Merit: The hidden treasure of Tai O

By Sunny Kwok Sheung-lai, Immaculate Heart of Mary College

The quaint and picturesque village of Tai O is a great place to escape from the busy city

By Sunny Kwok Sheung-lai, Immaculate Heart of Mary College |

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Merit winner Sunny Kwok Sheung-lai of Immaculate Heart of Mary College receives his prize from Executive Assistant Manager of Tai O Heritage Hotel, Mr Ricky Leung.

If you are planning for a day out in Hong Kong to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, the quaint and picturesque village of Tai O is one of the best options. Though this century-old village is less lively than before as new generations move into the city, it is still a special place, showing Hong Kong as a fishing village in the 19th century.

Karl Law, Manager of Tai O Heritage Hotel and one of the crusaders who help to safeguard the heritage of Tai O, said, “For the future of Tai O culture, I’m here to help pass on their unique culture to the public by sharing the stories of Tai O. I believe by doing so we preserve our culture,” he said.

Raymond Ting, Executive Sous Chef of Tai O Heritage Hotel, shares the same vision. He said, “Take shrimp paste, a heritage food which seems to be fading out with history as no one likes its strong smell. That’s why I transfuse it into modern dishes to make it more appealing to the younger generation,” he said.

Ting created the signature Tai O pork burger with an unforgettable delicious taste blended with traditional shrimp paste. Shrimp paste has a distinctive strong and salty flavor, and no one would imagine it can be used in such a novel manner.

Houses built on stilts are part of Tai O's historical charm.
Photo: Sunny Kwok

Like other traditional food in Hong Kong, the process of making shrimp paste is not an easy task, and certainly not one that would attract the younger generation. Ivan Yuen, Assistant Project Officer of YWCA Tai O Cultural and Ecological Integrated Resource Centre has taken up the responsibility to pass it on.

He said, "If I don't pass on the culture of Tai O to the younger generation or tourists, no one will know about shrimp paste, stilt hourses or Cha Kwo (a local snack). To me, it is of utmost importance to pass on our local history to the next generation," he said.

As shared by Law, Ting and Yuen, we must not ignore the heritage and preservation of this remote but precious fishing village of Tai O. More effort should be put in taking care of and promoting our heritage food so that this beautiful and authentic side of Hong Kong will not vanish without a trace. Only with preservation of our cultural heritage can we enjoy the quiet and historical side of our international commercial city.