*Really glad to be publishing this one. – Cues Ming’s “FINALLY” –
I have been to Hong Kong a handful of times since I was 9 but the most memorable visit would definitely be the latest one in April. Having friends who live in a foreign country that you are visiting always helps and I was extremely fortunate in that sense to have 2 good pals: Ming + Lu (who also happened to be my favouritest couple) show me around for the 4 short days I was there. The only downside to that visit however, was the gloomy weather. April’s weather in Hong Kong is really spotty with the northeast monsoon and the humid maritime airstream taking turns to exert its influence . I would say one of the top advice I would be giving is to avoid Hong Kong from April to September – especially so if you are there for the same reason as me – hiking!
I had this grand plan to write a long-winded story weaving my worthy visits to each and every HK spot I prowled during my long weekend there. However, I have this silly self-inflicted bet that I need to fulfill (refer to post below) and a 630am ride tomorrow (hypothetically), which means I can’t afford to ramble. (phew?)
So there, short paragraphs and tons of picture of what Hong Kong is to me (in recent times).
1. Hiking Lantau Island Trail Stage 2
Yeah you heard right. Hiking.
Most of us would link a visit to Hong Kong with shopping at Mong Kok/Tsim Sha Tsui, yumchas or nightlife at Lan Kwai Fong…but seriously, Valeebelly will never choose a holiday without a mountain or a knoll of some sort (right right?). And thanks to Ming, I have been pretty wow-ed by all his trek logs and pictures of Hong Kong’s great hiking spots: Lantau Island Trails, MacLehose Trails, Dragon’s Back, Sai Kung… Which got me inspired to pay them a visit during the Good Friday weekend.
We did the Lantau Trail Stage 2 in really crappy weather but had fun working out a sweat anyways. It was awesome being out in the hills, peeking at some nice beaches in the distance (when the clouds part), gawking at hardcore trail runners (Salomons and all) flying down the slopes. Most memorable part however, was chomping on a roll of Gimbap that was offered by a group of friendly Korean hikers. So much love on the hills 🙂
I wish there were more ‘scenic’ pictures to share, but these were the best I could manage. I highly recommend slipping a short hike into your HK itinerary the next time round. Trail heads are extremely accessible, routes are non-technical and very manageable for any beginner or novice hikers! Definitely heading back for more next year.
2. Kawada Japanese Restaurant
Hole-in-the-wall restaurants recommended by your local friend ? They are the best. Period.
This is apparently one of Ming and Lu’s favourite hangout spot with their gang in HK and boy do they serve great Japanese food and mega huge bottles (2L) of Sake for like erm, SGD 50? Everything about that night was just crazy. The room, the amount of sake downed, the amount and awesomeness of the food, how the owners thought we were crazy (actually, no, they look like they knew what to expect from the group), the number of broken cups by the end of the night, and the number of food Merlions spotted after dinner. (Dad, just in case you are reading this, I had no part to play in the breaking of sake cups or the Merlion-ing)
The interesting orders: grilled ginko nuts, special fried rice, fried salmon skin, gyozas, uni sushi, pork katsu, yakitoris. I wasn’t too convinced by the sashimi. To top it all, with the amount of food we ate and the sake drank, it was relatively affordable. I remembered not paying more than SGD 50 for that night out.
Kawada (Ph: +852 2331 8110)
Add: Shop 4, G/F., Midland Court, Caine Road 58-62, Mid-Levels, Hong Kong / 半山堅道58-62號美蘭閣4號地下
3. Kau Kee Restaurant (九記牛腩)
Blown away by their curry beef brisket noodles. Really. And I have colleagues and friends who nod their heads in unison when I talk about it. Some prefer the clear broth version, but to me, the curry one is IT. Please kindly plan ahead before visiting them. The queues are horrendous and chances are, you would be left out cold. Unless you are prepared to wait, I would advise you to head down after the peak meal times. Chaotic restaurant this is. Diners sit shoulder to shoulder, bowls of noodles dance across the floor of the eatery, shouts and commands fly to and fro between the open kitchen and the dining area. Though popular with tourists, it was still an authentic HK dining experience to me.
Kau Kee Restaurant (ph: +852 2850 5967)
21 Gough St, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
Hong Kong’s version of Singapore’s 28 Hong Kong St. Hidden bespoke bar specializing in cocktails and little (albeit expensive) nibbles and desserts. For those who are into boutique liqour and cocktails, do check this ‘underground’ scene out. I would warn you against ordering the only warm cocktail they had on the menu. (Yours sincerely was silly enough to dish out $20 for a WARM cocktail.Not smart). Do try the earl grey martini though. Superb! Apparently the grilled cheese sandwiches are good too.
So hard to find the entrance I tell you…
001 (Ph: +852 2810 6969)
Shop 1, Welley Building, 97 Wellington St., near Graham Street, Central, Hong Kong
I am going to throw all the other relatively ‘famous’ foodstuff under this category. They need no further elaboration since they have been blogged to death.
Agnes B Cafe ( everywhere in Hong Kong): A little over-rated. and I don’t even think the coffees and pastries were worth the price. Besides the free wi-fi, nothing to shout about :p
Honolulu Cafe (33 Stanley St.,Central, Hong Kong): Visited Honolulu Cafe for breakfast and we got a typical set A/B. Noodles, luncheon meat, fried eggs, soft bun, tea and the likes. Again, I would think there are many cafes in HK that does the exact same combi and they can’t vary thattt much. Some Hong Kongers do however swear by the egg tarts here.
Ji Dan Zai （鸡蛋仔) : available everywhere! and so so good + cheap. (nice manicure, Lu)
Some erm, Jap snack. That was SO ADDICTIVE, Lu and I had to restrain ourselves from finishing the entire packet in one seating. Blogging about it for documentation sake.
Boat Congee: congee with fish, shrimps, jellyfish, peanuts and fried shallots. apparently served on sampans/boats in days of yore, hence the name. I had this version at Zheng Dou (HK International Airport branch) before my flight back home. Pretty impressed!
Mak’s Noodles (Wellington St, Central): one of those blogged-to-death eateries of Hong Kong. but aiyo, I don’t understand why. Apparently you can get a bowl of similar quality wanton noodles 3 x cheaper elsewhere. I am also not a fan of wanton noodles that are too QQ, they taste like they have tons of chemical in them. An interesting order would be the Prawn Egg noodles. In any case, Mak’s is an institution in Hong Kong when it comes to wanton noodles. But once is enough for me.
Charsiews/Roast Pork: Everywhere in Hong Kong (duh). There is just something very different about HK’s version of Charsiew. Juicier, more layering, less of that sickly looking red coloring. I had a good one at Tai Hing Roast Restaurant, which is a chain in HK. Its 1230am currently Not good to be looking at the picture below.
So, there you go. My favourite moments in Hong Kong pretty much summarized up there. Made possible by Ming and Lu who have been so kind to allow me into their apartment for 4 days and were constantly shuttling me from one place to another. Muah!