Hongkongers eating in Central. Photo: K. Y. Cheng


My Hong Kongi

My Hong Kong is a bi-weekly column by Luisa Tam that looks at the quaint and quirky traditions of Hong Kong from an unusual perspective and provides a unique insight to help readers expand their understanding of the local culture. It also explores how this global city deals with challenges in order to reinvent itself and stay relevant.

  • Donnie Yen’s stand-out appearance in John Wick 4 – and Keanu Reeves’ replication of Yen’s Cantonese dialogue – presents an excellent opportunity for Hong Kong
  • It will be interesting to see how the government uses the phenomenon to increase the city’s visibility – could the next John Wick film even be set here?

Forget ‘Hello Hong Kong’, we risk being labelled ‘Heartless Hong Kong’ after the recent street hawker case, which really isn’t fair to our mostly hospitable and welcoming people.

From the ‘Hello Hong Kong’ campaign’s free air tickets to the need to ‘grab’ talent from elsewhere, Hong Kong seems desperate – and that’s ugly. We must focus on why we are unique.


The city needs someone to identify what is unique about the Hong Kong experience and spread that message to visitors through genuine interactions. And I’ve got some ideas for them.

A spike in eateries selling two-dish-rice boxes is reminiscent of the 1950s when open-air food stalls helped Hong Kong’s poor survive. Are we witnessing a return to widespread poverty?

Fans of the Samurai Blue have been filling rubbish bags with theirs and others’ trash after World Cup matches in Qatar. Hong Kong people could learn from them.


The group, who had to eat meal boxes for three days of a four-day trip and still described it as ‘very good’, should be showered with free air tickets and future hotel accommodation.

The two-dish-rice box, beloved by Hong Kong residents and, lately, diplomats alike, is an icon of the city – it should be declared part of our intangible cultural heritage.

The fight for tourist dollars is heating up as people embark on post-Covid travel, and while Hong Kong is a more exciting destination than Singapore, it isn’t as welcoming. It’s time for residents to make a change.

Hong Kong is being stripped of its distinctive culture and character as more iconic local restaurants and dai pai dongs shut down. The government needs to do more to help them.

The ease with which victims of Hong Kong’s human-trafficking scandal – the ‘sold piglets’, a term that dates back to the Qing dynasty – were conned hints at a city in turmoil.

Your Hungry Ghost Festival survival guide: picking up an unclaimed umbrella, standing under a bus shelter at night and tapping someone on the shoulder are among the many things to avoid from now till August 26.

Hong Kong people should retake ownership of the phrase ‘Hong Kong, add oil’ – after years of Covid-19 and economic downturn, the city needs to add oil as well as peace and love.

In Chinese culture, red is a lucky colour, so maximise your Lunar New Year fortune by wearing red, giving out lucky red packets and wishing everyone kung hei fat choi.

In cities home to large overseas Chinese communities, Cantonese should be about more than just cultural preservation and should be integrated into their infrastructure.

Mandarin may have 10 times as many speakers but Cantonese is a one-of-a-kind linguistic art form, a cult Chinese language, and in no danger of an imminent demise.

Hong Kong’s beloved Anita Mui died 18 years ago, but her spirit lives on in the city and among her fans. Her rags-to-riches story is told in the recently released biopic Anita.

The brouhaha over Hong Kong-based Fok Hing Gin’s name in the UK highlights a lack of cultural awareness about a word that means ‘fortune’ or ‘good luck’ in Chinese.

No city in the world looks forward more to being struck by a big storm than Hong Kong. They often mean an extra day off – to shop, eat, go to a movie or binge-watch K-dramas.

The Netflix hit Korean series Squid Game revolves around simple but deadly children’s games, requiring survival skills that many Hong Kong people use in everyday life.

Mooncakes are a traditional part of Mid-Autumn Festival, but people seem obsessed with inventing new shapes and fillings. Why do we need to update our traditions?

Australian actress Nicole Kidman did not have to undergo hotel quarantine upon her arrival in Hong Kong, and many people are not happy about it – but let’s play devil’s advocate and consider the upside.

Tens of thousands are leaving Hong Kong to emigrate to the UK and elsewhere. We should see this as a golden opportunity to spread Hong Kong’s unique culture and share it with the rest of the world.

The pride and emotion people in Hong Kong showed when Cheung Ka-long won Olympic fencing gold is a reminder of recent hardships and the need to stick together.

Canto-pop boy band Mirror are so wildly popular that the husbands of their fans are turning to Facebook to commiserate. Can we use their fame and success to build a sense of Hong Kong pride?

From a US$1.4 million flat to Tesla cars, Hong Kong’s vaccination lottery prizes certainly appeal to people’s pockets, but can’t we find more meaningful ways to persuade them to get the jab?

Hong Kong’s privately owned red minibuses will get you around the city quickly and cheaply – just don’t expect any customer service or gentle driving. The drivers are notoriously rude, but Hongkongers love them that way.

Comfort food strikes a chord in all of us and we all have our favourites, but Chinese congee is hard to beat. The rice porridge lifts the heart, heals the sick, and cements the bonds of love.