Every kind of dried fruit, herb and seafood you can imagine
Bird’s nest and ginseng street
From the mid-1800s, traders and merchants came to Hong Kong to sell dry goods of all kinds: seafood, fruit, ginseng, bark, roots and herbs and also more controversial items like deer, shark’s fin and bird nests. All these traditional goods are still in high demand for their reputed health benefits and they’re exported all around the world from Wing Lok Street. You’ll also find many shops specialising in traditional Chinese herbal medicines on this street.
Wonder what you’re actually looking at and why people are happy to pay so much money for these dried goods?
Bird nests 燕窩
- Increases libido, helps digestion and has medical benefits to lung, stomach and kidneys.
- Trades for about US$2,500 per kilogramme. A single bowl can cost up to US$100.
- When dissolved in water, the birds' nests have a gelatinous texture and it's typically eaten as a soup.
- The nest is actually made from solidified saliva of a small swiflet bird, harvested from caves all across Southeast Asia.
- The root is most often available in dried form, either whole or sliced
- Used as health rejuvenation, aphrodisiac, stimulant, diabetes treatment and as a cure for sexual dysfunction in men
- Ginseng is typically an ingredient for energy drinks or herbal teas sometimes served in soup
- Trades from US$100 to few thousand dollars per kilogramme
Sea cucumber 海參
- Sea cucumbers are sausage-shaped animals with a warty and leathery skin
- Cancer prevention potential, anti-inflammatory, wound healing
- Dissolve in water & cut into slices. Usually served in soup, braised with scallops, mushroom and vegetables
- Trades from US$800-2000 per kilogramme
Deer velvet antler 鹿茸
- Literally the antlers cut from a deer
- Nutritional supplement for prolonging your life, improving energy
- Antler pieces usually come from China or New Zealand; pieces cut closer to the bottom (the ‘tip’) are usually more expensive. Trades from US$150-US$6000 per kilogramme
- To prepare the antler, wash it thoroughly under running water before putting into your soup
Dried Fish Maw 花膠
- Made from fish air-bladder of deep-sea fishes
- Rich in collagen & protein but very low in fat; the best supplement for women.
- To choose the best dried fish maw, pick those thick and bright in colour
- A small size maw will cost US$100, larger pieces cost up to US$1,000
- Served in soups or stews
Shark Fin 魚翅
- To boost sexual potency, increase energy and lower cholesterol
- Prices go from US$400 up to thousands per kilogramme. A single fin of a whale shark can cost more than US$10,000.
- Dissolved in water and usually cooked and served with chicken soup
- Shark finning is highly controversial because the sharks are typically thrown back in the water with their fins cut off, minimising their chances for survival in the ocean
- An estimated 73 million sharks are killed annually because of the shark fin trade of which Hong Kong is the epicentre
- Thankfully, responding to international pressure, more and more restaurants and hotels in Hong Kong are banning shark fin soup from their menus