Slurping snake soup in Hong Kong
An often-repeated joke is that if Adam and Eve were Chinese, they would have eaten the snake instead of the apple. That rings especially true...
The New York Times
Se Wong Yee: 24 Percival St., Causeway Bay, Hong Kong.
An often-repeated joke is that if Adam and Eve were Chinese, they would have eaten the snake instead of the apple. That rings especially true in Hong Kong.
Snake soup is one of the most common variations with the locals, who remain steadfastly traditional about their food, despite the rapid changes in the city around them.
Hong Kong residents prefer their snake soup, said to increase blood circulation and cure aches, as nourishment during winter.
Among the best places to go on Hong Kong Island is Se Wong Yee, nestled in vibrant Causeway Bay.
This crammed, no-frills establishment is dedicated to packing them in and kicking them out. Every social stratum in Hong Kong comes here, from families to old aunties eating together to teenagers ignoring one another while they text.
The waiters, in light-brown uniforms, can help you with English-language menus before the food is brought out by men in white shirts and thick rubber boots, which should give an idea of what the kitchen floor is like.
The snake soup costs $52 in Hong Kong money (about $6.60 U.S.) but most order the slightly costlier combo set, which comes with rice, vegetables and duck liver sausage.
What does the soup taste like?
Sweeter than you might expect, because of the addition of chrysanthemum leaves and spices.
The thick broth also has chicken in it, so you might struggle to single out the snake, which has been boiled and has had the bones removed.
Feel free to slurp as much as you like; it's not rude in this kind of restaurant. Enough spoonfuls of the soup and you'll see why it's revered. Fussier eaters won't feel deprived, as there are plenty of snake-free local staples on the menu, from roast duck to chicken feet in broth.
As alluring as it is to turn the tables on a feared reptile, the appeal is the simplicity and tradition of eating honest local food.
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