Cheung Chau #1: Grand Bun Festival and other cuisines

During a normal one-day trip in Cheung Chau, a great variety of local snacks and seafood are the gourmets that you cannot miss. After a long-time walk around the island, you can grab some snacks and take a seat in the restaurants near the sea, observing the strolling seagulls and floating fish boats under the warm afternoon sun.

Here we recommend several famous local snacks that are highly appreciated by tourists.

  1.  Mango Glutinous Rice Ball (芒果糯米糍)

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In many stalls along the streets in Cheung Chau, mango glutinous rice ball is a best-selling snack. Three pieces of mango glutinous rice balls cost only ten Hong Kong dollars. The white skin made from sticky rice is very soft and tastes like marshmallow. After a large bite, you savor the sweet and sour mango pulp inside. The fresh tropical fruit flavor reminds tourists of summer vibe and bright sunshine.

  1. Super Fish Ball (大魚蛋)

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In Hong Kong, the fish ball is a typical and common snack. But have you ever tried the super fish ball in Cheung Chau? The fish ball is much larger than the normal one, made from fresh Asian swamp eel flesh. Fish ball cookers smash the fish flesh, knead it into balls and string them with wooden sticks. After frying the super fish balls, cooker brushes them with curry, satay, salsa or spicy sauce according to customers’ preference. The golden fried super fish balls shine an appetizing gloss in the specialized small dish. Super fish balls also have a more al dente mouthfeel and contain richer flavor than normal fish balls.

  1. Typhoon Shelter Crab (避風塘炒蟹)

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Cheung Chau as an island abounds with all sorts of seafood. Foodies can enjoy many dishes of seafood with a relatively cheaper price than on the main island of Hong Kong. One of the economic and delicious choices is the Typhoon Shelter Crab. The famous dish in Cheung Chau is crabs fried with garlic, chillis, and fermented soybean sauce. Its spicy and stimulating flavor and large size of crab shells with plenty of flesh make it an unforgettable dish to many tourists.

  1. Red Bean Paste Cake (紅豆餅)

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A small shop near the Kwun Yam Wan Beach sells the small cake filled with handmade red bean paste, which generates from Japan. After a gluttony of spicy and salty seafood, this oven-fresh hot cake with sweet filling is a good choice for you.

A handful of other choices include but not limited to pineapple smoothie, frozen watermelon slice, crispy squid with spicy salt……

However, the most important local food, also the food contains the best wishes on the island is the “lucky” bun.

The lucky bun is a small steamed bun with red Chinese characters “平安(safeness)” on it. Water, sugar, and flour as the main gradients, it has three different fillings: sesame, lotus and red bean paste. “Old people here believe that eating the bun can make people healthy and lucky,” The smoothie shop owner says, “You can purchase the buns in the bread shops here.”

Lucky bun now becomes a symbol of Cheung Chau. Local shops produce a series of souvenir using the lucky bun image: pillow, wallet, fridge magnet, doll, and key ring. Flows of tourists hang around these souvenir shops and pick their favorite products.

There is also a grand Bun Festival celebrated in Cheung Chau, which falls on the fifth to the ninth days of the fourth lunar month. Traditionally, the festival is to drive away plague and to pray for the health of local people. During the festival, local people take on colorful customs of Chinese deities or modern characters and join a large Piu Sik (Floating Colours) Parade. Children will sit on the poles holding up by adults, the seats hidden under their clothes, appearing to float above.

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A little girl sitting on the Floating Colors for the grand parade. (Source: UDN News)

Climbing bun mountains is another large event during the Bun Festival. A 14-meter tall bun tower made of 9,000 plastic “lucky buns”erects on a large square. Challengers climb the bun tower and compete for the lucky bun on the top of the tower.

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Competitors are climbing the high bun tower. (Source: Ta Kung Pao)

The Bun Festival is often regarded as one of the most significant events to tighten the relationship of the local residents. Cheung Chau people who have already moved to other places will come back especially for this event as well. Now, it’s a great event not only to the local community but also to tourists from all over the world.

“Last year, tens of thousand tourists came for this festival, and the streets were full of tourists.” a smoothie shop owner says. She strongly encourages tourists to appreciate the unique rite of Cheung Chau every April.