Posts tagged: Food

HK2: Lau Sum Kee Noodles 劉森記麺家

By , 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

Margaret Xu’s Private Kitchen Yin Yang in Wanchai

By , 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.

Law Fu Kee Congee and Noodle Specialist 羅富記粥麵專家

By , August 21, 2010 5:38 pm

Congee with Pig's Liver and Fish Slices
Congee is soul food. It really is. Even a small sip of well-boiled rice gruel can bring warmth to the body and joy to weary spirit.

I’m actually not a big fan of congee, because all too often, the ones I get are less than unsatisfactory. So it’s really wonderful when I come across congee that’s made the way it really ought to be. This one is probably one of the best I’ve ever had.

Law Fu Kee Congee and Noodles
The Hong Kong Tourism Board folks brought us to Law Fu Kee Congee and Noodles. This was Day 4, our final day in Hong Kong, and I was so happy to know we’d be having our local breakfast here. This place is listed in their very helpful “Local Delicacies” booklet guide. Apparently, the Michelin Hong Kong Macau guide gave it two stars?

There's no room in here to swing a cat!
Like many eateries in Hong Kong, it’s small and cramped, but the food more than makes up for it.

The old school ambiance too, is charming. The place looks like it hasn’t seen an interior decorator in decades. Faded red booths line one side, while glass-topped tables and wooden stools flank the other wall. Diners often share tables with strangers. The long queues mean this is is not a place to eat and linger. But it’s so worthwhile catching a bite.

A simple but adequately substantial menu
The menu is very simple – congees with various ingredients, and noodles with different toppings. Some blanched vegetables and fish balls make up the side dishes.

Congee with Lean Meat and Century Egg
This is my congee with lean meat and century egg. It’s smooth, creamy, robust and comforting all at the same time. The texture is just right, and the taste just makes you relish spoonful after spoonful. I finished every single drop, and wished there was more. I’m still craving it today.

The first photo is of Alvin’s bowl with pig’s liver and fish slices.

The "youtiao" is gigantic! And supertasty!
You must have the “youtiao” or yew char kway here, with your congee. The pieces are huge but suitably crispy and doughy – perfect for dipping into congee.

Beef tendon noodles
If you prefer noodles, they do them pretty well here too.

Deep-fried Fish Ball with Clam Sauce
The deep-fried fish ball with clam sauce (looks and tastes very fermented). The fish balls are made from dace.

Master chef in the kitchen
The master chef has been making congee the same way for 50 years. He starts preparing at 3am, boiling fish bones and old Thai rice together. It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s hard work I am most grateful for.

LAW FU KEE CONGEE AND NOODLE SPECIALIST 羅富記粥麵專家
140 Des Voeux Road Central, Hong Kong. Tel: +852 2541 3080
144 Queen’s Road Central, Hong Kong. Tel: +852 2543 3881
G/F, 50 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, Hong Kong. Tel: +852 2850 6756
Open daily 8am to 8pm

The ‘Big Splash’ Conspiracy – Truths Unveiled

By , August 9, 2010 3:51 am

* Secret Cache of ‘undoctored photographs’ discovered
* Conspiracy goes ‘All The Way to the Top’

_____________________________________________________
BREAKING NEWS: On 8th August, 2010, a secret cache of previously unpublished photographs were found at Singapore’s Changi Airport in an unmarked briefcase. To date, no person or persons have come forward to claim ownership of what appears to be damning evidence of a conspiracy that goes all ‘the way to the top’.

For the first time, I am making these images available to the public.

Secret cache of previously unpublished photographs found

Secret cache of previously unpublished photographs found

When ten bloggers travelled to Hong Kong and had the absolute ‘time of their lives’ (all thanks to OMY and the Hong Kong Tourism Board), four of the team were offered the chance of a lifetime when we were asked to pariticipate in the International Media Bathtub Race as a part of the fun-filled and action-packed Dragon Boat Carnival.

As has been reported by more than one blogger on this very website, it is no secret that around the halfway mark of this now world-famous event, one of the OMY teams (featuring myself, 2010 Singapore WTH Blog Award Winner, Aussie Pete and 2010 Singapore Modelling Blog Award Winner, Ang Geck Geck) completely stole the limelight by capsizing their bathtub in Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour (the ‘Fragrant Harbour’).

What has not yet been brought to light are the actual circumstances surrounding this capsize. Many accusations have been made along with certain assertions of this event perhaps being staged, or that we tipped the tub over intentionally -let me state for the record that not only are these accusations untrue and completely unfounded, it is now my belief that such commentary has been published with the complete intention of diverting the truth and covering-up the real story behind the event – for the first time, the ‘Big Splash’ conspiracy is about to be uncovered… let me say, friends, that this goes all the way to the top, and for fear of repurcussions, I will not be mentioning any co-conspirators by name while further investigations continue – JFK’s ‘magic bullet’ has nothing on this!!

CONSPIRACY – EVIDENCE EXHIBIT 1.01 – THE DIVERSION
As has previously been published, accusations of ‘delusions of grandeur’ from myself, Aussie Pete. As thousands of fans lined the riverfront to cheer on our bathtub team, I could not help but be taken aback by the number of youngsters screaming my name and holding signs with my picture. This was a clear attempt (which worked) to divert my attention away from other now quite obvious techniques employed to ensure that Geck Geck and I could not only win the race, but would most likely fall out of our bathtub and into the harbour. Accompanied by enhanced and even doctored images, statements have been made that the screaming fans were actually there for U-KISS and the ‘Dream team’.

I hereby submit into evidence, Exhibit 1.01 – the original photograph of the diversion.

The following image shows one of the fans on the day and was previously published on this website and Facebook. Let me just call the ‘suspect’ in this part of the cover-up, “MR J”.

The 'published' and well-edited photo of one of Aussie Pete's fans

The 'published' and well-edited photo of one of Aussie Pete's fans

Here is the almost same image as discovered in the secret cache – before alteration… notice the difference?

The newly discovered 'real' picture showing the well-planned diversion

The newly discovered 'real' picture showing the well-planned diversion

CONPIRACY – EVIDENCE EXHIBITS 1.02 and 1.03 – THE FAULTY EQUIPMENT
Due to the diversion, the clear sabotage that is evident in the following photographs went unnoticed by both myself and my fellow bathub blogger… a clear hole in my oar, thereby rendering it useless in the efforts to disperse water and move our bathtub forward.

I hereby submit into evidence, Exhibits 1.02 and 1.03 – photographs of the faulty equipment.

The sabotaged oar is clearly visible in this newly discovered picture

The sabotaged oar is clearly visible in this newly discovered picture

The hole in the oar went unnoticed due to the very clever diversion tactics

The hole in the oar went unnoticed due to the very clever diversion tactics

CONPIRACY – EVIDENCE EXHIBITS 1.04 and 1.05 – CO-CONSPIRATORS
Let’s just call the (previously unpublished) following people in these photographs, “THE D TEAM” and “MR A”. Upon the capsizing of the bathtub, photographers all along the waterfront were ‘picture happy’ as they took part in the humour associated with the moment. How the high level people involved in the cover up managed to ‘photoshop’ absolutely everybody’s images, I will never know, but the following images show the real story…

The photographs as published online:

The moment it happened - as previously published

The moment it happened - as previously published

The rescue boats arrive - as previously published

The rescue boats arrive - as previously published

The photographs found in the secret cache – notice the ‘extra bodies’ in the water? In one, two people clearly assisting the tub on it’s lateral movement into an overturned position… in the second, one unidentified man in the water clearly revelling in the fun of it all:

Discovered Photo - The "D Team" clearly pushing the bathtub

Discovered Photo - The 'D Team' clearly pushing the bathtub

Discovered Photo - "Mr A" seems very happy indeed about the "Big Splash"

Discovered Photo - 'Mr A' seems very happy indeed about the 'Big Splash'

CONPIRACY – EVIDENCE EXHIBIT 1.06 – MORE SABOTAGED EQUIPMENT?
I hereby resubmit Exhibit 1.05 as Exhibit 1.06 – notice also, the extra weights attached to the underbelly of one side of the bathtub? These items seem to resemble the 2010 blog award trophies. It is important to note at this juncture, that only a handful of people are in possession of these items – ten to be exact… if I take myself and Geck Geck out of the equation, that leaves just eight people having access to these ‘weights’ – this means that (at least) three of our fellow bloggers were in on this overall conspiracy (3/8):

Only ten of these 'weights' are in existence - eight are unaccounted for

Only ten of these 'weights' are in existence - eight are unaccounted for

FURTHER HINTS:

Absence of the 'missing footage' only further supports the Conspiracy Theory

Absence of the 'missing footage' only further supports the Conspiracy Theory

Another blogger, let’s call her “Ms E” filmed what was depicted as ‘clear footage’ of the actual capsize as it happend in real-time. “Ms E” briefly showed us this footage on her video camera shortly after the race. The comment she made at the time, was that she ‘knew’ we were going to flip over, so she zoomed into our ‘Big Splash’. Suspecting at the time, that something was awry, I requested a copy of this video on a number of occassions. At first, “Ms E” used the excuse that she needed to ‘edit’ it – what for, I still do not know. Then the following day, she suggested that her computer or the video or something ‘crashed’ so she still could not provide a copy. On the airflight home, I provided “Ms E” with a memory card to download the raw footage to share with me – this time I was told that it was too inconvenient to perform this task on the plane. I have on numerous occassions asked “Ms E” for a copy, but to date it has not been forthcoming – I suspect that the original footage is now long gone 🙁

The night before the ‘big race’, one very senior member of the touring party invited me out with two other people in his gang. They suggested that we should go and savour some of the local HK food as a ‘light supper’. Let me state clearly here, that this was actually wonderful – the local roadside food was sensational – crab roe balls, prawn balls and fish balls on a stick… very nice, but very filling and more than just a ‘light’ snack. The gang (let’s call them “MR A”, “MRS R” and “THE CAMERAMAN”) then took me into one of the many late-night restaurants for dessert!! I was actually dubious at the time as to why they were trying to fill me up with so much wonderful food after an already enormous dinner – in hindsight and after suggestion of the same, I now understand that it was a clear ploy to increase my weight to further destabilise the bathtub on the following day.

I should have realized this the next morning, when the same gang (including one more member, otherwise known as “MS SK”) invited me for a 9:00am ‘heavy’ breakfast… no sooner had my stomach been once again filled to capacity, I returned to the hotel to change for the race and was then accompanied by the entire remainder of the touring party for a ‘late breakfast’ at 11:00am… wait a minute – I usually eat three meals a day… in the hours leading up to the bathtub race, I was pretty much tricked into eating two dinners with dessert and two full breakfasts. I must’ve weighed at least 5kg heavier than my normal (already overweight) body mass. Clear intention by the conspirators to ensure that it would be difficult to keep the bathtub upright – further evidenced by the aforementioned “MR J” who practically forced an extra fried egg and sandwich down my throat at the 11:00am (second) breakfast.

CONPIRACY – EVIDENCE EXHIBIT 1.07 – SOME CO-CONSPIRATORS SPYING ON THE AMOUNT OF FOOD CONSUMED

Previously published as 'papparazzi' - now identified as potential 'Spies'

Previously published as 'papparazzi' - now identified as potential 'Spies'

SUMMARY
Further evidence is still being collected, but the above ‘truths unveiled’ are already enough to warrant a full and detailed investigation into the ‘BIG SPLASH‘ Conspiracy!!

Checking out “Aunty Sweet” 甜姨姨 at Tin Hau, where locals go for dessert

By , August 8, 2010 9:48 pm

Tin Hau is less commercial than Causeway Bay
After Mak’s Noodles, I went to meet up with two old friends, Janet and Walter, whom I had not seen in more than four years. When they heard I had already had dim sum, grilled lamb rib, curry beef brisket, and wantan noodles…the only sane option left was dessert! At first, we headed to Times Square at Causeway Bay, but later Janet thought Tin Hau would be a better choice – it’s where the locals go, and the dessert shops there are less commercialised.

"Aunty Sweet" 甜姨姨 at Tin Hau
We came to Aunty Sweet or 甜姨姨. It’s a fairly well-known shop, but despite its success, it’s stayed as a single outlet, not a chain. The owner Candy used to work at TVB, so occasionally you’ll catch some TV celebrities eating here too.

Durian beancurd
Their signature special for the month was “Durian beancurd” (HK$28) – oh yes, oddly you’ll find quite a few durian desserts in Hong Kong. Gorgeous creamy durian pulp atop refreshingly cold and smooth durian-flavoured beancurd. Even though durians are generally better in Singapore, this dessert was actually really good.

Mango Orchestra - ice cream, puree, fresh mango cubes, dried mango
The other very beloved fruit for dessert in Hong Kong is mango. Hui Lao Shan is probably the name most people (especially tourists) flock to, but someone told me locals prefer other brands.

This “Mango Orchestra” (also about HK$28) features mango ice cream, mango puree, fresh mango cubes and dried mango atop shaved ice. Extremely decadent with nothing to cut through the mango overload, but if you love mango, this will be the bomb!

Lychee pomelo shaved ice
Walt took a Lychee Pomelo with nata de coco on shaved ice. It looked luscious.

Hawthorn shaved ice drink
There are also some unusual drinks here, like the “Hawthorn” ice blended drink. It tastes like hawthorn-spiked lemonade. Tangy for the most part, with the sweetness coming from the red bits.

Look for the street with the flyover
The place is quite easy to find. From the main road, look for intersecting street that has the flyover above it (you can see it in the first photo too). Turn in there, walk a little bit and you’ll see Aunty Sweet next to Kin’s Kitchen.

For you durian lovers, check out Cha Xiu Bao’s photos of Aunty Sweet’s durian desserts – including the “Ultimate” (3rd photo) of durian sorbet, durian ice cream, durian puree, durian wafer and dried durian.

Here’s a list of other summer desserts in BC Magazine – Aunty Sweet’s included too.

AUNTY SWEET 甜姨姨 私房甜品
G/F, 13 Tsing Fung Street,
Tin Hau, Hong Kong.
Tel: +852 2508 6962

Treasures in Gough Street – Gingko House and Kau Kee

By , August 4, 2010 2:30 am

Gough Street looks more like a back alley, but there's so much to discover here!
After my dim sum late breakfast, I joined the blogger team and Hong Kong Tourism Board representatives to cross over to Hong Kong island. Our destination – Gough Street. It may not look like much. In fact, it resembles more a back alley than a proper street. But there are many wonderful shops and eateries here!

Lots of shops selling curios, upmarket bric-a-brac and home accessories at Gough Street
As we walked down the street, we saw many shops selling curios, hip designer home accessories, and upmarket bric-a-brac.

Cutesy stuff for children
Also cute stuff for children and kids at heart. Many are European imports, so may not be cheap. But so nice to look at.

Gingko House is at 44 Gough Street
Our lunch would take place at Gingko House at 44 Gough Street (tel: +852 2545 1200). It’s a lovely little place run with plenty of heart.

Gingko House employs the elderly and taps on their rich life experience to enhance service
You see, Gingko House is run like a social enterprise – it gives the elderly meaningful employment, and taps on their rich life experience to enhance service levels, encourage slow food dining and build rapport with customers.

The fare is largely French and Italian dishes. There were two set lunches we could choose from – the three-course Lunch Menu (HK$50-108 depending on mains) that comes with tea or coffee; and the lighter/healthier two-course “Leisure Lunch” (HK$98+) which comes with an organic mint and honey drink.

Mixed mushroom and walnut soup, organic vegetable salad
I chose the lighter one. The soup that came was an unusual mushrooms and walnut(!) broth. The regular menu gives you a cream-based soup. The salad consists of organic vegetables harvested from their own farm in Sheung Shui.

Grilled baby lamb rib with homemade organic mint sauce
Well, the reason I chose the lighter set was not for health reasons. It’s because it had the “Grilled baby lamb rib with homemade organic mint sauce” and I just could not resist this.

Maple mustard salmon steak with linguini in homemade pesto
Others went for the maple mustard salmon steak with linguini in homemade pesto, also from the Leisure Lunch (no one went for the roast spring chicken option). Look at the huge servings!

Rib eye roast with herb gravy
The rest who went with the regular set mostly chose the rib-eye roast with herb gravy. I was lucky to have a bite. It was tender and aromatic. Their chefs, although elderly, come with lots of experience from major hotels.

Dessert is a simple orange jelly
They gave everyone the daily dessert (in this case, orange jelly) even though it’s only on the regular lunch set. That was quite sweet of them.

Queueing up for tomato broth noodles with beef, toast with condensed milk
As we walked back to the chartered mini-coach, we saw again the ludicrously long queue for something that must be really good. We had no idea what.

As I looked at that queue, I myself walked into another queue on my side of the street. Oh, what was this for?

Ah yes, perfect!
Oh perfect, just what I was looking for on Gough Street! The famous Kau Kee beef brisket noodles 九記牛腩 (21 Gough Street, tel: +852 2850-5967). It counts even HK Chief Executive Donald Tsang, actors Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Nick Cheung and Takeshi Kaneshiro as its regulars.

I waved goodbye to the other bloggers who were slightly incredulous that I was going to be eating again, right after lunch. Well, this afternoon was my last pocket of free time. I was determined to make the most of it. Luckily my queue was shorter, and it moved really fast.

Busy, nonstop action in Kau Kee's kitchen
I was soon given a seat – right at the end of the shop, literally the last stool, sharing with a table of strangers who did not seem to mind. I had a view of the busy steaming kitchen – the action is non-stop and bowls just keep flying out. Service is also lighting fast. Two words into my halting Cantonese, and I was thrust an English menu. Thank God.

There is a variety of noodles to go with basically beef broth or curry broth. I knew the beef brisket broth here would be fantastic, but I decided to be brave and go for the curry.

Kau Kee Beef Brisket in Curry with Ee Fu Noodles
I was well rewarded. The curry is not timid – it is rich, spicy and complex. The bowl was generously loaded with chunks of beef that had been diligently stewed for hours, until they were tearaway tender and tasty. My ee-fu noodles too, did well to soak up all the flavours. I was very satisfied. No matter what others say about standards dropping, this is still a very good meal, and for only HK$27. In an air-conditioned place.

The other diners at my table kept saying how good their beef broth was. I wished I had the stomach capacity to try that as well. But I had more things on my list to eat. Mak’s noodles was next.

Sing Heung Yuen - corner of Mei Lun and Gough Streets
As I walked out of Kau Kee, I saw that the other long queue opposite it had not abated, even though it was well past lunch hour. What on earth were they serving at this makeshift food shack?

I later learned from our Hong Kong guide that this was Sing Heung Yuen which serves tomato broth noodles with beef, and snacks like toast with condensed milk. Apparently, students and regulars will start thronging there from 6am. There is no closing time, just whenever they finish, usually in the afternoon. That’s gotta be some kickass tomato broth to command a queue.

Curious as I was, I had to move on quickly. Only a couple more hours left.

I really loved how on this trip, a lot of road names became not just names, but real places to me. Gough Street was just the beginning. Wellington Street was next.

HK: Dim sum at Sun Tung Lok 新同樂

By , August 2, 2010 7:31 pm

Steaming hot bun
It was Day 2 of our Hong Kong trip, and I was determined to get my dim sum. Today’s two pockets of free-and-easy time were precious, as they were our last chance to explore on our own. Today…today would be an eating marathon for me, as you will soon see in upcoming posts.

Sun Tung Lok is at The Miramar Shopping Centre
And with sooo many dim sum joints in Hong Kong, which one to go to? I found something right under my nose – Sun Tung Lok 新同樂 at Miramar Shopping Centre. Scroll down to the bottom of this “Best dim sum in HK” thread (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/318331) to see the latest replies singing its praises. OK, it’s not inside The Mira hotel per se, but just a hop across the road.

There was one slight dilemma though. The restaurant opens at 11:30am, and I had to regroup with the other bloggers back at the hotel at noon as the Hong Kong Tourism Board was going to bring us across to HK island for lunch. But the Sun Tung Lok manager was very accommodating – they did their best to very quickly prepare and steam up their famous dim sum treats.

The interior is of understated elegance
Sun Tung Lok is actually a long-standing name in high-end Cantonese cuisine. It’s been around since 1969, some forty years now. This restaurant used to be in Happy Valley but relocated to Tsim Sha Tsui not too long ago. I like their cool brown sombre decor with plush seating. The air is of understated elegance, with a touch of whimsical baroque in the wallpaper and lighting fixtures. The spotlight, of course, is on the food.

Steamed pork dumpling (siew mai) topped with minced Yunnan ham - 4pcs for HK$40
Steamed pork dumpling (siew mai) topped with minced Yunnan ham – 4pcs for HK$40.
This looks so perfectly molded, I only needed to take one shot. One bite into it and I was surprised to find a high ratio of lean meat (and not too much shrimp thankfully). So it’s quite firm and not mushy. The siew mai skin is also very well made.

Steamed shrimp dumpling (har gow) - 4pcs for HK$42
Steamed shrimp dumpling (har gow) – 4pcs for HK$42.
What a succulent morsel. I read that they keep to their standard of 11 pleats or folds for the har gau! Most impressive.

Steamed shrimp dumpling (har gow) - such translucent skin!
Let me show you the other side of the har gau. Such translucent skin. The texture is gently chewy, and while the skin is delicate, it’s also strong enough to hold the prawns within. The contents are not heavily seasoned either, possibly to allow the natural taste of the fresh prawns to come through.

Crispy bacon spring roll - 3pcs for HK$36
How do you resist something called Crispy Bacon Spring Roll? 3pcs for HK$36
However, note that it is the spring roll that’s crispy, not the bacon within (which is more like blanched). This roll is quite appetising with a smoky flavour, from the bacon and the mushrooms. I think it comes with a sauce too.

Steamed minced beef ball - 2pcs for HK$36
This is one of their specialties here too. Steamed minced beef ball, very large ones too – 2pcs for HK$36. You can really taste the dried orange peel and chunks of chopped vegetables in the mince.

Steamed scallop and kale dumpling - 3pcs for HK$40
Steamed scallop and kale dumpling – 3pcs for HK$40.
The skin is again excellent, very similar to that of the har gau. It holds a lot of shrimp inside. For some reason, I didn’t see any kale though. This is normally nicknamed the jade scallop dumpling, due to the green addition.

Sweet sesame and salty egg yolk bun - 3pcs for HK$30
Sweet sesame and salty egg yolk bun – 3pcs for HK$30.
This was more sesame than salted egg yolk. My curiosity about this was misplaced, as I was dreaming of the salted egg custard buns we have back home. Still, something new for me. The sesame is thick and dense.

Steamed rice roll (cheong fun) with shredded turnip, enoki and Yunnan ham (HK$40)
Here’s the Steamed rice roll (cheong fun) with shredded turnip, enoki and Yunnan ham (HK$40). It comes with a small jar of soy-based seasoning for you to pour as you like. The cheong fun skin is very thin, encasing crunchy fried batter. Thick, generous chunks of turnip made this very juicy. Soft, hard, crunchy, juicy – lots of contrasting textures.

I have to say Sun Tung Lok does well-made dim sum, but I do notice that most of the food is not heavily salted or overly seasoned. For some, it may come across as a tad bland, but for others, it can be a welcome change. In our short stay in HK, we encountered food that’s a bit too salty at quite a few places.

I wish I got to try some other stuff (like the durian “sou” or puff) but time was running short. Probably a good thing too, as I had five other meals ahead of me!

Sun Tung Lok has been around for 40 years, since 1969
Service here is very good. They also served me a pot of vintage pu-erh tea that complemented the dim sum perfectly. I am very grateful for the restaurant’s flexibility in meeting my needs – they not only worked fast, but also allowed me to order just one item of each, so I would not be overwhelmed as a single diner. There I was thinking I probably have to “tar-pow” or pack some takeaways!

For more dim sum photos, check out Peech’s review!

SUN TUNG LOK
Shop 4D (on fourth floor, which is full of restaurants)
Miramar Shopping Centre
1 Kimberly Road
Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
Hong Kong

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HK: Yee Shun Milk Company 義順牛奶公司

By , July 29, 2010 7:59 pm

Yee Shun Milk Company
After my failed dim sum hunt, I continued on to the next target on my eating list. Yee Shun Milk Company at 513 Nathan Road. This is a must-try for people who like steamed milk desserts. I had several people recommending me this.

Steamed milk with ginger juice, cold
I realise I have actually eaten here on previous trips. This time I opted for the steamed milk with ginger juice (about HK$22), the cold version. It was blessed relief after traipsing around in the summer heat! Smooth and weightless, this milk pudding was even lighter than beancurd. The sweetness and ginger flavour is much more subtle in the cold version.

Double skin milk pudding with lotus seeds, warm
I could not resist a second bowl. The “double skin” milk puddings are their signature. I took one with lotus seeds (HK$25), a hot one this time. It’s even smoother, and the sweetness comes through much more in the hot pudding than the cold one. There’s a very thin film of “skin” on top that’s barely there.

Bowls and bowls in the chiller, ready to be served
You get served really fast, because they have batches of the steamed milk ready. Here’s the chiller with the cold ones in the display window.

Desserts and Drinks Menu at Yee Shun Milk Company
Their desserts and drinks menu (along with some branch info in small Chinese text – sorry I can’t translate). They have some Hong Kong style sandwiches and food too (other side of menu).

On the whole, certainly a pleasant dessert that scores high as a comfort food. But you gotta love milk in the first place.

YEE SHUN MILK COMPANY
G/F, 513 Nathan Road,
Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2374-5460

Other branches:
G/F, 506 Lockhart Road
Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2591-1837

G/F, 63 Pilkem Street
Jordan, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2730-2799

G/F, 246-248 Sai Yeung Choi Street South
Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2393-3301

HK: I went out to look for dim sum, but found stinky tofu instead! Street food in Hong Kong

By , July 29, 2010 11:44 am

View from my hotel room, overlooking Kowloon Park
I really did not want to leave my comfy hotel room after we checked in. Look at the view from my window. That’s Kowloon Park, so serene and peaceful amidst the heckling bustle of Tsim Sha Tsui. Just made me want to relax some more. But it seemed equally criminal not to make full use of our time exploring Hong Kong, and we had a few hours before dinner. Plus, I hadn’t had lunch, although the delicious lychees from the hotel was fuel enough for the time being.

So off I went to look for Tim Ho Wan, the hole-in-the-wall dim sum joint with a one Michelin star rating. It’s near Yau Ma Tei, just 3 MTR stops away. The hotel is just two blocks away from the Tsim Sha Tsui MTR, so travelling was really easy.

Mongkok / Yau Ma Tei vicinity
I got off at Yau Ma Tei station and walked according to the map.

But I could not find it! Hey, how difficult can it be? Just look for the swarming hordes and long queues outside that famous green-worded signboard. Right? If I can find all my eating locations in Japan despite their weird address system, I should be able to find this.

I got the right street, but was distracted by the gun shops
I certainly got the street right, but there was no busy dim sum joint. Were they closed? OK, to be honest, I was probably distracted by the gun replica shops opposite. Man, these look almost real!

Oh well. I was really tired anyway, so I gave up. And given the mixed reviews on Openrice, maybe not finding Tim Ho Wan was a blessing in disguise. *sniff*  So I tell myself.

I walked around looking for an alternative lunch, taking in the busy sights of Mongkok, when suddenly I was hit by a horrific stench. Oh man, did a rubbish truck overturn nearby? Or did something die hidden somewhere it could not be removed?

When I saw the culprit, I smiled and gave a sigh of relief. It’s only stinky tofu! 臭豆腐
Big cubes of it, looking really crispy on the outside. You can ladle on as much garish-looking sauces as you want too.

SMELLY TOFU!
I’ve had this before in Singapore, but it smelt different somehow (like diarrhoea). This one didn’t seem so bad upclose, but I regret I wasn’t brave enough to try it. Next time, I will.

All kinds of skewered snacks
There are lots of deep-fried snacks everywhere. Street food in Hong Kong does share some similarity with those in Singapore – we have the same skewered delights like deep-fried squid, sausages and cuttlefish balls. But they seem to have more variety and more exotic stuff. Lots more innards, pork parts, and the famous curry fish balls (“ka lei yu tan”) that are so beloved here.

"Wo tip" pot stickers and what looks like takoyaki
The pot stickers or “guo tie” look really good – fat and juicy greasebombs! In the foreground, I think are some supersized takoyaki.

Mixed beef offal - a rolling boil
OK, there are some things that just can’t be made photogenic, no matter how tasty they are. The mixed beef offal boiling furiously with whole oranges, for example. Looks like parts of Loch Ness having an onsen.

"Kai tan zai" or egg ball waffles
The one thing I did try was the “kai tan zai” or egg ball waffles. I got this (sesame and coconut flavour) from a popular stall at Granville Road that had lots of press clippings and a perpetual queue. Crispy on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside. It’s nice to pluck off the “eggs” and eat them.

That’s it for street food in Hong Kong. After this, a famous Hong Kong steamed milk dessert and a really nice dinner. Stay tuned!

Day 3 in Hong Kong and finally able to get a feel of the gorgeous hotel room

By , July 28, 2010 6:37 pm

Having had two fully packed days of excitement that the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) had planned, the ten bloggers were provided with an opportunity to sleep in on Day 3. We were all grateful for it, having caught very little sleep amidst the excitement the night prior to the trip. And I suppose for the members of the two teams preparing for the much anticipated bath tub race the next day, it was a time to get some needed rest. With my body clock waking me up at a time when I would usually wake putting paid to an hope I had to sleep in, what was left for me to do was to savour the gorgeous room that the HKTB had arranged in one of the 66 “Coolest New Hotels in the World” as the Condé Nast Traveller Hot List for 2010 would have it. Indeed, The Mira does qualify as super cool, a feeling you get just stepping into the lobby. Based on the information kit provided by the hotel, the Mira has a total of 492 guest rooms and 56 suites and specialty suites, the rooms are decorated in one of three vibrant themes: Red, Green and Silver, furnished with handpicked fabrics and materials and feature the Egg Chair by Arne Jacobsen, a 40-inch LCD TV, 500GB Sony Personal Computer / Entertainment Centre, Bose in-room soundscapes, a “My Mobile” Nokia phone service (which assists guests to connect anywhere, anytime, inside or outside of the hotel) and complimentary high-speed WiFi and wired Internet.

The Mira is a stylish boutique hotel at the corner of Nathan Road and Kimberly Road in Tsim Sha Tsui which opened in 2009.

The Mira is a stylish boutique hotel at the corner of Nathan Road and Kimberly Road in Tsim Sha Tsui which opened in 2009 (all images of the Mira are courtesy of the hotel).

The three coloured themes that the rooms are designed in: Red, Green and Silver.

The three coloured themes that the rooms are designed in: Red, Green and Silver.

Indeed, the room was really cool, and having already used the Bose sound dock the previous two nights, I set out to discover what else was cool about the LCD TV and the Sony Personal Computer. What was a really nice touch was just this, combined with the wireless keyboard, one could do just about anything on the internet from the comfort of the luxurious bed, or from the red Jacobsen Egg Chair in the red themed room that I was in. Super cool!

The PC and Wireless Keyboard.

The PC and Wireless Keyboard.

Room One, a lounge which is seamlessly woven into the hotel's lobby.

Room One, a lounge which is seamlessly woven into the hotel's lobby.

Yamm: an international buffet restaurant.

Yamm: an international buffet restaurant.

The day’s activities started at 11 with brunch, and I guess I was so engrossed with what I had at my disposal in the room, that I had almost forgotten about the time. Brunch was at a café prior to making our way to the promenade where the much anticipated bath tub race was to be held. If there was tension between members of the two rival teams at brunch, it was not really evident. Darren seemed intent on fuelling up with food, while Pete was all cool and smiling. Violet was her usual talkative self and Geck Geck was a picture of cool composure. There was some evidence of paparazzi gathered outside the café, but that did not seem to affect our stars.

Darren was intent on fuelling up before the race.

Darren was intent on fuelling up before the race.

Geck Geck was cool and composed, as was Aussie Pete.

Geck Geck was cool and composed, as was Aussie Pete.

Were these paparazzi gathered outside the cafe?

Were these paparazzi gathered outside the cafe?

Pre-race tension ... Darren giving Pete the cold hard stare!

Pre-race tension ... Darren giving Pete the cold hard stare!

By the time we got down to the promenade, a large crowd had already gathered and although Pete imagined (or hoped) that the screams of excitement were directed at him (see my previous post on the bath tub race), the largely teenage crowd had in fact come to see the stars from the Korean entertainment network KBS. We were to discover that the four had almost missed the boat or rather, bath tub … as we were a little late for registration. Well, register they did, and it was fortunate that they were able to, as we would have certainly missed out on the excitement of Pete’s and Geck Geck’s big splash into the harbour.

Were those Pete's fans?

Were those Pete's fans?

Pete's turn now!

Pete's turn now!

We're gonna win it says Pete!

We're gonna win it says Pete!

Go Singapore!

Go Singapore!

The reporter was on hand to interview Pete for what was to be his famous victory which somehow became a dip in the harbour.

The reporter was on hand to interview Pete for what was to be his famous victory which somehow became a dip in the harbour.

The crowd excitedly rose to catch a glimpse of Pete's famous dip.

The crowd excitedly rose to catch a glimpse of Pete's famous dip.

Darren and Violet came in second.

Darren and Violet came in second.

We had to leave behind the excitement and electric atmosphere of the Dragon Boat races that were going on, but not before catching a glimpse of the KBS Dream Team receiving an award, and the presentation ceremony for the Pink Spartans a team of breast cancer survivors and supporters from Singapore who won the Pink Dragon Boat Racing Breast Cancer Survivor Invitation Race.

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The crowd had gathered to catch a glimpse of the KBS Dream Team which included members of U-KISS.

The crowd had gathered to catch a glimpse of the KBS Dream Team which included members of U-KISS.

The Pink Spartans.

The Pink Spartans.

Saying goodbye to the races.

Saying goodbye to the races.

It was time for some rest and relaxation at the hotel, and then for me, a walk around town. I somehow found myself taking the Star Ferry to Central and back just for the fun of it, I guess something I would devote another post to. I made it just in time to catch a quick shower and dress up for dinner, which was at the Hong Kong Old Restaurant on the fourth level of the Miramar Shopping Centre, just across Kimberly Road from the hotel. The popular restaurant which serves Shanghainese cuisine and also features dishes from Yang Zhou and Szechuan we were told was named in a way to discretely draw reference to the “old money” in Hong Kong, a reference to the wealthy Shanghainese that had settled in the territory.

The Hong Kong Old Restaurant in the Miramar Shopping Centre.

The Hong Kong Old Restaurant in the Miramar Shopping Centre.

Entering the restaurant.

Entering the restaurant.

The menu.

The menu.

Dinner was an interesting affair, perhaps with the mood lightened by a loosening of tongues brought about by the familiarity of having been together for three days, some Tsingtao and perhaps due to the face that it was our last evening as a group, most choosing to return as scheduled the following day. The food wasn’t quite the usual Shanghainese fare that I had previously been used to, with a variety of very interesting concoctions which included pig trotters that had been soaked in vinegar prior to cooking, in typical Shanghainese fashion we were told. The highlight I guess most would say was dessert, ice cream that had been fried – simply delicious! After dinner, there was still time to walk through the emptying streets, which some of us did, ending up around the Granville Road area – which I would again attempt to cover in another post. After that, it was our last night to savour the interestingly cool hotel room, before we say goodbye to what had up to that point been an exhilarating three days in the Fragrant Harbour.

The Tsingtao may have helped with the loosening of tongues ...

The Tsingtao may have helped with the loosening of tongues ...

Umm ... a few of us couldn't resist more of the beer ...

Umm ... a few of us couldn't resist more of the beer ...

The excellent food was the highlight.

The excellent food was the highlight.

An egg dish...

An egg dish...

I even tried the pigs trotters ... something which I usually wouldn't even look at.

I even tried the pigs trotters ... something which I usually wouldn't even look at.

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Point, point, shoot, shoot ...

Point, point, shoot, shoot ...

mmm!

mmm!

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More point, point, shoot, shoot

More point, point, shoot, shoot

Fish!

Fish!

Objects of desire!

Objects of desire!

Someone had seconds ...

Someone had seconds ...

The super model had fun as well!

The super model had fun as well!

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