Hong Kong & Macau 2014: Day 6 Going Home Part 3

DAY 6 (CON’T)

Some background on Ho Hung Kee. Apart from their one michelin star rating, its founder Ho Wing Fong used to be a disciple of Mak Woon Chi (of Mak’s Noodles – the very outlet that begin it all where Hong Kong’s wanton noodles are concerned). Talking about legacy planning, Ho Wing Fong’s son has branched out himself to open up the Tasty Congee & Wantun Noodle Shop 正斗粥麵專家 – you may have seen Tasty outlets at IFC and the Airport Departure Lounge as well.

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They used to be located at Sharp Street before escalating rentals in Causeway Way (considered one of the world’s most expensive places for commercial real estate) resulted in their move to their current Hysan Place outlet. Read about it here …… Being in more sparkly surroundings in Hysan Place (right down pat to the mind boggling gold prints that dominate the walls of the shop itself) also means higher prices as compared to a stand-alone shop front like Mak’s or Tsim Chai Kee 😛

My early lunch ……

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Ho Hung Kee is known for its signature wanton noodles, stir fried rice noodles with beef (i.e. friend beef hor fun dry version) and congee …… but for god knows what reason (I don’t know myself :P) …… I ended up ordering their dry tossed noodles with wanton that cost me around HKD80. Having ate a really good and shiok dry noodle in Macau just the day before, this version pales a lot in comparison (to be fair – there was no shrimp roe in this noodles).

But at least I ate in a Michelin star restaurant. Haha!

After my lunch, did a slow walk down the building with all my bags/barang barang from level 12 (12F). Ended up walking into a bookstore – eslite that spans 2 storeys (levels 8 to 10) …… and walked around a bit.

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All in all, Hysan Place is pretty big, with many retail outlets and food outlets, and its wide spaces make the place a good one to explore. Furthermore very strategically located right opposite Sogo (which is always perpetually crowded). Will love to explore Hysan Place more in my future trips, heh ……

As there is still time before getting to the airport (target to reach around 3-plus) ….. decided to take a tram back to Central area. As the tram stops right at the main road, it makes a easier walk around Central as versus to navigating the underground walkways linked to the MTR station.

Back at busy Central, its close to 1pm, where throngs of office workers are out for lunch!

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Walked back into the twisty small streets in Central …… and the next mission is to hunt down the legendary egg tarts at Tai Cheong – whcih is located at Lyndhurst Terrace.

While I am aware that Lyndhurst Terrace is 1-2 streets further up from Wellington Street (based on memory), it proved to be a pretty tough find as I spent a good 20 min walking up and down, and trying to figure out where exactly Lyndhurst Terrace is!! Recalled that Tai Cheong is located quite near the Central Mid Levels Escalator itself but I guess carrying multiple bag loads of stuff + walking up and down steep roads tires one out faster and you can’t think properly as a result 😛 …… Turns out its just round the corner from Gage Street (near Lam Fong Yuen) after all!

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My original intention was to buy a box and hand carry back to Singapore (hence going at this hour as versus to doing it earlier in the morning while on the way to Hong Kong Station). However with after the twisting and turning to find the place, plus already having a lot of bags (and with more things yet to be bought), changed my mind about getting a box back to Singapore …… and instead bought just one egg tart to try for myself. It was a good egg tart, yes without doubt as the crust is buttery and crispy (without being flaky), while the custard is sweet and creamy …… but somehow or another, it did not wow me as much as the Lord Stow’s egg tart I had the day before in Macau 😛

After my quick egg tart break at the bench near the escalator at Wellington Street (where Tsim Chai Kee is) …… walked back down to Yung Kee and got the century eggs. Trudged on with the even heavier load of bags now (now that I have an additional 3 boxes of century eggs) and walked down to IFC and to Lane Crawford to do one last search of a limited Jo Malone perfume for S (sold out already) before heading off to the airport.

Instead of getting onto the Airport Express straight at Hong Kong Station, itchy fingers me decided to hop onto the yellow line (Tung Chung line) instead and took 1 stop to Kowloon. Would have loved to have afternoon tea at Sky100 (ICC) and/or at Ritz Carlton (right on top of ICC) but given that it will be quite a bit of walk to get to ICC from Kowloon Station/Elements Mall ….. there is no time for it. Contented myself with going up to Union Square for a brief look see.

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Union Square (on top of Kowloon Station and Elements Mall) is surrounded by various high rise condominiums and hotels (W Hotel) and ICC. There were also a lot of property agents stationed there while I was snapping away on my camera 😛

And so, this marks the end of my trip as I hop onto the airport express at Kowloon to head onward to the airport, and back home to Singapore!

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Food Mission: Tsim Chai Kee @ Wellington Street, Hong Kong

Didn’t really spend too much time on itinerary planning for this trip. Whatever time I could spare went into researching food places to go, heh 😛

Having tried Mak’s Noodles in my last 2 trips to Hong Kong, this time round, after reading various reviews, decided to check out its competitor right across the road – Tsim Chai Kee. Even more apt – my very 1st food stop after dropping off my luggage.

Tsim Chai Kee is not difficult find once I got onto Wellington Street proper. You just need to look out for Mak’s signage, and they are located right across the road.

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As you can see from the picture, not a very big outlet, and very functional in design and interior. Was busy getting the wifi (from my pocket wifi) up so no pictures of the interior.

Unlike Mak’s, the main selling point of Tsim Chai Kee is their very competitive pricing – HKD25 per bowl of wanton noodles (as versus to the HKD35 Mak’s is charging for a much smaller bowl). Another 2 key differentiators would be the huge sized wantons (as compared to the smallish one’s by Mak’s) and also the option to add on beef slices and/or giant homemade fishballs (as compared to Mak’s who serves purely wanton noodle soup/dry).

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Ordered their Wanton Noodles, together with a beef add on. As you can see from the picture above, the bowl is already overflowing with 2 huge wantons and plentiful of beef slices. Having another fishball will be too much. And this is all for HKD31 – which is really cheap for HK Standards, especially where food in Central is concerned.

My verdict on the meal itself – the wantons were huge, with plenty of filling (pork and 2 prawns), and very crunchy to the mouth …… while the beef slices were very tender, and give the soup a stronger, fuller flavour. The noodles (which you don’t see in the picture as the ingredients were already overflowing as it is :P) were springy and smooth to the taste, and not overcooked.

The only minus was the slight jian shui (alkaline water) taste towards the end of the meal. It felt kind of saltish, and somehow made me really thristy towards the end of the meal (noted many people around me ordering soft drinks to go with their noodles). This is probably one of the things that will drop 1/2 star from the final rating. For all the complaints about Mak’s (small bowl, expensive price, small wantons) – noodles wise, they do a better job without that jian shui taste.

You can read more about Mak’s vs Tsim Chai Kee from various food blogs such as Daniel Food Diary, Miss Tam Chiak, Weekend Notes ….. and more upon googling.

Details:

Tsim Chai Kee 沾仔记
Shop B, G/F Jade Centre
98 Wellington Street, Central
中環威靈頓街98號地下

Mondays To Sundays 9am to 10pm

Nearest MTR Station:

Central MTR D1 Exit, Followed by a 6 min walk via Queen’s Road Central before turning into Pottinger Street, then another turn into Wellington Street. Google Map

Japan 2013: Day 12 Heading Home

DAY 12: MONDAY 25 NOVEMBER 2013

After ending the day late last night (my last night in Tokyo as well), plus having packed my luggage all the way till 1+ in the morning ….. abandoned all thoughts of waking up at 5+ to travel down to Tsukiji Market for sushi breakfast (Note: Tsukiji is just 3 stops from Daimon via the Toei Odeo Line).

The ‘target’ was to reach Haneda Airport around 0845 Hrs (estimate 2 hours before fly off time at 1045 Hrs) …… which means I have to check out and leave the hotel by 0815 latest – to factor in walking to Hamamatsucho (to take the Tokyo Monorail) + the 20-odd minute Monorail journey to Haneda Airport. (Sidenote: One of the key reasons why I chose a hotel at Hamamatsucho was the convenience of having the Monorail direct to Haneda) …… So given such near proximity, ended up snoozing my alarm and waking up at 0745 Hrs! Quickly got changed, did one last check of luggage and belongings and managed to leave the hotel around 0825 Hrs to began the walk back to Hamamatsucho with 3 bads in tow (main luggage + foldable bag for food shopping + my usual sling bag).

Managed to do some rackeying the night before and found an entrance to the Monorail platform at Hamamatsucho without having to climb stairs. Which in this case, is to enter via World Trade Centre! Why didn’t I discover this route earlier 😛 …… so managed to made it to the Monorail station in 15 min (as advised by the hotel reception, the walk should take around 10 min. Only minus is that they didn’t tell me clearly the exact route to take and the entrance, so a slight minus once again for the Villa Fontaine staff). The Tokyo Monorial station had many many escalators that were very narrow in size (so narrow that I have to place my luggage in front of me) and had to go one by one before I got to the actual platform …… and then the 20+ odd min journey to Haneda, and I ended up reaching at around 0915 Hrs.

The airport was pretty empty for a early Monday Morning.

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As I have already done the online check-in via Cathay Pacific website 48 hours before fly-off, all I needed to do just to drop off my luggage. No quenes as well so it was a breeze, except for 1 thing ……

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Overweight luggage! 2kg more than Cathay Pacific’s stipulated limitof 20kg. I suppose after 11 days in Japan, with all the shopping (the extra bag itself is already 5kg), 20kg is not really sufficient. Anyway the ground staff (a nice Japanese lady) attending to me was so kind to waive off the additional baggage charges. One-up for Cathay Pacific! (Sidenote: Need to write a commendation email when back home)

Got some Royce chocolates at the Royce boutique before going into the Departure Gate. No quenes as there were not many international flights flying out Haneda around this time. Not much shops and restaurants inside the Departure area (the main shopping areas – Edo Town and Tokyo Pop Town are on level 4 and 5 respectively) …… but managed to find a restaurant to sit down and get some breakfast.

My breakfast/last meal in Tokyo – Chicken Chazuke. It is actually hot tea poured over the rice (with chicken). Interesting combo as this is my first time having tea poured over rice. For a breakfast meal, it does not feel heavy at all. Nice!

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More omiyage shopping (mainly for Shiroi Kobito biscuits) and one last coffee before I board the flight!

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Same as my fly-in, the journey back home includes a transit at Hong Kong Airport. And this time round, managed to finish off the last 15 min of Cold Eyes (recap: Day 1) via the on-flight entertainment …… with enough time to rewatch it a 2nd time + watch another movie as well, heh ……

There was about 3 1/2 hours before the return flight to Singapore at 2000 Hrs. Did had some thoughts about venturing out to Citygate (relatively near to the airport) for a quick exploration, but since I read online (prior to departure) that 3 1/2 hours stopover is way too short to travel into the city and back, plus the fact that I ended up going through the transit gate (rather than the immigration gate that leads to the arrival hall) …… this meant that I’m much better off just staying in the airport itself having a meal and enjoying the wifi. Just as well since I had 1 big shopping bag (from Haneda Airport) in tow with me and I don’t fancy lugging it around Citygate/HK mainland as well 😛

Having tried Tsui Wah during the last stop-over, decided this time round to check out the noodles joint next to Tsui Wah – Tasty Congee & Noodle Wantun Shop. When in HK, their signature wanton noodles is the way to go!

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A pretty small bowl at HKD$45, with only 3 small wontons but I suppose its a nice change after all the Japanese food 😛 …… There was also little need to overly fill my stomach as there will be dinner served on the return flight as well.

The shops at the Departure Gate don’t really interest me, so spent the remainder of my time waiting, catching up on my whatsapp, my Appa Odiga videos on my iPad (airport wifi rocks!) …… And saw a beautiful sunset while waiting. Unlike the past 11 days, sunset in Hong Kong happens later at around 6 to 615pm.

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Just travelling in the skies took a good 1 day as I reached Singpaore on 0005 Hrs to mark the end of my holiday!

Thursday Thoughts ….

It feels like a damn long time since I’ve blogged (although my last entry was on Sat/Sun), so I thought some much needed blogging/writing (whilst on the long MRT journey home) will be the antidote to a boring and somewhat ‘sucky’ Thursday at work (ended off my Thursday with a couple of ‘unsuccessful’ phone calls) …….

To recap, remembered that last Thursday (10th March), I also worked late in office …… only difference compared to today is that I managed to work all the way to almost 10pm (as tweeted) without any post lunch snacking as compared to today where I am already feeling tired (around 8-plus) ……

Thinking about it ….. the difference could be diet …… Last thursday, I actually had a healthy Yong Tau Foo lunch from the foodcourt downstairs office (Gateway East)

Whereas I decided to head over to The Plaza’s basement to satisfy my wanton mee craving earlier in the afternoon, as shown below ……

To quickly conclude, I think having a good healthy lunch (i.e. yong tau foo) DOES make a difference to one’s energy levels ….. Similarly my CNY diet has also affected the quality of my training/running post CNY (as versus to more balanced diet of having more vegetables and subways pre-CNY) ……

But nevermind, got some ‘Hei’ ice-cream from Awfully Chocolate after dinner @ Raffles City to chase away the blues, hehe

For $3.80 …. it is really a reasonably large scoop (as compared to some of the more premium ice-cream parlours out there) …… More importantly, it has the real chocolate taste in it without being overly sweet or creamy. Hence one of my favourite comfort food to have esp. after a sucky/so-so day 🙂

Days of My Life ……

Its a sign …… indeed it is ……..

Earlier in the day, I have tweeted, or rather I have ‘complained’ on my twitter that my intended healthy lunch of mee sua literally sucked no thanks to super stale fish that the stall-owner has the cheek to use …… It was not the usual fish soup that I was so acustomed to having from the Waterloo Street coffeeshop just behind my office …. The coffeeshop apparently underwent some renovations about 3 weeks back with some change of vendors (there goes my favourite kopi) although the more famous chicken rice, nasi bryani still remains (can’t remember if the indian rojak stall is still there) ……

So I finally paid it a visit for my late lunch today (wanted something quick and healthy) …… and so, ended up having fish soup where I only had 1/2 a slice of fish (should have 5-6 slices remaining), some msg laden soup – or technically speaking, I had sliced fish mee sua without the sliced fish just because someone had the cheek to sell unfresh fish …… the previous owners had a bit of attitude yes, and progressively raised their prices but at least they used good quality fish, vegetables and seafood, and cooked the soup properly (although their tom yum version is not so good) …… just wonder where they have gone to as a result of this revamp/renovation exercise ……

Anyway afte making such a fuss, the thing is that we will be moving office come end june so does it matter ….. that is why all the more it is a sign as all the better vendors are now gone from the coffeeshop concerned as majority of us will be moving out of BOC come end June …. that is life for you …. leaving and moving on ……

But thank god, this saved my day …….

My early dinner (6+pm) at Central Restaurant/Cafe, Selegie Centre …… there was a promo for HK style wonton mee so decided that this will be the dinner that will salvage my sucky lunch …… it is not too much, wontons are crunchy, noodles Q enough and soup is not too bad but still quite different from the real thing that I tasted back in HK ……..

The above is the bowl of Mak’s Noodles that I had in HK last year …. which you can read all about its fame here, here and here (alternatively, you can google Mak’s Noodles and a lot of results will come up ) …… but until I fly back to Hong Kong again, I guess HK cafe alternatives will have to do for now 😛

But more importantly, I felt much better (and less sucky) after a decent dinner ….. and back to office to tie off some work and some miscellenous packing before calling it a night!!

Next up ….overdue Sundown entry, reading and drama lists, iphone apps ……. talk about planned backlog 😛

Wonton Story

A short food entry / food review / 2 cents worth of comments 😛 ……

In case you are wondering, Wonton Story is one of the food kiosks located @ Basement 1 of Bugis Junction (recently revamped and renovated) …… was looking for something to eat on my way home and thought a combination of a small bowl of wonton + small bowl of minced meat noodles should be good enough for a low-carb dinner as intended ……

So I decided on a Asparagus T-Bone Wonton (meating filling with 2 sticks of asparagus in between) accompanied with minced meat noodles (which looked pretty yummy) …… Btw I mentioned small bowls right? You may refer to their webbie + this hungrygowhere review for some inkling of HOW SMALL the portions are (ok, first and foremost, I settled on this coz’ I did not want a heavy dinner) ……

A few bites later ….. first and foremost, the wonton itself does not look as crunchy as it is in the pics …… a tad disappointing considering the ‘hoo-ha’ and the fuss they are hyping on how different their wonton concept was …… however the minced meat noodles was a saving grace, noodles were QQ and minced meat and sauce were done just nice, maybe they should sell the minced meat noodles as a single item instead, ha!

Anyway to divert a bit, I previously tried their xiao long baos (side item) as well due to sudden craving and it was nothing to shout about as well …… And if you note, despite all their marketing hype, this stall / kiosk is not as popular as the Japanese Ramen stall that was beside it as I have noted (since I walk through the basement pretty often, and can now officially said to have tried both stalls as well) ……

Makes me want to fly to Hong Kong to have my Mak’s Noodle fix – the holy grail of wonton noodles 😛