# Friday, 26 February 2010

The weather in Hong Kong is getting very humid these days, not only that the washed clothes cannot get dry, even the floor can be slippery somehow, so I rushed to buy a Dehumidifier (抽濕機) this afternoon, which actually is long overdued since the old Dehumidifier was disposed.

Since I recall that the recent report from Consumer council (消委會) seemed to have positive reviews on Mitsubishi Dehumidifier (三菱抽濕機), plus some personal assessments, I made a quick decision to get the 25L model - MJ-E26CX-H, which is quite costly at HKD 4599.90!

I chose this high end model over MJ-E16AX-H and MJ-E22WX-H not because I am the kind of person who always wants the latest and best, while people usually make decision based on area size, I consider other factors:

- I can move this thing easily around, it has got roller wheels!

- It can send warm air downward toward the floor (向下送風), which is important to make the floor dry and thus, less slippery.

I don't really believe in the factor on area size unless you are talking about real big house, I think features can be more relevant.

And I tested it for a few hours, the effect on clothings is not too obvious yet probably because I cannot setup the places properly yet, but it does collect a lot of water quickly, and it is rather quiet, and the control is easy to use. I have good confidence in Japanese quality despite the recent issues in certain automobile brands (hmmm, are the cars manufactured in Japan anyway?), well, these Dehumidifiers (抽濕機) are made in Japan.

Is it worth the money? For an appliances that you use for years and is a necessity in such humid weather, plus the potential to help improve air quality, I think I can save money elsewhere, but not on this one.

By the way, Dehumidifiers are in big demand as I can see at the department stores, especially those from Mitsubishi (三菱), so if you live in very humid areas in Hong Kong and you think you really need one, better act now.

Friday, 26 February 2010 01:04:18 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Friday, 19 February 2010

I noticed that in recent years there are more tourists around the neighborhood, I guess that's mainly because of the few hotels nearby, Tin Hau is a special area that has several advantage, it is only a few minutes away from Causeway Bay, but is relatively quiet and not crowded, it also offers big convenience in transportation, you can take MTR (Tin Hau station), bus (there is a bus terminal beside MTR station with routes to airport - E11 - which is slower though), plus another bus station for riding to famous destinations such as Stanleys, and A11 to airport, which is faster than E11), taxi (there is a taxi station at Electric Road) or even the slow moving tram (The station going West is just in front of MTR station). All these transportation options are close to each other, within a few minutes walk away from the MTR station, and L'hotel is the most convenient one as it is just on the opposite side of the station.

So I am happy to live in such an area, and if you live in L'hotel, I think you would find the area ok, but regarding food option, I think Tin Hau offers more for local people than for tourists, my favorite is Sister Wah (Wah Tze)'s beef noodles (華姐清湯腩), it is consistently good, but I am not sure if foreign visitors will find the environment fine, as this small eatery will expect quick turnover, and try to pack as many people as they can, so if you really wish to try it, find a time when few people will be eating there, avoid lunch hours especially.


My favorite - I like to have it this way, noodle separated from soup (牛腩撈麵)


Beef Noodle in Soup - 清湯牛腩麵 - nice


This Marinated (滷水) beef is one of the best in town

Address in Chinese: 天后電氣道13號A地下
Address in English: Ground floor, 13A Electric Road, Tin Hau
Tel: 2807 0181


There is also a restaurant just beside MTR station (Viking seafood), I actually treated my relatives there during this Chinese new year gathering, honestly, I chose it not because of anything except easy booking and convenience (near my home and it was raining, plus my relatives parked their car nearby), but as expected, there are always something from them to disappoint me, and this time was the chairs, well, yes, they ran out of chairs, and one waiter had severe foul body odor that was extremely offending, the food was average to below average as I have known all along, so I think unless you are facing the same situation as I did (bad weather, no time), try others, in fact, if you are willing to take a short ride, you can find much better dim Sum restaurants in either North Point or Causeway Bay.

Friday, 19 February 2010 16:31:05 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Saturday, 13 February 2010

Going to the flower market (花市) is not just a tradition, it is really fun if the crowd is not too big yet, I went there again this morning with my family, and there were not a lot of people yet, I saw a lot of passionate young people selling a lot of cool stuffs, so go there and I am sure there must be something for you!


Nice flowers sold at HKD 15 per set


Very nice Gold fish balloon!


My Favorite Balloon of the year (of Tiger!)

 

Some of the photos I took the other day, not sure if the stuffs are still available, good items seem to be sold out early.

The 2010 Chinese new year Flower Market is happening now at Victoria Park (will end a few hours after midnight I think), you can ride MTR and get out from Tin Hau exits or Causeway Bay exits, I think Tin Hau exit is a better option, the weather condition is not so fine today, but the rain is thin and I doubt if it would really discourage people from going there. But if you have small kids with you, you may need to take extra precaution though.

Wishing everyone a prosperous year of tiger!!!

Saturday, 13 February 2010 14:00:39 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Wednesday, 10 February 2010

This is probably the last of my recent recounts of my North Point gourmet experiences, there was a comment asking about restaurants in City Garden Hotel, while the word-of-mouth of the restaurants there are general ok, the one I have tried is Yue (粵), I rarely eat there and that was a dim sum lunch a few months ago.

Yue is quite impressive to me, although they may not be as good as Lei Garden, or as good value as Shark's Fin City, they represent a new style of dim sum gourmet, there is no complaint on the things I tried there, though I would not say they are the best in town, especially when the pricing there is quite high. Environment wise the restaurant is expectedly good, the people I met are quite professional that day but I think they need more hands to serve everyone during peak hours. Overall, I would say this is worth trying once if you stay in the hotel or near the North Point area.

Yue (粵)
Address in Chinese: 北角城市花園道9號城市花園酒店1樓
Address in English: 1/F, City Garden Hotel, 9 City Garden Road, North Point
Tel: 2806 4918

There are quite a few budget restaurants nearby that serves dim sum at lower price, especially during non-peak hours (morning or late afternoon - after 2:30p for example), my personal classifications for these are as followings:

Metropolitan Restaurant (新都會大酒樓) - Good for business lunch when you are the one to pay and wish to spend averagely for guests of average importance, the environment is good and spacious, but the price tag is acceptable, food quality, in my opinion, is also average only.

Star Seafood Restaurant (明星海鮮酒家) - I have not been there for a long long time, somehow it co-relates hassle and noise to me. You don't have to treat my comment seriously, but you may want to take a look yourself.

Hok Ka Hut (客家好棧) - well....I would never eat there again, this oily and strangely tasted fried shrimp roll scared me:


And I almost forgot, some may feel that there seems to be no Japanese restaurant in North Point, but in fact, there is one which is quite good, also at the basement of Island Place (港運城) - it is a restaurant and not just a counter at food court - OEDO Japanese Restaurant (大江戶日本料理) is very ok to me, I especially like their Teppanyaki (鐵板燒), good in content, great taste (especially the sauce), and reasonably priced, the only caveat is that the food is rather too salty.

OEDO Japanese Restaurant (大江戶日本料理)
Address in Chinese: 北角英皇道500號港運城地庫B10
Address in English: Shop B10, Island Place, 500 King's Road, North Point
Tel: 2960 0099

You may also check out my previous blog entry on my North Point favorite at: http://www.biginhongkong.com/2010/01/27/LookingForPlacesToEatInNorthPoint.aspx

Wednesday, 10 February 2010 23:25:50 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Monday, 08 February 2010

There were quite some discussions around a small eatery reaching michelin star status, I have never tried Hung's Delicacies (阿鴻小吃), and perhaps will not try it for quite sometime, I am not saying that the food there is bad, my friends say that it is really nice, but perhaps I won't be able to taste it myself soon, as after the Michelin blessing, it must be full and crowded with people all the time.

If you have never tried these type of small eateries in Hong Kong, please note that because of the small area and high rental rate here in Hong Kong, turnover rate is very important for eateries to maximize profit, and that's one big reason why I am precarious about this type of eatery, you can be expected to eat fast and get out of there soon, or else....well, I am not sure if that's the way Hung's Delicacies works, and I'll find out perhaps a few months later, there is really no driving force for me to rush there just for what Michelin guide says.

I heard that one strength of Hung's Delicacies is their Marinated (滷水) food, there are many restaurants in Hong Kong that serves that, especially those who serve Chiu Chow dishes (潮州菜), in North Point (where Hung's Delicacies is located), there is one at Fit fort (健威坊) named Chao and Hak (潮客) just beside Island Place (港運城), I just tried their marinated beef and pork instestine recently by chance (take out order only), well, not bad, but no surprise either, and I am curious about how good those from Hung's Delicacies can be for it to get a Michelin star. In fact, one of the best marinated food I have is located in Wan Chai, I may talk about it next time.

From Chao and Hak (潮客), average only:


By the way, the flower market opens today, when I passed by there this morning, it was in set up stage, I'll look for a right moment to get there, main objective: avoid the crowd....

Monday, 08 February 2010 23:08:38 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Sunday, 31 January 2010

Although the first vegetarian recommendation I have for foreign visitors would be Long Men Lou in Nan Lian Garden for the 2 in 1 value (scenery + meal), the spending there is quite high, for mid range budget vegetarian meal, if you happen to be in North Point and looking for vegetarian restaurants, there is one that you can visit.

The restaurant - Three Virtue vegetarian  - can hardly be noticed on the street but it has a actually big space on the second floor of a old fashion department store - Wah Fung Chinese Department Store - (華豐國貨) that sells a lot of budget Chinese theme antique and souvenirs (so you may hit two birds in one stone too).

While they offer vegetarian Dim Sum, you can order regular dishes, such as pineapple-coo lao meat (菠蘿咕嚕素球), fried taro fish (芋頭魚) etc, which I would suggest instead of an all dim sum meal there, my favorite is actually their vegetarian soup, like this Vegetarian shark's fin soup with elm fungus and tri-shreds (榆耳三絲素羹):


It is good that you can order for 1 person


The dim sum quality varies, and on gourmet perspective, it would not be able to be compared to regular dim sum definitely, but I think many people who eat here are doing so for religious reason, many Chinese style vegetarian cooking may not be good for health in a way, as some cooks may tend to add oil, salt or even MSG heavily to spice up the dish, which ironically, makes the dish not as healthy as it is supposed to be. I would not tend to believe that this restaurant would carefully try to avoid that.


The one on the left is no good - Chicken sheet roll (雞扎), the one at the right is good, but still too oily - Steamed beancurd sheet roll (鮮竹卷)

The service quality is getting better as they have improved a bit in recent years (it had been bad and I would not rule out chances of having bad experiences in the future), the environment is also somewhat less comfortable due to the noise, and I experienced bad 3G and phone reception at my table.

They also have a take-out counter on the ground floor, they offer assorted vegetarian food for HKD 20 (8 kinds) and HKD 25 (10 kinds) respectively, many senior people would queue up to order during lunch hours, these are good for take out for simple in-room dining at Hotel, as these vegetarian gluten (齋滷味), especially toyo gluten (豉油齋) is quite good for me.

This is a vegetarian option in area around North Point that I would accept for occasional dining, but if you are willing to travel farther, there are actually better options.

As I mentioned, many people would go to vegetarian restaurants for religious reason, there are days where such restaurants may be full and crowded, such as Buddha's birthday (8th day of 4th month in Chinese calendar and May 21 in 2010), or 1st and 15th day of the month (well, it is again, Chinese calendar), for conversion of Gregorian-Lunar Calendar, Hong Kong Observatory has kindly provided tables for you (http://www.hko.gov.hk/gts/time/conversion.htm)

Address in Chinese: 北角 英皇道 395號 僑冠大廈 1樓
Address in English: 1/F, 395 King's Road, North Point
Tel: 2856 1333

Sunday, 31 January 2010 16:10:07 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Wednesday, 27 January 2010

North Point (北角) is a district in Hong Kong that is quite less likely to be part of a tourist's itinerary, but many tourists related to Fujian (福建) province of mainland may prefer to stay there as that district has a big concentration of population with Fujian origin.

If you happen to live in a hotel in that area, I think there are a few eateries that you should not miss, and my recommendations today are also the choices of a prominent figure in Hong Kong circles - Mr. Chua Lam (蔡瀾), he has a rich and colorful background and has been hosting a number of TV shows about enjoying life and great food, which I truly enjoy watching.

The first one I would mention is Fung Shing Restaurant (鳳城酒家), this restaurant is kind of unique, at entrance at ground floor, you will see religious offerings and smell incense, they do not have carefully designed Chinese style deco, but it does make me feel something related to the 70s.

The dim sum there is excellent, I like the beef ball, sui mai, and especially their fried shrimp roll (鮮蝦腐皮卷), they also offer a traditonal style of soup dumpling (灌湯餃), which wraps the soup inside the dumpling instead of the other way around, well, although I am not really in favor of this style (could it be why it is disappearing?), but very few restaurant in Hong Kong is doing them, so it is worth a try, as you may like it.


Traditonal style of soup dumpling (灌湯餃)

Fung Shing has a few branches elsewhere, but I would not recommend them, the quality and services of other branches strangely are not as good as the North Point branch, I particularly feel bad about the one in Causeway Bay, I experienced low quality service a couple times there.


Address in Chinese: 北角渣華道 62-68號 高發大廈 地下及1樓
Address in English: Ground Floor & 1st Floor, 62-68 Java Road, North Point
Tel: 2578 4898

SNACKS
If you like to take a snack, there is one that you need to try, well, the shop may look a little cheap by any standard, but the taste definitely is not! This is one of my entire family's favorite (as well as the favorite of many many locals I believe, as the queue is always very long most of the time), the little egg cake (雞蛋仔)


No long queues at this hour, so rush to buy


Eat while it is hot!


Don't worry, it is hygenic, very quick turn around time

Well, I am not sure on how to translate this shop name into English, but they also sell spicy fish ball, so the name has something to do with being the best in spicy and sweet clan, it is near a new building known as Island Place (港運城)


 
勁辣派甜甜掌門(北角雞蛋仔)
Address in Chinese: 北角 英皇道 492號
Address in English: 492 King's Road, North Point
Tel: 2590 9726 (you may not need it, just go there and buy)

And finally, if you like Beef Pho, you can try out a Vietnamese restaurant at the food court of Island Place (港運城), they may not be the best, but not bad for a quick snack if you are running out of time, want something hot and nice, or if you want to eat early in the morning in order to catch a flight, but most of the restaurants are not opened for business yet.

I think their soup base is ok, beef quality is nice too, but as fast food style, may be the overall quality would fluctuate, but at such pricing, I think it is worth giving a try!  They also have branches in Taikoo Shing and TST I believe.

味佳居越南美食 Yummy
Address in Chinese: 北角丹拿道51-61號港運城地庫K4號舖
Address in English: Shop K4, Island Place, 51-56 Tanner Road, North Point
Tel: 3526 1508
 
Don't get me wrong, there are many other good eateries in North Point, but these are what I just had recently, and it happens that Mr. Chua Lam recommended them too (蔡瀾推介), I may talk about more North Point gourmet options next time.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010 15:28:21 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Thursday, 21 January 2010

Din Tai Fung (or Ting Tai Fung - 鼎泰豐) is a very famous Taiwan chain restaurant known for its Xiao Long Bao (小籠包), it used to have branches in Hong Kong but only in Kowloon side, recently (in December 2009) they opened a branch in Causeway Bay, and as expected, it becomes a hot restaurant with crowds going there everyday, it took us 30 minutes to get a table.

Are their Xiao Long Bao (小籠包) really that good? The answer is yes, thin skin and juicy, although I would say Crystal Jade (翡翠拉麵小籠包) and Modern China Restaurant (金滿庭) offers equally good quality Xiao Long Bao, Din Tai Fung has other varieties beyond the commonly available Ordinary ones or crab paste ones (蟹粉小籠包), I also tried the Taro version (荔芋小籠包), and they are excellent, just sweet to the right extent, very special!


Taro Xiao Long Bao  (荔芋小籠包) - It is so attractive that I can't ask my guests to wait for my photo taking (2 taken out of 6 immediately)

Other recommended dishes:


紅燒牛肉麵 Braised beef noodle soup - Great!


蒜茸油麥菜 Yau Mak Choi - Not having it at home before, it is good!


蛋白蝦仁炒飯 Fried rice with eggs and shrimp - My kid likes this very much


蝦仁餛飩麵 Shrimp and pork wonton noodle - My favorite!


乾拌麵 Dry noodle with special sause - Very simple but tastes great

 

But not everything is great there for everyone, there are things that does not work for me too:


擔擔麵 Taiwan style Dan Dan noodle (Noodles mixed in sesame and Peanut) - I don't like Dan Dan noodle as peanut + noodle is not a combination working for me, my guests likes Dan Dan noodle but they were not excited by this one either. However, this one is very popular and we could be wrong. If you love Dan Dan noodle there is no reason not to try them.


The only thing that is disappointing is the Steamed shrimp and pork dumpling (蝦仁燒賣), very expensive but so so only - it has good looks, but does not taste great. The Cantonese style dim sum will do better for this one.

The restaurant is excellent but the crowds can be an issue, if any nice Xiao Long Bao (小籠包) and noodle soup is fine for you, you can consider  alternatives such as Crystal Jade (翡翠拉麵小籠包) or Modern China Restaurant (金滿庭) if the queue is too long, but if you can get there early (get there at 11:30a will be helpful) Din Tai Fung would be an excellent choice. By the way, it is located at Regal Hotel, so if there are too many people there, you can try the other restaurants there, Regel Palace is on the third floor (I have a review for Regal Palace at http://www.biginhongkong.com/2009/06/08/RegalPalace.aspx, and I think Fu Sing also opened a new branch there as well.

Another great thing about them is the service, the attitude and service quality is not what Crystal Jade or Modern China can offer, in fact, I just had a bad experience in Crystal Jade branch in Causeway Bay World Trade Center, in contrast, Din Tai Fung's stuff were very polite and considerate, they even have nice eating ware for kids! And for efficiency purpose, they would provide a order form to you while you are waiting for table.

Din Tai Fung (鼎泰豐) is as good as it says it is, but wonder how many other similar restaurants the New York Times writer had tried and compared.

Official Din Tai Fung Web Site (Taiwan): http://www.dintaifung.com.tw

Address in Chinese: 銅鑼灣怡和街68號地下
Address in English:G/F, 68 Yee Woo Street, Causeway Bay

Tel 3160 8998

Thursday, 21 January 2010 15:09:28 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Tuesday, 19 January 2010

hmmmm, not sure if anyone have tried the menu set listed in the lower left corner of the blackboard:

Chinese cuisine is really rich both in taste and cultural depth, 松鼠黃魚 literally means squirrel (松鼠) and yellow fish (黃魚), the first thing that came to my mind when I saw this, I thought that it must have been a typo and laughed at it, but later I learnt that there is indeed such a dish, well, no, don't get me wrong, we Chinese do not eat squirrel, it is actually a Beijing dishes composed of FISH ONLY, it is so called only because the fried fish has cuts that make it look like a squirrel.

Need to keep an open mind indeed, there were no typo, only my ignorance.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010 18:33:11 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Monday, 14 December 2009

This is the 44th Expo and shall be held from Dec 12, 2009 to Jan 4, 2010, it is always a good chance for us to buy bargain local products, since I live near Victoria Park, I don't have to worry about the hassle of carrying the items back home, but I would always focused on value items by quality instead of quantity, as even if my home is nearby, carrying purchased items around inside the venue can be a challenge, there are just way too many people there, even I got there today at non-peak hours, some shops were still having lots of people in front of the store.

紹香園 is popular for its walnuts, as well as preserved fruits, unfortunately my favorite 話梅肉 (some sort of preserved Chinese plum meat) is not available, and when I tried to ask, I was edged out by a few elders, whom I believe are definitely more than 60 years old.

Another store that I would patronage year over year is Comvita Manuka honey, this year they offer package of 4 bottles of 250g UMF 15+ plus free Huni skin lotion for HKD 999, or 3 bottles of 500g UMF 10+ also plus free Huni skin lotion for the same amount, I have not yet decided on which to take, but sure I would buy either one of this offer.

 

Another of my favorite Koi Kei Bakery 鉅記手信 has an impressive shop "building" there, quite inline with the Central library at the background, quite an ingenious design! But I did not see my favorite Flossy Pork Egg Rolls (肉鬆蛋卷), and I am not sure if the prices are really attractive, I do not buy anything there, they now have a store in Causeway Bay, quite convenient in case I need to buy something from them.

 

But the real value of my visit there today is the food, Farm House Chinese restaurant (農圃飯店) is a popular but expensive restaurant that I have tried only twice in the past, but today at the 工展會 expo, I can order four pieces of 蟹粉小籠包 (Hairy Crab paste Xiao Long Bao) for HKD 30! Their Almond juice Pig Lung soup (杏汁豬肺湯) is truly excellent, this is really an excellent chance for us to try out this restaurant's high quality food at very reasonable price. Again, I am lucky to be living close to the venue, so I can order take home and eat them while they were still hot! A word of caution though, if you order and eat there, it can be quite a hassle.

 

SuperStar also has a counter there, but their crab paste garlic toast (蟹粉蒜茸飽) was a little disappointing even at HKD 15 for 2 pieces, the crab stuff seems to be not very fresh, I would not recommend it. But you should buy their Crispy Whitebait with peanuts (脆脆銀魚) at HKD 50 for 6 packs, as it is a really a big bargain! The abalone seems to be quite tempting, but I did not get it.

By the way, the entrance fee is HKD 10, reasonable enough. But the true spending is not that amount, but the hassle of moving around the crowd, and your time. If you can get there during week days, it would be better, going there during weekends or holiday could be a nightmare for some of you.

Monday, 14 December 2009 21:00:01 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)