Posts tagged: hong kong

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

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

By , 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.

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.

Hong Kong on my Mind!

By , August 29, 2010 12:01 pm


Lasting impressions of the Fragrant Harbour

On the evidence of the four activity packed and fun filled days in Hong Kong, courtesy of the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB), there is much to see and discover of Hong Kong. Four days certainly isn’t by any means enough and what it has left me with is a desire to return to the Fragrant Harbour for more journeys of discovery. The four days has certainly left me with much to savour: flavours of old and new that seem to complement rather than contradict in not just the cuisine, but in much of the culture and traditions, as well as in many of the day-to-day goings-on. That the trip has left me a lasting impression of Hong Kong there is no doubt. Along with this, there are many new perspectives that I have gained on places that I have previously visited, as well as the perspectives on a Hong Kong that has a memory of its past very much in how life goes on in the present, of which I have some very lasting impressions of:

Dragon Boats, Bath Tubs, Drums and Screaming Adolescents.

Food, Glorious Food!

Wonderful Sights,

Hong Kong Very Much as it is.


Dragon Boats, Bath Tubs, Drums and Screaming Adolescents!

When Pete just couldn’t keep himself dry sharing a bath tub with a model!

Mixing up bath tubs and dragon boats doesn’t always work out, as Pete and Geck Geck were to find out.

Adolescents screaming in UC Centenary Square to the beat of the drums!

The beat of traditional drums open the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Carnival, as Canto-Pop and K-Pop Artistes greet screaming adolescents.

Alexander seemed like the most popular guy in Hong Kong, much to Pete’s disappointment!

The one mighty scream for Alexander.

Adolescents screaming in UC Centenary Square to the beat of the drums!

The beat of traditional drums open the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Carnival, as Canto-Pop and K-Pop Artistes greet screaming adolescents.

More on the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Carnival.

An overview of Day 3 and the Dragon Boat Races.


Food, Glorious Food!

Paddling Away to a Delightful Robatayaki Treat at busy suzie.

A wonderful treat to a fantastic dining experience and Robatayaki cuisine in the ambience of a circular restaurant in 1881 Heritage.

Shanghainese, Yang Zhou and Szechuan cuisine at the Hong Kong Old Restaurant.

A restaurant that built a reputation on the old money of Hong Kong which serves delightful Shanghainese, Yang Zhou and Szechuan dishes.

The Delectable Treats on offer in a Private Kitchen.

The delectable world of Margaret Xu, a former advertising agency owner who has decided to treat Hong Kong to her wonderful skills in behind the stove in her three table private kitchen in which she offers vegetables straight from her organic farm.

A French-Italian Restaurant Run for Charitable Causes.

Gingko House, a restaurant in Central in which you could be transported by the strains of La Vie en Rose playing in the background to the streets of Paris. The restaurant was started by social workers providing employment to the elderly as well as channelling its proceeds towards charitable causes.


Wonderful Sights.

The Wonderland that is the Mira.

The gorgeous world that you enter through the doors of the Mira Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui.

The Market at Nelson Street.

Wanderings around Nelson Street in Mongkok.

A visual treat of Colour, Light and Texture.

The celebration of colour, light and texture on the streets of Hong Kong.

Sights of Victoria Harbour on Board a Replica of the Bounty.

Why there would have certainly been a mutiny on this Bounty.

In between Imagination & Reality.

A really interesting sculpture exhibition “In between Imagination & Reality” that was going on at the Atrium in Times Square featuring sculptures from two of Korea’s renowned contemporary sculptors, Yong Ho Ji and Hwan Kwon Yi which runs up to 22 August 2010. What caught my eyes were the sculptures of Yi, whose sculptures are made in distorted proportions that play on one’s mind in a way that it serves to confuse and confound what the mind makes out of what the eye sees.

The Amazing “Scarefolding” of Hong Kong.

An old practice still evry much in use in Hong Kong that is perhaps reminiscent of that in Singapore when I was growing up. It is something that one sees everywhere, being particularly hard to miss on the busy streets … bamboo scaffolding. This very old method of erecting scaffolding is used in much of the construction activity going on around Hong Kong, as well as in maintenance work on the exteriors of buildings and on the signboards that stick out from the buildings.

Hong Kong Very Much as it is.

All That Glitters!

Hong Kong at its most glitzy, where labels having made their mark in the western capitals have found not just a home, but have become an inseparable part of the heart and soul of what Hong Kong is.

The Young and Trendy Hong Kong.

Granville Road and Granville Circuit – where some delightful treats await the young and trendy shopper.

Echoes of the Sheung Wan of the 1960s: Wing Lee Street and the ladder streets.

The walk along the staircases and terraces of Sheung Wan around the area where Wing Lee Street, a terrace that was made famous by Alex Law’s award winning movie 歲月神偷, or “Time, the thief” is (The movie is named “Echoes of the Rainbow” in English, a reference to the double rainbow that features in a scene in the movie). The walk took us back to a time to the Sheung Wan of the 1960s.

The Stairway … uh, wait a minute, Escalator to Heaven.

The Mid-Levels area that the escalators to the heavenly views of Victoria Harbour the location halfway up Victoria Peak provides to its exclusive and upmarket residents. This provides another stairway to a surer path to Heaven – the stairway that leads to the Jamia Masjid.

The Star Ferry.

The Star Ferry, where life comes to a standstill for nine minutes in Hong Kong.

The Tram.

The must ride on trams on Hong Kong Island.


Gimme that Bling Thing!

By , August 24, 2010 11:30 am

One of the delightful things about Hong Kong is that there are many surprises that await as one wanders through the maze of streets and back alleys. There is much to savour, from the sights and sounds presented by the colourful streets, to the sumptous smells wafting out of the many eating places, and also to the many tempting objects on offer at the glittering retail outlets all around. There is quite an interesting mix of just about anything one may desire in the many shops, from items of luxury to items that would appeal to the young and trendy. It is in the latter that Hong Kong does offer a host of surprises. Chic is not just everywhere and anywhere. It is in many ways a way of life in some of the more interesting streets of Hong Kong.

Shops that surprise are very much in evidence on the streets of Hong Kong.

A fashion outlet with a South Asian theme in Central being one.

One such area where there is a concentration of hip, is in Tsim Sha Tsui. Nestled in what appears to be a back lane off an area which had once been associated with the affordable fashion of the many factory outlets that once dominated the area, Granville Road, Granville Circuit offers just about anything the young and trendy could desire … and at prices are not far off from what one might have expected at the factory outlets that had once dominated the area.

A large concentration of trendy outlets and lots of Bling Bling ones can be found around Granville Road and Granville Circuit.


Scenes along Granville Road. The shops offer a little more than the lingerie shops that seem to dominate the road.

Walking along Granville Road, the countless lingerie shops as well as what is apparently one of Hong Kong’s most haunted buildings, may serve as a distraction, and one could be forgiven for thinking that by turning off the main street to Granville Circuit, one would be led to a seedy back alley. At first glance, it did resemble one of the back streets of London’s Soho. Walking down the street, the illuminations provided by the bright neon signs of an entertainment outlet that one might associate with London’s Soho, casts a glow on a row of shops to be discovered – there are many little boutiques and outlets for the young: clothes, shoes, accessories, and lots of bling things that have hip written all over them. That apparently I was to find, was only the tip of the iceberg. Much more of these were to be discovered in a nondescript and somewhat tired looking shopping arcade off Granville Circuit, the Rise Shopping Arcade. Walking through the somewhat run down entrance, one is seemingly transported into a time warp. The shopping arcade looking as if it would have been more at home in the 1960s and 1970s, than something that exists in the 21st Century. But the archaic looking entrance and stairwell had masked what had awaited … taking the escalator up to the three floors of small outlets, I was pleasantly surprised by the sheer quantity of small but very hip outlets, each independently run by the many young and aspiring designers that have populated the shopping arcade.



Set amongst the back lanes off Granville Road, Granville Circuit is a mecca of street fashion waiting to be discovered.

Granville Circuit offers a glimpse into the hip in fashion on the streets of Hong Kong ...

The lights of an entertainment outlet being reflected off a windscreen on Granville Circuit. Set amongst some rather dark alleyways that perhaps resemble the back streets of London

Shop fronts on Granville Circuit ...


More shops on Granville Circuit.

Geck Geck spent hours browsing through the shops along Granville Circuit and in the Rise Shopping Arcade.

The glitter on Granville Circuit is in a rather old shopping arcade named Rise.

Stepping into the Rise Shopping Arcade transports one back in time ...

For some of the younger and more trendy, Geck Geck being one, wandering around Granville Circuit and Rise, offered hours of wonderment (those who accompanied her would testify to that). Rise had also offered some of the more mature something as well – very bling bling silver pieces that caught the eye of not just Catherine, but also Pete, who wanted to get his wife a pair of earings (how sweet!). For me, not be terribly into bling, wandering around offered me an opportunity to satisfy my curiosity, and perhaps to discover what Hong Kong has in store for the young, chic and bling.

Even Pete was taken by some of the bling things on offer.

Another view inside Rise Shopping Arcade.


On the Rise, inside the Rise ...

The lights in the shops in the Rise and along Granville Circuit, I was told, remain on well into the wee hours of the morning ...

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

Hong Kong Old Restaurant – Flavours of Shanghai, Yangzhou and Sichuan

By , August 19, 2010 11:36 am

Hong Kong Old Restaurant has a vibrant, welcoming vibe
After the Dragonboat Carnival, we regrouped for dinner at Hong Kong Old Restaurant at Miramar Shopping Centre, just across our hotel. Another wonderful recommendation by the Hong Kong Tourism Board. I liked it the minute I stepped in. It had such a warm, convivial and cheery vibe. There’s gotta be some good food here to generate that kind of positive energy!

The “Old” in it refers to old money, according to our HK guide Rosanna. This very traditional restaurant was started by wealthy Shanghainese who migrated to Hong Kong. Not only would it provide them with hometown food, but also a place to discuss business.

I love the pickled vegetables
I always love these pickled vegetables – sweet, tangy and crunchy!

Our set menu for twelve
The HKTB arranged for us this dinner set menu for 12 pax. I can’t read half the things here but I’m excited!

Chicken with peanuts
A very savoury chicken dish with peanuts. Very appetising starter. Don’t worry, it’s not as spicy as it looks!

Cold Pig's Hock and Foot in Wine Sauce
Cold Pig’s Hock and Foot in Wine Sauce. I was a little hesitant to try this, even though I love pork trotters when braised. But wow, a tiny nibble led to more. This is delicious, especially the almost crunchy skin. The vinegar, soy and wine made an addictive combination.

Beancurd rolls stuffed with vegetables and mushrooms
Beancurd rolls stuffed with vegetables and mushrooms. Gorgeous savoury flavours with meaty mushrooms. So umami! I wonder if this is the vegetarian goose on the menu.

Smoked egg with walnut
Smoked egg with walnut. Those who love runny yolks will adore this.

Honeyed ham with crispy beancurd sheet wrapped in bread
Honeyed ham with crispy beancurd sheet wrapped in bread. Salty and sweet, chewy and crunchy. Strong pork flavour in the ham.

Stir-fried prawns in chili sauce
Stir-fried prawns in chili sauce. Yes, it’s a bit like chili crab sauce and equally enjoyable. Best part is – no need to peel anything! The prawns were large and fresh.

Giant fried scallion pancake
Giant fried scallion pancake! It was soft and fluffy inside but gently crisp on the outside. Our carb dish! These were really huge slices, but I finished it. Oh, perfect with the prawns’ chili sauce earlier too.

Nai bai (a type of chinese cabbage) with straw mushrooms in fish broth
Nai bai (a type of chinese cabbage) with straw mushrooms in fish broth. I only ate the mushrooms, but the broth is light and clean-tasting.

Fried yellow jack with sweet and sour sauce
Fried yellow jack with sweet and sour sauce. By the time this came, I was already quite full. The fish was fresh, but the batter proved a bit too floury for me. But it does absorb well the sweet and sour sauce.

Oodles of Deep-fried Ice Cream!
We had a short break thankfully, before dessert arrived. We were ready for this! Deep-fried ice cream like you’ve never seen it before!

So creamy on the inside! The exterior is made of flour and egg white, so I hear
Pillowy soft batter encasing a firm dollop of rich vanilla ice cream. The batter is made with egg white for the colour, it seems. We were all going ooh and ahh eating this.

It was a great dinner with Tsingtao making us all very happy
We all enjoyed ourselves immensely. The multiple rounds of Tsingtao beer also helped enliven our spirits. When the fruit platter came, we also found out that Aussie Pete is allergic to ….*drumroll*…. WATERMELON! He could not eat any of the fruit. That is so bizarre! Now I really believe you can be allergic to anything.

So ended our third day in Hong Kong (well, after some late-night shopping at Granville). The next day we would meet Margaret Xu Yuan, Hong Kong’s only female celebrity chef, at her private kitchen Yin Yang.

Thanks, HKTB, for the dinner and for introducing this place to us.

HONG KONG OLD RESTAURANT
1 Kimberley Rd
4/F Miramar Shopping Centre
Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2722 1812
Open daily 11:00am to 3:00pm (lunch), 5:30pm to 11:00pm (dinner)

There is another branch on Hong Kong island at 218 Electric Road, North Point Newton Hotel, Basement
Tel: +852 2508 1081

The signs are out on the streets of Hong Kong!

By , August 18, 2010 9:00 am

One of the things that never fails to catch my attention wherever I am, are signs, posters and banners. Signs, posters and banners can often provide a perspective on a place beyond the sights and certainly beyond what the guidebooks tell you. They can sometimes show the lighter side of a place, or can be just plain fun to look at. Hong Kong I guess provides that as well. There is in Hong Kong, without any about, an abundance of signs that certainly won’t fail to catch one’s attention. But beyond that, there is much more to see and look at from the perspective of the signs that perhaps show some of the lighter side of Hong Kong, those that make Hong Kong, Hong Kong, and those that seem to be everywhere in the non-English speaking world … signs with English translations that somehow go wrong …

Hong Kong certainly has no shortage of signs to look at!

On the lighter side …

The lighter side of Hong Kong seen on a poster.

A burger shop on the obviously naughtier side of town.

I don't quite believe that this is an effective deterrent!

This is one that has to be left to the imagination!

Acceptable bullying: Bully your stains away with Bully stain removing detergent!

Lost in translation …

Translations to English that somehow go wrong are very much in evidence.

The vehicle will have its day in court!

Life in Hong Kong …

It does look that Hong Kong is as much a "fine city" as Singapore is!

A city that never sleeps especially when it comes to construction and improvement activity.

Certain to have attention drawn to it. A bin for dog poo stands out in the shadows. There also seems to be as much a dependence on foreign domestic help as there is in Singapore.

It's a dog's life! The dogs certainly have it in Hong Kong!

A bus route through a narrow alleyway between old buildings.

The advanced and wired-up society that Hong Kong very much is today: WiFi on the buses!

The creative side of Hong Kong in a shop's sign!

I am always amazed by the creativity in first names that Hong Kong has: a very "faddy" name indeed!

Even the signs we normally see in plastic has an upmarket feel in the very upmarket 1881 Heritage.

A unfortunate combination of signs: Beware! Buying fresh meat might lead you down a slippery slope!

Signs are ignored as much as they are in Singapore!

Rats! Rat poison is used extensively on the streets.

Dragonboat Carnival 2010 – The Capsize!

By , August 17, 2010 7:25 pm

Dragonboats heading back to the startline
After fueling up on breakfasts, we headed to the Dragonboat Carnival at the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade. The three-day event was culminating that Sunday. The carnival saw 12 countries and 191 teams participating this year.

Dragonboats crossing Victoria Harbour
It was a beautiful day, despite weather forecast for rain and Typhoon Chanthu’s visit which flooded the Northern Territories.

Lots of fans waiting for their celebrities to show up
Lining the promenade were scores of people as far as the eye could see – athletes, spectators and supporters, with everyone feeling the buzz. Lots of screaming fans too, awaiting some celebrity participants. Korean boyband U-KISS would be rowing for the KBS Dream Team. I don’t really know any of the celebrities, so pardon me if I get any of them wrong.

Dragonboat supporters
Some dragonboat supporters went all out in wigs, colourful costumes and tattoos.

Our gallant brood of bathtub racers
We were participating too! Well, four of us (from left to right: Violet, Peter, Darren and Geck Geck) were in the “Bathtub Race” – a 100m race just for fun.

Aussie Pete and Darren cheered on by fans...right!
It was hard not to believe the rabid cheering was not for us.

"You mean the strategy is to capsize so we get on TV?"
Miss Ang Geck Geck, whom we affectionately call AGG for short. I mean, not because she’s short, although…well, umm. OK, just the name. She would be rowing with Pete, who is more than twice her size, weight and age rowing power. Here she is, and you can almost picture her saying, “You mean the strategy is to capsize so we get on TV?”

Getting ready for the bathtub race
Our four bloggers all geared up! They did some warm-up rowing exercises.

Some celebrities I don't know
I am guessing these are more celebrity paddlers. My apologies, I’m awful at recognising celebrities.

All set and ready!
This is the bathtub that paddlers will race in! When I first saw it from afar, I was going, “Oh no, surely not these wobbly plastic sinks!”

Well, that’s Pete and AGG waving their last goodbyes. What happened next…I will have to show via Jerome’s most excellent photos. Halfway into the race…


It looks like balance is more difficult to achieve than speed. Darren and Violet were streaking ahead though…and got second place, just like their boat number.


Poor Pete and AGG got a marine bath instead. Honestly, this was not planned, even though we joked about it. Fortunately rescue came quick. The saltwater taste remained a souvenir throughout the rest of the day, but the capsize memories will remain with us for a lot longer!

Check out Jerome’s post with all the close-up photos of the capsize!

The Pink Spartans won! They are a team for cancer survivors and supporters
Part of the special highlights is the Pink Dragonboat Race, which aims to raise awareness of breast cancer and to encourage survivors to lead active lives. We were there to support the Singapore team, Pink Spartans, made up of cancer survivors and supporters. They won first prize!

Korean boyband members waving
This must be the Korean boyband members. Looks like they won something? I had been a little skeptical if boybands knew anything about rowing dragonboats…

Korean boyband members
OK, I take it back. The guy on the right sure looks like he’s well-equipped for rowing!

The trophies featured ornate dragons
This is what all the paddling is for. The shiny trophies featuring ornate dragons along with some heavy-looking medals, plus the honour that comes with them. Congratulations to the teams who won, and kudos to everyone who participated!

The amazing “scarefolding” of Hong Kong

By , August 10, 2010 8:30 am

One of the observations I made during the trip to Hong Kong is that it is a city that is very much in transformation as the new replaces the old at a relentless pace. I suppose that this isn’t very different from where we are in Singapore, where very much the same is happening. As is the case with Singapore, this change does sometimes take place at too rapidly for most to realise all too late that old and familiar places have suddenly vanished. What is certainly nice to see in Hong Kong is that there have been some attempts to retain some of the delightful older places, Wing Lee Street in Sheung Wan being one of them. This certainly provides the visitor to Hong Kong with an opportunity to have an experience of the Hong Kong that most don’t know about, a Hong Kong beyond colourful streets, towering skyscrapers, glorious food and limitless opportunities for shopping.

Much of Hong Kong is very much work in progress.

Construction activity is everywhere in Hong Kong.

A reflection of Hong Kong ... a reflection of the older buildings that would be replaced with the new that they are being reflected off.

Amidst all the construction activity, there is actually another bit of old Hong Kong that probably catches the eye … an old practice that is perhaps reminiscent of that in Singapore when I was growing up. It is something that one sees everywhere, being particularly hard to miss on the busy streets … bamboo scaffolding. This very old method of erecting scaffolding is used in much of the construction activity going on around Hong Kong, as well as in maintenance work on the exteriors of buildings and on the signboards that stick out from the buildings. These are also used in the construction of skyscrapers – something that seems unimaginable when observing the somewhat slow and primitive practice of scaffolding erection in which every joint is tied with a piece of twine, that seems out of place next to a modern skyscraper. Looking at how it is done, reminded me of a similar method of erecting scaffolding employed in Singapore when I was growing up. Back then, we used wooden poles which seems a lot sturdier than bamboo somehow, but tied using rattan twine in very much the same way. I distinctly remember how this type of scaffolding went up on the exterior of the block of flats that I lived in (all 20 floors of it) for a fresh coat of paint in the dressing up that was done for the visit of Queen Elizabeth II, having observed the men at work. Being the mischievous boy that I was, I even attempted to climb over from the parapet to the scaffolding on one of the lower floors, losing my nerve as I was about to. I did manage an attempt at climbing up on it from the ground floor though, managing to get up one floor before deciding that it was a little too “scary” for me to attempt getting any higher. I would refer to the scaffolding as “scarefolding” then and I couldn’t see how anyone would want to work on them perched twenty floors up, let alone try to put them up and always thought that the painters and scaffolding workers must have been fearless.

Bamboo poles lying on the streets are a common sight. These are used to erect scaffolding seen at the far end of the stack of poles.

Bamboo scaffolding is used for maintenance and construction everywhere.

A scaffolding worker tying a bamboo pole with twine seen from the Mid Level Escalators.

While the use and erection of bamboo scaffolding is amazing in itself, there is something else that one will definitely not miss that is equally amazing: scaffolding that overhangs over a street, sometimes extending out to lengths seem to defy the laws of physics, and sometimes only barely clearing the tops of vehicles passing on the busy street below them! Most of these I guess would be for erecting and maintaining the many neon signboards jutting out from the buildings above the streets. It must really be a feat putting these up … and, it probably has to take nerves of steel to be perched on one of these extended some seven or eight metres out over a busy street!

One won't miss the amazing sight of scaffolding that seem to defy the laws of physics extending out from the buildings. It must be quite a feat to put these up!

Another example of scaffolding that seem to defy the laws of physics.

These sometimes barely clear the tops of high vehicles passing under them.

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