I took this photo at Soy Street 豉油街 on a sunny afternoon while we were walking around Mong Kok. I’ve always liked the straightforward, and often quite literal, names of the streets in Hong Kong. Several streets are named after the businesses that used to group on the same street. I’d presume that Soy Street is no exception. I wonder if this was where soy sauce makers would gather to make their own secret blends or was it more of a place where sauces – including the oyster, hoisin and XO varieties – were sold. Based on this article in HK Magazine, I’m guessing it was the latter as it seems like sauce production requires a massive space, something that would have been hard to come by in central Hong Kong even a few decades ago.
Writing about soy sauce, I’m suddenly reminded of one of my favourite breakfast items in Singapore: Soft-boiled eggs served with kaya (coconut jam) toast. I miss the anticipation – those few minutes that you’ve been instructed to wait for the eggs to reach their wobbly perfection by the coffee shop uncle or auntie (there’s no blood relations, this is simply a polite way of addressing people who are older than you in an informal environment in Singapore); switching the egg from one hand to another because it was too hot to handle; eventually cracking it open and the egg flows out with the yolk perfectly intact amid the opaque white liquid. Success! Then sprinkle some white pepper and drizzle some dark soya sauce. Some people like to mix it all up before dipping the toast in it, others just slurp up the eggy goodness as it is.
Nowadays in Singapore, the eggs are usually served in a bowl. But I remember how fascinated a seven-year-old me felt when I had soft-boiled eggs with my dad at the kopi tiam (coffee shop) near the new HDB apartment that we had just moved into. He had ordered for himself some kopi (coffee) and I was having Milo (a chocolate malt drink). When the eggs were brought to our table, my dad took his coffee cup off the saucer, broke the eggs onto the empty coffee saucer, added the pepper and soy sauce, and proceeded to drink it. How cool was that! Since then, I always think that the most authentic way to enjoy soft-boiled eggs at a kopi tiam would be to drink it out of a saucer : ) I realise that I’ve digressed and shall end here with a fun read on CNN Travel about some of the quirky street names in Hong Kong. Maybe I’ll make some soft-boiled eggs on Sunday. Happy weekend!