On the shelf
Waitrose Seriously Buttery Caramel Dipping Sauce really is just that - seriously buttery. It is also quite expensive for what it is: golden syrup, butter (20 per cent), condensed skimmed milk and double cream. It is not difficult to make caramel, so HK$52.90 for 320 grams seems like a lot of money. If that is not an issue, though, the English-made sauce is delicious poured over ice cream or spread on bread. It is sold at Great (Pacific Place, Admiralty, tel: 2918 9986).
I would be happy to pay good money for sambal belacan. Other than dried seafood, most of the ingredients for this spicy and pungent sauce are not that expensive, but it is time-consuming to make. The chillies, garlic and shallots need to be minced. Then all the ingredients must be cooked, while being stirred constantly, until the sauce darkens and the oil floats to the surface. The version made by Singapore's Kwong Cheong Thye sells for HK$42 for 230 grams at City'super (Times Square, Causeway Bay, tel: 2506 2888), and a little goes a long way in spicing up morning glory and fried rice-noodles.
One of the ultra-cool, ultra-private Japanese bars I visit serves some unusual snacks to go with the meticulous bartender's delicious cocktails (he is so obsessive that he hand-carves his own ice cubes). Once, peeking over the counter as a staff member refilled my snack bowl, I was surprised to see they were not doling out a product sold only in Japan; it was Snyder's of Hanover pretzel pieces. Great in Pacific Place sells these snacks, in honey mustard and onion or jalapeno flavours, for HK$8 to HK$8.90 per 56.6-gram bag.