In addition to outdoor markets, wet markets, convenience stores and little neighborhood markets, I went to three supermarkets in Hong Kong. The first was Park’n’Shop, which was the "neighborhood," run-of-the-mill supermarket for locals. You find them in shopping centers that I kept mistakenly calling "malls." Remember that I live in the country, so I might be forgiven for thinking a three-story complex with a large supermarket, post office, bank, sporting-goods store, stationery shop, electronics store, Japan Home Center, Circle-K convenience store, beauty parlor, wet market and several restaurants was a mall. I guess it’s only a "shopping center." Park’n’Shop was the only supermarket I went to alone, twice, and used up my entire lexicon of Cantonese at the checkout ("Jo-sun!" = "Hello/good morning!") and when I bumped into people ("Mm-goy" = "excuse me!"). My rule of thumb was that the more "local" a market was, the less English they spoke. (The cashiers could say, "money-back card?" so it was all good 🙂 I liked it because I was able to figure out where things were, and they had an amazing assortment of soy milk for sale. We also bought many kinds of juice there I had never tried. It was amazing to me, although I shouldn’t have been so surprised, that the same multinational companies I see in the States are also marketing products in HK…. just not always the same ones! For instance, when was the last time you bought these varieties of Quaker instant oatmeal?
I decided I was a sucker for any kind of juice with aloe in it. These juices are produced in Hong Kong, despite their multinational ownership. Wolfberry? Purple carrot? Yum!
The next step up from the local supermarket was Taste, which seems to be following a trend we see here: more fresh produce, more imported goods, more deli items, more prepared foods, more of everything. We went to two Taste markets, and were as entertained as we were baffled (because you can get so lost there you can’t find the exit). As you saw above, Hong Kongers like to eat corn. In fact, HK McDonald’s restaurants offer dishes of buttered corn kernels. Street vendors offer roasted ears on a stick. And if you get the urge for a snack while at Taste, how about a ready-to-eat offering from Dole? Or some "Corn Country" pork, imported from the great U.S. of A.?
Taste has a much larger produce section than Park’n’Shop, which makes sense, as every Park’n’Shop I went to was in the same complex as a wet market, where you could get far superior produce. I liked Taste because it had the names of vegetables and fruits in English, so I could identify things I had seen on the street and wet markets. As a convenience, you can buy stew/soup mixes at Taste. One comes with its own octopus.
Taste is a more-upscale market, found in more upscale shopping plazas/malls. As amazing as I thought Taste was, the wildest supermarket of all, city’super, was yet to come…
Reality check: we are getting another six inches or so of snow as I type. I took a photo but it’s too depressing to post at the moment.