Tag Archives: Groupon

The One With Jiang Shan Hui – A Fiery Meal It Was Not

My discovery on Groupon continues at Jiang Shan Hui which offers a mix of Shanghainese and Sichuan cuisine. When I saw what’s on offer – drunken chicken by award winning chef – I was intrigued. I walked by the past often enough during my Sheung Wan days, but never thought of “popping up”. If you are like me who can’t read Chinese, you always live in the fear that this will be that restaurant where the waitresses will mock you for being an illiterate Chinese and derisively laugh off my request for an English menu. Though I am happy to report this unlikely incident seldom happens, and it certainly did not at Jiang Shan Hui.

Because it was a set Groupon menu. Hah.

Jiang Shan Hui Chinese Cuisine

Platter of appertiser.

The starters for the night were rather uninspiring. I was looking forward to a steaming bowl of hot and spicy soup; what eventually transpired was a tepid serving of gooey starch. The platter of appetiser – shredded chicken in crystal flower sheet in sesame sauce, pork jelly in Zhejiang style, cucumber – fared better. I particularly enjoyed the crystal flower sheet. Very slurpy and fragrant with the sesame sauce (which I almost mistaken for peanut sauce, LOL). The xiao long bao was just alright, nothing to shout about.

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The One With Choi Kee Spicy Crab – Second Encounter Of The Fiery Kind

It seems only like yesterday when I had my first taste of chili crab in Hong Kong. The overpowering spiciness and heavy loading of garlic did little for me for a virgin experience to remember by; kinda like having my first time with the wrong person.

But everything I thought I knew about chili crab was turned to crap after my visit to Choi Kee Fried Crab Expert.

Choi Kee Fried Crab Expert

Sauteed clams with chili and bean sauce.

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The One With Nam Ah Restaurant 1964 – A Singapore Experience In Causeway Bay

When I first moved to Hong Kong three years ago, I had a problem with food. Specifically, I have problems with ordering food. I can’t read Chinese, and once upon a time I lived in Tsuen Wan, a very local town which is not exactly English-friendly. Menu was more often than not offered only in one language – and it’s not English – so eating out can be quite a chore, a stressful experience, which I care not to repeat. Which also leads me moving out to Sheung Wan only three months later.

Where was I? Oh yes, that was my very long spiel that, in my first few weeks in Hong Kong, I missed Singapore food. I didn’t know the local food scene well (I never even heard of Open Rice), so hunting for a food place with an English menu is difficult enough a task on its own, never mind a place serving Singaporean food.

Nam Ah Restaurants

If only Groupon was in existent then, I would be very grateful. For through its recent offer that I discovered the joy of Singaporean food right here in Causeway Bay at a restaurant called Nam Ah Restaurant 1964.

Nam Ah Restaurants

Okay, so the food is not exactly the same standard as those in Singapore – I mean, you do realise you are NOT in Singapore, don’t you? – but good enough to satisfy that craving in me for a bit of “home”.

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Pick Of The Week: The One With Angel’s Share

Ever wondered what angels have to do with whisky? Drop by to Angel’s Share, arguably the poshest whisky bar in town, and you just might find out.

Angel's Share

In the ancient times whisky masters were baffled for the annual two percent loss of whisky as the barrel matured. It was assumed that angels were responsible for it; hence the term angel’s share.

Angel's Share

While you may not find tipsy angels flying into each other at Angel’s Share, what you’ll take delight in would be the sleek and sultry interior of the bar, complete with authentic oak floors, velvety sofas and more than a touch of rockin’ vibe. Truly an altar dedicated to the enjoyment of the liquid gold.

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The One With Ying Vegetarian – Innovative Vegetarian Gourmet

It may come as a surprise to you, but not many Hong Kong-ers fancy vegetarian food. At least, not in my circle of friends. When I floated the idea of having a vegetarian meal, I met with an array of ridicule, from the polite to the downright rude.

“Well, what else do you feel like having?”

“Oh, is that in Causeway Bay? I just know this neat little hot pot place nearby…”

“Why the f*ck do you want to spend your money on rubbery fake meat? Get a life”.

Of course, I am exaggerating. But only just. Vegetarian meat – fake meat, faux meat, whatever you want to call it – is not to everyone’s taste. Though after my experience at Ying Vegetarian, I couldn’t understand why not.

Ying Vegetarian @ Yau Ma Tei

My partner-in-crime for the night was Adaline, whom enlightened me on the story behind vegetarian meat. It was told that in ancient times, Chinese emperors visiting Buddhist temples were welcomed by the monks with such meat, effectively fusing vegetarian practices with the taste of the meat-eating royalty.

Counterfeiting meat? Perhaps. Ying Vegetarian did it with such perfection, it was impossible not to be dazzled by such gastronomical wizardry. Throughout the meal, often I had to take a pause and remind myself that hey, I was NOT eating meat. This piece of delicious looking sashimi in between my chopsticks is not of piece of salmon; it was a piece of non-meat sashimi expertly made from soy, tofu and similar ingredients.

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The One With Hong Kong Group Buying Sites

You should know that I am a Groupon junkie. I read their daily deals with a passion bordering on fanatical. On average I buy two groupons every week.

If they have a VIP club, I will be the first to sign up.

Ironically I only subscribed to Groupon’s mailing list, and one other. I was blissfully unaware of the existence of other group buying sites in Hong Kong. Probably a blessing in disguise, seeing my penchant for a good deal. My credit card bills may soon arrive in multiple envelopes.

A little dig resulted in a list of such sites that is mind boggling. Not quite yet Singapore, but close. Here’s a list, categorised into bilingual, English, Chinese, and yet-to-be-launched. A pity (for me) that the English list is so short.

I think I found a market gap here.

This list is a work in progress and will be updated from time to time, so do bookmark and check back often. If you know of any site I have missed out, leave a comment!

English Only
- Jigo City (English)
- Group Yeah
- Twangoo

Bilingual
- Bee Crazy
- Groupon
- Group Buyer
- ValuUp.com

Chinese Only
- Asia Group Buy
- Baby Bamboo
- Bee Beez
- Buy Buy
- Buy La Buy
- Chill Buy
- Couponana
- Couppie (via Adaline)
- Fun Share
- Gi Gon Zone
- GoBuya
- Group Buyer
- Jigo City
- Joy Coupon
- My Cutepons
- Open Rice Group Buy
- Sale.HK

Upcoming (to be launched)
- Asia Tatler Select
- The Wine Deal

P.S.: This post is inspired by a similar post on group buying sites in Singapore by Daphne (thanks, girl!)

The One With Groupon & Your Business

Groupon-US

I have had it with people who have nothing good to say about the social buying business, like Groupon. I have had the opportunity to dwell into the details of this new industry, and it was nothing short of being fascinating.

Of course, the recent bad rep of Groupon – from its IPO chaos to disgruntled customers to vocal naysayers – didn’t help matter.

So I am going to put forward my take on Groupon on other similar social buying sites to everyone.

Fact: Groupon helps your business.

Also fact: Most businesses do not understand how to make it work with Groupon.

As someone who has more than my fair share of Groupon experience, I can honestly say I have more insights than most people.

Here they are.

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The One With Trafalgar – British Pub & Beer Garden Balcony

Since I moved to Hong Kong, I always look out for spacious dining establishments. Be it a bar, a cafe or a restaurant, a spacious one is a precious commodity in Hong Kong. Those well-versed with the local property market will know what I mean; else, allow yourself to laugh and cry at the same time at this satire on the crazy real estate that is Hong Kong.

In my quest, I have encountered a number of bars/restaurants with open space here, but you could count them with one hand. The patio at SML, the bankers’ hive at SEVVA, the media’s hangout at Sugar, the rooftop bar at Crowne Plaza… see, one hand.

Therefore excuse my enthusiasm when I discoveredthe British pub Trafalgar located at the infamous Lockhart Road at Wanchai.

Trafalgar Wan Chai

As you make your way to the building (Trafalgar was located at a respectable 5th floor), allow yourself to be jostled, appraised, hustled at (if you look rich) or frowned upon (if you don’t). Lockhart Road is lined up almost entirely by bars and pubs of the girlie variety… if you get what I mean. But of course you do. I was there on a Sunday afternoon and already the various bars were doing brisk business.

To say I was delighted to have this oasis of calm in the midst bustling Wan Chai would be an understatement. Trafalgar was complete with a beer garden balcony, decked out in all its wooden glory with rickety chairs and wobbling tables. You would think I am being sarcastic, but I am not. I was charmed.

If I could just ignore the endless babbling of the drunk woman at the next table (slow down on the white wine, honey), I could just close my eyes and imagine myself in London.

And so, on to the delight that was Trafalgar. I was there for a Groupon deal, which was an all-day brunch with three hour of (hic!) unlimited champagne, wine, and soft drinks. You might thought the food would be ordinary, since this was a Groupon deal – I won’t blame you, I went completely without expectation – but boy were my better half and I in for a pleasant surprise!

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The One With Habitat Japanese Restaurant – A Deplorable Experience

When a restaurant runs a social buying deal on sites like Groupon, it is considered not a revenue-generating exercise (though that would be a bonus) but a marketing campaign. At often break-even point, you bring in new customers through the door, for you to impress them with your menu so much so that they are likely to try out more items (such as drinks) and return again in the near future.

That concept, apparently, was lost on Habitat Japanese Restaurant.

Touted as a “Hanging Garden”, Habitate was not unimpressive. With stylish décor, the 3,200sq ft restaurant takes the extraordinary wood texture as its theme, with spacious room and relaxing seating. Its attentive wait staff (though, sometimes can be unnerving with its endless “welcome” and “goodbye”) was a bonus.

During the night when I was there with my better half, the entire (and I do mean entire) restaurant was filled with Groupon customers. At least ten tables. I know because all the food served at every table were the same.

Speaking of the food, let’s see…

Japanese Bean (HK$22)

A personal favorite. Slightly hairy green beans cooked in salty water. The beans here were rather good and fresh, though I wished the portion is a bit bigger since the single bowl was to serve two person.

Organic Tomato Salad (HK$22)

Habitat Japanese Restaurant

A thoroughly mediocre fare. I don’t know about you, but I can’t tell an organic tomato from one end to the other. The dish was a combination of the usual suspects of a green salad, plus vinegar and sesame oil for taste. Not particularly fresh, either.

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The One With Cantonese Dinner At Ramada Hotel – First Class Chinese Cuisine Misrepresented

Ramada Hotel wouldn’t be the first to cross your mind when you think of Chinese cuisine. Its flagship (and only) restaurant, 中華樓 is located at its ground floor but not one you would expect filled with hotel guests. That’s probably because its main entrance is located somewhat next to the hotel; the doors from the hotel lobby opened unceremoniously right into the back of the restaurant.

When I first walked in I startled a whole table of fellow diners. Oh, the shame!

And so to dinner. If you have to ask, yes this was another Groupon dinner; how would you think I could have found out about the place then? At $499 for a ten course dinner for six person, it was definitely a good deal.

Or so I thought. First, let’s get to the food:

Chilled Dragon Fruit & King Prawn Salad

Chinese Dinner @ 中華樓, Ramada Hotel Hong Kong

The dinner started off with a deceiving starter. The “king” in its name must certainly be a kind of prawn breed; its size certainly wasn’t “king”. Each person got one prawn, sliced into halves. I don’t know about you, but I detest chefs who do this kind of thing. If you want to do a prawn dish, do it properly. Not frugally. The rest of the salad – fruits and what’s not – was entirely forgettable.

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