Sek Kong Popsi. | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Sek Kong Popsi.

Sek Kong Popsi.

I have seen this man on photographs taken by others.  He was always called 'Popsi' and he probably did a good trade keeping the guys cool.  (Andrew S)

Date picture taken (may be approximate): 
Friday, January 1, 1960


How lovely to be reminded. I was an infant in Hong Kong 1947 - 50 and the call of the Dairy Farm Ice Cream man is one of my earliest memories. The picture takes me back to the time and place.

Hi Tm,

Once at Shek O in 1958, the Popsi man had run out of orange lollies, so I bought another one.  It turned out to be made of frozen baked beans and was quite a shock to my taste buds!  Happy days. Andrew

Some of these vendors also sold frozen green olives on the side!!


Thank you Angie. The green olive ones might be a big hit these days but I doubt whether baked beans would ever really catch on.  Andrew

well, the red bean popsie known as "beano" was good...can't recall baked beans!

Greetings. I like red bean for its taste.  Though not 100% sure, I think they boiled the beans.

Speaking of red beans and street vendors, you might have seen men serving hot sweet congee with red beans and dried orange peels, and green beans with herb rue at street corner. Their set up consisted of two large clay pots with contents kept hot by charcoal stoves, two or three tiny wooden stools one of which for himself. In the 1950s, a small bowl cost 10 cents. This memory invariably leads to my next ...

At the southeast corner of Wong Chuk and Tai Nan streets, I occasionally enjoyed my sweet congee. His must be excellent to attract diners because he was located next to the public toilets at Boundary and Tai Nan streets. And the noise from the mahjong shop was constant. One day, two men came out of the mahjong shop and within seconds they started to fight, and were getting dangerously close to the two hot pots. To prevent anyone from getting scalded and damage to the pots, the poor vendor bent forward, spread out his legs and hands to protect his pots while the two men fought behind him. After the fight, the two men left in different directions. Sweet memory of a laughable scene! Regards, Peter

Hi Angie and Peter,

All these years, I have been wrong!  It must have been a red bean popsi. I guess that my dislike for the bean taste and texture must have been down to never having previously had anything other than a citrus fruit lolly, and my taste buds just couldn't cope with the strangeness of it.  As nineteen year olds I think we were rather pathetic in our non-acceptance of unusual foods.  The traditional Brtitish diet, good and bad, was dominant in the U.K. and before going to Hong Kong even a simply Italian macaroni and cheese dish was deemed to be exotic.  I grew to like curries but it was some years before anything even remotely 'foreign' caught on in England.  I believe that the immigration of many Chinese people from hong Kong, who set up very anglicised restaurants in the U.K, did a great deal to broaden our tastes.  Now, restaurants that serve only English food are in a definite minority and most people here are grateful to be able eat so many different foods.  Andrew

Hi Andrew,

Those were frozen adzuki beans 紅豆, usually boiled rather than baked, and are commonly used in HK, Japan etc. for making desserts

The Azuki bean or the English red mung bean is used in many Asian dishes, such as desserts, dumplings, rice, congee, soup and ice cream. The green mung bean is also used in savory and sweet dishes, and is my favorite mooncake flavor.

Thanks Andrew, Angie, tkj and Tim for your feedback.  Andrew, some Chinese restaurants in the U.K. serve hot sweet red bean congee having taste and texture similar to those in Hong Kong. It would be served after the main dish(es) if included in your order.  At home, you can first try a cold red bean drink (recipes abound on Internet). Like it? Freeze it, and you will have your home-made popsicle. I think a part of our reservations about foreign food stems from lack of knowledge in how they are prepared. Watch the sugar intake! Regards, Peter

Thanks everyone who put me straight on the 'great baked beans misunderstanding' of sixty years ago!

We had a Chinese takeaway two nights ago.  Next time I'll ask about the red bean and other variants on what now sounds to be an interesting menu choice.  Regards, Andrew