What I (Palatin)ate in quarantine


As I sit here writing this article, I’m still recovering from a food coma. Today, among other things, I’ve demolished a large pizza, beef phở, rice paper rolls, and a mango grapefruit bubble tea. This is a huge upgrade from my first night in Hong Kong, which I spent in mandatory government quarantine. After seeing negative reviews on TripAdvisor for Hong Kong’s designated government quarantine hotels, and falling prey to the scaremongering by various aunties, I was dreading my quarantine meals.

However, standing in line for hours at the airport had helped me work up a large appetite, and I finished my “dinner” well before 4 pm, minutes after arriving at the quarantine hotel. I was hungry even after completing a saliva test at the airport and listening to everyone around me make questionable noises from the back of their throats — official health guidance suggested a lengthy ‘KRRRRR’ sound (as written on paper). 

I tucked into the evening meal (fish in sweetcorn sauce served with rice) with relish, and it exceeded my expectations. My only complaint is that there was far too much rice and not enough sauce, so the meal was quite bland towards the end.  Unfortunately, I got peckish less than two hours later. I had the foresight to bring some quarantine snacks, but I finished them all on that night.

I had the foresight to bring some quarantine snacks, but I finished them all on that night.

Gone were my pack of sweet chilli rice crackers, a whole Terry’s Chocolate Orange, and Sour Patch Kids. Breakfast was provided the next morning (a fish fillet bun with very little fish, from what I’d heard), but by the time they dropped it off I was already allowed to leave.

The aftermath of my dinner

The next day, I was allowed to leave the government hotel and reach my next quarantine hotel. For context, at the time I travelled home, all travellers into Hong Kong had to show proof of a 14-day hotel booking before travelling, and undergo one night at a government-designated quarantine hotel while waiting for test results upon arrival, before completing quarantine in the hotel they had booked.

Luckily at the next hotel, I’m fortunate enough to be able to order food to my room and eat home-cooked meals (dropped off by my family at hotel reception). 

I had planned to record what I ate daily, but during quarantine all my days have blurred into one mass of sleeping, eating, and video-calling. 

Enjoy this list featuring some of the many things I ate during my first half of quarantine!

Pineapple buns from my favourite bakery

Charsiu (barbecued pork) with rice, topped with a fried egg dripping with luscious yolk

I ate this too quickly to take a photo.

Egg tarts (this was a sourdough egg tart similar to the Portugese pastel de nata

Steamed coconut egg-white dessert made by my family

Many bubble teas (Once, I had two in one sitting)

Sweet potatoes from my grandmother’s farm 

Pan-fried chive dumplings

An endless amount of fruit

Photography by

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