Selfie frenzy as Jamie Oliver tours Hong Kong market and restaurants

Celebrity chef poses for photos with fans on tour of wet market and Cantonese restaurants in Wan Chai and Causeway Bay

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 March, 2015, 8:09pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 March, 2015, 12:51pm

Taking Jamie Oliver on a food tour of Causeway Bay and Wan Chai wasn’t the easiest task.

It’s not just that he had a little more than an hour to see and taste as much as he could. The British celebrity chef, in Hong Kong for the first time, was here for just 24 hours, and after the tour there was a car and driver at the ready to whisk him first to Harbour City to view the premises of his new Jamie’s Italian (scheduled to open in late May or early June), and then to the airport so Oliver could catch his flight to Adelaide.

For much of the tour there was a small crowd of onlookers, and Oliver was stopped incessantly by fans – businesspeople in suits, grannies, housewives and domestic helpers – asking for selfies with the chef. As pressed for time as he was, Oliver never failed to oblige with a smile and nice word.

He was enthusiastic about the food he saw. He looked in fascination at the fish in tanks and laid out on ice at the Bowrington Road wet market, asking why some of them were sliced open to display the bladder (it’s to show they’re fresh), and taking photos of the different types of fresh seafood, chunks of meat hanging from hooks at the pork and beef shops, roasted meats at places selling siu mei, and the sea cucumbers, scallops, birds nest and abalone being sold at dried goods shops.

READ MORE: Jamie Oliver makes flying visit to Hong Kong to announce second restaurant

“That has a bit of fizziness to it, and a nutty flavour,” he said, upon tasting fermented bean curd at a shop that makes their own. He tried curried fish balls, then some gai dan jai (also known as Chinese waffles) and fried beancurd, the latter of which he ate at first with the skewer provided by the shop, before dipping into the bag with his fingers to get a second piece.

We put doughnuts in the congee, which was a surprise. Is that normal here?
Jamie Oliver

The tour ended at Mak’s Noodles in Leighton Road, where he quickly ate a bowl of the shop’s famous won ton noodles, then, after a short pause, a serving of beef brisket and tendon noodles. 

Oliver seems fascinated by Hong Kong food. At a press conference earlier in the day, he said he had congee for breakfast.

“My favourite was the blood congee. I don’t know why people are surprised about that – it was delicious. But we put doughnuts in the congee, which was a surprise. Is that normal here?” he asked, referring to the yau ja gwai. 

His favourite Chinese food, though, is dim sum. “In Italy you have antipasti; in Spain you have tapas, here you have dim sum. It’s so beautiful – I love the diversity. It’s the best thing ever for Sunday brunch.”