Category Archives: Hong Kong

The One With SML Restaurant At Causeway Bay

Happy New Year! It’s another new beginning for all us, so let me get my food blogging mojo going with a post on my first dinner in 2011, which was at SML Restaurant at Causeway Bay.

SML Restaurant At Causeway Bay

I had a group of visiting Singaporeans in town and initially we wanted to head down to Lamma for some seafood. But some pesky factors like hangover, too much parties, food poisoning and shopping got into the way, so I took an executive decision and we had an ultra-early dinner (for Hong Kong standard) at SML instead.

And what a great first dinner! First off, here are some of the must-trys:

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The One With Tsui Wah Restaurant

Talk about the culture of char chan teng (or “char chaan teng”, commonly known as HK-style cafe) in Hong Kong, one cannot escape from talking about Tsui Wah. The name itself is synonym to the local food culture, so much so that it was often said a visit to Hong Kong would be incomplete if you never been to one of the many restaurants of Tsui Wah dotting the island.

Tsui Wah Restaurant @ Central

I have been to Tsui Wah countless times, for meals with local friends, with visiting friends, for dinners on my own, for supper after a hard night clubbing… it is definitely a place worthy of all occasions. Opened 24 hours a day at most branches, you can count on equal hits and misses at Tsui Wah.

So here’s my list of things you definitely should try.

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The One With The Delhi Club – An Adventure At Chungking Mansions

It certainly wasn’t a place I would go to on my own.

Chungking Mansions was certainly not for the faint hearted. From the outside it looked like an rickety, overlighted building with many South Asians (Indians, Sri Lankans and similar) loitering around. Once you approach the building, endless leaflets advertising everything from food to clothes are stuffed into your hands.

It wouldn’t be that bad if these vendors didn’t start to surround you and shouted unsolicited offers, from food to suits to everything imaginable under the sun, in your face. It was worse than my experience with the insufferable touts at the Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar.

Under so under considerable duress my friends and I made a choice for a dinner place (somewhat random, but hey when in doubt, just close your eyes and jab, hehe) and made our way to the third floor of Chungking Mansions, where The Delhi Club was at.

The Delhi Club @ Chungking Mansions

The exterior of the restaurant was, like the rest of the building, plainly deceiving. Just a nondescript door that would be otherwise mistaken as the entry to someone’s house, if not for the posters decorating the wall outside. The overenthusiastic Indian proprietor of the place welcomed us in and soon we were seated somewhat comfortably in the deep cavern of the restaurant.

After debating the pros and cons of Indian cuisine to the best of our limited knowledge (there were two Malaysians in the group but that didn’t add on much to our culinary advantage), we took a collective breathe and ordered… randomly.

It was certainly a random kind of night ;)

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The One With 8 Reasons Why I Love New Star Hotpot At Mongkok

I never considered myself as a fan of steamboat… or hotpot, as it is commonly known in Hong Kong. In Malaysia and Singapore, the choices of hotpot outlets were somewhat limited. Had it not been because of their eat-all-you-can style, I don’t think I would have ventured to any of these establishments.

That perception changed after I moved to Hong Kong, as I discovered the joy and delight of New Star Seafood Restaurant (新星海鮮酒家) outlet located at Mongkok.

Despite its name, majority of its patrons were there for their hotpot every night.

New Star Steamboat @ Mongkok

(Side note: Subsequently I went to a few other good, if not better, hotpot places here, but New Star remains one of the places to go when my Singapore friends come visiting)

Why do I love it so? Here are eight good reasons:

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The One With Florinda Cafe – Macau Crispy Buns

If you have set sail for Macau from Shun Tak Ferry Terminal, one of the two in Hong Kong with ferry service to the land of casino fortune, chances are you would have noticed this char chan teng, which seems a little different from all the other that you may have encountered before.

Florinda Cafe Macau Restaurant (澳門茶餐廳) is somewhat a teaser of what awaits you at the end of your 45 minutes journey by sea… no, it’s not the casino; do you mind! But of its food.

Florinda Cafe At Shun Tak Centre, Sheung Wan

After all, this eatery, which can seat some 140 patrons comfortably, offers a wide selection of Macanese and Portuguese fare in a char chan teng setting. I was in the mall one Sunday looking for a photo shop in frustration (it’s a short story too boring to be told here, even as a P.S.), and as it was about brunch time, I decided to regroup my down spirit and have a bite.

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The One With The Lamma Island Hiking Trail

To say that hiking is the third religion in Hong Kong – after eating and shopping – would be kind of an understatement. When I was tasked to plan for a hiking trip to Lamma Island, my research unearthed a mind-blogging amount of resources dedicated to this activity; a testament on how much the locals love a good trek up and down the hills (mountains?) of Hong Kong.

Here’s a summary of my findings:
1) The hiking trail in Lamma was said to be one to four hours long, depending on your circumstances. Losing sleep worrying whether you planned too-tight an itinerary for a day trip like this, in all honesty, would be utterly pointless
2) Doing a hike in autumn is always infinitely better than risking it under the wrath of summer. I have yet to come across a blog post about a pleasant summer hiking experience in Lamma thus far
3) Just because you live a five minute cab ride away from the terminal would mean you can leave the house 10 minutes before the ferry depart

The Ferry Ride

Hiking Excursion to Lamma Island

I embarked on the trip one Saturday afternoon with my Hong Kong buddies – Fanny, Maureen, Mandy, Billy and Faifai. It was first of the some of our outdoor group outings and hopefully it heralded more such events in the future.

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The One With Balalaika – A Russian Experience At Knutsford Terrace

It’s someone’s birthday. Someone special. So of course you can’t do a half-hearted at (God forbid) char chan teng or just order a cake, can you. You need to do something different.

So what do you do? Here’s my three-steps fail-proof guide to choose an appropriate restaurant for a birthday dinner:
Step 1: Get a globe. Give it a good twirl, close your eyes, and jab with your finger.
Step 2: Look at the country, go to OpenRice.com to search for a corresponding restaurant (i.e. if you jabbed at Mongolia, you go for Mongolian food, see?)
Step 3: Call up the restaurant, make a reservation and start saving

Inevitably an exotic meal will cost you an arm and a leg, though I have to say that perhaps Balalaika Russian Restaurant is one of the few exceptions.

The Ice Bar

The Ice Bar

A visit to Balalaika would be incomplete without visiting the Ice Bar (the inverted Absolute Vodka prop wasn’t a photoshop mistake, mind you). The small bar without seats, which can comfortably fit about 6 – 7 standing adults, was famous for the subterranean chill of almost zero degrees Celcius, probably all to make it a Russian experience (side note: do you know the Russians have one of the most severe winters in the world?). Prior entering the chilled room you get to choose a huge fur coat, a fur cap and a pair of furry ear muffs.

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The One With Espressamente Illy – Dessert On The Go

When in doubt, go for coffee. That’s my solution to the eternal problem of oh-I-still-want-to-eat-but-so-full-after-dinner.

So after our dinner, Ms. Khoo (otherwise affectionately known as The Gal Who Shop Too Much) dragged me to Espressamente Illy at K11, loudly proclaiming that they have the best dessert ever.

And who I am saying no to FREE dessert, right? ;)

Chocolate Brownie, HKD34

Dessert at Illy's (K11, Tsim Sha Tsui)

Her choice. Apparently it wasn’t heated enough to her preference, so she returned the brownie to the friendly barista for a reheat. I was pleasantly surprised that the brownie was heated to the point of melting but without getting it burnt. Nice job! It must have been heavenly as Ms. Khoo was rendered speechless for the first couple of mouthfuls. I didn’t try because I have my own sin to indulge in.

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The One With Masala Indian Restaurant At Sheung Wan

I am blogging this right after my meal at Masala. This is considerably surprising, since I have a whole string of unblogged gastronomical encounters over the past few weeks. Those, and not this, should take priority.

I blame the lingering curry smell on my fingers. That, and of course the very lack of blog posts of recent days put me in a mild panic that I have lost my blogging mojo for good.

But no matter. You are here to read about my dinner experience at Masala.

Masala Indian Restaurant @ Sheung Wan

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The One With Lan Fong Yuen (蘭芳園) At Central

Char chan teng is but a culture that is somewhat inherent to Hong Kong. Everywhere you go, if you are craving for a simple local meal, just look out for any cafe-like but Chinese-run eateries around you. The culture is so pervasive that you can hardly distinguish one from another. A good one, a bad one, and everything in between melt into one big dizzying array of food to choose from.

That is until you come across Lan Fong Yuen (蘭芳園) located at Central.

Lan Fong Yuen @ Central

It was late one Sunday afternoon when my friends called me up for a spot of afternoon tea. I have heard of Lan Fong Yuen mainly from my friends’ Foursquare check-ins. Since it was a mild autumnal afternoon, the day was perfect for me to take a stroll from my house to Gage Street where Lan Fong Yuen is located at.

Needless to say, I was late. So we ordered in a haste what the locals would typically order. You won’t go wrong with that rule of thumb!

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