What about food in Hong Kong?

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Question: What about food in Hong Kong? Will I be able to find any decent western food when I get homesick? Is food really expensive?

From Mr Tall: A couple of points on the cost of going out to eat here. First, the range of options -- and the range of costs -- is vast. We Talls are pretty cheap, so we favor 'down-home' style Chinese and other Asian places, and don't go out all that often to trendy western places. The upshot is that you can eat far better restaurant food here at the 'low end' of the market than you could in most western countries. High-quality western food tends to be pricey, but there are more and more 'bistro' style places opening all the time. It's likely you'll eat out here more often than you did at home. Before the arrival of Baby Tall, Mrs Tall and I sometimes used to keep track of how many days we would go without eating a single meal (except for breakfast) at home. I think our record was 13.

As for groceries, well, your choices and costs largely depend on where you're willing to shop, which sounds like a truism -- and it is -- but there really are clearly delineated levels of food shopping in HK. Shopping at one of the supermarkets that caters to expatriates -- e.g. Oliver's Delicatessen, Great, City Super, and maybe Marks and Spencer -- means high prices on largely imported items, but generally high quality as well. In the middle, the two major supermarket chains in Hong Kong, Wellcome and Park N Shop, are generally more reasonably priced, but are very hit-and-miss on 'western' foods, especially if you shop in one outside the expat ghettos. And local fresh food markets, called 'wet markets' in the vernacular, are generally quite cheap, and have all manner of fruit, Chinese vegetables and greens, fish, meat, and household items. Many now even feature vegetables such as red peppers and red onions which were previously relegated to 'foreigner-friendly' supermarkets. I should also note that these days the bigger Wellcomes and Park N Shops also have extensive fresh food sections with reasonable prices, too. I have done quite extensive side-by-side comparisons of these food and other day-to-day costs here and here.

Mrs Tall and I do some shopping at each of these three levels. We buy only a few things at Level 1, e.g. specialty breads and cheeses, nice mustards, etc. We get our other 'western' items from the supermarket chains, along with general cooking staples such as rice, soy sauce, flour, sugar, etc. But our day-to-day fresh vegetables, fish and meat come from the wet markets. My guess is that we spend, on average, about HKD600-700 a week on groceries, i.e. somewhat under USD100, to feed three adults (Mrs Tall, our helper, and me -- although Mrs Tall usually eats lunch out, while I pack one) and one toddler. I don't know what people spend in the US/UK these days, but I suspect it's not going to be much less than that.