of a Chinese herbalist without a moment of hesitation. I watched as his wife gathered herbs to fill a prescription and he studied the pulse of an elderly gentleman. Seeing Chinese medicine practiced was something I knew I wanted to do, and without Jeannie, my guide for the afternoon, I wouldn’t have been able to communicate with the herbalist. Unless you speak or write Chinese, you should always visit Chinese herbal emporiums with someone who knows the language.
For 80 HKD, he analyzed my “chi” through careful measurement of my pulse and accurately described my ailments. With Jeannie translating, I listened intently as he provided some general medical advice, then proceeded with my herbal prescription by writing characters on a trackpad which were converted to an herbal prescription. He printed it out for me and asked if I wanted to have the tonic that day. For 40 more HKD he would prepare the tonic – just give him 2 hours.
Discover Li Yuen Street East and West Market
We left and continued to the SoHo area – here that stands for “South of Hollywood Road” – a happening place with a wide range of international restaurants and bars accessible by the Mid-Levels Escalator – the world’s longest covered escalator.
Colorful stalls of Li Yuen Street East and West Market
Wandering through the wet market where vendors sell their live seafood and fresh meat in the open air as they have done for hundreds of years.
Taking respite in a tranquil tea store.
Marveling at the displays of animal, plant, marine, and mineral displays at another herbalist with a more modern storefront.
Was I Able to Drink the Herbal Tonic?
After a pit stop at a hip coffee and cheese cafe called Classified, it was time to head back to imbibe in my personalized herbal remedy. Just as before, it was me and the ancient Chinese man. And again, I took my cues from him to see how you were supposed to drink the bowl of steaming murky brown liquid.
In the West, Chinese herbalists can often be found practicing their ancient arts in the Chinatowns of major cities – I should be able to “fill” my prescription in Little Saigon when I choose to brave the bitter tonic again. Someone asked me if I’d seen the episode where Andrew Zimmern (of Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods fame) sampled a Chinese tonic and discarded it after a few sips … I’m proud to say I finished mine!
Radishes in Traditional Chinese Medicine
How do radishes tie in? Actually, they are a loose reference to both the sale of our house and Chinese medicine.
Turns out that radishes were first cultivated thousands of years ago in China, then in Egypt and Greece. In fact, radishes were so highly regarded in Greece that gold replicas were made – hmm, there has to be an interesting story there. The radish did not make its way to England until approximately 1548 and by 1629 they were being cultivated in Massachusetts. (source: CDC) Radishes are also known for the detoxifying and anti-carcinogenic properties.
Hubs planted two varieties of radishes this year: per my request, French breakfast radishes – an heirloom variety, crisp and mildly pungent when young and Fire ‘N Ice – hailed as a Burpee Exclusive, a brightly colored beauty 3-4″ with an extra-crisp texture and a mild, delicately sweet flavor and a little bite on the finish. Like many Americans, I really only thought of radishes as a colorful addition to a green salad, until last year when I came across several simple radish salads accompanied by ravishing photographs.
As for the sale of our house Ithe reason I’ve been MIA for a few weeks)—we will sorely miss our garden, but I’ll be able to walk to the downtown Huntington Beach farmers market and we felt a connection to the young couple who are expecting their first child and liked our home for all the same reasons that we did fifteen years ago. Just like Don, the husband was from upstate New York and desired a sanctuary among the masses and they sincerely appreciated what we’ve done over the years to the interior and landscaping and plan to maintain the garden to nurture their family – and we are happy to pass it on to them. *sniffle*
With this salad, I have a chance to show my dragons 🙂 – anyone else love the Mother of Dragons on Game of Thrones? – as well as highlight the under-appreciated radish and organic Jade Pearl Rice from Lotus Foods:
“One of our most exemplary rices, both for its nutritional and flavor profile, we infuse our California grown organic pearled rice with wildcrafted BamBoom!™ extract, made from the Moso species of bamboo that grows in the virgin highland forest of south central China.
The oldest living peoples of the world eat a staple of rice mixed with a unique, edible species of Bamboo leaf and stem for its good nutritional profile. They consider this warm mountain-grown bamboo the true tree of life.
When cooked, this beautiful jade-colored rice produces the aroma of a bamboo forest, a light vanilla taste, and an explosion of health-giving nutrients.”
Very simple, just mix together 2 tablespoons each of sesame oil, rice vinegar, and mirin and a half teaspoon of black sesame seeds, shake in a jar or whisk until emulsified, mix half into a cup of cooked Jade Pearl Rice and toss radishes with the remainder. Sprinkle rice with Eden Organic Black & Tan Gomasio (black and tan sesame seeds & sea salt), if desired. Most Asian style vinaigrettes include soy sauce, but if you’re watching your sodium intake – soy sauce, even the low-sodium variety, is out.
Hope you enjoyed this brief sojourn with me 🙂 Enjoy your weekend!