# Sunday, 25 July 2010

It is totally unexpected but I have not been able to find time to update this blog for months, well, it is not exactly about time, the workload is just too heavy that I have to frequently work over the weekend and late night, and updating blog is something luxurious for me to do.

But today I really have to write something, as I am finally able to grab an 蘋果 Apple iPad on Friday, I just came back from a trip to New York, and even the US has no supply of iPad at Apple Store, being able to get one (official stock with warranty - 行貨) locally is quite exciting indeed.


The New York Apple store, quite a landmark!

The competition to purchase was expected to be tough, as local news revealed that many failed to get one, I was lucky to be at the right place (there is an outlet close to my home) and right time (I did not get there too early nor too late), so I did not have a hard time queuing up, and in fact, the line at the outlet I went to, which is in the busy district of Causeway Bay, was not really that long, perhaps a lot of people were expecting stocks to be available abundantly soon, but since I failed to grab one in several Apple Stores in US Eastern coast, I am afraid that stock availability would still be tight in the upcoming time in Hong Kong, considering a lot of visitors from China would also come to buy iPad in Hong Kong.

One trick when queuing up is to show intent to buy accessories, although the accessories available at these outlet are not interesting at all (only third party hard plastic case and screen protector), buying a Capdase IMAG screen protector (like what I did) would give you a priority to get in, thus saving time and have the assurance of getting an unit (limited to 1 unit per person, which makes sense). I have not applied the screen guard yet, as I plan to use the iPad for a few days to be sure that this unit is ok before putting the screen guard on. And I am also wondering if I need to use one at all.

 

So what is inside the box? You get a Hong Kong/UK style plug, a cable and a small pack containing some simple documents a pin for pulling out the sim card bay, please note that the black iPad plastic case was purchased in US and not included.

So is the iPad good? I think so, the form factor is optimized for what it is supposed to do, fast and efficient viewing of photos and multimedia content, using two fingers to quickly zoom in and out on contents effectively would give people with poor eyesight a pleasant viewing experiences, I would also suggest people getting a model with 3G (3G版) and not just Wi-fi, as mobile efficiency is what iPad works best for, being able to browse the web for real time information anywhere while on the road with this device will be very helpful.

At present I think the accessory supply for ipad in Hong Kong is still limited, fortunately I purchased the important ones during my trip to New York last week.


The official iPad case from Apple is expensive at USD 40 but it does look good, the hard plastic case being sold at the local outlet is a ridiculous thing to buy as it would offset the value of iPad, which is being stylish and lightweight.

Although you can sync content to iPad using iTune from your computer, but if you are travelling for fun, having the camera kit (USD 30) will allow you to quickly import and view your photos either through a USB connection to the camera, or through a SD Card reader (USB纜線或直接從SD卡輸入), without this, you would need to carry a computer with you, this can even be true if you are just using the iPad in daily use, ipad can be a netbook/Notebook replacement and be the sole device you need for casual daily travel. Although for work, I would still need to use a powerful notebook running Windows.


The iPad Camera Connection Kit

Apple iPad Accessories (iPad 配件) link for Hong Kong: http://www.apple.com/hk/ipad/accessories/ 


By the way, you get this nice bag if you purchase Apple stuffs in US Apple Store.

iPad is great, I used it yesterday on the road and it was a pleasant experience, with 3G + wifi, connectivity is key, and the extra money for getting a 64GB version can easily be justified, I think with the way we consume information, 16GB is way too little to be practically useful.

But is iPad without fault? I think there are a few negative things that I would point out:

- The language support is a strange thing, I can't understand why Simplified Chinese (简体字) input is supported but not traditional Chinese (繁體字), it seems to be a sign of pure financial calculation with no regards to culture and community factors!

- iPad is great for content consumption, but poor at content creation except that you can post things online, I still yet to figure out what I can do on this pad for rich content authoring, which can be for the purpose of instant online sharing or work collaboration, especially when Apple is trying to use iPad to penetrate into Enterprise market.

Anyway, iPad is a very helpful tool, and it may help to bring the Apple stock price soaring if the market goes fine as well, my next interest would be to see what the next generation of iPad is going to be.

Sunday, 25 July 2010 20:14:51 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Sunday, 18 April 2010

It is a bad news to me that Shark's Fin City Restaurant (魚翅城) in Times Square Causeway Bay (時代廣場) will be closing down and today is their last business day.

With the growing awareness of the risk of driving the Sharks to extinction, eating Shark's fin is not a good thing to talk about, the restaurant's name could be hurting them, though to be fair, they offer many good food that has nothing to do with Shark's fin. But perhaps what's hurting them is something else.

The high real estate cost (thus rental costs) in Hong Kong is a well known fact, many business simply cannot sustain the constant hike in rental rates demanded by real estate owners, in good times the pressure can still be tolerated, but this makes the business so vulnerable, I think this is what is forcing the restaurant to close down the Causeway Bay branch.

Well, they do have branches at Kowloon side, I know there is one in New World Centre (新世界中心) in TST near the Avenue of Stars, and it is interesting to see how this restaurant will evolve in the coming years.

Sunday, 18 April 2010 14:01:42 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Sunday, 21 March 2010

Being one of the restaurants that I would rate as very good, as well as one that I blogged about in my first few posts, I am glad to see them opening a new branch in Causeway Bay, I actually found out about it when I ate at Din Tai Fung (鼎泰豐) more than two months ago, but I forgot to mention that in my blog. Well, this new branch is not really very far away from the old one but it added some convenience for me. It is located at Regal Hotel, near Victoria Park, and walking distance from Sogo.

Address in Chinese: 銅鑼灣怡和街68號1樓
Address in English: 1/F, 68 Yee Woo Street, Causeway Bay
Tel: 2504 4228


^All three are good!


Excellent shrimp springroll

I feel that the quality in terms of food is as good as the original branch, and the service is ok too, for me this location saves me some walking, so I would try to eat there more often now.

My previous blog posts on Fu Sing (around an year ago)
http://www.biginhongkong.com/2009/03/01/FuSingSharkFinSeafoodRestaurant.aspx
http://www.biginhongkong.com/2009/03/07/FuSingSharkFinSeafoodRestaurantPartII.aspx 

Sunday, 21 March 2010 22:30:34 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Saturday, 06 March 2010

When I saw Kin's Kitchen (留家廚房) being mentioned in michelin guide, I was not really that surprised, yes, it is located at a rather ugly street under a highway bridge, but they do have something special, well, don't get me wrong, they may not be as good as the guide says, and not even having that many great dishes, but for me, having one very special one is enough for me to say something good about it.

OK, it is all about the smoked chicken (留家煙燻雞), this is a dish which not many restaurants can prepare well, some would even smoke the chicken to turn char, or too dry or too smoky in smell, but Kin's Kitchen does it so well that the chicken is smoked to the right extent, the meat would remain tender and juicy, and the smell and taste are also very unique. At lunch hours they even offer a one-man set that includes soup of the day, a nice vegetable in soup dish, and a free dessert.

The owner of the restaurant Mr. Lau Kin Wai (劉健威) is a famous columnist in a local business newspaper, I read his articles regularly, and I think he really knows about food in depth, more than an year ago I  treated an important guest at Kin's Kitchen and dine at the second floor, which is a home-style dining environment we called 私房菜, which literally means Private Kitchen, most of the food were good though I am not totally amazed by everyone (and the price was very high too), but the smoked chicken left very big impression indeed. Unfortunately, that was a very important guest and it was inappropriate to take pictures.

So this is another eatery in Tin Hau that you should try out, and nearby you can also find an Indian food restaurant named Palki (皇轎) that many say are good, since I am not fond of Indian food (I tried only once when I travelled in London a few years ago), I really can't give any comments.


Palki (皇轎) - The indian restaurant

Kin's Kitchen (留家廚房)
Address in Chinese: 天后清風街9號
Address in English: 9 Tsing Fung Street, Tin Hau
Tel: 2571 0913

Saturday, 06 March 2010 14:12:00 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# 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)