HK2: Lau Sum Kee Noodles 劉森記麺家

By Camemberu, May 2, 2011 9:05 pm

Ha zi lo mein - dry noodles with dried shrimp roe
Hurray! Ha zi lo mein (蝦子撈麵) from Lau Sum Kee (劉森記麺家) – the famous bamboo cane-pressed noodles with dried shrimp roe. I absolutely love the “QQ” consistency of the noodles. So springy, so smooth and tasty (hubby was less impressed, but he’s never been fond of dried shrimp aromas).

This was one of my personal must-try places on my list of eateries in Hong Kong. It’s also recommended in the HKTB’s Local Delicacies Guide and a firm favourite of Hong Kong food columnist Chua Lam.

Lau Sum Kee is at Sham Shui Po
We made a special trip to Sham Shui Po just for this. From Sham Shui Po MRT take Exit D2 and walk down Kweilin Street for about five minutes and you’ll see the shop on the right. Look for the Chinese characters as there is no English on any of its signboards.

It's a very humble shop with barely 8 tables
It’s an unusually humble setting for such a famous eatery. Barely ten tables, and you are expected to share tables during peak hours. We were there around 3-4pm and managed to get our own.

The menu at Lau Sum Kee
If you can read Chinese/Cantonese, this is the menu. Prices range from HK$20-35. There’s lots of the basic noodles paired with toppings like shrimp dumplings, braised beef brisket, pork knuckle and fish slices. If you’re brave, order it with goose intestines and beef tripe!

LAU SUM KEE NOODLES 劉森記麺家
82 Fuk Wing Street
Sham Shui Po
Kowloon
Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2386-3583
Open 12 noon til 11pm

HK2: The French Window in Hong Kong is Absolutely Sublime!

By Camemberu, April 15, 2011 3:50 pm

The long entry corridors feature high ceilings, soft lighting and weathered blue-gray wooden slats
Let me continue with my Hong Kong posts, which got derailed a bit (my apologies). I might as well jump straight to the best meal of the trip. Dinner at The French Window! We remember it fondly til today. Even hubby with his jaded palate was totally blown away. This might be our best meal of 2011 too, even though it’s still early in the year.

The Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) hooked me up with The Miramar Group which has extensive F&B operations in Hong Kong. Little did I know we would be swept off our feet with this new gem on the haute cuisine scene. It’s been around slightly less than a year, but press reviews have been glowing.

Firstly, there’s the award-winning decor (The French Window beat 361 contenders to win New York’s Hospitality Design Magazine’s “2010 Hospitality Design Awards – Fine Dining Category”). The entrance is deceptively simple. You enter a large, long and winding corridor clad with weatherbeaten blue-gray boards and shuttered louvres reminiscent of a rustic French chateau. The way is studded with beautifully curated plant displays. The wine fridges you pass offer you a glimpse of the collection they house.

The restaurant is located at the ifc mega-mall, but these walkways will transport you to another world. You will soon forget you are even in a bustling shopping complex.

The main dining area is an elegant setting of glass, metal and art deco motifs
The main dining area is an elegant setting of glass, metal and art deco motifs. There are black and white chairs, as well as plush sofa seating along the wall. The whole place is quietly imposing and yet warmly welcoming at the same time. At night, it is breath-takingly romantic (but that also means very challenging lighting for photography!).

The staff here are very well-trained, and not only see to your needs swiftly but also sometimes anticipate them before you even ask for it.

Chef Stéphane Haissant joined The French Window as their Master Chef in the beginning of 2011. Haissant has had stints at La Tour d’Argent and worked under Michel Guérard at Les Prés d’Eugénie and with Alain Senderens at Lucas Carton. Here, his brand of nouvelle cuisine celebrates natural flavours in bold and playful ways.

The magnificent glass jar of artisan breads!
We chose the six course degustation menu (about HK$800). The welcome bread basket is this luxurious glass jar of artisan breads – some of the best I’ve had in a long time. And they happily replenished this too!

Amuse bouche of Curried salmon sphere and harenga caviar, Carrot and ginger soup, Foie gras toast

Amuse bouche – not one, but three items!

Curried salmon sphere and harenga caviar (foreground, and right): I really loved this. It’s like a quail’s egg made of salmon, with just a hint of curry. The caviar brought it all together.

Carrot and ginger soup (middle): very light and just gently savoury.

Foie gras toast (back): oh what a decadent morsel that made us want more. And yes, there would be more foie gras coming up!

Ballotine de foie gras de landes, compoteé de champignons aigre doux - Foie gras ballotine, sweet and sour mushroom compote
Ballotine de foie gras de landes, compoteé de champignons aigre doux
Foie gras ballotine, sweet and sour mushroom compote

The foie gras here is positively divine! Hubby who normally hates foie gras actually enjoyed this and polished every bit. Trust me, that is some serious endorsement, folks! The veil of gel (maybe it’s collagen jelly) almost makes it look like a bride. The sour mushroom compote helped to balance flavours and cleanse the palate.

Saint-jacques pochées en escabèche, topinambour fumé - Poached scallops, smoked jerusalem artichoke
Saint-jacques pochées en escabèche, topinambour fumé
Poached scallops, smoked jerusalem artichoke

This was one large scallop, and it was still firm and cooked just right. The smoked artichoke was very gentle, flavourwise, and so did not overpower the scallop.

Filet de rouget saisi, risotto à la courgette - Seared red mullet, zucchini risotto
Filet de rouget saisi, risotto à la courgette
Seared red mullet, zucchini risotto

This was our unanimous favourite. The fish was grilled to perfection. It was so delicious. But the real eye-opening surprise lay in the zucchini risotto. As I played with it in my mouth, I wondered if there was actually any rice in it. It felt like there were rice-sized grains, but each of these had a turgid crunch and sweetness that rice could never yield. True enough, the maitre’d told us they used purely zucchini to simulate rice. It’s all cut into rice-like grains, and cooked in a gorgeous savoury puree. Phenomenal!

Pigeon contisé au foie gras grillé à l'américaine, champignons boutons en sangria - Grilled pigeon stuffed with foie gras, buttom mushroom sangria
Pigeon contisé au foie gras grillé à l’américaine, champignons boutons en sangria
Grilled pigeon stuffed with foie gras, buttom mushroom sangria

The chef is quite famous for his grilled pigeon. He combines traditional and new methods to bring about a fresh take on this French dish. The tender, smoky pigeon absorbs the fatty rich flavours of foie gras, and the meaty aroma of mushrooms. And he does not stint on portions. This was very filling!

Crème légère à la vanille, coulis de fraise et gelée au thym - Light vanilla cream, strawberry coulis and thyme jelly
Crème légère à la vanille, coulis de fraise et gelée au thym
Light vanilla cream, strawberry coulis and thyme jelly

Now, thyme jelly. If you were as unsure as I was about a herb-flavoured jelly in a dessert, you’ll be as pleasantly thrilled and amazed at how well it works! In fact, it was the element that heightened the otherwise standard combination of vanilla and strawberry to a different class. Thyme jelly! Who would have thought!

Palet sablé au citron jaune, caramel au beurre salé - Yellow lemon sablé, sea salt caramel
Palet sablé au citron jaune, caramel au beurre salé
Yellow lemon sablé, sea salt caramel

More dessert? A wet one and a dry one, why not. I love the crackling thin slices of candied lemon. Dip the sable biscuit onto the sea salt caramel piping on either side, and enjoy.

Fabulous coffee
The perfect way to round off such an amazing meal is with fabulous coffee that’s truly robust and aromatic. This felt great in the winter month.

Petits Fours
Coffee was served with petits fours, which included some stellar chocolate, but we were really struggling at this point in time. I never thought I could be so full at a French fine-dining restaurant.

Fantastic view of the harbour from ifc
The harbour view from ifc forms a spectacular backdrop to your meal (this view is taken from a balcony, as the floor-to-ceiling glass window was a bit too reflective for photography). The French Window also looks beautiful in the daytime in a different way (you can check out the website for photos).

We hit upon the idea of taking the ferry (instead of the MTR) back to Tsimshatsui where we were staying. It was a gorgeous way to end the evening.

We really enjoyed our three-hour meal here, and we can’t wait to come back. Our most heartfelt thanks to the Miramar Group (a great pleasure meeting Connie) for hosting us, and to Vivien of HKTB for making this happen.

THE FRENCH WINDOW
Podium level 3, IFC Mall
Central, Hong Kong
+852 2393 3812
Open daily
Mon-Sat noon-2.30pm & 6pm-10.30pm;
Sun/public holidays 11.30am-3.30pm & 6pm-10.30pm.

HK2: Yung Kee with Friends

By Camemberu, April 14, 2011 2:41 pm

Everybody knows Yung Kee
Everybody knows Yung Kee in Hong Kong. On our first day in Hong Kong, we had the pleasure of catching up with some wonderful friends there for dinner. We were quite lucky to even get a table, as it was nearing Chinese New Year, but my friend Katie knew the folks there.

Yung Kee's famous century eggs
Here are the famous century eggs – so beautiful and tasty. I can fully understand why some people go to great lengths to bring some home by air.

Braised Pork Belly
Gorgeous braised pork belly. The picture says it all. It’s as delicious as you can imagine!

Stewed Goose with Goose Blood
Yung Kee is famous for its signature roast goose, but that’s not what we had. We decided to try something else, which also came recommended. A claypot stewed goose with goose blood (at first I thought it was pig’s blood). Robustly flavoured but not too gamey. First time I’ve ever had goose blood too – it was quite unusual.

Appetiser of some cured melon strips
We had these on the side, which made great palate cleansers. Some variant of cured melon strips, I think.

Sea Cucumber Innards
And another first for me – sea cucumber innards! These longish intestines were fried and salted like calamari. I can’t quite describe the taste, but the texture is amazing – both chewy and crunchy. Whoever first ate these must have been brave. Sure proves that the Chinese won’t waste anything. I think the Japanese eat these too (konowata).

It’s amazing that sea cucumbers can expel their intestines when they feel threatened, and grow a totally new set in 50 days. But I don’t think that’s how they are harvested.

Assorted Lap Cheong
And on to more normal fare – some very good lap cheong (Chinese sausages).

Egg with Shrimp
Eggs, softly scrambled with large juicy prawns and chopped scallions. So delicious and comforting.

Beef with Kailan
Beef with Kailan – probably our only vegetable appearance. They use tenderizer as with most Chinese restaurants, but it’s still very tasty.

Crab claw
Some nice crab claws to round up the meal.

Red Bean with Jelly
We had an assortment of desserts. I loved this red bean jelly.

Mini Egg Tarts
Mini egg tarts. I thought these were even better than Tai Cheong’s (although they have different crusts).

Yummiest Red Bean Soup Ever
This red bean soup is fragrantly perfumed with dried orange peel (I normally don’t like orange peel, but it was so good here). It’s the best red bean soup I’ve ever had.

Yung Kee with Friends
We had such a fun evening catching up. I’d met up with Katie when she was in Singapore earlier, and this time, we managed to round up more people whom I had not seen in almost 20 years, since the good old days of school. Nice to see that they have all done well for themselves and are such lovely, happy people.

Thank you, guys, for the wonderful dinner! And by the way, happy birthday, Katie! Just a coincidence I decided to publish this today and then I found out it’s your birthday!

YUNG KEE
32-40 Wellington Street
Central, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2522 1624
Open daily 11.00am – 11.30pm

Yuen Kee Restaurant 源记茶餐厅 at Kimberly Road

By Camemberu, February 16, 2011 3:21 pm

Fried beef horfun
We were famished after arriving and checking in to The Luxe Manor. So we had lunch at a nearby cha chan teng – an absolutely perfect way to start our eating journey. Yuen Kee was just a few doors away from the hotel, and was one of the places on my foodie hitlist. I had read that they are quite well-known for 干炒牛河 (gon chau gnau hor) or fried beef horfun (flat rice noodles). So we had to have that.

What came was a delightfully huge portion (easily enough for two) of very homely noodles. It was  tasty and satisfying, although not the best we’ve had.

Sliced beef and tripe noodles in soup
They also call themselves “beef experts” and offer a variety of beef parts with noodles (both dry or in soup). I love tripe, so I had to give this a try. Sliced beef and tripe noodles in soup. The noodles had a strong (”kee”) alkaline taste, but it didn’t bother me. The beef slices are nothing short of tender, fatty goodness, and the tripe deliciously soft and chewy. The beef brisket is also quite popular here.

Fried fish skin
I was also thrilled to see my favourite snack of fried fish skin on the menu, available for a song (HK$15-20 or so, if I remember correctly – they didn’t give a receipt, and I didn’t shoot the menu). Crunchy indulgence!

Wantan soup with lots of greens!
We also tried a bowl of wantan soup, no noodles. The wantans have generous fillings of minced pork and shrimp, and the broth is pretty decent. But nothing like Mak’s, of course.

Bright, cheery and newly renovated
I believe Yuen Kee is a chain, as we saw some others later on as well. But this particular outlet is extra bright and cheery – I think it’s been recently renovated. This shop may have been around for more than 30 years (I read this somewhere, but can’t find the article now). Can someone who knows verify?

Yuen Kee has been around for more than 30 years, so I've read...
Prices are very decent – around HK$15-35 (about S$3-7) for most items here. Good for simple refueling.

YUEN KEE RESTAURANT
27-33 Kimberley Road
Shop 6-10, G/F Wing Lee Building
Tsim Sha Tsui
Tel: +852 21919339

HK Trip #2: Staying at The Luxe Manor

By Camemberu, February 13, 2011 6:18 pm

Lobby of the Luxe Manor
OK here we go with the Hong Kong posts! This second trip was also organised by the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB). We were thrilled to know we were going to stay at The Luxe Manor (pronounced “Deluxe Manor”) at Kimberly Road, a stylish boutique hotel just down the street from The Mira, where the 10 SBA bloggers last stayed.

The location is terrific – right in the heart of Tsim Sha Tsui’s eating and shopping area, and a stone’s throw from the MTR. It’s also directly next to the trendy row of bars and restaurants at Knutsford Terrace.

The Luxe Manor is the first designer boutique hotel in Kowloon, and is a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World. The place is a surreal yet modern take on old European manors. The ornate lobby is inspired by master Spanish architect Antonio Gaudi. It cocoons you in dark, rich, warm tones of red, violet, magenta, gold and black. The mosaic floor features clock and compass graphics depicting the distortion of time and space.

The grand doors that lead to the magic within
These grand entrance doors leading into the lobby are flanked by waterfall-like crystal lighting. This is where you leave your real world behind, and step into the surreal.

The Lao Fu Zi or Old Master Q armchair
There are all kinds of interesting. The centerpiece “Old Master Q” or Lau Fu Zi armchair pays quirky homage to artist Joseph Wong’s famous comic series.

Lighting fixtures that add to the surreal feel
There are some beautiful chandeliers and lighting fixtures from Europe.

Cosy bed with paintings of art frames above the bedhead
The Luxe Manor has 153 rooms and six specially-themed suites (which I will show you in a separate post). This is the normal guestroom. The art frames have been painted on the wall and extend to the ceiling, in keeping with the surreal theme.

You get a retro alarm clock!
You get a retro alarm clock too! How quaint! I half-expected it to be a wind-up clock, but it runs on batteries, so no worries about keeping it on time.

The faux fireplace with TV above it
The real and surreal blend together – that’s a faux fireplace below the real mantelpiece. The flatscreen TVs are all encased within elaborate art frames. There’s cable TV, broadband internet, video-on-demand, and the hotel channel all on the same device. The room also comes with wi-fi Internet access, and VOIP telephony.

Whimsical lamp in the bedroom
The decorative is also the functional. A ceramic dog lamp attached to the wall.

Your desk...check out the dustbin!
A desk with mirror doubles up as both worktable and dressing counter. Notice the red “crumpled” designer wastepaper bin (bottom left)? I love the little touches like that. There’s a similar white one in the bathroom.

The fridge and minibar are inside this quaint locker
The mini-bar area is cute. There’s this curvy sidetable that looks like a set of drawers, but two large doors open out like a cupboard to reveal the fridge.

A cosy corner for lounging around
A small cosy area for lounging around and putting your feet up.

Bathroom is neat, clean and well-laid-out
The bathroom is very clean, neat and well-laid out (the hairdryer, vanity supplies and toiletries are inside the drawers). Marble and glass tiles lend classy elegance to the walls.

There's no bathtub, but you get your overhead rain shower
I didn’t notice it at first, but I was surprised that there is no bathtub. Well, I didn’t really miss it, as the overhead rain shower is luxurious enough.

The gym in the basement of The Luxe Manor
You’ll find a small but sufficient gym in the basement. No swimming pool, but you can still keep fit.

Business centre in the basement
Even the business centre has its own personality. It’s in the basement, next to the gym.

Crystal tree trunk, with mosaic and mirrored walls
The Luxe Manor has won several awards – you can look them up on the website. The boutique hotel is gaining popularity with luxury travel and business visitors, who prefer to check in to something a little more adventurous and unusual.

I found out a little too late (for reservations) that Fook Lam Mun has a branch just a couple doors away. We tried our luck with a walk-in at 2pm, but it was completely full and the place closes at 2.30pm for lunch. However, there are lots of other eateries around, and we soon found ourselves a nice little place for fried beef horfun. More on that later…

THE LUXE MANOR
39 Kimberly Road
Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
Hong Kong
Tel: +852 3763 8888 (general); +852 3763 8880 (reservations)
Fax: +852 3763 8899 (general); +852 3763 8882 (reservations)
Email: info@theluxemanor.com or rsvn@theluxemanor.com

I’m Going to Hong Kong Tomorrow! Here’s My To-Eat List…

By Camemberu, January 27, 2011 2:43 pm

Yes, I am going to Hong Kong tomorrow (Friday morning). Am finally using my prize from last year’s Best Hong Kong Travel Blog organised by the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB). Have waited for winter so we can enjoy the cold weather, and be just in time to catch the Chinese New Year festive preparations.

You can see my previous travel posts in my Hong Kong series. I covered more than a dozen eateries then.

This time, I have also put together a list of eateries. There are just so many good places to eat in Hong Kong, and this is just from preliminary research. I will not be able to cover all these places on my 3D2N trip, but at least it’s good to know and recognise places, and I’m also leaving room for spontaneous discoveries.

If you guys have recommendations, please let me know too!

Looking forward to feasting in Hong Kong again!

Here’s my list (grouped very roughly by area, in no particular order)…

HONG KONG ISLAND SIDE

Mak’s noodles revisit? Maybe try the dry version this time.

Law Fu Kee has very good congee. I would be quite happy to just go back there, but there are many other shops that also offer congee that’s well-lauded.

Maybe I’ll try Sang Kee Congee – they have ingredients like pork ball, beef, air bladder, snakehead, grass carp, intestine and tripe
7-9 Burd Street, Sheung Wan MTR Exit A2, turn right, walk 5 mins
6.30am-9pm (Mon-Sat)

Trusty Congee King – MSG-free congee made with fresh fish soup
7 Heard Street, Wan Chai MTR Exit A4, turn right, walk down Hennessy 10 mins
11am-11pm Mon-Sat, 11am-10pm Sun

Wong Chi Kei – noodles and congee
15B Wellington Street, Central

Luk Yu Teahouse instead of Lin Heung this time?
24 Stanley Street, Central MTR Exit D2, walk up D’Aguilar St, turn in to Stanley
7am-10pm

Tai Cheung Bakery – those legendary egg tarts!
35 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central
7.30am – 9pm (Mondays to Saturdays)
8.30am – 9pm (Sundays and Public Holidays)

Honolulu Coffee Shop – also for egg tarts (flaky crust)
33, Stanley Street, Central

Sing Heung Yuen – I am not sure how good noodles in tomato soup can be, but this ramshackle stall right opposite Kau Kee has locals queuing up for it. Apparently Dr Sun Yat Sen used to drop by too. Also popular is the baked bread with condensed milk and butter.
2 Mee Lun Street, Central
8.00am – 5.30pm (Closed on Sundays and Public Holidays)

Under Bridge Spicy Crab
main branch, shop 1-2, G/f, Chinaweal Centre, 414-424 Jaffe Road, Wan Chai
corner of Canal Road and Lockhart Road
See CNNgo feature on how they cook it!
6pm til late
* Psst – heard that Hei Kee nearby is even better!

Joy Hing – BBQ meats
Shop 265-267 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai
Wan Chai MTR Exit A2 ( it’s actually around Stewart at Jaffe, 1 block from Hennessy)
10am-10.30pm

Ho Hung Kee Congee & Noodle Shop – fried beef horfun
2 Sharp Street East, Causeway Bay MTR Exit A, turn right to Matheson and walk about 3 mins
11.30am – 11.30pm

Wing Kee Noodles – famous for Che Zai Min (cart noodles)
27A Sugar Street
Causeway Bay MTR Exit E, walk down Yee Wo St for 2 mins
11.30am-10.30pm

Sun Kee Noodles – hot and spicy Che Zai Min
Shop B, 49 Tang Lung Street, Causeway Bay MTR Exit B, walk down Hennessy and turn into Tang Lung St
Open daily midnite to 11.30pm

Burgeroom – looks good! Maybe for the hubby when he gets sick of Chinese food…
7 Caroline Hill Rd, Causeway Bay
Mon – Thurs: 11am – 11pm
Fri – Sat: 11am – 12am
Sun: 11am – 11pm

KOWLOON SIDE

Tim Ho Wan – OK, yes, I know where it is now.
2-20 Kwong Wa Street, Mong Kok
10am to 11pm

Yuen Kee Restaurant – fried beef horfun
27 Kimberly Road (near my hotel!)

Kimberly Chinese Restaurant at Kimberly Hotel
28 Kimberly Road
Jasonbonvivant raved about the claypot beef ribs with lemongrass. And that boneless stuffed suckling pig too! Listen to the crunch as they cut the piglet into slices, in the video on Peech’s blog! Oh, need to order a day in advance, and pay a deposit too.
11am-11pm (Mon-Sat)
10am-11pm (Sun)

Lau Sum Kee – bamboo cane pressed noodles, try the ha zi lo mein
48 Kweilin Street, Sham Sui Po MTR Exit D2
12 midnight to 11pm

Mak Man Kee Noodle Shop
G/F 51 Parkes Street, Jordan MTR Exit C2
12 noon to 12.30am

Fuk Kee – congee with crispy skin roast goose
104-106 Fa Yuen Street, Mong Kok MTR exit D2, walk down Argyle Street for 3mins
7.30am – 11.30am

Lok Yuen The King of Beef Ball Chiu Chau Noodle
11 Fa Yuen Street, Mong Kok
9am – 3am

Tai Ping Koon – that souffle and those swiss sauce chicken wings
19-21 Mau Lam Street
Yau Ma Tei, Kowloon
11am – midnight

Four Seasons Claypot – all kinds of clay pot dishes, and ultra-crispy oyster cakes.
Arthur Street, a very short street. Yau Ma Tei MTR Exit C, turn around to behind exit, at next street turn left. But queues are long…

Sun Si Fast Food – greasy local burger with egg that reminds me of Ramly Burger! Don’t expect gourmet or even hearty portions. TimeOut HK says it tastes like dog food. Hmm?
1A Whampoa Street, Hung Hom

AIRPORT
HKIA’s A. Hereford Beefstouw at T1, Shop 8T005, Departure
The chopped sirloin steak is much beloved by TravellingHungryBoy
11am – 11pm

Still others on the dream list…
Bo Innovation, Fook Lam Moon, Lung King Heen, Hoi King Heen, Bistecca…and maybe a sushi joint (they get fish airflown daily!)

———————

The HKTB has also kindly helped to organised three restaurants for review:
- Nordic fare at FINDS, located at The Luxe Manor (where we’ll be staying)
- Modern French fine-dining at French Window
- Contemporary dim sum at two-Michelin starred Cuisine Cuisine

And I just found this ‘Ding! Ding!’ Hong Kong Tram Guide that is really useful! Shows you the many interesting shops and eateries along the tram line stops.

Again, my heartfelt thanks to the very kind folks at HKTB for making this trip possible.

A Multi-Flavoured Memory of Hong Kong

By Darren, September 17, 2010 3:26 pm

“And the winner for the best Hong Kong blog goes to… Darren Ng of Celebrate Life Lah!” Loud applause all around, bright flashes stunned my irises, congratulatory pats on the back and handshakes started pouring in…

Darren, wake up… wake up…

Huh? Oh, I was daydreaming! I didn’t win the best Hong Kong blog. Catherine did. With Jerome winning 1st Runner-up and Sze Peng taking home the honours for 2nd Runner-up. Congratulations to them! They will be receiving a basket of sour grapes from me soon.

I’m kidding. They really did very well in the Hong Kong blog contest. I learnt a lot about this multi-faceted city and about blogging through them and all my fellow travelers – Peter, Priscilla, Violet, Lawrence, Elaine and Gin. In the last 3 months from the time we won the Singapore Blog Awards to the Hong Kong trip, I think I represent all 10 of us when I say the whole experience is what dreams are made of.

Bloggers + HKTB + Omy.sg

With the dinner gathering held a few nights ago and the announcement of the blog and lucky draw winners, the Hong Kong Summer Spectacular came to a wrap for us. But things don’t end there for the 10 of us have left behind a ‘legacy’ of our HK trip… a combined blog where our experiences were meticulously documented through photos, videos, cartoons and words.

It is a light-hearted collection of 10 first-person accounts and intimate thoughts about what Hong Kong has to offer. So do drop by My Hong Kong Travel Blog (我的香港之旅) as your first stop to this amazing city.

My Hong Kong Adventures!

When I started posting at My Hong Kong Travel Blog, I began with a countdown series that recorded my thoughts and preparations for the trip. Why did I do it? Frankly, I’ve been to Hong Kong before and I’m not impressed by my previous visits. So I wanted to see if this trip will change my mind.

Really, I do!And frankly again, the blog contest has ended so there’s no need for me to continue posting about Hong Kong (my last entry was Day 3 of our 4-days tour on 26 Aug 10). So there are no other objectives other than to record what I really felt because I had a change of mind about Hong Kong being boring. I guess I was merely looking at the oyster shell previously and didn’t open it, or tasted it.

No doubt that this trip was hosted by the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) and they took great care of us. But for the most part, they left us pretty much on our own to explore Hong Kong. Yes, they put us up at the uber cool The Mira Hotel (which totally blew my mind away), and brought us to great places to eat but to me, it is not so that we will write only nice reviews (well, at least not for me), but it really showed me the full potential of Hong Kong as a great holiday destination.

For this trip, I got down to do some pretty serious research. That’s when I realized there’s more to Hong Kong. There’s Kowloon and New Territories. Especially the lesser explored New Territories, which is home to many beautiful natural landscapes and the very photogenicHong Kong Wetland Park.

If you’re like me and like to research every destination and attraction before visiting and to get as local as possible, the HKTB website is a really great resource. What I really love about it is the clear, clean-cut directions it gives to get to the places of interest. And their pocket-sized brochures are really good too (copies of them can be obtained at the airport). I never leave my hotel room with them.

HK Culinary Encounters

But enough about the sights of Hong Kong here for details can be found in my earlier posts. With this concluding blog, I would like to share about the food. A topic I’ve not touched on in previous posts.

During this trip, we were brought to restaurants that span the range from casual eats, boutique gems, and fine-dine menus. Very often a time, after I took a bite of the food, I was afraid to open my mouth again because I didn’t want the flavours to escape. Plus I ran out of words to describe delicious. The above 4 dishes are what I found interesting and super yumz (although the pork knuckles took some getting used to).

Yin Yang so yum!

However, my most memorable taste of Hong Kong was at the quaint, delicately retro ambience of Yin Yang Restaurant on Ship Street. I shan’t go into details about the culinary feats of its founder, celebrity chef Margaret Xu, because my fellow bloggers have done an excellent job, but I’ll talk about the inspiration she gave me… that of daring to experiment in the kitchen.

As part of our dining experience at Yin Yang, which is famous for its healthy fusion fare, we were given a behind-the-scene demonstration of how to make one of its many specialty sauces. For our sauce-making lesson, Margaret shared with us the recipe for a dipping sauce which she later christened as ‘Green Dream’ in honour of us.

A chance to work in a celebrity kitchen!

I didn’t get a chance to note down the specific measurements of the ingredients, but it is basically equal weight green chili, ginger and spring onion. I think we used about 1kg each during our session. If you like it spicier, you can always increase the ratio of chili.

In a wok of oil, deep-fry the ginger for about 3 mins then add in the chili. Deep-fry the chili till it is cooked but not to the point where it loses its green colour and fold in the spring onion. Again, deep-fry the spring onion till soft but not soggy. Drain the oil and transfer the mixture to a blender and add in a generous amount of salt (about 2 heaping soup spoons). This is meant as a dipping sauce so it has to be a bit salty. You can vary the salt content to your liking.

We were each given a bottle of Green Dream and told it can keep for up to 2 weeks in the fridge. I kept it for over a month! It still tasted fresh and I didn’t end up in ER. But instead of using it as a dip, I decided to experiment and used it as a base sauce to create 2 new dishes. Here’re the recipes…

Yin Yang Lady’s Fingers

Hmm… With such a name, I think this dish will be a hit with transvestites! And no one will break any nails trying to cook this dish which draws inspiration from the delicious Peranakan-styled steamed ocra with sambal. But instead of sambal, Green Dream is used.

Lady's-Fingers-2

Ingredients :

400g Lady’s Fingers (a.k.a. ocra)

20g Dried Shrimp (soak in water before using)

1 Onion (diced)

3 Cloves Garlic (diced)

2 Heaping Tablespoons of Green Dream

Method :

  1. Deep-fry the dried shrimps till brown and crispy. Drain the oil and put it aside.
  2. Cut ocra into halves and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of sesame oil. Steam for about 8-10 mins. Remove from steamer and transfer ocra to a new plate to leave behind excess water.
  3. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium fire and stir-fry onion and garlic. Add in Green Dream and 2 tablespoons of water.
  4. Scoop sauce into a bowl and pour in the crispy shrimps. Mix the condiments and spread atop steamed ocra.

Green Dream Shrimp

This dish is adapted from the Sweet & Sour Prawns recipe with Green Dream replacing the use of ketchup and vinegar. So instead of the fruity sweet taste, this dish has a mild spicy bite.

 Green Dream Shrimp

Ingredients :

600g Prawns (de-shell the body leaving the head and tail)

1 Medium-size Tomato (sliced into quarters)

1 Medium-size Onion (sliced into quarters)

2 Cloves Garlic

1 Bunch Spring Onion & Chinese Parsley

2 Heaping Tablespoons of Green Dream

1 Tablespoon Sugar

1 Teaspoon Fish Sauce

2 Tablespoons Sesame Oil

3 Tablespoons Whiskey (or Chinese Cooking Wine)

Method :

  1. Slice the spine of the prawns to remove the black entrails. In a bowl, marinate with sesame oil and whiskey. Leave in the fridge for about 2 hours.
  2. Heat a table of olive oil over high fire and stir-fry onion and garlic. Add in tomato and 2 tablespoons of water. Cooked till tomato is slightly soft and add in Green Dream and sugar.
  3. Add in prawns and be sure to pour in the marinate sauce as well. Stir-fry and add in fish sauce. Serve on a bed of spring onion and parsley.

Now, I’m no Martin Yan or Fang Tai and I’d cook up many disasters that even my dogs won’t eat so you by trying out the above recipes, you’re doing it at your own risk! But I did put the dishes to a taste-test by my parents. My mum is a foodie and my dad used to be a cook.

So, did Yin Yang Lady’s Fingers and Green Dream Shrimp pass my parents’ taste test? Were they a dream or a nightmare?

Well, I couldn’t get a word out of them because like me, they were too afraid to open their mouths when food is good. Success! 

With the 2 dishes, I’ve brought home more than just postcard memories of Hong Kong, but the spirit of experimentation that made Hong Kong so resilient in creating a holiday destination bursting with contrasts and flavours.

Till my future visits to Hong Kong again, the fragrance of this recent trip lingers on…

And the winners of the free Hong Kong trips are…

By admin, September 16, 2010 11:10 am
hk7

The three winners

Low Sze Ping (2nd Runner-Up), Jerome Lim (Runner-Up) and… Catherine Ling (1st Prize). Congratulations to all three bloggers, especially to Catherine for winning another trip to Hong Kong! I am sure everyone will be looking forward to reading more of her mouth-watering food reviews on her next Hong Kong trip.

The winning voter is Benjamin Sng. Congratulations too.

omy.sg will like to express our heartfelt thanks to all the ten bloggers: Sze Ping, Jerome, Catherine, Peter, Geck Geck, Elaine, Gin, Darren, Violet and Lawrence for the amazing blog entries they have put up over this period. To us, everyone is a winner.

We will also like to thank the folks from the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB): David, Vivien and Sharon for their leap of faith to venture into social media and also for playing a great host. :)

Last but not least, a big thank you to all the readers and voters who followed the ten bloggers, omy.sg and HKTB throughout this entire Hong Kong adventure. Have you booked your flight to Hong Kong  yet?

The winners were announced over a casual dinner, hosted by the HKTB team at Seafood Paradise, Singpore Flyer

The winners were announced over a casual dinner, hosted by the HKTB team at Seafood Paradise, Singpore Flyer

Szeping getting his trophy

Szeping getting his trophy from Ms Lee Kuan Fung, Associate Editor, omy.sg and Mr David Leung, Regional Director, HKTB South-SEA

Jerome getting his trophy

Jerome getting his trophy

Catherine getting her crystal ship trophy

Catherine getting her crystal ship trophy

Geck Geck presenting David with a hand-painted Hong Kong lettering with accompanying well-wishes from all the bloggers

Geck Geck presenting David with a hand-painted Hong Kong lettering with accompanying well-wishes from all the bloggers

The ten bloggers with the HKTB and omy.sg teams

The ten bloggers with tDavid from HKTB

The ten bloggers with David from HKTB

The ten bloggers with the HKTB and omy.sg teams

Margaret Xu’s Private Kitchen Yin Yang in Wanchai

By Camemberu, September 1, 2010 4:00 pm

Margaret looks pleased with her assistant du jour. Darren is plucking the stems off the chillies.
I have a new food hero. She’s Margaret Xu Yuan who is possibly Hong Kong’s foremost female celebrity chef, and a champion for delicious healthy eating.

Margaret used to run an ad agency before becoming a self-taught cook. Her excursions to the villages in New Territories inspired her to rejuvenate Hong Kong cuisine. She fell in love with the stone rice grinder, as well as wood and charcoal-based cooking. Then came Cuisine X, the one-table experiment there in 2003, using produce from her own organic farm in Yuen Long. Her roast chicken and stone-ground rice cakes became so popular, people soon needed to make reservations months ahead.

Her food is very much like Hong Kong condensed in a nutshell. She combines olden techniques she learned from the various Chinese dialect/cultural groups (Hakka, Chiu Chow, Cantonese, and boat people) with touches of British colonial influence, and presents it all with contemporary flair.

I admit I had not heard of her until getting the itinerary for our trip to Hong Kong by the SBA2010 and HKTB. But I soon found out her interesting story, and how sought after she is.

The scale model of the three-storey heritage building that Yin Yang occupies
She now has a private kitchen (at 18 Ship Street, tel: +852 2866 0868) called Yin Yang – named after the coffee-tea drink that is so symbolic of Hong Kong. It occupies a refurbished preservation shophouse in Wanchai, and is kept deliberately small. There are only three tables, and it’s all reservations-only (at least one day in advance).

(I couldn’t get a photo of the entire building from the narrow street outside, so here’s what it looks like, from a scale model replica)

The restaurant setting is cosy, old school and homely
Here you feel more like a privileged guest invited into someone’s home, rather than a customer. The ambiance is old school casual but very warm and nostalgic.

Love the '70s style frosted glass windows
I love the diffused light coming in from the tall frosted glass windows.

Little decorations on the narrow window sills
There are cute little decorations on the narrow window sills. Some baskets of limes here, a dim sum steamer basket of name cards, semi-precious stones and little plants.

An old school thermos flask
A vintage thermos flask stands at the side of the room, a symbol of homestyle hospitality.

Quirky table decorations like this egg basket
This is a cute quirky egg basket used as table decoration (and menu holder if not mistaken).

We were very fortunate that Margaret agreed to host us at short notice. Normally you’d have to make reservations months ahead. She specially opened her restaurant for lunch that weekday and prepared an eight-course meal for us.

Margaret's signature "Yellow Earth Roast Chicken" with ultra crispy skin
Margaret’s signature “Yellow Earth Roast Chicken” with ultra crispy skin. I had been waiting for this, and it was the opening number! It certainly lived up to its repute. Everyone wanted seconds/thirds/more…

Oh I found her recipe online. I really must try this at home someday, even if I don’t have a terracotta oven!

Margaret presiding over the shredding of the chicken
Margaret presiding over the shredding of the chicken. She believes doing it by hand is better than using a knife to carve the chicken. Yes, I do prefer rustic hand-torn pieces myself.

Flower clams in delicious broth with thick tanghoon
Flower clams in delicious broth with thick tanghoon. I wanted this all to myself! Gorgeous aroma and stunning flavours. The clams were very fresh indeed.

Who can resist this?
This would inspire the caveman in anyone! This is the Red Hot Baby Pig. Roast hunk of pork with bone-in!

The roast pork chopped up, served with lychee dip
The roast pork is chopped up, and served with an unusual lychee jam. Juicy, tender chunks of meat capped by crispy skin…it was all very rich! The best, however, was yet to come…

Mud crabs in a green-curry-like sauce
When this dish appeared, it drew gasps of delight and wonder. Fleshy mud crabs in a complex yet beautiful sauce with spices and coconut – a bit like green curry but much more refined. We were moaning “oh my god” as we ate. It was so, so good!

What a beautiful soup! Okra pentagonal slices add a touch of whimsy, almost!
Interestingly, the soup came in halfway through the courses. Seaweed eggdrop soup with okra or ladies fingers. I never thought about slicing okra this way. It looks like pretty little pentagonal flowers dotting the soup.

Olive rice in cast iron wok
There is always a carb dish in Chinese multi-course meals. To make sure you are really well-fed! The olive rice with vegetables was beautiful to look at. Like something cooked with love.

Platter of vegetables
Yes, your greens are important. But by the time this came along, I was too full to eat anymore.

Banana ice cream
But there is always room for dessert – in our case, a scoop of banana ice cream! You can taste that it’s made from real bananas, but not the overly sweet variety.

We were going for Tsingtao, but many changed over to the the Blue Girl instead, because it sounded more...risque
We washed it all down with some refreshing beer and soft drinks. Most of us were going for Tsingtao, but some changed over to the the Blue Girl instead when they saw it, because it sounded more…risque.

Eclectic kitchen with modern and retro, east and west all co-existing in harmonious warmth
Her eclectic ground floor show kitchen has many eclectic pieces – modern and retro, East and West – all co-existing in style. I love the SMEG fridge!

Many strange things abound in the kitchen
Many strange things abound in this kitchen. Margaret likes to make everything herself, so you will see foods (and wines) of all sorts in various stages of preparation.

The terracotta oven that Margaret built herself
This is the terracotta oven that Margaret built herself, from two flower pots (one upturned). Terracotta helps distribute high heat very evenly, so the chicken she roasts in this gets crispy skin but stays juicy within.

A bottle of Green Dream - dip made from green chili, ginger and scallions
After our meal, some of the bloggers were treated to a workshop on sauce-making. Margaret would demonstrate an absurdly delicious yet simple green chili dip. There are only five ingredients:
- a large mixing bowl of green chillies (stems plucked; see Darren doing that in the first photo)
- a hand-sized portion of ginger (sliced)
- two bunches of scallions or spring onions (chopped into 3-4 parts)
- salt (to taste – quite a bit; maybe a level tablespoon, depending on your quantity)
- oil for frying (I think she used more than a litre, but she made a big batch)

Sorry the quantities are all approximate, but the recipe is quite forgiving. I have since then made two batches (500g of chillies yield about 500ml) at home – and I can certify it’s idiot-proof!

Margaret stir-frying the ingredients in hot oil
The method is easy. Get the oil moderately hot and fry the ingredients.The chillies go in first, followed by the ginger and scallions at the very last few seconds.

Hot in the wok - the green chili, ginger and scallions
It doesn’t take too long. How beautifully green and glistening everything is. The aroma of chillies, ginger and scallions warmed our lungs. Needless to say, all these came from her organic farm up north. The Hong Kong chillies don’t carry as much heat (although Margaret says you can never tell when you’ll get a rogue pod that’s superhot).

Margaret blending the mixture
Margaret then gave it all a good whizz – oil included – in her industrial strength blender. It came out looking interestingly light green! She poured some out for us to have a taste.

We were lapping this all up!
Oh my, how could so few ingredients taste so good together? Just heat oil, fry and blend! Voila!

We were lapping this sample bowl all up! Could not stop spooning the creamy stuff into our mouths! This would be great as a dip for chicken or seafood. I even think it’s perfect with our chicken rice, or simply with bread or prata or nachos.

Fortunately, we each got a bottle to take home too! Hurray! We happily christened this the “Green Dream” – nice, right?

The Green Dream Team! Photo by Alvin
Photo by Alvin Lim
This was our last meal in Hong Kong, and one of our most memorable. I count myself very lucky to have had the chance to dine at Yin Yang, and to learn from Margaret (I really do hope she gets an English cookbook out soon, she has one in Cantonese).

I’m pleased to make this fabulous stop my final post of the Hong Kong series (sixteen posts in total). I hope you guys have enjoyed trotting around with me vicariously.

I’d really like to thank OMY and HKTB for making this four-day trip possible, and for showing us incredible experiences and gastronomical delights in Hong Kong. You can still view posts (more coming!) on the OMY joint travel blog – catch the different perspectives from the ten bloggers who went on the trip.

Last day to vote and win a trip to Hong Kong!

By admin, August 30, 2010 11:40 am

vote

Reading all the exciting blog entries written by our ten bloggers make you want to get out of your seat and fly to Hong Kong now immediately isn’t it?

Click on the image above to vote for your favourite blogger now and stand to win a trip to Hong Kong for yourself, courtesy of the Hong Kong Tourism Board. :)

Voting closes tomorrow, 31 Aug 2010 at 2359hrs.

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