Forget the bauhinia, the skyline or the cha chaan teng. There’s only one thing that really represents Hong Kong. By Xavier Ng, Sophia Lam and Stephanie Tsui
The story behind a skewer of fishballs dipped in curry sauce is the story of what makes Hong Kong special. Originally from Chiu Chow and Fujian provinces, fishballs have been a popular dish in Southern China since the Qing dynasty. But it was Hong Kong which made them internationally famous. At first, fishballs in Hong Kong were served closer to the Chiu Chow style—white and boiled—to pair with noodle soup. But to make the fishballs even more flavorful, Hongkongers started to fry them, giving them a golden coating. Fried fishballs were first popularized by street hawkers, who sold them amongst other snacks from wooden trolleys. But while most street hawkers have been taken off the streets, the fishball has lived on, an enduring symbol of the city. In our food, our economics, our culture—and our politics, the fishball is Hong Kong.