Category Archives: Wan Chai

The One With 22 Ships – Pricey But Delicious Spanish Tapas

So I have heard much about 22 Ships, one of the many Spanish places opening up all over the cities. I quite liked how they named their restaurant. It’s no stroke of genius, but it certainly put a spin into telling my friends where to meet up for dinner. “Hey, meet me at 22 Ships at Ship Street.” How about, “Let’s drink up at Leighton 8 and 8 Leighton Road,” or “We do dim sum at The Tin Lok at Tin Lok Lane“.

Well, you get the drift.

22 Ships

Let’s put it this way – 22 Ships is no ship, size-wise.. The place is tiny, cramped and certainly look more like a bar than a restaurant. While the vibe is infectiously buzzy, the utter lack of privacy between diners – I could literally eat off my neighbour’s plate – made it not a destination of choice if you are after romantic dinners. There’s only so many “I love you”s you could utter across your paella without the people around you sniggering and rolling their eyes.

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The One With Ipoh Malaysian Restaurant – Down Memory Lane

Who would have thought? All these while, I thought the only decent Malaysian food available in Hong Kong can be sampled only at Sabah Malaysian Restaurant. But within a week, a friend recommended me to go Good Satay at Tsim Sha Tsui (which I must try soon!), and yet another brought me to Ipoh Malaysian Restaurant.

A restaurant named after my hometown – how could I possibly missed this?! I must have passed by the shop along Johnston Road plenty of time, yet I have never realised the existence of this shop. Let it be a lesson to all; have a bright, outstanding signage promoting your shop, or Ipohites like me will never notice it!

I was there one Sunday afternoon; the place wasn’t crowded, save for a large table of youngsters whom I suspect must have been Malaysians. It’s the language lah, you can’t miss it. So we ordered three of the many available set lunch options.

Bak Kut Teh

Bak Kut Teh

I loved bak kut teh, but to my dismay the soup is way too watery for my liking. The herbal soup is supposed to be rich in taste and heavy with herbs. Two stale, miserable-looking yao ja guai didn’t really help matter. But I had to commend the pork ribs; well choosen, cooked to tender perfection and deceivingly easy to bite off the bones. If only the soup could do it justice…

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The One With Roast Pot – Must-Visit Hotpot / Steamboat Spot in Wan Chai

Since moving to Hong Kong, I have grown to love hotpot aka steamboat aka the best invention of Hong Kong food, ever. It is not like there wasn’t any steamboat (or hotpot) in Singapore, but they are really far, far inferior when compared to their Hong Kong counterpart.

Hotpot Dinner at Roast Pot

I have a few favorites. One of them is New Star Seafood Steamboat, which was my first hotpot discovery and I loved it to death because of its endless all-you-can-eat buffet, which include beer! And then I went a little high end and tried the Golden Valley Restaurant, which earned thumbs-up from round the table but at close to $400 per pax for ten shared dishes, it is not something you can indulge in often.

Which was why, when Roast Pot (南燒北鍋) came along, I sighed with relief.

Hotpot Dinner at Roast Pot

For Roast Pot fall squarely in between New Star and Golden Valley. The food variety and quality are much better than New Star, and price was it was way below of what you would pay at Golden Valley. Now come to think of it, I think I have been to Roast Pot for at least five times in the past half a year.

Yes, five times! Is it a wonder why my waistline never fall below 30″?

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The One With Under The Bridge Spicy Crab – Gripping Hong Kong By The Pincher

While Singapore has its famous chilli crabs, Hong Kong upped the ante with their spicy crabs.

What do I mean? Having lived in Singapore for a while and have had my fair share of chilli crabs, nothing can prepare you for the sweat-inducing level of fiery hotness that Hong Kong spicy crabs can bring. It’s enough to make a grown man cry. Literally.

And the defacto place to have the authentic typhoon shelter spicy crabs (it’s a long story) here has got to be the Under The Bridge Spicy Crabs. There are four branches, all around the same location, so hunting one down could be an adventure all on its own.


The crabs – a large one can set you back some $480, more than enough for two person – came drowned in minced garlic, onion or shallots, red chilli and black beans. There are 5 – 6 varying levels of spiciness you can opt for.

Plus some other non-spicy options for the whims.

For the night, I stupidly went for the mid-range option, and boy was I in for a treat. Not.

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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 Jo Jo Indian Buffet – Curry, Spices & Everything Nice

There are many things I missed about living in a multicultural country like Singapore and Malaysia. One of the things I missed most is its food. At the drop of a hat you could order Chinese, Malay, Indian and Western food all from the same food center.

So you could understand my enthusiasm when I saw the Groupon offer for an Indian buffer at Jo Jo Indian Cuisine. The mere thought of spiced rice and aromatic curries already make my mouth water. The tough part, however, was to distinguish one dish from another. I mean, how do you know what you are eating from an Indian buffet line?

Jojo Indian Buffet Dinner

At the start of the buffet I was paralysed with indecision. Do I take note of everything I eat, I thought, or do I threw caution to the wind? Then I saw my better half already devouring a particularly juicy piece of chicken (of unknown variety), so I ditched the food blogger persona and behaved like the hungry starving person that I was.

Jojo Indian Buffet Dinner

What I could do, though, is to highlight to you, my beloved would-be diner, of the do’s and don’ts when you do the Indian buffet at Jojo’s.

Full list of buffet items (available only from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.) are at the end of this post.

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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 Cubix, Fleming Hotel (Wan Chai)

One of the many perks about being on a social buying mailing list like Groupon and Twangoo is the endless restaurant deals, often at more than 50% off their normal price. At times I do wonder how these merchants make money, but I guess whatever possible losses they make from group buying ventures are consider customer acquisition cost; their objective is to get first time customers through the door.

Eh, where was I? I digressed. I blame that on job hazards.

And so I bought this super deal from Cubix restaurant from Groupon a few weeks ago, and managed to use the voucher last week.

Cubix is located at The Fleming Hotel, located along Fleming Road at Wan Chai. The hotel is surprisingly not easy to find; it is best you have the full address and Google map with you. The entrance to Cubix is also somewhat confusing. There is no direct entry from the hotel lobby. You need to get out of the hotel, down a side corridor to a wooden door that looked just like a wall.

The restaurant itself is small, and most of the available table has a full view of the kitchen door, which kept opening and closing during my visit. That was surprising because there were only two occupied tables at that time of the night, and a little more than annoying.

But the food, thankfully, more than made up to it.

Caesar Salad (HK$98)

Dinner @ Cubix, The Fleming Hotel

The salad was surprisingly well done. Served with Parma ham, the lettuce was crisp, the dressing just nice, the bread crouton crunchy to the bite. I am not fan of Caesar salad but this is recommended.

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The One With Champs Bar & Restaurant (蒲點美式酒吧) At Wan Chai

I am a creature of habit. My daily routine hardly varied, and that includes my dining out choices. If you are foolish enough to ask me to plan for eating out, invariably you will end up at some place you and I have been to before.

But that changed, for once, when the birthday boy said, “I am sick of thinking of where to eat.” Only then I realised, gosh, that sounded exactly like me every time I attempted a dinner out.

So, as a treat for the birthday boy (whom, incidentally, I last met a year ago and was amongst my first few friends in Hong Kong), we took the road less traveled to… the Champs Bar & Restaurant in Wan Chai.

Champs Bar & Restaurant (蒲點美式酒吧), Wan Chai

I have been to this place once for drinks with colleagues, and it was kind of a love at first sight. Well, probably love is too strong a word, but I do like how uncrowded it was, and the sofa seats were very comfortable and cozy. The phrase “American Bistro” came to mind.

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