Image and Lifestyle

Fashion, Style, and Professional Impression in Hong Kong

Healthy Eating – Top 10 for Dining Out in Hong Kong

Sichuan Cuisine Da Ping Huo; L/G 49 Hollywood Rd. 2559-1317

  

A HUGE part of Hong Kong culture is food.  It is a city with food from every corner of the world and every province in China… and it is delicious at every price.  With the average office worker at their desk until past 8pm, many people hardly have the energy to fix dinner at home – so we go out to eat.  A lot.  Staying trim when you live off menus requires a bit of restraint and skill.  I will give you my personal tips for healthy fine dining, casual lunch on-to-go, and snacking. 

 1.  Take control over where you eat.  If your partner or group is craving drinks and bar snacks, suggest a restaurant that has drinks and a festive environment… but healthy options as well.  Mexican, for example, is a good choice.  Fajitas with a diet coke won’t do damage… and your friends can enjoy margaritas and nachos in bliss.  

 2.  Share, split, divide… and conquer!  People in Asia love to share food – family style.  Take advantage of this and be sure to order something different from your companion for variety and nutritional balance.  Fine dining western restaurants in HK see nothing unusual about this either.  Steak, ribs, pasta, bowls of noodles, salads, fish –> all share-worthy and most restaurants will even split it for you in the kitchen.  One entrée with 2 sides of vegetables is usually enough for 2 people. 

 3.  Most restaurants do not put sides of vegetables on their menus.  But, ask and you shall receive.  Make sure to specify that you are trying to be healthy and would they please not use any butter or oil on the steamed vegetables?  Restaurants want to please you – so just ask. 

 4.  Healthy snacking on-the-go?  Short, skim lattes; an apple in the gym/hand bag; whole-wheat roll from bakery – eat half and throw the rest away; pint of milk from the 7/11; a Ziploc bag with 2 handfuls of mixed nuts; a can of protein shake or Slim-Fast carried with you and added to a glass of ice later in the day; buy your lunch and eat half at 10:30; half at 2:00.  

 5.  Sparkling water.  Order a large bottle when you sit down to eat and the bubbles help fill you up.  Add lemons and limes for flavor.  Continue to sip water between bites and dishes to help become full and aid digestion.  Plus, most restaurants use too much salt, so this helps balance your fluids and bloating. 

 6.  Talk to your waiter/waitress.  What is healthy?  What are your fresh vegetables today?  What do you recommend?  People in Hong Kong sometimes have long discussions with their table servers about what to order and dish modifications.  And, they will tell you if you have ordered too much food.  Or, ask them “is this too much food for 2 people?”  You can always order more….  By the way, they only bring the check and come to the table when you flag them down.  This is the HK way of being polite. 

7.   Utensils are helpful.  Eating with chopsticks forces you to carefully pick up each morsel of food.  If you are using a knife and fork, place them down while you chew your food so you aren’t in a continuous eating motion.  You might consider asking for your utensils to be removed altogether so you literally cannot eat anymore.  If people have ordered cake and you really don’t want to eat it, ask the server to take your dessert fork.  Putting your fork and knife in the “finished” position will ensure the whole plate is removed quickly.  Send it away when the thought crosses your mind to avoid cleaning your plate.  Out of sight, out of belly.

 8.  Make reservations.  Request a table at the restaurant of your choice.  Control over your meal will help you anticipate what you will order during the day.  Book a table with a view so you have something else to look at and talk about and the focus is on the conversation instead of the food. 

 9.  Wine, bread, & dessert.   Truthfully, I have never sent away an approaching bread basket.  Who can resist hot bread?  I try each variety they offer, eating about 1/3 of the piece…with a bit of butter.  Then, ask them to remove it once I’ve had my fix.  One glass of wine won’t hurt, and dessert is perfect for sharing with a cup of peppermint tea to aid digestion.  You have to enjoy food… in moderation.

10.  Eating dinner early is healthier and can save you money at many Hong Kong restaurants.  Check with your favorite places for their early bird specials and set-dinners.  The prices are lower, the food is lighter, and you are home, showered, and in bed by 9:30 for your 6am wake-up to go exercise.  🙂

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