Markets are always colourful places but we’ve become a little jaded by the repetitious nature of many – especially the more Western ‘Farmer’s Markets’ where quality often comes at a high price.
Not so, with Chun Yeung Street Market in Hong Kong’s North Point – a short tram ride away from Causeway Bay.
We’ve hopped on the North point tram and clattered our way for about twenty minutes from Causeway Bay to the North Point Road tram stop.
Trams are the most environmentally efficient way to travel in Hong Kong; certainly the cheapest at HK$2.50 a ride to anywhere and they’re one of only three systems worldwide using double-deckers for daily transport. We’ve bought ‘Octopus’ cards – similar to Oyster cards in London that enable us to hop on – hop off any local transport simply by swiping a card.
The Chun Yeung Street market is in a parallel road to the tram stop, one block to the north.
It’s not a tourist trap, dressed to appeal to casual impulse buyers but the hub of all things culinary for most of Hong Kong Island’s Chinese community.
The street is about half a mile long and crammed on both sides – and in the middle – with every Chinese delicacy known to mankind.
The emphasis is on ‘fresh’ and in many ways this market is not for the squeamish – as flapping fish of all shapes and sizes are dissected in front of you, their component parts still moving to some distant rhythm although life is extinct.
It takes us nearly an hour to navigate the street, in between the barrows and carts on the road, the cases and crates on the verge and the noisy boisterous crowds on the pavement.
A colourful tram trundles along the centre of the street, scattering pedestrians but pausing patiently as traders struggle to manhandle their crates and drag their barrows off the rails.
You can’t be on an agenda if you’re riding a tram through Chun Yeung Street! This could so easily be a scene from 1918 instead of 2018.
Stalls create and cook Dim Sum – the savoury dumplings and delicacies prepared and warmed amidst wreaths of steam – some of the best we’ve seen in Hong Kong.
The ‘Noodle Factory’ competes with clouds of flour around us as huge conveyor belts of pastry are rolled and folded into laminated slabs that are then shaped into whichever noodle is needed.
Butchers swing lethal choppers around their heads in close proximity to the shoppers as unidentifiable chunks of meat rack up around them.
Money changes hands in a flash but no flesh touches the produce as, without fail, every trader wears surgical gloves to handle their merchandise.
As a visitor, you’re unlikely to be buying fresh food to cook for yourself, unless like us, you’ve booked into Lanson Place Boutique Hotel (see our review here) that has its own kitchenette (albeit we didn’t do any self-catering, preferring local eateries instead) but that doesn’t stop you being fascinated by the spectrum of sights sounds and smells that keep you intrigued with this special insight into the daily lives of Hong Kong’s chefs, housekeepers and family cooks.
For us there’s a real value in getting behind the scenes rather than simply seeing scenery whenever we travel – Chun Yeung Street Market won’t disappoint.
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