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About this blog

thisgirlabroad is an expat living, working, and eating her way through Hong Kong, and traveling throughout South East Asia without any plans to slow down. 

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thisgirlabroad
samsen

Thai food is amazing; simple as that. I relish in the thought of planning a trip to Thailand, if solely for the fact that I’ll be gorging myself on incredible food for less than a couple bucks. Now, thanks to Adam Cliff, formerly of Chachawan, Hong Kongers can head to Samsen for their favourite Thai street food. Very authentic dishes set in a cozy, vibrant restaurant make Samsen the perfect choice if you’re itching for a Thai feast without having to fly to Thailand.

Vibe At Samsen

While some people might be deterred from Samsen’s 35-seat dining area, I found that the small space added to the restaurant’s authenticity. Despite the size, the dining area is brightly lit and subtly decorated, managing, somehow, to make it seem much bigger than it actually is. I’d recommend grabbing a seat at the bar/cooking station to get a behind-the-scenes experience.

Starters

samsen-mango-saladGreen Mango Salad with Prawns (HK$108)samsen-pork-collarFried Marinated Pork Collar (HK$68)

You can tell a lot about a Thai restaurant based on their papaya/mango salad (or at least that’s what someone who knows Thai food would say..) and Samsen’s Green Mango Salad with Prawns (HK$108) tasted just like it would if I was sitting on a plastic chair at a food stall along the side of the road in Bangkok. However, what really impressed me was the Fried Marinated Pork Collar (HK$68) with a tomato and chili dip. Crispy yet tender, the pork collar was to die for and the dip added a new complexity of flavour.

Mains

samsen-thick-noodleStir Fried Fat Noodles with Chicken (HK$98)samsen-crab-riceWok Fried Rice with Crab Meat (HK$108)samsen-beef-boat-noodleWagyu Beef Boat Noodle (HK$128)

My favourite main dish we had was the Stir Fried Fat Noodles with Chicken (HK$98). The flavours were all on point with the right amount of spice (and more on the side if you wanted a kick) – I could have literally ate the whole thing to myself.  I’m usually not a huge fan of rice dishes for the sole fact that they fill me up far too quickly, but people at our table were keen on ordering the Wok Fried Rice with Crab Meat (HK$108), so we gave it a try and I’m so glad we did. The rice was surprisingly light yet full of flavour, and there was a good amount of crab meat found throughout. Samsen’s signature dish is the Wagyu Beef Boat Noodle (HK$128) with meatballs and vermicelli noodles. Having been to Thailand numerous times, I’d actually never heard of boat noodles before, so I was quite intrigued. The meat was incredibly tender, and the broth was rich and thick, though I’m still unsure as to whether I liked it or not.

Dessert

samsen-mango-sticky-riceThai Mango Sticky Rice (HK$52)samsen-coconut-icecreamYoung Coconut Ice Cream (HK$58)

So much yes goes to the Thai Mango Sticky Rice (HK$52) – Samsen buys and ships their mango’s directly from Thailand, so you know you’re getting the real deal. If you only have enough room for one dessert, the mango sticky rice should definitely be it. Another great dessert choice is the Young Coconut Ice Cream (HK$58) topped with toasted peanuts, shaved coconut meat, and sweet corn. The combination might sound odd, but trust me when I say this was such a satisfying and light treat.

Verdict

If you’re looking for authentic Thai street food in Hong Kong, then Samsen is your spot. Cozy, friendly, great vibe, authentic food, reasonable prices.. What more can I say?!

Samsen 
68 Stone Nullah Lane
Wan Chai
Hong Kong 

Tel: 2234 0001


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The well-known late night Wyndham Street hot spot, Paradis, is currently going through a concept and menu makeover. Bringing in Executive Chef Wes Long to shake things up, he’s given the restaurant’s menu a much-needed lift into Hong Kong’s opulent dining scene. Paradis is trying to break away from its current late night party persona and appeal to earlier Central diners.. But is the food (French/Caribbean) worth a 7:00 pm visit?

Vibe At Paradis

Despite being a medium-sized restaurant, the layout of Paradis makes it seem much larger, offering more privacy than your typical restaurant. The decor is quite slick and modern, and the atmosphere is unpretentious.

Starters

paradis-seared-scallopsSeared Scallops (HK$128)paradis-beef-tartareBeef Tartare (HK$158)

The Seared Scallops (HK$128) were paired with gnocchi, which threw some of us at the table off (this is a French restaurant, right?). Gnocchi aside, the scallops were seared perfectly, and were plump and full of flavour. Another light starter to our meal was the Beef Tartare (HK$158) with a lovely, albeit hidden by the spinach, egg yolk on top.

Mains

paradis-duck-breastDuck Breast (HK$218)paradis-risottoSummer Risotto (HK$158)

Aside from its attractive plating, the Duck Breast (HK$218) with a beetroot puree and crushed potato was delicious. The duck was cooked well and the contrasting taste and texture of the other ingredients on the dish added to the overall flavour. Despite having a very meat- and seafood-heavy menu, the Summer Risotto (HK$158) at Paradis certainly stood out. A beautiful medley of mushroom, tomato, rainbow chard, spinach, and manchego cheese made this risotto a must for vegetable-lovers.

Dessert

paradis-dessert-trioPastry Trio (HK$118)paradis-peach-parfaitPeach Parfait (HK$108)

While I appreciated the presentation of the Pastry Trio (HK$118), I can’t say I was a huge fan. The miniature chocolate cheese tart had neither a distinct taste of chocolate or cheesecake, the basil semifredo was an odd combination of flavour and texture, and the lemon lavender pate a choux was completely forgettable. On the other hand, the Peach Parfait (HK$108) not only looked delectable, but it tasted great too. After a filling meal, this is a light and refreshing dessert to order – the goat cheese sorbet particularly stood out.

Verdict

Despite their claim as a Caribbean-French establishment, the focus is definitely on French ingredients and plating. Chef Wes Long’s creations are simple, yet come together gracefully. Head to Paradis if you’re looking for a sleek yet relaxing place to go for dinner before the restaurant turns back into a late-night cocktail-sipping loud music-playing bar.

Paradis Restaurant & Cocktail Bar
3/F, 46-48 Wyndham Street
Central
Hong Kong 

Tel: 3182 0105


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Armed with a new chef and new seasonal additions to the dinner a la carte menu, Flint Grill & Bar is ready to impress its diners. The restaurant won me over the moment I stepped inside, with its incredibly large interior and minimal-chic decor. As for the food, Chef Pieter Fitz-Dreyer utilizes sustainable and fresh ingredients in his dishes, and presents them in a fun and creative way.

Vibe At Flint Grill & Bar

Flint Grill & Bar is sleek without seeming pretentious, clearly catering towards a younger, mature crowd. The open space dining area is welcoming and I loved that the dessert counter was smack-dab in the middle so you could get a glimpse of some of the action going on behind-the-scenes. Overall, there was nothing but positive vibes from Flint Grill & Bar.

Drinks

Flint Grill & BarHoly Smoke! (HK$148)Flint Grill & Bar 2The Sky Is Limit (HK$148)

Long story short: the cocktails at Flint Grill & Bar, prepared by the talented Bryson Rivera, are so Instagram-worthy it brought a tear to my eye. Aside from how lovely they looked (I’ll let the photos do the talking), they tasted great as well. The cocktail list is divided into four different sections, where the above drinks were from the “High Contrast” column. The Holy Smoke! (HK$148) had me feeling like I was in the movie Aladdin as it came to the table with a cloud of dry ice smoke coming out of the genie bottle. The cocktail was made with Beefeater 24 gin, raspberry-pineapple shrub, orange curacao, homemade aromatic bitters, cherry infused maraschino liqueur, and rose water carbon dioxide.. so much yes! I was also impressed with The Sky Is Limit (HK$148), mixed with London No.1 gin, lime leaf, cherry infused maraschino liqueur, bitter truth creme de violette, grapefruit, rhubarb bitters, and a cotton candy cloud which you could dip into the cocktail to make it sweeter.

Starters

Flint Grill & Bar 3Seared Scallops (HK$190)Flint Grill & Bar 4BBB (HK$150)

Moving onto the food, we began with a simple dish of Seared Scallops (HK$190) with chorizo. The smooth scallop contrasted well with the chorizo, and the lemon puree added a subtle sour note. Playing on Hong Kong’s love for baos is the BBB (HK$150); black bbq baos with a golden apple miso and maple sauce. While I did enjoy the flavour combination, the bao could have used a bit more filling.

Mains

Flint Grill & Bar 5Flint’s Suckling Piglet (HK$1088)Flint Grill & Bar 6Linz Heritage Prime 45-Day Dry Aged On The Bone (HK$590)

The impressive Flint’s Suckling Piglet (HK$1088) stole the show. I loved that they used different parts of the pig to create three dishes: roasted shoulder and leg, Scotch egg, and crispy ear and cured loin salad. Basically, it was delicious and well-worth the price if you’re with a larger group (you can also order a half portion for HK$588). We also tried the Linz Heritage Prime 45-Day Dry Aged On The Bone (HK$590), 20 oz USDA Prime rib-eye. Cooked to a perfect medium-rare, the steak was full of flavour, albeit a bit too fatty for my liking.

Dessert

Flint Grill & Bar 7S’mores Tart (HK$80)Flint Grill & Bar 8Panna Cotta (HK$80)

The S’mores Tart (HK$80) hit close to home for my Canadian self, as roasting marshmallows around a campfire and making s’mores was one of my favourite summer food indulgences (cue feelings of longing and homesickness). Although nothing like the s’mores I would messily make myself, Flint’s S’mores Tart was a decent replacement. What really stood out for me was the Panna Cotta (HK$80), as it came with shaved ice on top and hints of black sesame throughout. Surprisingly, the ingredients came together immaculately and I couldn’t get enough of this refreshing dessert.

Verdict

I’d recommend going to Flint Bar & Grill if you’re looking for an upbeat restaurant that serves high-quality food without the usual snobby vibe you might find in other establishments.

Flint Grill & Bar
JW Marriott Hotel Hong Kong 
Pacific Place
88 Queensway 
Admiralty 
Hong Kong 

Tel: 2810 8366


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bitan taipei 4

There is so much to do and see (and eat!) in Taipei that you might not have enough time to fit everything into your weekend getaway. While the list of things to do in Taipei is seemingly endless, I’ve compiled my top 10 favourite things I did while exploring the city for five days that were either absolutely free or incredibly cheap!

1. Eat all the food at Taipei’s night markets

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One thing you will never have to worry about in this city is going hungry thanks to the incredible array of cheap street food. While wandering around the city during the day is sure to provide you with plenty of food options, it’s Taipei’s night markets that steal the show. My top picks for an evening filled with food are the Shilin Night Market (the most popular and widely known market), Raohe St. Night Market (my personal favourite), Tonghua Night Market (a much more local market), and Huaxi St. Night Market.

2. Stroll through the 228 Peace Memorial Park

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Don’t you just love it when a city has a little oasis smack-dab in the center of it?! Taipei’s version of this is the 228 Peace Memorial Park. With both stunning beauty amidst the buildings and ample historic significance (paying tribute to the victims of the February 228 Massacre), this park is a must-see. As you’re strolling through, you’ll come across a Memorial Museum, the 228 Massacre Monument, beautiful temples, and lush greenery.

3. Hike up Elephant Mountain

elephant mountain taipei 3

Instead of paying to go up Taipei 101 to snap some shots of the surrounding city, hike up Elephant Mountain (for free!) instead and you’ll be graced with stunning views of the city. The hike itself takes about 20 minutes and is incredibly convenient to get to. Read more about my experience getting to and hiking up Elephant Mountain here.

4. Relax in Wulai’s natural hot springs

wulai hot springs taipei 4

Aside from all the food, Taipei is known for its natural hot springs. While there are a few hot springs surrounding Taipei, I would highly recommend visiting Wulai’s natural hot springs because a) Wulai is a beautiful, culturally-rich town, b) they have specialty street food you likely won’t find in the city, and c) there are ample natural (free!) hot springs that offer stellar views of the surrounding area. Read more about my experience at Wulai’s hot springs here.

5. Visit the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall

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Although a huge tourist attraction, the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall is absolutely stunning and should not be missed. Built in memory of Chiang Kai-shek, a former president of China, the hall itself is impressive, but the surrounding buildings, temples, and structures shouldn’t go unnoticed. One thing not to be missed is the changing of the guard ceremony that happens on the hour from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm, daily (just be sure to arrive early, as it can get quite crowded).

6. Escape the city and head to Jiufen

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A popular day trip for tourists visiting Taipei, Jiufen offers a breath of fresh air from the busy city center. The area has countless narrow alleyways, colorful decor, endless amounts of street food, and a picture-perfect setting (Jiufen was the inspiration behind Spirited Away). Read more about my time in Jiufen here and here.

7. Appreciate the beauty of Taipei’s Temples

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Temples might not seem too special if you’ve done a bit of traveling throughout South East Asia since they’re literally everywhere, however, you’d be amiss not to visit a few temples around Taipei. My favourite was the Lungshan Temple; captivating by day, overwhelmingly stunning by night. If you can only make it to one temple in Taipei, Lungshan Temple is it.

8. Shop till you drop

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There is endless amounts of shopping to be done in Taipei; from designer shops to boutique stores and street stalls, this city has it all. One of the more popular areas to satisfy shopaholics is Ximending. This area has a range of shops, as it offers visitors bigger name brands as well as smaller shops selling unique clothing and accessories at a bargain.

9. Explore the innovative work at Songshan Cultural and Creative Park

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Originally a tobacco factory, the Taipei government redeveloped this area into the Songshan Cultural and Creative Park in 2011 in order to develop and cultivate the culture and creativity industry. You’ll find a museum, design lab, a garden, restaurants, and a relaxing pond, to name a few of the elements of the Cultural and Creative Park. So, if you’re into art and culture, this park should be on your to-see list.

10. Get lost wandering around the city

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Aside from the main tourist areas of Taipei, there are small pockets throughout the city that are full of charming old buildings and a rich local vibe. My recommendation is to head to Dihua Street for its quaint shops, including cafes, fabrics, and Chinese medicine. This area is an important commercial sector, so there’s always lots going on.


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what to eat in jiufen 2

If you’ve been following my adventures in Taiwan or if you’ve been yourself, you know that there is no shortage of delicious food. Thanks to Jiufen’s street food and because of its picturesque views from the quaint streets and tea houses, Jiufen is a popular tourist destination in Taiwan. I would recommend arriving to Jiufen with a list of all the food you want to try along Jiufen Old Street so that you don’t end up wandering around for hours on end with the other throngs of visitors. Here’s a list of some of the street food you’ll find if you’re wondering what to eat in Jiufen, Taiwan.

What to eat in Jiufen

what to eat in jiufenEntrance into Jiufen Old Street

The entrance into Jiufen Old Street is about 5 minutes from where the bus drops you off. You’ll see a tonne of people crowded around the entrance to an alleyway; this is Jiufen Old Street.

A-Zhu Peanut Ice Cream Wrap

what to eat in jiufen 4

Though peanut ice cream wraps are a popular snack found in many night markets in Taipei, this specific stand in Jiufen is well known. You can’t miss it while walking down the street; it’s a large stall with bright signs and pictures on the walls. Watch them put shaved peanut, taro ice cream, and cilantro on top of popiah skin and wrap it all up like a burrito for NT$45.

Hot or Cold Sweet Taro Ball Soup

what to eat in jiufen 3 what to eat in jiufen 5

This is one of Jiufen’s specialties and a definite must-try while you’re there. There are plenty of stalls along Jiufen Old Street that sell these delicious bowls of hot or cold taro ball soup, but I would recommend finding one that has seating in the back of their shop, overlooking the buildings and mountains beyond. Prices range from NT$35 – $60 and include delicious homemade glutinous taro balls, sweet potato, and red beans (though there are other variations as well).

Tea Eggs

what to eat in jiufen 6

It’s no surprise that Jiufen also sells an assortment of tea eggs, as they’re a very popular street snack throughout Taipei. Fresh eggs are boiled in a strong tea with a mix of spices, and once cracked open they almost look like a tie dye shirt (minus the bright colors). Tea eggs are a perfect snack for when you’re on the go, though it can be a bit of an acquired taste.

How To Get To Jiufen From Taipei

For more information, check out my detailed guide on the two different ways to get to Jiufen: 1. Train to Ruifang and then bus to Jiufen, or 2. Bus straight to Jiufen from Taipei City.

 


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IMG_8774 - Copy

If you’re able to spend more than a few days in Taipei, I would highly recommend spending some time in Jiufen. Known for its large selection of street food along Jiufen Old Street and its picturesque views of the surrounding area, Jiufen is a breath of fresh air. Here’s an outline on how to get to Jiufen; either take the train to Ruifang and then bus to Jiufen or you can take a bus directly from Taipei.

what to eat in jiufen

I ended up taking the train first, then bus, as I didn’t realize you could take a bus directly there. Either way, you’ll end up in Jiufen, but here is a quick layout of your two transportation options:

1. Train to Riufang, bus to Jiufen:

Head to Taipei Main Station and purchase a ticket to Riufang Station. Once out of Riufang Station go straight and turn left onto the street in front of you. Cross the street and walk down for about 5 minutes or so until you reach a bus station. We were slightly unsure of which bus to take, so we asked the bus driver before we hopped on (I believe it was Keelung Bus 788, but double check the schedule). Stay on the bus until the last stop, which will drop you off a few minutes away from Jiufen Old Street. The train ticket is around NT$60 and the bus ticket is around NT$20.

2. Bus directly to Jiufen from Taipei City

Make your way to  Zhongxiao Fuxing Station (at the intersection of the Brown and Blue MRT line) and go out Exit 1. Take Keelung Bus 1062 – it will likely say Jinguashin on the sign, but don’t worry, it’ll take you to Jiufen. The bus ticket is around NT$100.

Once there, enjoy exploring the beautiful streets, lovely scenery, and – of course – all the delicious food!


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bitan taipei 2

While the hustle and bustle of Taipei can be thrilling for a few days, sometimes you just need to escape. Cue Bitan Taipei (literally, “green lake”): a small, relaxing area only a short MRT ride from the city center. Though the weather was not on my side when I went, I enjoyed wandering about and taking in the riverside beauty (or at least what I imagined it to look like with clear blue skies!). Bitan is also the MRT station you need to get off at if you’re taking the public bus to Wulai, making it well worth your time to spend a few hours in the morning here before heading to the hot springs in Wulai.

How To Get To Bitan Taipei

bitan taipei

Only a 30 or so minute MRT ride from Taipei, Bitan is located on the last stop on the green line going south; Xindian Station. Once you exit the station, turn left down Xindian Road until you reach Bitandiao Bridge (a well-known suspension bridge that you can cross the river on). Basically everything to do in Bitan is a stone-throw away from here.

Things To Do In Bitan Taipei

bitan taipei 6bitan taipei 4 bitan taipei 3

Bitan Taipei is essentially a riverside park area that is popular with tourists and locals alike. People come here for the riverside restaurants, pedal boats, suspension bridge, and local snacks.

The suspension bridge is really beautiful (even on a crappy day) and connects the two neighbourhoods on opposite sides of the river, both of which are filled with great food and lovely sights. Cross the bridge to get to a hiking trail (starts just on your left after the bridge) that offers great photo ops of the opposite side of the river with its colorful houses and restaurants along the water. If the weather is cooperating, you can rent a pedal boat for a few hours and coast along the river. Afterwards, head to a riverside restaurant for a bite to eat or onto the street for an array of Taiwanese snacks.

Once you’ve had enough of Bitan, hop on the bus to Wulai for a day filled with more adventures! For more information on Wulai, read my other blog posts on: the hot springs, what to eat, and 5 things to do in Wulai



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things to do in wulai 3

While spending a couple days in Taipei eating and shopping is a guaranteed good time, there are also a handful of areas just outside of the city center that are well worth a visit. One of my favourites is Wulai. Located about an hour or so south of Taipei, Wulai is a small Aboriginal town home to the Atayal’s and famous for its hot springs. If you’re wondering whether it’s worth your time to visit this beautiful area, I’m sure these 5 things to do in Wulai will convince you to check it out!

1. Relax at Wulai’s Natural Hot Springs

wulai hot springs taipei 4

Most people who visit Wulai come here for the hot springs; either the numerous hot springs available at guest houses or at the free, natural hot springs located along the river (as seen above). I would definitely recommend the natural hot springs – there are a number of different hot springs you can sit in and they offer stunning views of the surrounding area. For more information about Wulai’s natural hot springs, check out my previous article.

2. Head to the Wulai Waterfall

things to do in wulai 4

Only a 20 minute walk from Wulai’s natural hot springs is the well-known Wulai Waterfall. Though not as impressive as many larger waterfalls, it’s located in a tranquil setting (when there’s not a tonne of tourists around) and is quite beautiful. There are benches scattered across from the waterfall, so grab a drink, take a seat, and enjoy the view.

3. Walk through Wulai Old Street and eat all the food

what to eat in wulai what to eat in wulai - boar sausages

Taipei is known as a foodie-haven, so it’s no surprise that Wulai also offers visitors an abundance of delicious street food. Aside from a variety of typical Taipei delights, you can sample a few items that are only found in Wulai, the most popular of which is Wild Boar Sausage. For more insight on what food you can expect, check out my last article on what to eat in Wulai.

4. Explore the Aboriginal (Atayal) souvenir shops

things to do in wulai 5

Originally home to the Atayal People, Wulai still maintains much of its Aboriginal heritage. After walking across the main bridge (just after Wulai Old Street) turn left and follow the path down for about 20 minutes until you reach a little stretch of local shops and cafes on your right and the Wulai Waterfall on your left. The shops sell a number of locally made souvenirs at reasonable prices.

5. Hike around Wulai

things to do in wulai 6

There are a number of hiking trails around Wulai; both easy and challenging. Unfortunately, since we were only there for the day and the weather wasn’t cooperating, we didn’t end up going on a hike. That being said, I had done a bit of research ahead of time and found some helpful guides here, here, and here.

*Note: We had read about a gondola ride taking you over the river and above the Wulai Waterfall to an amusement park, however, it wasn’t in service and we weren’t sure if it was open only on weekends or if it was permanently closed. If anyone has any information on the gondola, or if you have any other things to do in Wulai that I missed, comment below!

For a guide on how to get to Wulai from Taipei, click here


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what to eat in wulai

Anyone who’s been to Taipei knows it’s a foodie’s paradise; filled with cheap and delicious food at every turn. As you venture further away from Taipei’s city center, certain districts are known for different dishes. Wulai, like many other areas in Taipei, is filled with an abundance of food stalls, some of which you’ll only find here thanks to the area’s strong Aboriginal culture. If you’re wondering what to eat in Wulai, here are some of their most popular food items that you can try.

Wild Boar Sausage 
what to eat in wulai - boar sausageswhat to eat in wulai - boar sausages 2

Wild Boar sausage is one of the most popular and well-known local foods in Wulai. There are tonnes of little stalls along Wulai Old Street selling these sausages for NT$35 each. The meat is juicy, fatty, and all-around delicious. I decided which stall to go to based on whether there was a queue or not, and since it wasn’t a very busy day, the fact that one stall had a queue of about 5 people and the other stalls had none, made the decision quite simple for me (look for the stall in the first photo above, closer to the end of Wulai Old Street.

Muah Chee (Grilled Glutinous Rice)

what to eat in wulai - Muah chee what to eat in wulai - Muah chee 2

I was curious about what these tofu-looking sticks were and, unable to resist, decided to try one. I later found out that these were called muah chee; grilled glutinous rice, similar to mochi, with honey drizzled on top (you can choose from a few different toppings). They were incredibly chewy and dense, and were quite filling with a more subtle flavour. Given the cheap price (around NT$20), it’s certainly worth a try.

Honeyed Sweet Potato

what to eat in wulai - sweet potato what to eat in wulai - sweet yam

The honeyed sweet potato was my favourite of the snacks we had in Wulai. Though a bit more expensive at NT$50, these were well worth it. The sweet potato is coated in a thick, incredibly sweet honey and is served lukewarm (as you can see in the first photo above in the far left, the sweet potato sits out of the big pan). The portion is quite large, filling, and sweet, so it’s best to share it.

Other Dishes to Try

Aside from the above three dishes I tried, if you’re wondering what to eat in Wulai, there are a few other food items that are worth trying. A popular local sweet, boozy drink is the millet wine, which you can buy in a bottle and either bring back to your guest house if you’re spending the night in Wulai or take back to Taipei with you. Another popular dish we heard about is rice stuffed and served inside a bamboo shoot, which is typically found at local restaurants and not at the food stalls you’ll find on Wulai Old Street (unless you buy it to takeaway). Aside from these, you’ll be able to find your other typical Taiwanese food items like a variety of boiled eggs (including hot spring eggs, infused tea eggs, etc.), meat skewers, and much more.

For more information on how to get to Wulai, read my last post here


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wulai hot springs taipei 4

If you’re visiting Taipei, it’s likely you’ve heard about the Beitou Hot Springs, as they’re arguably the most well-known and visited hot springs in the surrounding Taipei area. Unfortunately, because of their popularity, Beitou is often crowded and has become very touristy. A much better alternative to Beitou is the public Wulai Hot Springs; a 45 minute bus ride from Taipei. While Wulai has plenty of hot springs at guest houses and hotels, the natural, public hot springs are a must, offering visitors some rest and relaxation in a beautiful, natural surrounding.

Getting to the Wulai Hot Springs from Taipei

The cheapest and easiest way to get to Wulai is via public transportation. Hop on the Metro and take the Green Line to Xindian Station. When you exit, look for a small tourist center on your right side, just across from the bus platform. Right behind the tourist center is where you’ll find bus 849 (I believe it was around NT$20), which will take you right to Wulai (it’ll be the last stop, so don’t worry about missing it). The journey is incredibly beautiful and scenic, and takes about 45 minutes.

What to expect at the natural Wulai Hot Springs

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Once you get off the bus, head down into Wulai Old Street (where all of the little shops and food stalls are), cross the bridge at the end, and head right to “Ulay Hot Spring” (see first photo above).

As you’re walking down the road you’ll notice there isn’t a specific sign that tells you where to go to get to the public hot springs, however, there are two ways to get down on your left side (that I know of, at least). One is only a few feet down the road and is a bit more obvious; just take the stairs and walk down a bit (you’ll pass the feet only hot spring first [the last photo above] and then get to the larger hot spring shortly after). Otherwise, if you walk a bit further down, you’ll find another entrance with stairs leading down the hill. Once down, you’ll see the hot springs just to your left.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have great weather when we went, but the springs were very hot (just check out that steam coming off them) and still quite busy given the cold temperature. There are a few little ‘change rooms’ right by the hot springs for public use if you do decide to head on in. The majority of people using the hot springs were local and were very welcoming, so there’s no need to feel awkward about joining them in a hot spring. We even saw a couple people riding the current down the large (and what must have been freezing) river.

Bring a drink or two along and plop down in one of the hot springs (there were close to 10) for a few hours of rest and relaxation. If you’re not in the mood to completely drench yourself, there is a smaller hot spring (last photo above) made just for dipping your feet into.


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elephant mountain taipei

Google “things to do in Taipei” and you’ll find Elephant Mountain high on most lists, as it offers incredible views of the city without the cost of going up Taipei 101. Elephant Mountain Taipei is incredibly convenient to get to, as it’s on the Metro line and it’s only a short 20 minute climb up to the viewpoint. Once you get to the top, there are a few different vantage points you can head to in order to get that Insta-worthy snap.

 How to get to Elephant Mountain, Taipei

elephant mountain taipei 4

Make your way to Xiangshan Station on the Metro – the last stop on the Red Line – and go out Exit 2. You’ll come out onto a straight street with a park (Zhongqiang Park) on your left; head all the way down the street. At the end of the street, turn left and head up a small incline (there will be signs posted for Elephant Mountain) and then turn right and walk a few more feet until you get to the entrance (see photo above).

The views from Elephant Mountain Taipei

elephant mountain taipei 2

elephant mountain taipei 3

After about 20 minutes of climbing up far too many stairs, your reward is an incredible view of Taipei City. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t exactly cooperating when we went up (will just have to plan another trip back to Taipei!), so the view of the city isn’t as clear as I would have liked. I would recommend heading up to Elephant Mountain Taipei late in the afternoon, say around 5:00 pm, (bring along some drinks and food, as there are a few picnic tables at the second view point you can walk up to) in order to see the city during the day, and as the sunsets and all of the city lights turn on.

elephant mountain taipei 5

After you head back down, you can walk to Taipei 101 in about 20 minutes. At the base there is a mall and the famous Din Tai Fung (if you don’t mind waiting in a never-ending queue), as well as a Metro stop to get you back home.


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plover cove hike - 12

If the thought of spending 6+ hours out in Hong Kong’s vast greenery and rolling hills with little shade and no going back sounds like an adventure you’re willing to tackle, then Plover Cove is perfect for you. This hike starts in Tai Po and takes you in a circle(ish) to Tai Mei Tuk, making for a long and sometimes grueling hike to the finish line if you go in the summer. Despite the length of this hike (approx. 17 km), the route itself isn’t too difficult if you’re relatively fit. Be sure to bring plenty of water, and leave early in the morning to fully enjoy and appreciate the stunning views along the Plover Cove hike.

Getting to the starting point of Plover Cove hike

Take the MTR to Tai Po Market Station, Exit A1. Make your way to the bus station and hop on bus 275R (Note: this bus only runs on SUNDAYS and PUBLIC HOLIDAYS). Ride this bus until the final stop: Bride’s Pool.

Bride’s Pool to Wu Kau Tang

plover cove hike - 1 plover cove hike - 3 plover cove hike - 5

Begin the hike at Bride’s Pool Barbecue Site (see first photo above) – there will likely be quite a few other hikers at the beginning of this route. You’ll walk over a small river and up some stairs to your left. Then, you’ll reach a fork in the path (see second photo above); go left. Shortly thereafter, you’ll reach another fork with a similar sign to the second photo above; go left again.

Keep going until your reach a large sign for Plover Cove Reservoir Country Trail (see third photo above) – at this point, when we were hiking, all the other hikers continued straight, however, you’ll go right and head up the stairs just behind the country trail sign.

Wu Kau Tang to Ma Tau Fung

plover cove hike - 9 plover cove hike - 10

As you continue up the first climb, you’ll break out of the bush and be at Ma Tau Fung when you reach the range poll (see first photo above). The view from this part actually shows you the entire Plover Cove hike route (see second photo above) – you’ll end the hike at the end of the long white dam. From here, follow the path down to Luk Wu Tung.

Ma Tau Fung to Luk Wu Tung

plover cove hike - 11plover cove hike - 12 plover cove hike - 13

At this point, there really is no chance of getting lost – the route is straightforward. As you go along, you’ll be able to look out to your left over Crooked Island and see the Yantian Harbour in China (see first photo above). Continue along until the path makes a hard right with a sign that says Tai Mei Tuk. If you look out into the distance from here (to your right), you can see the numerous hills you’ll be hiking up and over in the distance (see second photo above). While it doesn’t look particularly challenging, it will certainly feel like it goes on forever. Once you’re ready, begin heading down the path towards Tai Mei Tuk (see third photo above).

Luk Wu Tung to Tai Mei Tuk

plover cove hike - 14 plover cove hike - 16 plover cove hike - 17

At the end of the trail, you’ll abruptly come to the first dam (see first photo above) – walk alongside it and around the little hill to your left (do not climb up the stairs). You’ll then walk along another similar damn; again, go left around once you get to the end (don’t go up the stairs). From here, you’ll be walking on a road for 20 minutes until you get to the final dam where you’ll see plenty of people riding bicycles up and down. Walk down the dam where you’ll see some great views on either side of you (see second photo above). At the end of the dam, head left and walk down a short path until you get to Tai Mei Tuk. Here you’ll find a few little shops that sell water, ice cream, and beancurd pudding. Continue along until you reach the bus terminal.

Congratulations – you’ve completed the Plover Cove hike! Now, take bus 75K back to Tai Po Market Station MTR.

Journey Length: 16 km
Time: 6 – 7 hours

 


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alto - interior

Dining Concepts, the ever-expanding restaurant group, has opened yet another restaurant venue in the foodie-mecca of Causeway Bay; ALTO Hong Kong. Located on the 31st floor of the new V Point Building, ALTO offers diners stunning views of Victoria Harbour in a modern, minimalist setting designed by Tom Dixon. As for the food, ALTO’s focus is on a modern grill menu, offering a variety of intriguing dishes that use classic ingredients and are visually impressive.

Vibe At ALTO Hong Kong

When I arrived for dinner, the dining area was dark, save for the hundreds of soft-glowing round lights scattered throughout the ceiling. Thanks to the large windows all along the one side of the restaurant, you can embrace the unparalleled views of Victoria Harbour, regardless of where you’re seated. ALTO, Hong Kong’s simple yet sleek interior, and breathtaking views of the harbour will turn your average meal into an experience.

Starters

alto hong kong - foie grasFoie Gras with almond spiced waffle, spiced peach (HK$178)alto hong kong - cheese fondueFontina Cheese Fondue (HK$158)

Though foie gras is not something I would normally order at a restaurant, ALTO’s Foie Gras (HK$178) with almond spiced waffle and peach was a real treat. The cinnamon flavour in the waffle and peach helped to balance out the often strong taste of the foie gras. If you’re a cheese lover, you’d be amiss not to try the Fontina Cheese Fondue (HK$158) with grilled ciabatta. This gooey mess of melted cheese had a mild, nutty flavour and was sinfully delicious.

Mains

alto hong kong - steak selectionFrom the top left: Hanger Steak 12oz (HK$398), Ribeye 14oz (HK$398), Sirloin 14oz (HK$378)alto hong kong - pierogiPierogi with edamame puree and beetroot, carrot (HK$158)

Given ALTO’s claim as a modern grill, you can’t leave without trying a few dishes from this part of the menu. We ended up ordering three different cuts of meat: Hanger Steak 12oz (HK$398), Ribeye 14oz (HK$398), and Sirloin 14oz (HK$378) with a variety of sauces. The table’s favourite was the ribeye, though we loved how the sirloin was served on a salt slab, which kept adding to the overall flavour throughout the meal. Accompanying our steak, we tried an array of sides, of which I would recommend the roasted cauliflower with parmesan cheese, and the roasted mushrooms with balsamic vinegar and hazelnut. When I saw that there were pierogies on the menu, I was equally perplexed as I was intrigued since I don’t think I’ve ever seen pierogies on a menu in HK and since I grew up with my Nana making massive batches of homemade pierogies. ALTO’s Pierogi with edamame puree, beetroot, and carrot (HK$158) was surprisingly good, however, I do prefer them boiled instead of fried and with a good dollop of sour cream on the side.

Dessert

alto hong kong - dessertFrom the top: Dark Chocolate Butter Cake (HK$88), Crispy Banana (HK$78), Cheesecake (HK$68)

Everyone at our table drooled over ALTO’s Dark Chocolate Butter Cake (HK$88) with caramel sauce and a slab of smokey bacon ice cream. One bite of the delicious dark chocolate cake reveals a moist, rich, and chewy center that was irresistible. Since bananas are one of my favourite fruit, I was looking forward to the Crispy Banana (HK$78) with gianduja cream and vanilla ice cream, however, the batter was a bit too thick for my liking, overpowering the banana. We ended with a beautifully presented Cheesecake (HK$68) wrapped in a dark chocolate shell with a raspberry coulis. The crunchy chocolate exterior paired well with the smooth cream cheese filling, and the raspberry added a lighter touch to the otherwise rich dessert.

Verdict

If you’re looking for a restaurant to impress, look no further than ALTO Hong Kong. A delight for all senses; beautiful decor, unparalleled views of Victoria Harbour, and a wide range of delectable dishes, ALTO is one of the new restaurant openings in the city that you don’t want to miss.

ALTO Hong Kong
31/F, V Point Building
18 Tang Lung Street
Causeway Bay
Hong Kong

Tel: 2603 7181


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After moving here about four years ago, I spent countless hours researching where to get blonde highlights in Hong Kong and interrogating other fair-haired friends on where they got their hair done. I quickly learned that being a blonde in Hong Kong is not an easy or cheap affair: most local hair salons are inexperienced with blonde coloring and the higher-end “western” hair salons will end up costing you a small fortune. Thankfully, I’m about to save you the trouble and expense of  figuring out what hair salon to go to in Hong Kong to get your dose of blonde. I have two personal hair salon favourites that will leave you with beautiful, natural blonde highlights and that won’t burn a hole in your wallet (can I get an amen?!).

1. The Upper Room

I went to Ivy at The Upper Room for the first 2 or so years I was in Hong Kong because a) it was recommended by a colleague, b) Ivy was known to specialize in blonde coloring, and c) the price of highlights was significantly cheaper than other western salons (Toni & Guy, Private i Salon, Hollywood Hair, Jean Louis David, Sozo Hair Design, and the like; all of whom basically rob you because you’re blonde).

Ivy runs The Upper Room solo, so you know that when you make an appointment everything – color, shampoo, cut, and blow dry – will be done by her. She was trained in England and worked there for 12 years before moving back to Hong Kong to open The Upper Room. In the two years I had my hair done by Ivy, I was never once disappointed and I would highly recommend her.

Price: 
Half-head of highlights – from HK$995 
Add a cut to any chemical treatment – HK$350

The Upper Room 
Room 2206, Workingview Commercial Building
21 Yiu Wa Street
Causeway Bay

Tel: 2810 0550

2. Tommy Hair Design

After moving from the east of Hong Kong Island to the west, I wanted a hair salon that was equally as good as The Upper Room, but just a little closer to me (I’m lazy, alright!). I had read online and heard through a friend about Tommy Hair Design – a local hair salon, save for the fact that one stylist, Edmund, is known for his expertise at blonde highlights.

Edmund was absolutely fantastic – he listened to what I wanted and added his own expertise as well, and there were a handful of other expats coming in and out, which was a testament to the quality of service. Tommy Hair Design was a bit cheaper than The Upper Room and I practically got the same results, so for the last two years I’ve been getting my hair done by Edmund and would also highly recommend him.

Price: 
Half-head highlights + haircut – HK$900 

Tommy Hair Design
M/F, Union Commercial Building
12-16 Lyndhurst Terrace
Central

Tel: 9191 0682

Getting Blonde Highlights in Hong Kong: Before & After Photos

blonde highlights hong kong - beforeBEFORE highlightsblonde highlights hong kong - afterAFTER highlights

First of all, excuse the absolutely dreadful quality of the above photos – apparently taking selfies without your actual face in them was a bit more challenging than I had expected. Moving on, the first photo is about 6 months since I last got my hair highlighted, so the roots were coming in quite a bit. The second photo is after my recent visit to Tommy Hair Design where I asked Edmund to go a little lighter, but to still make it look natural so that when it grows out, my roots don’t look too horrible (I only color my hair about twice a year). After paying HK$900 for a great set of highlights (half-head) and a cut, I left Tommy Hair Design very satisfied!

Do any of you blonde babes in Hong Kong have a favourite hair salon? If so, please share the details below!


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Mui Wo To The Big Buddha Hike - feature photo

If you’re looking for a hike that gets you off Hong Kong Island, check out the Mui Wo to the Big Buddha hike: a challenging, yet incredibly rewarding hike that takes you through sections 1 – 3 of the Lantau Trail. While it’s easy enough to get to if you’re living near Central, the hike itself can be quite difficult. That being said, the stunning views of the surrounding country parks, rolling hills, and crystal blue water make this hike well worth the effort. What’s more, you’ll end up at the Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery where you can grab some food and drink, and, if you’re feeling up to it, play tourist for a few hours before heading back home.

Getting to the starting point of the Mui Wo to Big Buddha hike:

Head to the Central Ferry Pier and hop on the ferry to Mui Wo (I would recommend catching the 7:40 am ferry on Saturday or the 8:00 am ferry on Sunday) at pier 6. The journey takes about 40 minutes and once you get off the ferry, you’ll see a bus terminal directly in front of you, an obscene number of bicycles to your right and a McDonald’s to your left. Go right down the walkway and past the bicycles until you reach a roundabout on your left side (literally a 2-minute walk from the ferry pier). This is where you’ll begin the hike.

Lantau Trail Section 1 (Mui Wo Ferry Pier to Nam Shan; 2.5 km):

Mui Wo To The Big Buddha Hike 1

Mui Wo To The Big Buddha Hike 2

Cross the street at the roundabout and head up the sidewalk on the hill (in the first photo, you can see the sidewalk on the right of the big white building). You’ll be walking up this sidewalk for about 20 minutes until you reach a little house with plenty of greenery surrounding it and a large wooden sign that reads, “Lantau Trail” (see photo above).

Follow the path that says “South Lantau Road” (there will be signs along the way). You’ll cross a massive circular paved area (perhaps a helipad?) and might feel lost, but fret not – you’re going the right way.

Lantau Trail Section 2 (Nam Shan to Pak Kung Au; 6.5 km):

As you walk along, you’ll see the signage change from “South Lantau Road” to “Lantau Trail” or “Sunset Peak”, which is where Lantau Trail Section 2 begins. Keep following those signs.

Once you are are on the top of the first elevation, you’ll be surrounded by plenty of lush green hills and the beautiful blue water. Keep following the path and shortly after you’ll come across a small waterfall on your left – perfect for wetting a towel and throwing it around your neck.

Mui Wo To The Big Buddha Hike 3

The first “picture-worthy” spot (see photo above) hugs a mountain, right before you turn right around it. There will be a relatively large open space where you’ll likely see other hikers taking photos or stopping for a quick break. Once you’re done, keep walking along the “Pak Kung Au” path.

Mui Wo To The Big Buddha Hike 4

Mui Wo To The Big Buddha Hike 5

Not too long down the dirt path, you’ll see a handful of little numbered buildings scattered up on a hill that you will walk by (anyone know what these are?) There is one on the left side where you can walk behind and see the Hong Kong airport quite clearly (see photo above).

Mui Wo To The Big Buddha Hike 6

At this point, you’ll be heading up and over Sunset Peak and down to Pak Kung Au, with sweeping views of the water and surrounding country park. You’ll know you’ve reach the end of Lantau Trail Section 2 when you finally see a little gazebo. At this point, you can either choose to stop the hike if you’re feeling too tired and just grab a bus to Tung Chung MTR (there is a bus stop right on the road). Or, you can keep going and move on to Section 3 of the Lantau Trail. Either way, head down the stairs to the left of the gazebo, which will bring you to the road.

Lantau Trail Section 3 (Pak Kung Au to Ngong Ping [Big Buddha]; 4.5 km):

To start Section 3, cross the road and you’ll see a set of stairs going up to your right with the sign “Ngong Ping via Lantau Peak” – as long as you follow the signs marked with either name, you won’t take a wrong turn.

Mui Wo To The Big Buddha Hike 7 Mui Wo To The Big Buddha Hike 8 Mui Wo To The Big Buddha Hike 9

As you continue along the trail, you’ll see a massive peak (Lantau Peak) in front of you, likely with clouds surrounding the top. You’ll be hiking up to the top of the peak where you’ll be able to see The Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery in the distance (see photo above) if the weather cooperates. The area at the top is quite cool – there’s a weather shelter there and plenty of large rocks scattered about with a 360 view. From this point on, it’s only a matter of a few hundred steps down until you reach the finish line.

Mui Wo To The Big Buddha Hike 10

When you see a bunch of tall wooden panels poking out of the trees, you’ll know you’ve almost finished the Mui Wo to the Big Buddha hike. From the Wisdom Path, it’s only a 5 minute walk to the Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery. Once finished, hop on Bus 2, which will take you to Tung Chung MTR Station.

Journey Length: 13.5 km
Total Time: About 3.5 – 4.5 hours


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mercato hong kong  - black truffle pizza

The much anticipated and talked about restaurant Mercato, helmed by acclaimed Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, has finally landed in Hong Kong after four years of success in Shanghai at Three on the Bund. Located in the California Tower in LKF, Mercato Hong Kong serves up family-style modern Italian food in a large, open space dining area. The food and drinks are reasonably priced given the quality and location, and you’re sure to leave Mercato feeling satisfied and full.

Vibe At Mercato Hong Kong

The dining area is quite large and open; the bar is at the front entrance and a semi-open kitchen is at the back with dining tables in between. The decor is minimal and the lighting is quite dark (which certainly did not help when taking photos during dinner!). What really caught my eye was the beautiful outdoor terrace – a great place to grab drinks after work. We went to Mercato Hong Kong on what I thought was going to be a quiet Tuesday evening, however the place was buzzing with people; a testament to the quality of food and drink served.

Starters

mercato hong kong - ricotta, strawberryHouse Made Ricotta with Strawberry, Olive Oil and Garlic Bread (HK$118)mercato hong kong - endive sugar snap pea saladEndive and Sugar Snap Pea Salad, Parmesan Dressing (HK$108)mercato hong kong - calamariLightly Fried Calamari, Spicy Tomato Sauce with Black Olives and Capers (HK$118)

We began with the much talked about House Made Ricotta with Strawberry, Olive Oil and Garlic Bread (HK$118). I’m used to a thicker and more rich ricotta cheese, whereas Chef Jean-Georges’s ricotta was much lighter, allowing the delicate flavours of the strawberry jam to shine through. Not exactly what I had initially pictured this dish to look like, the Endive and Sugar Snap Pea Salad, Parmesan Dressing (HK$108) was a perfect sharing dish. The ingredients came together well, however most ended up falling  onto my plate as I gracelessly ate it with my hands. I had my heart set on Mercato Hong Kong’s Lightly Fried Calamari, Spicy Tomato Sauce with Black Olives and Capers (HK$118), which did not disappoint. True to its name, the calamari had a crispy, light batter that wasn’t oily, putting the spotlight on the full flavour of the fresh squid.

Mains

mercato hong kong - black truffle pizzaBlack Truffle, Three Cheeses, and Farm Egg (HK$238)mercato hong kong - short ribCrispy Beef Short Rib, Polenta Fries, Smoked Chili Chianti Glaze (HK$428)

The wood oven pizza at Mercato was some of the best I’ve had in Hong Kong. I especially loved the Black Truffle, Three Cheeses, and Farm Egg Pizza (HK$238) that came with a good portion of cheese and truffle, however, it seemed quite small given the price. Though it didn’t look too appetizing, the Crispy Beef Short Rib, Polenta Fries, Smoked Chili Chianti Glaze (HK$428) was another favourite around the table. The short rib was not at all what I had expected; the outer layer was fried to a delicious crisp, while the inner meat was soft and pulled apart easily with just a fork.

Dessert

mercato hong kong - italian cream cake, raspberryItalian Cream Cake, Raspberry Sorbet with Fresh Raspberry and Sicilian Pistachios (HK$68)mercato hong kong - sundaeSundae with Salted Caramel Ice Cream Candied Peanuts, Popcorn, Whipped Cream and Hot Fudge (HK$68)

You can’t really go wrong with dessert at Mercato Hong Kong, since everything is priced at HK$68. If you enjoy lighter, fruity desserts, try the Italian Cream Cake, Raspberry Sorbet with Fresh Raspberry and Sicilian Pistachios (HK$68). Besides the picture-perfect plating of this dessert, the cake was spongy, the cream was light, and the raspberry added a touch of refreshing sweetness. For those who prefer an indulgently rich dessert, the Sundae with Salted Caramel Ice Cream Candied Peanuts, Popcorn, Whipped Cream and Hot Fudge (HK$68) is a must order. I loved the contrasting textures of the crunchy popcorn and candied peanuts, paired with the smooth fudge and ice cream; a devilishly delicious dessert.

Verdict

Mercato Hong Kong serves dishes that use fresh and high-quality ingredients in a minimalist setting, living up to the buzz surrounding its opening. The dishes at Mercato are mainly sharing plates, so it’s best to go with a small group of friends to try a wider range of items on the menu. You can’t leave Mercato Hong Kong without trying the calamari, pizza, and dessert sundae – I promise they won’t disappoint!

Mercato Hong Kong
8/F California Tower
Central
Hong Kong

Tel: 3706 8567 


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limewood- interior

I’ve been wanting to try Limewood since it opened, but every time I was in Repulse Bay, the place was packed with people and I couldn’t be bothered queuing. So, I put Limewood high on my “restaurants to try” list this summer and managed to make it out there at around 2:00 pm during the week (a perfect time if you want the place practically to yourself). Limewood is a great summertime city escape: cool, beach-y, and unique decor, along with refreshing, fun, and memorable food and drink.

Vibe At Limewood

limewood - bar

Limewood is the perfect summer spot to dine at given its beachfront location and rustic-chic decor. It doesn’t get much better than sipping on a deliciously dangerous Charred Coconut Pina Colada as you look out at the water lapping up onto the beach. Since I was there during an off-peak hour (weekday after the lunch rush), I can’t say what the service would be like during a busier time, but I have heard the service can be slow when it’s busy. Overall, I think Limewood has one of the best chill-out summer vibes for a restaurant in Hong Kong.

Cold Sharing Plates

limewood - salmon tartareNorwegian Salmon Tartare (HK$160)limewood - tuna pokeSpicy Australian Big Eye Tuna Poke (HK$295)

Start your beach-side meal with either the Norwegian Salmon Tartare (HK$160) or the Spicy Australian Big Eye Tuna Poke (HK$295) (or both if you’re hungry enough!). The salmon tartare is made using coconut water, bits of ginger, and kaffir lime, making it a refreshing and healthy way to start your meal. If you’re looking for something with a bit of a kick, try the tuna poke with avocado, pickled red onion, chipotle, and togarashi (Japanese chili pepper). The avocado added a next-level creaminess to the dish that helped to balance out the spiciness of the tuna.

Hot Sharing Plates

limewood - coconut cornJerked Coconut Corn (HK$75)limewood - sea urchin tostadasCanadian Sea Urchin Tostadas (HK$185)limewood - fried snapperDeep Fried Whole Snapper – Thai Style (HK$330)

Limewood has perfected the beloved summer BBQ side dish of grilled corn with their Jerked Coconut Corn (HK$75). A delicious blend of jerked aioli, toasted coconut (made in-house), and juicy grilled corn on the cob made for a messy but oh-so satisfying snack. One of the recommended dishes was the Canadian Sea Urchin Tostadas (HK$185). Piled high on a crispy tostada was coconut cream, fried avocado, heirloom salad, ikura (massive fish roe), and uni. Be warned: these tostadas are incredibly messy. We couldn’t leave without trying another of Limewood’s best selling dishes: the Deep Fried Whole Snapper – Thai Style (HK$330). Aside from the welcome blend of summer-esque seasoning of lemon grass, kaffir lime, and green pepper, I loved that the whole fish was already de-boned for us and presented beautifully.

Dessert

limewood - churrosChurros with Homemade Coconut Ice Cream and Salted Caramel Sauce (HK$90)

I heard a tonne of hype over Limewood’s Churros with Homemade Coconut Ice Cream and Salted Caramel Sauce (HK$90), with claims that they were the best churros in Hong Kong. Limewood’s churros were quite crunchy – a hard, crispy exterior and a semi-chewy interior. I would have preferred them to be more chewy/doughy, which would have helped to fully submerge them into the homemade salted caramel sauce (which was so good). After we finished the churros, I proceeded to scoop up the caramel sauce and eat it like soup (Limewood should really be selling this stuff by the jar!). As for the coconut ice cream, it tasted natural and had the perfect creamy consistency.

Verdict

While Repulse Bay is a bit of a trek if you’re living anywhere other than the south side of Hong Kong Island, it’s certainly worth a visit if you plan on making a day of it. Head to Limewood in the early afternoon to skip the lunch crowd, then set up camp on the beach for a relaxing midday food-fueled nap. Although some dishes are quite expensive, Limewood’s focus on quality (and often homemade) ingredients, coupled with their cool, calm decor make a lazy summertime visit a must.

Limewood
Shop 103/104, The Pulse
28 Beach Road
Repulse Bay
Hong Kong

Tel: 2866 8668


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rhoda - truffle asparagus 2

Arguably one of the most anticipated and talked about new restaurant openings of the summer is Rhoda. Opened in collaboration with JIA Group’s founder Yenn Wong and Chef Nate Green (formally of 22 Ships and Ham & Sherry), Rhoda is an ode to Nate’s grandmother (Rhoda meaning “Rose”, his grandmother’s name); his initial inspiration to become a chef. The food Chef Nate serves up is comfort food, but not in the sense we’re accustomed to. His dishes are meant to evoke a feeling, as many of them (like his “Mom’s Potato Salad”) have an interesting and inviting story behind them.

Vibe At Rhoda

Rhoda sticks out among the other restaurants and stores on the rather unassuming Des Voeux Road West. The copper exterior is hard to miss, and once you step inside you’ll be greeted with the simple yet illuminating decor designed by Joyce Wang with Nate’s personal touches found throughout (just check out the beard brush display in the small den). The staff are knowledgeable and friendly, and you can see Nate’s passion for food seep into each dish on the daily changing menu.

Starters

rhoda - lotus root chipsLotus Root Chips with Chicken Liver Cream (HK$38)rhoda - truffle asparagus 2Agria Potato Purée, Asparagus, Truffle (HK$188)

If you like pâté, the Lotus Root Chips with Chicken Liver Cream (HK$38) are not to be missed. This beautiful combination of light and crispy lotus root paired with rich chicken liver cream is a match made in foodie heaven (would love to get my hands on a jar of this!).  Another winning starter was the Agria Potato Purée, Asparagus, and Truffle (HK$188). I’m not a huge fan of potatoes, let alone mashed potatoes, but the potato purée was dense, aromatic, and just plain good.

Mains

rhoda - john doryJohn Dory (HK$248)rhoda - chicken 2Brink’s Farm Free Range Chicken (HK$498)rhoda - whole snapperSnapper Baked in Kombu (HK$398)

From the grill came the John Dory (HK$248) with grilled corn and katsuobushi (that ribbon-esque pieces you see on the top of the dish, which are actually dried tuna). The fish was light and had a delicious charcoal bite to it. We were sold on the Brink’s Farm Free Range Chicken (HK$498) the moment we saw a handful of juicy whole chickens hanging over the grill in the open kitchen. The chicken was tender and full of flavour thanks to the ginger dressing and that wondrous grill. To round things out, we opted for the Snapper (HK$398), which was baked in Kombu (an edible kelp) with an oregano and lemon dressing. It felt like I was waiting for a Christmas present to be opened, as the waiter unwrapped and revealed the snapper at our table. The fish retained plenty of its natural flavours, allowing for the dressing to compliment rather than overpower the taste.

Dessert

rhoda - vanilla cheesecakeVanilla Cheesecake (HK$108)rhoda - chocolate, mintChocolate, Mint, Marshmallow (HK$98)

The innovative and unique assembly of the desserts don’t do the menu descriptions justice, so be sure to try some. If you love cheesecake (who doesn’t?!) then the Vanilla Cheesecake (HK$108) with rhubarb and raspberry is a must. This no-bake cheesecake had an interesting texture – creamy, dense, and almost jello-like – and a mouth-watering vanilla bean flavour. Another stand-out dessert was the Chocolate, Mint, Marshmallow (HK$98) – we had no clue what was going to arrive at our table given the vague description. This dessert certainly came as a welcomed surprise; fluffy pieces of torched marshmallow, chocolate ice cream and mousse, and little dollops of intense mint creme (not visible in the photo, but you can see the mint peaking out on the top right of the bowl).

Verdict

Hopefully, if you’ve read through the above, it’s clear to see why Rhoda is a current must-try restaurant in Hong Kong. If not, I’ll put it plainly: the decor is simple and alluring, and the food is full of personality and passion. What’s more, Rhoda’s menu switches daily, meaning you can go back time and again and it’ll never become dull.

Rhoda
245 Des Voeux Road West
Sai Ying Pun
Hong Kong

Tel: 2177 5050


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cocotte

Tucked away on Shin Hing Street on the border of Central and Sheung Wan is where you’ll find quaint little French restaurant, Cocotte. From delicious beef tartare to perfectly pan fried Hokkaido scallops, Cocotte’s new summer menu items from Executive Chef Petrous Moldovan (one of the three brothers that own Cocotte and NEO) dishes are a treat for both eyes and mouth.

Filet de Boeuf Tartare / Poached Blue Lobster & Caviar

cocotte - beef tartareFilet de Boeuf Tartare – 200g (HK$248)cocotte - poached lobster & caviarPoached Blue Lobster & Caviar (HK$240)

The massive Filet de Boeuf Tartare – 200g (HK$248) was overwhelmingly delicious and incredibly rich; best to share between 2-4 people. The large portion comes with a side of homemade fries that, albeit a bit cold, we could not stop eating. While I appreciated the presentation of the Poached Blue Lobster & Caviar (HK$240), I felt there were too many competing flavours: the caviar overpowered the lobster and the tomato gazpacho didn’t seem to blend in with the other ingredients.

l’Entrecote de Boeuf / Hokkaido Scallops

cocotte - steakl’Entrecote de Boeuf – 500g (HK$650)cocotte - scallopsHokkaido Scallops (HK$290)

If you’re looking to share dishes, go for the massive l’Entrecote de Boeuf – 500g (HK$650) with truffled potato puree and tarragon mustard. I prefer a very lean piece of meat, so I found this particular cut of ribeye to be a bit too fatty around the edges for my liking, however, others at the table enjoyed it. I wasn’t sure how the wild black rice would taste with the Hokkaido Scallops (HK$290), but the pairing worked well, especially with the mango and ginger salsa.

Dessert – Valrhona Chocolate & Passion Fruit Delice

cocotte - dessertValrhona Chocolate & Passion Fruit Delice (HK$98)

My favourite of Cocotte’s new summer menu items has to be the dessert. The Valrhona Chocolate & Passion Fruit Delice (HK$98) had an intricate mix of flavours; the richness of the chocolate complimented the passion fruit sauce (which was poured in the bowl afterwards) and vanilla chantilly. All around the table, this dish received a resounding “yes!” and was a fantastic end to our meal.

Verdict On Cocotte

If you haven’t already been, I would recommend going to Cocotte for an intimate dinner, whether with a close friend or on a date. The staff are friendly and knowledgeable, and the atmosphere is simple and cozy. In saying that, I did find the food to be a bit on the expensive side, and the dishes to be a bit hit and miss (I did really enjoy the tartare and loved the dessert, however, I wasn’t blown away by the other dishes) for my personal taste.

Cocotte
9 Shin Hing Street
Central
Hong Kong

Tel: 2568 8857


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Issaya Siamese Club Hong Kong - seafood fried rice

Originating in Bangkok, Issaya Siamese Club Hong Kong focuses on modern Thai dishes with authentic ingredients. While just about any type of cuisine has been modernized by a handful of restaurants, I was impressed with Issaya’s quality of food and plating. Issaya Siamese Club Hong Kong recently launched a semi-buffet weekend brunch filled with modern Thai nibbles, live-cooking stations, individual main courses, and free-flow G.H Mumm Champagne that is definitely worth checking out.

Vibe At Issaya Siamese Club Hong Kong

Issaya Siamese Club Hong Kong - interior

I fell in love with Issaya Siamese Club Hong Kong the moment I stepped out of the elevator: the brightly colored furniture, large dining area, and floor-to-ceiling windows make for a great daytime atmosphere. The outdoor terrace offers a beautiful vantage point to see the surrounding area and HK harbour (though unfortunately the view is obstructed).

Buffet

Issaya Siamese Club Hong Kong - buffetOne of the numerous buffet countersIssaya Siamese Club Hong Kong - papaya saladLive cooking station: build your own papaya salad

I liked how many of the items served in the buffet section were individualized (ie. single skewers, little bowls of pomelo salad, rice rolls, etc.), making it easy for you to try practically everything without feeling like you’re wasting food or busting out of your pants. For me, the highlight was the soup station, which had both seafood and vegetarian options, and the create your own papaya salad table. For those who fancy oysters, you’ll be happy to know that the buffet also comes with two fresh oysters per person.

Mains

Issaya Siamese Club Hong Kong - seafood fried riceKa-Phrao Talay Cham Ron (stir-fried seafood with holy basil & jasmine rice served in a hot stone bowl).Issaya Siamese Club Hong Kong - lamb curryKaeng Karee Seekhrong Kae (slow-cooked lamb chops in a homemade yellow curry sauce)

Aside from the assortment of food available at the buffet, brunch also comes with your choice of main course. The Ka-Phrao Talay Cham Ron: stir-fried seafood with holy basil and jasmine rice served in a hot stone bowl came sizzling to our table. The shrimp was massive and the runny egg brought the ingredients together, though the overall flavour was a bit mild for my taste. My favourite main course was the Kaeng Karee Seekhrong Kae; a slow-cooked lamb chop in a homemade yellow curry sauce. The lamb was so tender it fell apart at the touch of my fork, and the curry sauce was so good, I was tempted to lap up what was left on the plate.

Dessert

Issaya Siamese Club Hong Kong - dessert stationLive cooking station: cotton candy and nitrogen coconut ice creamIssaya Siamese Club Hong Kong - dessertBuffet dessert selection

Issaya Siamese Club Hong Kong also had a live dessert station where you could get cotton candy and coconut nitrogen ice cream; equally satisfying for children and adults. As for the dessert selection at the buffet, there wasn’t really anything that blew my mind, though I did really enjoy the fresh fruit offered.

Verdict

Issaya Siamese Club Hong Kong will completely captivate you the moment you step inside thanks to its unique decor, bright colors, and plenty of natural light. Head to Issaya for brunch if you’re looking to switch things up and are a bit tired of the same old poached eggs on avocado toast. As a quick tip; try to go on a clear not-too-hot Saturday or Sunday to enjoy a drink on the beautiful outdoor terrace.

Details

Semi-buffet Weekend Brunch (includes buffet + main + coffee/tea) – HK$368
Semi-buffet Weekend Brunch + Free-flow G.H. Mumm Champagne – HK$606 

Issaya Siamese Club Hong Kong
25/F, Soundwill Plaza II – Midtown
1 Tang Lung Street
Causeway Bay
Hong Kong

Tel: 2154 3048


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le Relais de l'Entrecôte - steak frites

Originating in France, le Relais de l’Entrecôte has since brought its simple steak frites concept (and that unique sauce) to Hong Kong. The dinner or weekend set menu is HK$288 and includes a salad, two portions of steak, and unlimited fries; a bargain in this city. The dessert selection at le Relais is also ridiculously good, making this an easy choice in a city with far too many options to choose from.

Vibe At le Relais de l’Entrecôte Hong Kong

The space at le Relais de l’Entrecôte Hong Kong is quite large and the decor throughout the dining area is identical to the other le Relais restaurants in France; a bit old fashioned, with dark wooden decor and red highlights throughout. The service at le Relais de l’Entrecôte Hong Kong is top-notch, though I still haven’t decided how I feel about the dress code for staff (similar to a Halloween maid’s costume).

Starter Salad

le Relais de l'Entrecôte Hong Kong - salad

I found the salad to be a bit lackluster; there weren’t many walnuts, the lettuce was a bit wilted, and there wasn’t enough dressing. What I did love was the wine; we went with a bottle of the recommended house red (Chateau de Saurs “La Constance”), which paired well with the steak given its strong cherry and blackcurrant aroma.

Steak Frites

le Relais de l'Entrecôte Hong Kong - steak frites

The main event was the steak frites (the weekend and dinner set menu comes with two servings of steak and unlimited fries). I asked for the sauce on the side, as I thought there was far too much overpowering sauce covering the steak the last time I ate here, and I’m very glad I did since I enjoyed the steak frites much more this time around. The full flavoured steak was cooked to a perfect medium rare and the fries were seriously addictive.

Dessert

le Relais de l'Entrecôte Hong Kong - creme bruleeCreme Brulee (HK$78)le Relais de l'Entrecôte Hong Kong - dessertle Vacherin d’ete (HK$88)

Though not part of the set menu at le Relais de l’Entrecôte Hong Kong, you’d be amiss not to try the dessert here. The classic Creme Brulee (HK$78) had the perfect caramelized top, which made for a very satisfying “crack” once I broke through it to get to the rich and creamy brulee. Given that it’s about a million degrees in Hong Kong at the moment, the le Vacherin d’ete (HK$88) was the perfect summer dessert. I had previously tried the chocolate version and absolutely loved it, so I was quite curious to see if the raspberry version would taste as good. Well, it did. The raspberry sauce was thick and tasted very authentic (like pureed raspberries), the raspberry sorbet and vanilla ice cream were to die for, and the meringue added a difference in texture.

Verdict

Go to le Relais de l’Entrecôte Hong Kong if you love steak frites and dessert, and aren’t into dropping your entire wallet on a meal.  While I didn’t find the salad too appealing and the unique sauce can be a bit overwhelming, the steak frites are good value.

Details

Set Weekend or Dinner Menu (including salad, two helpings of steak, and unlimited fries): HK$288

le Relais de l’Entrecôte Hong Kong
222 Queen’s Road East
Wan Chai 
Hong Kong 

Tel: 2891 9080


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feedme guru x mr mrs fox - scallop

FeedMe Guru has collaborated with the popular Quarry Bay restaurant and bar Mr & Mrs Fox to put together a “Signature Staple” Tasting Menu for the month of July. Consisting of a welcome cocktail – the champion cocktail of Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan leg of Bacardi Legacy Cocktail Competition 2016, to be exact, – followed by four delicious courses filled with seafood, steak, and dessert, complimented by an optional wine pairing. This great value menu makes it well worth a visit to the other side of the island.

Reborn Padre Blanco

feedme guru x mr mrs fox - reborn padre blanco

We began our dinner with a glass of the champion cocktail from the Bacardi Legacy Cocktail Competition 2016 (Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan). Each sip of this cocktail transported me to lounging on a beach somewhere in Mexico. The blend of Bacardi Carta Blanca rum, guava, agave, lime, egg white, and lager (used for the foam on top) tasted akin to a daiquiri and I’m pretty sure I could have drank five more of these “summer in a glass” cocktails throughout the evening – it was that good.

Hokkaido Scallop & Oyster Ceviche

Wine pairing: Antica Fratta. Italy, 2010

feedme guru x mr mrs fox - scallop

The pomelo, coriander, and lime in the oyster ceviche was a tangy addition to the fresh Hokkaido scallops. There’s really not much else to say about this dish (I’ll let the photo do all the talking), aside from it was as beautiful as it was delicious. The Antica Fratta wine – a sparkling chardonnay – paired well with the piquant ceviche.

Tea Smoked Tarakihi

Wine pairing: La Cana. Albarino. Spain, 2014.

feedme guru x mr mrs fox - tea smoked tarakihi

The presentation of the Tea Smoked Tarakihi was quite impressive. The green onion and tomato vinaigrette was served in a coffee press on the side, which made for an Instagram-worthy dish (especially as a member of the waitstaff came around to pour the vinaigrette into the bowl). The fish was a bit heavier than I had expected, but the crunchy bok choy was a welcome addition to the dish and the light and fruity Albarino wine enhanced the overall flavour.

Rangers Valley “Black Market” Strip Steak

Wine pairing: Chateau Chasse Spleen. Bordeaux, France, 1994.

feedme guru x mr mrs fox - rangers valley strip steak

For the main course we moved away from seafood and made room for a delicious Rangers Valley Strip Steak, cooked medium rare. Accompanying the juicy steak was a Yukon Gold baked potato with smoked bacon and sharp cheddar on top, and a fragrant chimichurri sauce on the side. The steak was paired with a fine Bordeaux wine, specifically from the Moulis-en-Médoc area.

Gianduja Chocolate Tart OR Cheese Selection

feedme guru x mr mrs fox - chocolate tart feedme guru x mr mrs fox - cheese

Choose either an incredibly rich and satisfying Gianduja Chocolate Tart or a three Cheese Selection to end your meal. My favourite was the tart – the rich chocolate and apricot complimented each other surprisingly well, and it was just so ridiculously decadent and satisfying. The cheese selection consisted of a Brie cheese, blue cheese, and a third mild cheese (the name now escapes me – oops!) with an apricot jam, nuts, fruit, and two different types of toast.

FeedMe Guru X Mr & Mrs Fox Tasting Menu Details

Tasting Menu: HK$545/person 
Tasting Menu + Wine Pairing: HK$800/person 
Available only for the month of July. 

For more details and to make a reservation, click here


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NOM - razor clams

NOM (Not Only Meatballs) has brought Italian comfort food to hungry Hong Kongers for two years, and while I had been to NOM for after work drinks, I had never actually sat down for a meal. I jumped at the opportunity to go to NOM for dinner after I heard about their new summer menu, where the food far exceeded my expectations.

Vibe At NOM

You’ll find the bar area to be laid back; perfect for a cocktail or two with friends (you should check out NOM’s banging happy hour deal). The dining area to the left is adorned in black and white decor, along with wooden furnishings to give the restaurant a modern yet unpretentious feel.

Appetizers

NOM - burrata & anchoviesBurrata, broadbeans purée, smoked anchovies, bottarga (HK$178)NOM - parma ham & stratacciatellaOrganic Parma ham, stracciatella, handmade focaccia (HK$218)NOM - razor clamsJapanese clams, broccoli puree, almonds, Nduja sausage (HK$218)

We began with a few appetizers from NOM’s new summer menu, the first of which was the Burrata (HK$178). I was initially skeptical about how the smoked anchovies and bottarga (cured fish roe) would work with this dish, but thankfully they complimented the burrata instead of overpowering it. My favourite dish of the evening was the Organic Parma Ham (HK$218) with the most deliciously divine stracciatella (which I was first introduced to when I had brunch at Giando). Pair this gooey cheese with the handmade focaccia and 24-month aged parma ham, and you’ve got yourself a match made in heaven. We finished with a bowl of freshly flown-in Japanese Clams (HK$218). The mix of broccoli puree and Nduja sausage had me lapping up the sauce after all of the clams were devoured.

Mains

NOM - Nduja & Friarielli pizzaNduja & Friarielli Pizza (HK$178)NOM - whole soleWhole sustainable sole, lemon & butter sauce, capers, roasted potato (HK$348)

A full-on Italian meal wouldn’t be complete without pizza, and NOM’s new Nduja & Friarielli Pizza (HK$178) makes a perfect addition to their menu. The smoked buffalo mozzarella, spicy sausage, broccoli sprouts, and provolone cheese were the perfect blend of cheesy-goodness with a spicy kick. We also tried the Whole Sustainable Sole (HK$348) with roasted potatoes and capers in a light lemon and butter sauce. A perfect dish for sharing, the fish was tender and juicy with a subtle, yet memorable taste.

Dessert

NOM - chocolate parfaitChocolate parfait, beetroot meringue, hazelnut custard, goat milk ice cream (HK$98)NOM - deconstructed tiramisuTiramisu, chocolate sable, dried orange, coffee caramel sauce (HK$98)

From the desserts we tried, it’s clear that NOM moved away from the traditional Italian desserts and, while still incorporating some traditional flavours, tried to put a unique spin on them. The Chocolate Parfait (HK$98) was a big surprise when it came to our table. I questioned the combination of beetroot meringue, hazelnut custard, and goat milk ice cream, however, the ingredients somehow went well together.  Head Chef Fabrizio deconstructed the classic Italian tiramisu and morphed it into NOM’s version: a Tiramisu (HK$98) made with  chocolate sable, dried orange, and coffee caramel sauce. While I prefer the taste and texture of a more traditional tiramisu, I still happily ate my fair share of this dessert.

Verdict

NOM stands out in Hong Kong as a reliable go-to American-Italian restaurant (if you’re looking for truly authentic Italian [not to say one is better than the other, it just depends what you’re looking for!], check out Gia Trattoria Italiana).  I really enjoyed the fine-tuned execution of each dish and my overall experience dining at NOM was fantastic. If you’re looking for some great-tasting modern Italian food (with cocktails to pair along!) in Hong Kong, be sure to visit NOM.

NOM – Not Only Meatballs
1-5 Elgin Street
Central
Hong Kong

Tel: 2540 7988 


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reinventing salads - lily & bloom

Hong Kong is a city that’s teeming with restaurants of every cuisine imaginable, and where many people eat out almost every day of the week. Since eating a burger and fries every day isn’t exactly healthy (although it is certainly delicious), having restaurants that offer healthy dishes that still taste great are a must. The Reinventing Salads movement is meant to get you thinking about salads differently; as more than just a barely-edible bowl of boring greens you struggle to eat. During this month-long campaign, seven restaurants have come together, each creating a salad of epic proportions to help shake up the way we view salads.

Chef Sing Lau of The Restaurant by The Kinnet

reinventing salads - the kinnet

The Green Goddess Kale Salad had a variety of ingredients that went well together, both in flavour and texture. Among the ingredients were roasted organic chicken, avocado, sweet corn, eggplant, tomato, boiled egg, and feta cheese. The icing on the cake was the additional greek yogurt avocado dressing on the side that I poured all over my salad and would actually buy in bulk if it was sold.

The Restaurant by The Kinnet
3/F, 33 Hillier Street, Sheung Wan

Chef Vinny Lauria of Linguini Fini

reinventing salads - linguini fini

The Seared Scallop & Homemade Bacon Panzanella had a lot of potential, but just wasn’t executed as well as I had hoped. While I loved the scallops, croutons, and bacon separately, there were a lot of contrasting flavours throughout: the subtle scallop paired with the bold taste of uni and truffle vinaigrette, for example.

Linguini Fini
49 Elgin Street, Central

Chef Neil Tomes of Beef & Liberty

reinventing salads - beef & liberty

Another favourite at our table was the Haloumi and Persimmon Salad that, despite the oddly shaped presentation, tasted great and was very filling. Crammed into this square of salad goodness was lentil, spelt, persimmon, mint, spring onion, cucumber, caramelized onions, pickled fennel, carrot, beetroot, hazelnut, almonds, pumpkin seeds, with quinoa crusted haloumi on top, all mixed in a sweet sherry dressing.

Beef & Liberty 
2/F, 23 Wing Fung Street, Wan Chai

Chef Billy Otis of Lily & Bloom

reinventing salads - lily & bloom

Quite possibly the “prettiest” of all the salads we tried was the Grilled Summer Peach Salad. If summer had a taste, this salad would be it; the swiss chard, sorrel, green papaya, and toasted macadamia nut were mixed in a maple bourbon dressing and was beautifully arranged on a bed of coconut puree.

Lily & Bloom 
5/F, 33 Wyndham Street, Central

Chef Ivy Chow of Fresca

reinventing salads - fresca

Aptly named Tastes of the Rainbow, this salad was a bit of a mixed bag, comprised of four different sections: beetroot apple and candied walnut, roasted potato and string beans with mustard seeds, Sichuan vegetable mix, and quinoa medley, with stuffed dates on top. I wasn’t a fan of this salad, as the seasoning and ingredients were a bit bland, and the four separate salads didn’t quite come together as a whole dish.

Fresca
54A Hollywood Road, Central

Chef Peter Cuong Franklin of Viet Kitchen & Bar

reinventing salads - viet kitchen

Hands down, my favourite salad of the evening was the Vietnamese Steak Salad created by the talented Chef Peter Franklin. The fresh mix of tenderloin, cabbage, mango, avocado, tomato, and Vietnamese herbs went perfectly together. I found this salad to be light, refreshing, and mouth-wateringly delicious without being too filling.

Viet Kitchen & Bar
G/F Nexxus Building, 41 Connaught Road, Central

Chef Tez Pun of Common Room

reinventing salads - common room

The last salad of the night was a Mexican Grilled Tiger Shrimp Salad that, unfortunately, didn’t quite work for me. I found the presentation to resemble that of a standard chain restaurant and, while the ingredients sounded good – sweet corn, mango, avocado, peppers, jalapeno – I didn’t enjoy the overall taste of the salad.

Common Room
8-12 Wo On Lane, Central

All seven of the above salads from the “Reinventing Salads” campaign will be available at their respective restaurants from June 29 – July 30, 2016 and for order on Deliveroo


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gia  - truffle pizza

Hong Kong has no shortage of Italian restaurants scattered throughout the city. However, if you’re looking for truly authentic dining experience, that may prove to be more difficult to find. Thankfully, Gia Trattoria Italiana is here to provide Hong Kong’s Italian food-lovers with truly authentic, home-cooked, large-portioned Italian dishes that will leave you oh-so satisfied.

Vibe At Gia Trattoria Italiana

Despite being located in a very obscure location between Wanchai and Admiralty on Fenwick Pier, the trek to Gia is completely worth it. The interior is very simple and classic, with a touch of rustic, and would offer great views of the Hong Kong harbour if it wasn’t for the current construction. An hour into dinner (around 8:30 pm), tables of Italian customers came in; a true testament to the restaurant’s authenticity.

Starters

gia trattoria - calamariCalamari (HK$188)gia trattoria - truffle pizzaPizza Trifola (HK$268)

To begin our Italian feast, we had the Calamari (HK$188), which consisted of deep fried baby Sicilian calamari, pink shrimp, prawn, and paprika mayo. The batter was light, allowing the fresh natural flavours of the seafood to shine through. That is until I dunked each piece into the delicious paprika mayo. Since it’s summer truffle season, we couldn’t say no to Gia’s Pizza Trifola (HK$268) with black truffle paste, mixed green leaves, mascarpone, mozzarella, and a good portion of shaved summer black truffle on top. Gia’s thin crust pizza has an airy mix of ingredients that balance each other out beautifully and won’t sit heavy in your stomach afterwards.

Mains

gia trattoria - spaghetti with truffleSpaghetti with Summer Black Truffle Pesto, Bottarga, Asparagusgia trattoria - prime ribAustralian Black Angus Grilled Prime Rib (HK$968)

One of our favourite pasta dishes of the evening was the Spaghetti with Summer Black Truffle Pesto, Bottarga, Asparagus on Gia’s Summer Truffle Menu. The spaghetti was perfectly coated in a rich truffle pesto and the bottarga (cured fish roe) added a layer of refined saltiness that complimented the truffle exceptionally well. We couldn’t resist trying the impressive Australian Black Angus Grilled Prime Rib (HK$968), which was cooked to a beautiful medium rare. The quality of the natural grain-fed prime rib (all 1 kg of it!) was unmistakable and was the perfect sharing dish at our table.

Dessert

gia trattoria - gelatoHomemade Fresh Milk Ice Cream (HK$88 for 3 scoops)

Because saying no to homemade gelato is just unacceptable, we ordered a massive sharing jar to go around the table, which was one of the best decisions of the night. Gia’s Homemade Fresh Milk Ice Cream (HK$88 for 3 scoops) was blow-your-mind delicious, and I loved that we were able to choose which toppings to add (my personal favourite being the strawberry sauce – completely real to taste and not processed at all).

Verdict

If high-quality, authentic Italian food is what you’re after, Gia Trattoria Italiana’s got it – you’ll feel like you’re dining in Italy. While I have come across numerous good American Italian restaurants in Hong Kong, none can quite compare to Gia.

If brunch is what you’re after, check out Gia’s sister restaurant Giando for an incredibly indulgent and great value weekend feast!

Gia Trattoria Italiana
1/F Fleet Arcade, Fenwick Pier 
1 Lung King Road
Wan Chai
Hong Kong 

Tel: 2511 8081


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