Thursday, 12 December 2013

Hong Kong

We took a short trip to Hong Kong to shop and eat, but as it turned out, we did a bit of shopping, and a lot of eating! When we arrived, the hubs took us to the famed Michelin-star dim sum restaurant, Tim Ho Wan at Central (IFC Mall) as it was the most convenient branch. He had eaten there before and raved about the food being cheap and good. My verdict? Cheap, definitely. But good? Definitely overrated. The only dish I really liked was the pork ribs. Their char siew bao has been so hyped up that I expected more, so was thus disappointed. Being a Michelin-star restaurant, it was a somewhat novel experience dining there. Everyone around us whipped out their cameras at every dish, and it felt as if we were surrounded by food tasters or bloggers. Many were consulting travel books and foodie-books. And probably more than three-quarters of the customers were foreigners. We were literally elbow to elbow with the other diners, and from their conversations, we could tell that they were Chinese nationals, Japanese, Singaporeans and Caucasians. 
Shrimp dumpling, pork ribs, prawn roll, pork bun, chicken feet, fried dumpling 
There was a wait of about 30 minutes. Totally not worth the wait, I reckon. However, at about S$30 for the 4 of us, and being a Michelin-star restaurant, I can see why there is such a long queue. My friends from Hong Kong tell me that the only branch that is worth trying is the one in Mong Kok. Although, I still think we should not have such high expectations as the higher our expectations, the greater the disappointment! I'm really glad I didn't queue a few hours for the Plaza Singapura branch when it first opened although the hubs kept persuading me to.
Tim Ho Wan at Hong Kong Station
After we checked in, we strolled around Tsim Sha Tsui as we wanted a carefree holiday with totally no agenda. We did a bit of shopping and while we were walking in one of the malls, we stepped out onto the verandah to be greeted by this beautiful sunset. We hung around and took in the atmosphere and the perfect cool weather. Ah, life is good.
View of sunset from Central shopping centre (I think)
The next morning, we decided to spend the day over at Hong Kong island as the hubs wanted me to try the excellent food there. First up was breakfast at a famous wonton mee stall. As it turned out, it was not opened yet. The kids were starving so we crossed over the street to another wonton mee stall. We ordered 2 bowls to share so that we had the stomach for the other shop later. One was a regular wonton mee and the other was a mix of 3 different toppings. The wonton was huge and yummy, and the fresh sliced beef was a nice addition. The handmade fish ball wasn't quite to our taste though. But overall, it was a fine breakfast and now when I eat wonton mee, I wish I was eating there!
Wonton mee S$4 
Apparently, this stall was opened in 1998 by the ex-employee of the original famous wonton mee stall. At about S$4 per bowl, it was reasonably priced as the serving is quite big. While I was writing up this post, I found out that the 2 most famous wonton mee stalls in Hong Kong are these two on Wellington Street, and that most reviewers actually prefer this one. So we had stumbled upon the best wonton mee in the world!
Tsim Chai Kee Noodle 
We checked out the shops in the vicinity, and soon it was 11 o'clock. Time to have our 2nd breakfast! We trooped back to the famous stall and I sat down to see just how wonderful their wonton mee can be. Well, the noodles are nice and thin and the broth is not bad, but I still prefer the other stall's huge wonton and sliced beef that went well with the noodles. The girls loved the kailan here, though they hardly eat that back home. But wonton mee at S$6 for such a tiny bowl? I would never eat it again.
Wonton mee, kailan, beef tendon noodles
This is what the frontage looks like. Again, I saw more tourists than locals here. And I even recognised the Singaporeans from the next table!
Mak's noodles
We were really full from the 2 breakfasts, and were ready to hit the shops. We strolled around and came to Pottinger street. The girls were excited to see this colourful stall which sold wigs! They have always wanted to have coloured hair (must be the influence from the TV stars) and even asked me if they could dye their hair pink or purple, which of course, was a definite no-no. So a wig was the next best option. I think the hubs and I allowed them to buy it only because we were in a holiday mood.
#4 in her new wig
After walking for half the day, I was really tired and wanted either a massage or a foot reflexology. We saw a signage and went up the 8th floor of a building to this outlet. I was half expecting a dingy place and was pleasantly surprised to find that it was clean and very, very comfy! 
So relaxing
After our hour of rest, it was time to go for lunch just in case they closed before the dinner session. The kids chorused, "Eat again?! But we just ate our lunch!" We told them it was part 2 of breakfast. We went to Yung Kee back at Wellington Street, yet another famous restaurant, or so the hubs says. This one is famous for it's roast goose. We limited ourselves to just 3 dishes as we were not even hungry to begin with. The goose did turn out to be quite nice, and generally the standard of the dishes were not bad.
Salt and pepper pork ribs, roast goose, baby kailan
I had quite enough of walking, and unfortunately, my wound started to hurt as well, even though my caesarean was a year ago. So we decided to take a cab to Victoria Peak for some scenery. 
View from the Peak
The view was nice, but be prepared to jostle elbow to elbow with a huge crowd, all of whom are also trying to get the best view for a great picture. This place must have been nice several decades ago, when you could have a quiet moment with your loved ones to enjoy the scenery and cool air.
Bubba Gump
As we were leaving the Peak, we saw a huge crowd hanging around this restaurant. Wondered if the food was good, although there was no way I was going to queue for some Western food in Hong Kong! Which turned out to be a good thing. We hopped into a cab as I could hardly walk much further by then and the taxi driver recommended a good place for dinner not too far from our hotel. It's called SuperStar Seafood Restaurant over at Tsim Sha Tsui.
Super yummy roasted pigeon
I have to say that this was the best meal of our entire trip! I am still dreaming of the superb roasted pigeon. The taxi driver said that "this restaurant has been here for ages, and in Hong Kong, if your food is not good, how to survive so long?" So true, so true… 
Korean shell fish
On the 3rd day, the hubs thought that the girls had enough of shopping and eating and volunteered to take them to Ocean Park or Disneyland while I had the day to myself to shop in peace. Surprisingly, they refused, and said that they have had enough of theme parks for a while and would rather spend the day with us eating and shopping. So we started our 3rd leisurely day with a simple dim sum breakfast at a cha chan ting. I have always been insistent on them having big hearty breakfasts, and it's so easy to find substantial food early in the morning here in Hong Kong.
Steam carrot cake, char siew bun, shrimp cheong fun
I was recommended by the waitress to try their most popular drink and I must say I absolutely loved it. 
Mango sago drink
We spent the day walking around the malls near our hotel (Kowloon Hotel) and chanced upon this oh so chic cafe. I was intrigued. Was it for babies? Did they serve gourmet baby meals? Were the mums all decked out in designer wear while the babies actually behaved themselves? Turns out, it was just a chic cafe, serving ordinary food to ordinary people.
Chic cafe
While I was busy shopping, the hubs was busy checking out a good place for lunch. I told him I didn't feel like eating dim sum again. He came back all excited and said he had found the perfect restaurant for lunch. Shabu shabu hot pot. Oooh, yum! The kids were excited too. But guess what? While making it up to the restaurant, we got way-laid by the posters at this seafood restaurant touting their signature crab dish and we both felt the urge to eat crab.
Crab surrounded by garlic garnishings
I still didn't get enough of the fantastic pigeon from last night's dinner, so I had to order pigeon. It was disappointing. I was bench-marking it to the other one and I concluded that not all restaurants in HK serve excellent pigeon. 
Clams and roasted pigeon
#3 and #4 bought clothes for themselves and for the rest at home. We always make a trip to the supermarket whenever we are on holiday to see the different food offerings they have. We got some snacks to take home for the others.
Some of our shopping 
When we asked the taxi driver what was the best food he would recommend around our hotel, he said we had to try the dai pai dong (open-air stalls which are dying out in Hong Kong). We stumbled upon a wet market type hawker, and ordered their instant noodles with fresh sliced beef. I don't eat instant noodles and don't allow the kids to do so as well, but l must say that sitting amidst the smelly and shabby stalls with the locals was quite an experience. And when 2 chaps in business suits came by the hawkers gave them a roaring welcome and we could feel the camaraderie amongst the people. 
Noodles with slice beef
We walked around before dinner and chanced upon this corridor of lights. It must have been done up by Disney. It looks like a child's dream castle, complete with glittering chandeliers and well adorned christmas trees. Quite a sight.
Christmas lights
They have all sorts of Disney characters on display and lots of tourists were busy snapping pictures.
Disney christmas deco
As we didn't get to eat Shabu Shabu for lunch, we were all looking forward to hot pot for dinner. It was a satisfying meal on a cool winter evening.
Shabu shabu
On our last day, we went to Landmark mall as we had to take the train from there back to the airport. The displays of all the high-end brands are really beyond what we see here in Singapore. They go to such an extent to dress up their stores. There were even tiny droplets of 'snow' falling from the ceiling from this store!
Cool display
The hubs couldn't resist having a last meal of his favourite roast goose so we went back to Yung Kee. I have to admit I enjoyed it very much too. He even ordered one whole goose to take back home for the others to enjoy.
"Not again?!" said the kids
We made our way towards the train station and the malls are all interlinked and we came upon this mall which must have been an Armani mall. All the floors were carrying different lines of Armani. The girls couldn't believe their eyes when they saw an Armani flower shop.
Chic flowers anyone?
We crossed the bridge back to IFC mall and had a few hours to spare before our flight. The Apple store was huge and there were lots of people sitting at computers. I wondered what was going on, and saw that the tables were labelled 'Personal training', 'Open training', and even 'Genius' training! I should have stayed longer and signed up for the latter..
2 story Apple store
The hubs had to have his last Tim Ho Wan meal before leaving for the airport. This time, I agreed with his choice, not so much because of the food, but because of the convenience. As this branch is located in the MTR station, there is even a check-in counter for our baggage right there. So we didn't have to lug our luggages all the way to the airport. 
Beef balls, glutenous rice, shrimp dumpling, pork ribs, pork bun
A girlfriend wanted us to get her a goose too so we bought another one from the airport. In the end, we didn't manage to pass it to her but as we had relatives over the next day, we finished both the goose. Well, our verdict is that the one from the airport tastes even better than the one from the famous Yung Kee restaurant! 
Roast goose well packed for the ride home

Anyone know of other good food in Hong Kong, do leave me a comment! I've realised that most 'famous' eateries are actually overrated.



~   mummy wee - a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore  ~

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