Teachers’ Memories from the Trip 2019 to Hong Kong & China

ANJNA PATEL-HOLDTHAM OF WASELEY HILLS HIGH SCHOOL

“I attended the ‘Fun’ CPD hoping to learn some new Chinese dishes that I could take back to my students. I never thought that three months later I would be flying off to Hong Kong for an incredible food based adventure. 

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After a long overnight flight, we arrived to our hotel which was right in the heart of all the hustle and bustle and then out for a wonderful Cantonese dinner. The food was so different to the typical Cantonese food we get here in the UK. It was so fresh and distinctly flavoured.

The next day we went off to the Lee Kum Kee Headquarters in Taipo where we were greeted by Alice for some demonstrations and some hands on cooking. All the dishes were ones that I had never cooked before and found out how to make Char Sui Pork the easy way. Alice was so lovely and funny and really made us feel welcome. The cooking workshop was followed by lunch in the VIP dining room with the dishes we made plus more dishes from the HQ chef. We then went to the wet market and I loved seeing how they use their meat from nose to tail, no part is wasted. This was followed by another fantastic Shanghainese dinner where we had the best Sweet & Sour fish and then ended the night with a drink at one of the rooftop bars.

Next was the trip to a Hong Kong all girls secondary school but before that we had a chance to visit Stanley Market which was situated in such beautiful surroundings. It was an illuminating experience being at the school. The girls were so receptive to us and were incredibly polite and welcoming. It was a positive cultural exchange for both sides. Dinner was Bejing cuisine, another incredible meal including jellyfish and proper Peking duck with homemade pancakes! Our hotel was close to the harbour so we went off on the ferry ride to soak in the stunning views.

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Off to China on the world’s longest (and quietest) sea bridge. What a great experience to travel on this bridge that only opened in October 2018. The tour of the Xinhui factory was really interesting as was the story of how Lee Kum Kee began. Seeing the massive containers of soy sauce was breath taking and I loved the shop. The Tangerine Peel Tea Museum was a refreshing stop before the journey back to Hong Kong. That night we had a vegetarian meal but I certainly didn’t miss the meat.

We met a bit later the next day and went to a Michelin starred dim sum restaurant. Wow, I think we ordered pretty much everything on the menu including chicken feet. We then took the cable car up to the Big Buddha – well I can’t even begin to describe how amazing it was. Dinner was a new experience for me, Sichuanese Hot Pot which is a really enjoyable and sociable way of eating. The night ended with a bit of souvenir shopping at the Temple Street Market.

Boo hoo, the final day but it ended on a high with the Peak Tour and some serious photo opportunities.

Overall, I feel so incredibly fortunate to have won this once in a lifetime opportunity. The whole trip was well organised and Cynthia, Milline and Chungwen were so friendly. It was a full on week but we did have enough free time to do things not on the itinerary such as having a foot massage. Now I just need to find the time to recreate some of the delicious dishes we tried starting with BBQ Pork Buns and also to have my pupils make more than just a stir-fry.“

MATTHEW WALKER OF THE JOHN WARNER SCHOOL

“To sum up the trip: Wow!  It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life, I don’t think I’ve ever eaten so much food in such a short amount of time!

The trip started with a long overnight flight, arriving in Hong Kong early in the afternoon.  We then checked in to our fabulous hotel in bustling Tsim Sha Tsui, before taking some time freshen up and prepare ourselves for our food adventure! The first night we visited a Cantonese restaurant not too far from the hotel and got to sample lots (and lots) of amazing food. Thoroughly stuffed, we strolled down to Tsim Sha Tsui promenade to watch the Symphony of Lights, the nightly light show that lights up the bay in an amazing show of colour and sound.

The following day saw us visit the Lee Kum Kee Hong Kong headquarters at Taipo, where we met the amazing Alice who demonstrated a wide range of Chinese dishes utilising Lee Kum Kee sauces. We also got to do some cooking in the kitchens, followed by a 6 course meal in the splendid dining room at LKK’s headquarters. Again, full of food, we departed for the Tai Pow market. What an experience! The range of fresh fruit, vegetables, sea food and meat was incredible. The sights and sounds (and smells…) I will never forget. The meat counters in particular were a real eye opener for me – you can safely say that they do not waste one part of the animal in Hong Kong! That evening we ate dinner in a Michelin starred restaurant specialising in Shanghai style cuisine. Course after course of incredible food arrived at our table, topped by some truly unforgettable soup dumplings that oozed with an incredibly flavoursome broth and filled with a moist and succulent pork mixture. My mouth is salivating just writing about it!

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We awoke Wednesday and made our way to a ‘Cha Chaa Teng’, a typical Hong Kong Café, where they served a wide variety of breakfasts, fusing Hong Kong and Western cuisine. I particularly enjoyed the milk tea; strong and full of caffeine for the day ahead! After breakfast we made our way to the school exchange at Pooi To Middle School. I wasn’t sure what to expect when we were told that we were going to visit a school as part of the trip, in the end it turned out to be one of the best experiences of the entire visit. The students demonstrated how to make won ton noodle soup, followed by us demonstrating how to make Cornish pasties. The students were absolutely fantastic, so polite and friendly, we really felt like celebrities! We then sat down for afternoon tea with the students and teachers and chatted to them about everything from food to football. It’s not every day that you get to interact with and teach students in a different country, it was a truly amazing experience that I will never forget. For dinner that evening, we ate in a restaurant overlooking the bay that specialised in Beijingese cuisine – another unforgettable meal. Plate after plate of incredible food, so many different tastes and textures that married perfectly. I even got to try Jellyfish! 

The next morning we awoke early for our trip to the Lee Kum Kee factory in China. We drove via the The Hong Kong-Zhuhai Bridge, the longest sea bridge in the world. The bridge seemed to go for ever (55 kilometres to be exact) and was truly an amazing sight. The visit to the Lee Kum Kee factory was truly eye opening, the scale of the plant was incredible and made you realise just how much goes in to making a seemingly simple bottle of Soy Sauce! After our tour of the factory, we had lunch in the canteen with all of the plant workers – the variety and quality of the food on offer to the employees puts school dinners to shame! After driving back to Hong Kong, we went for dinner at a vegetarian restaurant near our hotel. I do love eating meat and was a little worried that the meal would be a let-down after all of the amazing food we had eaten on the trip so far. How wrong I was! The dishes were ingenious, with soy and a wide variety of vegetables and mushrooms prepared and cooked in a way that made them feel and taste just like meat.

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Our final full day started with brunch at the famous Michelin Dim Sum restaurant, Tim Ho Wan. Again we had an amazing variety of dim sum dishes, every single one full of flavour and truly delicious. Well… apart from the chicken feet… chicken feet are not for me! The highlight of the meal was the sublime Barbecue Pork Buns that the restaurant is famous for.  Crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, stuffed full of delicious Barbecue Pork – I plan to go back to Hong in the future Kong just for these! After Brunch we took a glass bottom cable car up to the giant Buddha statue up in the hills surrounding the bay. The journey up was incredible and the Buddha up close was a sight to behold. Later that evening we went for dinner to a Sichuan hot pot restaurant, it has to be one of the most fun ways to eat a meal! It is definitely something that I would like to try with friends when inviting them round for dinner.

On our final day before flying back in the evening, we were treated to our final lunch - HK/Western Fusion cuisine. It was really interesting to experience food that has so clearly been influenced by Western cuisine. After lunch we took a cable car up to Victoria Peak, a hill overlooking the bay. It was a fantastic way to finish the trip, looking down over the city skyline and remembering the fantastic experiences we had all enjoyed on the trip.

The whole trip was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I learnt so much about all of the different types of regional cuisine in China. The experience has taught me what ‘real’ Chinese food looks and tastes like and I believe this is going to benefit my students massively as I am going to be much more confident about how to replicate genuine Chinese food in lessons. If any future teachers have the opportunity to take part in the workshops then I would highly recommend them – not only do you learn lots about how to cook Chinese food, you have the opportunity to win a place on this amazing trip!“

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