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About thisgirlabroad

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  1. After I tell people about why I moved to Hong Kong, I often get asked what has kept me here for the past five years. While there are plenty of factors, both big and small, I’ve managed to break it down to five reasons (’cause you know, five years/five reasons.. clever, right?). Over the past five years I’ve fallen head over heels in love with Hong Kong and I hope this post encourages you to visit this amazing city one day or, if you’re already living here, go out and do something different that’ll make the city seem new again to you. 1. Ease of everyday life If you ask anyone in Hong Kong what one of the things they love most about the city is, they’ll likely say its convenience. Practically everything in this city is easy (except for banking and the post office – you’ll know what I mean if you live in HK). The public transportation is phenomenal – the MTR, bus, minibus, or tram can get you to any part of the city and costs practically nothing. 7-Eleven convenient stores can do far more than supply you with a beer to-go or a quick snack. You can pay your bills at 7-Eleven, return purchases from some online stores, hit up “Club 7” for cheap drinks, and much more. Hired help is also really easy to find (not to mention incredibly affordable), whether that’s in the form of a live-in nanny or a helper who comes to your flat to clean once or twice a week. Basically, life in general is pretty damn effortless. 2. Hiking trails are everywhere One thing many people don’t realize about Hong Kong (and I didn’t either until I moved here) is how much greenery there is. Yes, Hong Kong has many areas that are densely populated with sky-high buildings, but it also has plenty of hiking trails all over. There’s a route for just about anyone: hikes for families, stellar views, trail running, ending at a beach, on different islands, ones with plenty of peaks, and everything in between. I couldn’t tell you how many hiking trails there are in Hong Kong, but I’ve been on quite a few of them and I love getting out there on a clear day to explore a quieter side of the city. I’ve written detailed guides on all the hikes I’ve done so far, which can be found here. 3. The beach is a short drive away Given that it feels like summer the vast majority of the year in Hong Kong, I’m pretty darn grateful that there’s a handful of beaches to visit. Although geographically this makes sense since Hong Kong is an island and all, many people don’t realize that there are so many beaches around that look so “unlike Hong Kong” (almost akin to lying on a beach in Thailand) or some other tropical paradise. Many of the beaches are easily accessibly by public bus and only take 20 – 30 minutes to get to. My favorite beach in Hong Kong is Shek O Beach, located on the south side of the island – the water is usually clean, the sand is fine, you can rent out BBQ pits on the beach, and there are a few delicious restaurants in the little village. 4. Convenient and cheap travel Thanks to Hong Kong’s central location in Asia, travel throughout this part of the world is not only convenient, but it’s also quite cheap. It’s not unlikely to hear talk of people jumping on a plane Friday after work and heading somewhere nearby, like Taipei, and then flying back on Sunday evening just in time to get a few hours’ sleep before work the next morning. If weekend trips are a bit too stressful for you, there’s plenty of public holidays to take advantage of and turn that two day weekend into a three of four day getaway. If you’re smart about planning your travel and aren’t a complete procrastinator (like I tend to be), you can score some incredibly cheap flights on various Asia-based budget airlines. The vast travel opportunities has certainly been one of my favorite parts about moving to Hong Kong. 5. There’s always something to do Regardless of what your interests are, there’s always something appealing going on in the city. If you love the outdoors, there’s plenty of hikes to go on, a wide range of sports teams to join, and beaches to spend a lazy Sunday at. Love food (who doesn’t)? Hong Kong is a haven for foodie’s, offering every type of cuisine imaginable in all price ranges. Whether you prefer dancing till the sun rises or having a quieter evening with a cocktail and some live jazz, your Friday and Saturday nights are easily sorted. I often find I get excited about having a relatively quiet week coming up, and then get inundated with last-minute invitations to a variety of events happening throughout the city that week. Basically, you’ll never feel bored in Hong Kong. What are your favorite things about where you live? View the full article
  2. I’m sure any expat around the world gets the same question when they begin chatting with others: “why did you move here?” While it’s obvious people’s jobs play a large role, there are often a handful of other factors that fall into place. I mean, it’s a pretty big deal to pack up your entire life and move to a completely different country. I’ve been asked “why Hong Kong?” countless times since moving here five years ago. Surprisingly for me, the answer was pretty simple.. Why I first thought about moving abroad Like most expats, my main motivation for moving to Hong Kong was a job. After finishing two degrees I thought that getting a job in my field would be a piece of cake. Unfortunately, I was hit with the hard truth shortly after: the likelihood of landing a full time job was near impossible. Moving abroad for work was honestly something that never even flickered across my mind until I realized how dire my job prospects were if I stayed in Ontario. I had a choice: either stay put and apply to every job available in my field (this would be part time work with no benefits) while likely living at home because I wouldn’t be able to afford rent in Toronto without a steady income OR put my expensive degrees to use and search for jobs in other countries. Obviously, I chose the latter. First hike up to The Peak – October, 2012How I landed my job in Hong Kong I went to an international job fair with a close friend who was also in the same situation as me, but I didn’t really think too seriously about it. To me, the job fair was more of a “why not just go to see what’s out there,” since I had nothing to lose. Long story short, I landed an interview and was offered the job the following day. Although naive of me, I didn’t do any research on Hong Kong before accepting the job (which I would not recommend doing). Without really thinking about, I called my friend (who thankfully also got the job). After speaking with her and solidifying my decision, I called my mom to tell her I was going to accept the offer. It all happened so fast, but knowing I was moving to the other side of the world with one of my closest friends certainly made things easier. Even though I had no idea what I was getting into, I can confidently (and thankfully) say that I made the right decision to move abroad. Even though it’s been five years since I moved to Hong Kong, I get disheartened to hear that many other people I graduated with are still struggling to secure full time employment in their field. Aside from the hardships I’d face if I stayed in Canada, I truly ended up falling in love with Hong Kong and have had so many incredible opportunities arise from living here (like this blog!). Sometimes taking that leap of faith in life is the best decision you could make. Are you thinking about moving abroad? If you’ve already moved, what factors persuaded you to do so? View the full article
  3. Recently opened HAKU is bringing its Kappo-style kitchen experience to Harbor City. The concept of HAKU was inspired by Chef Hideaki Matsuo of 3-Michelin starred restaurant Kashiwaya in Osaka, in collaboration with Chef Agustin Balbi (formerly of The Ocean). The intimate kitchen gives diners an interactive experience with the chef and the food. Expect a set menu of incredibly thoughtful Japanese cuisine with a European twist, using the finest ingredients. Vibe at HAKU HAKU’s understated exterior (a black curtain with a large white outline of a triangle) is also present inside the restaurant. The design is minimalist with the focus of the restaurant on the open kitchen. The kitchen seats 11 and I would highly recommend sitting here as you can interact with the chef and see how each course is meticulously plated. There are a handful of tables just to the side of the kitchen as well as a private room in the back if you’re wanting to dine with a larger group. As would be expected, the staff are incredibly welcoming and attentive, ensuring you have the best possible dining experience. Chef Agustin Balbi also came around to explain the ingredients in each dish and was open to any questions we had. Amuse-bouche Kibinago (黍魚子/Silver-stripe Round Herring) & Isaki (伊佐木/Chicken Grunt)Tomorokoshi TartPickled BeetrootShortly after we took our seats at the kitchen bar, we were presented with four different bite-sized snacks akin to an aumse-bouche. The first two were the Kibinago (黍魚子/Silver-stripe Round Herring) and Isaki (伊佐木/Chicken Grunt). The herring was incredible and we saw the chef cooking them using a blow torch before they arrived. Don’t let the name fool you: chicken grunt is actually a type of fish. The smooth fish and the crunchy seaweed made a lovely pairing. We weren’t sure if we were meant to eat the whole Tomorokoshi Tart, as the “crust” didn’t actually look edible at first. Though this was personally the least exciting amuse-bouche for me, it was still quite tasty. Naturally, we were all quite captivated by the Pickled Beetroot that was delicately placed inside a red rose. The beetroot was tangy and acidic, cleansing my palate of the previous small bites. Japanese Oyster Japanese Oyster/Green Apple GranitaAfter sitting down and having a glance at the menu, a fleeting moment of panic came across my face as I read the first course: oysters. I have never enjoyed oysters (it’s a love/hate thing, right?), but was happy to give them a try after I saw the other ingredients. Turns out, I absolutely loved this Japanese Oyster. The addition of yuzukoshō and green apple granita added such a varying degree of complexity to the otherwise ocean-flavored taste of the oyster that I was really taken aback (and wanted more of!). Tomato & Bellota Ham Tomato Variety/Bellota HamAlthough it sounded relatively simple, the Tomato Variety with Bellota ham was full of other carefully chosen ingredients to heighten the taste of this dish. There were pieces of small fish and onion throughout, and kombu on top. When Chef Agustin came over he sprinkled sake kasu (the lees left over from making sake) over the dish, which really added that umami flavor. Foie Gras & Lotus Root Foie Gras/Black Cherry Jam/Lotus Root ChipsWhile I thoroughly enjoyed each dish that was presented at HAKU, the Foie Gras with Lotus Root Chips was my absolute favorite. I was really excited about the lotus root chips when I saw them on the menu (they’re one of my favorite vegetables), but I was not excepting them to be black when they arrived at our table! The chef explained that they used squid ink tempura for the lotus root, which were unbelievably delicious. On top of the delicately smooth foie gras were black cherry jam, slices of cherry, and a pinch of citrus salt. The pairing of lotus root and the foie gras was genius: rich yet slightly sweet, creamy yet crunchy. Hokkaido Uni on Brioche Hokkaido Uni/Eggplant Puree/BriocheWhile I don’t love uni like most people in Hong Kong, I immediately gave big points to the presentation of this dish. The Hokkaido Uni sat atop a layer of eggplant puree on a thick piece of slightly toasted brioche. I loved how the tiny edible Japanese flowers matched the plate, ’cause it’s all about the little things, right? For those like me who don’t really like uni, you’ll likely be surprised at how good this dish is thanks to the fresh and high quality uni used. Ox Tail Ox Tail/KatsuobushiMoving back to meat once again (I found it interesting that Chef Agustin flipped between seafood and meat for many of the courses), this fried Ox Tail cube was delicate and tender on the inside with a crispy fried exterior. There was meant to be citrus zest used, but unfortunately we couldn’t taste any. The ox tail was garnished with katsuobushi – dried, fermented, and smoked skipjack tuna. Overall, it was the texture of this dish that I enjoyed more than the flavor. Nagasaki Tuna & Caviar Nagasaki Tuna/CaviarI loved the way Chef Agustin talked about this dish and how it may look simple, but the magic is truly in the ingredients and “the chef is the bridge between.” The Chūtoro (a medium fatty tuna) and Kristal caviar with gold flakes on top was paired with delicate rice tuile for a well-balanced and delicious bite. Kagoshima A4 Wagyu Kagoshima A4 Wagyu/Mushroom/Cow Bone & Truffle SauceI was blown away by how tender and buttery the Kagoshima A4 Wagyu was, so much so that I think if you were to leave the beef in your mouth it would dissolve within a few minutes. We watched as the beef was cooked over binchotan charcoal before it was sliced and served with mushroom, and a cow bone and truffle sauce (which I honestly didn’t even think it needed). White Peach & Granita White Peach/Panna Cotta/GranitaWe were all incredibly excited about this seasonal White Peach dessert because a) peaches are hard to come by in Hong Kong (and they cost about a million dollars when you do find them) and b) who doesn’t love peaches?! The dessert was beautifully presented: the whole peach was filled with peach chunks, panna cotta, Hokkaido milk foam, and granita made from the peach juice. After we scooped everything out of the peach, we decided to be a little less civilized and got our hands messy while eating the whole peach. Petit Four Cotton CandyTo finish our 8-course meal at HAKU, we were served this super cute and nostalgic box of cotton candy. Though the cotton candy itself didn’t have much taste, the whole idea behind this send off dish is to put a smile on your face when it arrives and that it’s something positive you remember when you leave the restaurant. How simple yet genius is that?! Verdict If you haven’t already figured it out by now, I loved my dining experience at HAKU. Everything from the service to the ambiance to the food has clearly been meticulously thought-out. Chef Agustin cooks with a passionate flare and you can really see the art in each dish; not only in his cooking, but also in the carefully chosen ingredients. Though this is no cheap experience (this 8-course menu was HK$1380), if you appreciate fine dining then a meal at HAKU is a must. HAKU Shop OT G04B, Ground Floor Ocean Terminal, Harbour City Tsim Sha Tsui Tel: 2115 9965 View the full article
  4. I’ve been wanting to visit the Tai O Infinity Pool ever since I saw photos on Instagram of that picture-perfect spot. All the photos I came across online looked so unlike concrete jungle of Hong Kong that I was completely captivated. Despite living here for five years, it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I finally made the trek out to Tai O. I planned the trip to see the fishing village and to check out the infinity pool (two birds one stone, y’know). The route to the infinity pool is relatively short and easy (compared to other hikes around HK at least), but you’ll likely be disappointed when you get there.. read on for a detailed guide on how to get there and why it might not be worth the hike. Starting point of the Tai O Infinity Pool hike Tai O Pier – located just to the left of the entrance to the fish villageContinue along the pier (yes, it will feel like forever)For starters, you’ll need to make the long trek over to the Tai O Fishing Village. You can go one of two ways: go to Central Ferry Pier and hop on the ferry to Mui Wo. Once in Mui Wo, hop on Bus 1, which will take you all the way to Tai O. Alternately, you can take the MTR to Tung Chung and catch Bus 11 to Tai O. I opted to take the ferry, as I heard the queues in Tung Chung for the buses can get insanely long on the weekend. Either way, the bus will drop you off at a small terminal, just outside the fishing village. Directly to the left of the entrance into the village is where you’ll see a long pier – make your way along the pier and follow it to the left and into the small cluster of houses along the water. Through the little “village” Make your way into the tiny “village”Continue walking along the pathKeep straight at this fork in the pathContinue along the path, past the houses on your left and the shoreline on your right. You’ll eventually get to a fork in the road – stay straight and keep going along the shoreline (follow the signs that say “Man Cheung Po”). Keep following the shoreline Go to your left, following the signs to Man Cheung PoYou’ll be able to get a glimpse of the water as you continue along the pathThe sign for Man Cheung Po will take you up these stairs. DO NOT go up. Continue along the same path and wait for the next set of stairs.When you come to the next fork, go left – following the sign that says Man Cheung Po. From here, follow the flat path along the shore (for what will feel like ages). You’ll come across a first set of stairs to your right with the sign for Man Cheung Po directing you to go up the stairs. DO NOT climb up. Instead, continue straight along the path. Hiking up towards the infinity pool These are the stairs you want to climb up.After what feels like ages, you’ll finally reach this abandoned house. Go up to the front, turn right, and follow the path.You’ll eventually (we literally thought we had missed the stairs because we felt like we had been walking for way too long) reach a second set of stairs on your left. These are the stairs you want to go up. From here, the hike is relatively short, but it’s also all uphill (I stupidly wore Birkenstocks, since I thought this was more of a leisurely stroll than a hike). You’ll pass a white house on your left soon after your ascent – just keep following the path until you see the white and blue abandoned house. Walk up to the front of the house, turn right, and continue following the path. You’ll find the Tai O Infinity Pool shortly afterwards. Lovely views and.. disappointment Guards ensuring you don’t swimViews from the Tai O Infinity PoolI had heard rumors that there were now guards at the infinity pool to stop people from swimming in it, since technically it’s a man-made water basin. Unfortunately for me, those rumors were true. When we finally arrived at the infinity pool, there were two guards stationed beside it to prevent anyone from going in (see first photo above). We tried to hide our disappointment as best we could and asked if we could walk around to the back of the infinity pool to take a photo, which they had no problem with. The views were incredibly beautiful (see second photo above), but it obviously would have been even more enjoyable if we were able to cool off in the water before heading back down to the fishing village. Journey Length: 4 km Total Time: 1 hour If anyone knows of any other natural infinity pools in Hong Kong where you ARE allowed to swim, please let me know! View the full article
  5. Formerly known as “Mamasitas Cantina”, ZS Hospitality Group has changed things up a bit after the whole fiasco with Harlan Goldstein last year. The restaurant still serves a variety of Mexican fare by the energetic and charismatic Chef Edgar Navarro. In addition, you’ll find a selection of American food on the menu as well, hence the new name: Mexus. The restaurant is vibrant, with a few funny wall murals (like the one of Trump in a sombrero holding a hot dog). Starters at Mexus Guacamole & Homemade Chips (HK$108)Slow Cooked Octopus (HK$158)Miss Baltimore Crab Cake (HK$148)I was looking forward to having the Guacamole & Homemade Chips (HK$108), as I enjoyed them the last time I came here. Thankfully, the recipe seems to have remained the same. I was slightly apprehensive when the Slow Cooked Octopus (HK$158) came to our table, as I had it a week ago at the newly renovated Casa Lisboa and found it to be far too chewy. I loved the texture (not too chewy, char-grilled outside), and the paprika and black garlic aioli enhanced the overall flavor. Moving on, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the Miss Baltimore Crab Cake (HK$148). You could tell plenty of real crab meat was used, making the crab cake moist instead of dry like many other ones I’ve had are. The mango relish, and mustard and red pepper marmalade was a nice addition, though not needed as the crab cake tasted great by itself. Mains Pork Carnitas Taco (HK$55)12 oz Sirloin Steak (HK$320)Since I couldn’t go to a Mexican restaurant without ordering tacos, I opted for the Pork Carnitas Taco (HK$55). These tacos were incredibly messy to eat, but the combination of pork rib and neck meat, red adobo, haricot beans, pineapple jam, and green tomatillo sauce made it all worth it. Although I was a bit thrown off at the yorkshire pudding that accompanied the 12 oz Sirloin Steak (HK$320), the steak itself was cooked to a perfect juicy medium rare and didn’t need any of the gravy to enhance the flavor. Dessert BA.NA.MI.SU (HK$88)This BA.NA.MI.SU (HK$88) was a dessert game-changer for me and I could not stop talking about how much I loved it. You’ll find banana mascarpone, popping candy, salted caramel foam, and fluffy peanut butter inside this massive jar of heaven. If you like bananas, this dessert is an absolute must. Verdict While Mexus does offer a variety of Mexican fare, I’m not sure this would be the place I would go to if I was truly craving authentic Mexican food. That being said, overall I really liked the food here and think it’s a good choice if you’re looking for a fuss-free, casual bite to eat. Chef Edgar Navarro is passionate about cooking and using quality ingredients, and that really comes through in his dishes. To be honest, I would come back to Mexus just for that banana dessert (it was that good). Mexus 6/F, 8 Lyndhurst Terrace Central Tel: 2896 6118 View the full article
  6. As with a few other restaurants and bars around the city, there’s a story behind the restaurant: Fang Fang is a Shanghai opera singer who left her career behind to travel throughout Asia and bring a variety of flavors to Hong Kong. This new contemporary Asian restaurant serves up an array of unique dishes by highly acclaimed Executive Chef Kent Lee Chin Heng, former Executive Chef of Hakkasan Mumbai, along with an impressive cocktail menu crafted by the talented bar manager Gagan Gurung. Vibe at Fang Fang You’ll be greeted by Fang Fang’s sleek bar upon walking in – stop for a drink here before moving to the restaurant. The dining area is bright and modern, and uses Chinese symbols throughout for decor (like dragon scales/Samurai armor). There are two private dining rooms in the restaurant while the rest of the seating remains quite open. Fang Fang is a great spot for date night (though the lights could be a bit dimmer) or a group dinner or any occasion, really. Cocktails Trái Đất (HK$110) – Turmeric gin, coconut milk, pineapple, lemon, gingerKomorebi (HK$110) – Gin, Chartreuse, Lemon, Chinese Almond, Coriander, Fennel, ChickpeaThe menu, created by bar manager Gagan Gurung, is divided into the five elements, each with two unique Asian-inspired cocktails. Having seen this cute cocktail plastered around social media, I just had to order the Trái Đất (HK$110). Made with turmeric gin, coconut milk, pineapple, lemon, and ginger, this drink was light and refreshing – a perfect choice to start your night off. I was curious about the Komorebi (HK$110) with an ingredient list consisting of gin, chartreuse, lemon, Chinese almond, coriander, fennel, and chickpea. There were a few ingredients I love (gin, chickpeas – yesss) and a few I really didn’t like (fennel – nooo), but was easily convinced by Gagan to give it a shot. The texture was part creamy part grain and there was a slightly sour after taste. I enjoyed the drink more and more with each sip. Starters Soft Shell Crab (HK$125)Fang Fang Style Paneer (HK$125)I think soft shell crab may be growing on me because I typically don’t like it, but Fang Fang’s Soft Shell Crab (HK$125) with curry leaves was undoubtedly delicious. This dish was so full of flavor and had a variety of textures that it was hard to put my fork down. The Fang Fang Style Paneer (HK$125) was unexpected, but since I love paneer I wanted to try it. Although it may not look like much, this ended up being one of my favorite dishes I had at Fang Fang – the cheese cubes were smooth and coated in the perfect amount of slightly sweet sauce. Mains Jasmine Tea Smoked Ribs (HK$125)Fang Fang Roasted Duck (HK$495) – as presented at our tableFang Fang Roasted Duck (HK$495) – sliced with condimentsThe Jasmine Tea Smoked Ribs (HK$125) were encased in a glass covering as it came to our table and was opened to let the smoke out. The meat easily came off the bone and was full of flavor, with a subtle hint of Jasmine tea. The most impressive dish of the evening was the Fang Fang Roasted Duck (HK$495), which was presented to our table whole. After the photo shoot with our roast duck was done, our server took it away to cut up. The skin was served with a fair amount of meat (which more local palates may not be in favor of) and was so good I didn’t even need to dip it in the accompanying sauce. Dessert Green Tea Ice Cream (HK$75)Ginger Creme Brulee (HK$85)Dessert at Fang Fang is not to be missed. The Green Tea Ice Cream (HK$75) tasted natural and had a smooth texture, unlike the more grainy artificial kinds. The presentation was also lovely, especially the edible chocolate butterflies. I loved the strong presence of ginger in the Ginger Creme Brulee (HK$85) without it overpowering the more subtle flavors of the natural custard. Verdict If you’re looking for a new restaurant to check out in Hong Kong that won’t disappoint, visit Fang Fang. The menu has a fantastic variety of pan-Asian cuisine at reasonable prices. Cocktails at Fang Fang are unique, full of flavor, and very photogenic. I’ll definitely be heading back to Fang Fang to try some of their other dishes and to tick off a few more cocktails on their menu soon. Fang Fang 8/F, LKF Tower 33 Wyndham Street Central Tel: 2983 9083 View the full article
  7. I’ve now been living abroad (in Hong Kong) for five years and a whole lot has changed since I first moved here. Thankfully, the one thing that has remained constant is my wonderful family. I’ve grown a heck of a lot over these past years and have learned so much about myself and the world around me. While I’ve always been close with my parents, moving half way around the world has certainly changed a few things. I can never thank my parents enough for everything they’ve done for me, so here is a little ode to them in the form of five things I’ve realized about family after living abroad for five years. 5. FaceTime makes the distance bearable Living abroad in the age of smartphones certainly makes things a lot easier. Whether it’s a quick FaceTime chat on my way home from dinner (what I refer to as “my walk and talk”), or sending a few random messages and photos throughout the week, I’m pretty darn grateful that there are so many easy ways to keep in touch with my family. I ritually FaceTime with my parents every Sunday night (morning in Canada) to have a proper catch-up. Whether we have meaningful things to talk about or not, it’s nice having that routine to check in on each other just to say hi. 4. Their never-ending support, near and far Whether it was packing my life up to move to Hong Kong, scrambling to find a flat in only 10 days after landing, or starting up this blog, my family has always been there to give me guidance and support (not to mention listen patiently as I complained and vented about all of the above). I can’t thank them enough for their willingness to support me near and far, and through the highs and lows of these past five years. 3. My mom is my best friend I’ve had my fair share of “best friends” throughout my life, but the only person who has stuck by me through thick and thin is my mom (well, my dad too, but it’s just not the same for a daughter :P). She is the person I go to whenever I have news to share, or just need some life advice on how to be an adult (which is basically every week). My mom is a great mother, an inspiring role model, a comedian, the most outgoing and charismatic person I’ve ever met, beyond generous, incredibly supportive, beautiful on the inside and out, and my very best friend. I truly feel like I won the daughter lottery in life. 2. I’m still their “little girl” I’m not sure if it’s because I live abroad, but whenever I go back to visit my family, I get the “little girl” treatment. If you’ve lived abroad, you probably know what I’m referring to: your parents will make you lunch and dinner, they’ll ask what you want from the grocery store, they stock the kitchen cupboards with all your favorite foods before you arrive (in my case, it was 10 bags of Sweet Chili Heat Doritos!), they willingly lend you their car, and the list goes on and on. On the other hand, when I’m abroad and tell them I’m not feeling well, I get a dozen questions including, “have you gone to the doctor yet?”. Sometimes I question whether they think I’m “adult enough” to take care of myself (which at times, I also wonder), I remind myself that they’re only asking because they’re concerned and care about their “little girl”. 1. My family are the most important people in my life When you pack up your life and move abroad, you leave a whole lot of stuff behind (some of which you’re probably better off without). As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that my family is one of the few constants in my life: they don’t break up with you, they don’t ditch you for new friends, and they certainly don’t stop staying in touch after you move away. At the end of the day, I’ve only got one family, so I’m damn well going to make sure they know just how important and loved they are at every opportunity I get. How did your relationship with your family change when you moved abroad? View the full article
  8. Cabana has been open for quite some time above The Pulse on Repulse Bay Beach, but I could never quite justify paying to lounge on their beach chairs or soak in their onsen baths when a free beach was only steps away. This past Saturday, G.H. Mumm Champagne hosted a “Save Water, Drink Champagne” event that I had the chance to go to and I had a great time. I mean, what’s not to love about a glass of bubbly in hand, a comfy reclining beach lounger, and incredible views of Repulse Bay?! Vibe at Cabana The rooftop area at Cabana is beautiful: there are dozens of loungers and a handful of onsen baths, all with perfect views of Repulse Bay along with larger tent-like seating behind the main walkway. The staff are very friendly and always on hand to help out (AKA get you more bottles of champagne!). What to expect Bottles and bottles of Mumm’s Champagne with my new Valentino sunglasses from SmartBuyGlasses! To get into Cabana, you need to purchase a package for the day. Afternoon tickets are available on the weekend and public holidays from 2:00 – 7:00 pm, and include access to the loungers, baths, towel service, a live DJ, and a bottle of champagne for HK$580 (pre-purchased ticket). There are also other packages available during the week from Wednesday to Friday and from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm on the weekend. Aside from being completely relaxed, one thing I loved about Cabana was being able to catch a gorgeous sunset before we left. Verdict Though it’s not exactly cheap, if you’re wanting to relax in style and #treatyoself, grab a bunch of friends and head to Cabana. The fact that your entrance fee includes a bottle of champagne makes the price tag (slightly) more bearable. That being said, I do wish that the venue was open longer than 7:00 pm. The staff also need to work on maintaining the bathrooms throughout the day, as they were not in good condition when I went to use them. Cabana Lobby A Rooftop The Pulse Repulse Bay Tel: 2889 5939 View the full article
  9. Casa Lisboa formerly occupied a floor in the LKF Tower for a number of years until it silently closed its doors in preparation to move. I’ll be honest: I had no idea it was relocating to Wyndham Street until I walked by the building and saw a sign in the lobby. Given that my last experience at Casa Lisboa wasn’t too enjoyable, I was skeptical about trying it again. After a bit of debating, I figured as long as I kept my expectations low, it wouldn’t hurt (this mentality can be applied to almost anything, mainly dating). The decor has completely changed for the better, and the food is much more appetizing, both in taste and how it is presented. Vibe at the new Casa Lisboa Casa Lisboa underwent a complete makeover after they moved to their new location. They went from old, drab decor to a bright, modern design with plenty of blue and white decor. When I walked through the doors, it felt like I was stepping into an entirely new restaurant, which I imagine is what they were going for. The restaurant lets in ample amounts of natural light through the floor to ceiling windows that span across the wall. Starters Piri-Piri Quail (HK$180)Portuguese Octopus Confit (HK$280)As a fan of Nando’s (I mean, who isn’t?), I was looking forward to trying the Piri-Piri Quail (HK$180). The fennel underneath the quail was lit before arriving at our table, giving it an aromatic, smokey flavor. While I did really like the overall taste, it was a bit of a struggle to eat it and unfortunately there wasn’t much meat on each piece. The Portuguese Octopus Confit (HK$280) was infused with Moscatel wine, adding a semi-sweet flavor, however I would have preferred the octopus to have a slightly crispier exterior. Mains Duck Rice Lisboa Style (HK$180)A5 Grade Flame-grilled Chunk Rib “Preguinho” (HK$380)My favorite dish of this meal goes to the Duck Rice Lisboa Style (HK$180) with chorizo and slow-roasted pork belly. The broth uses fresh duck bones to cook the rice, making what might normally be a simple dish irresistible (no, literally – I couldn’t stop eating this). You’ll find tender shredded duck meat throughout and I loved how crispy the top bits of rice were. Half of the A5 Grade Flame-grilled Chunk Rib “Preguinho” (HK$380) was fantastic, but the other half was far too fatty for my liking. The sous vide beef is served with a side of mustard and cheese sauce, though I’m not sure the flavor of the cheese sauce complimented the beef. Dessert Pineapple, Vanilla Ice Cream, and Pistachio Sponge Raviolis (HK$75)“Chocolates with Bread” (HK$80)All eyes at our table darted towards our waiter when the Pineapple, Vanilla Ice Cream, and Pistachio Sponge Raviolis (HK$75) were brought over. Pineapple slices that have been seasoned in a syrup of sugar and spices were placed over a scoop of ice cream and homemade pistachio sponge cake. I really liked the flavor and texture combination of this dessert, but there was a chunk in the middle that was frozen. We also tried the “Chocolates with Bread” (HK$80) – a popular children’s snack in Portugal. This dessert is made with extra virgin olive oil caviar, homemade crisps and chocolate mousse. This seemingly odd mix of ingredients was a slightly sweet, but light way to end our meal Verdict Casa Lisboa has made quite a few improvements after their relocation, most notably in the decor and general atmosphere of the restaurant. While I did enjoy many of their dishes, Casa Lisboa is really going to have to step up their game if they want to compete with the never-ending amount of restaurants that pop up just as fast as they close down in this city. Casa Lisboa 2/F, Parekh House 63 Wyndham Street Central Tel: 2905 1168 View the full article
  10. Since I haven’t tried too many Korean dishes (I usually stick to gimbap or bibimbap), I figured I would finally try Momojein. Helmed by Korean Chef Lim Hee Won (who is incredibly sweet and down to earth, and is well known in Korea for being on a reality TV cooking show), Momojein offers diners a modern take on a range of traditional Korean dishes. Chef Lim Hee Won has recently introduced a handful of new dishes to Momojein’s menu that I had the chance to try. Vibe at Momojein I went to Momojein during lunch and loved how bright the restaurant was; there’s plenty of natural light and the decor was modern/minimal. The rectangular dining area offers plenty of seating throughout and is great if you’re in a larger group or if you’re dining solo (there are individual seats along the windows). Staff are welcoming and service was fairly prompt given the lunch rush. Starters Gujeolpan (HK$138)Spicy Bell Pepper Tuna (HK$162)Yukhoe (HK$178)We began with the beautifully presented Gujeolpan (HK$138), which dates back to the Kingdom of Joseon of the late 1300s. Nowadays, this dish is mainly served during festivities. The gujeolpan at Momojein consists of nine ingredients (beef, egg white, egg yolk, cucumber, carrot, two types of mushroom, zucchini, and onion) with fresh flavored pancakes in the middle. Put whichever ingredients you fancy onto the spinach, beetroot, and white lotus flower pancakes, fold it up, and dip it into Momojein’s homemade pine nut mustard sauce. My favorite starter was the Spicy Bell Pepper Tuna (HK$162). These mini bell peppers were stuffed with tuna marinated in Gochujang (Korean hot paste) and were deliciously spicy. The presentation was inspired by a tinned tuna product from Korea, adding a touch of “awe, so cute” to the dish. If you’re a fan of tartare, you’ll enjoy the Yukhoe (HK$178). This raw beef dish is made with a number of interesting ingredients, such as pear, and is served with their housemade seaweed chips. Mains KFD (HK$128)Smoked Pork Belly (HK$350)Soondoobu Stew (HK$208)Since Korean fried chicken is still incredibly popular, we opted for the KFD (HK$128), where Momojein’s version only includes drumsticks, hence the “D”. The batter is light and crispy, but I did wish there was a bit more meat on each drumstick. I really loved the Smoked Pork Belly (HK$350) and everyone at our table seemed to agree as it was gobbled up in a matter of seconds. The technique used to create this dish is time consuming: Korean bean paste and Jung Jong (Korean wine) are rubbed onto the Iberico pork, which is then slow-cooked for 12 hours. The pork is then roasted before being put into a clay pot with wood shavings that are lit at the table to give it that intense smokey flavor. I was surprised at how much I actually liked the Soondoobu Stew (HK$208). This stew is made with a variety of Korean seasonings, along with pork, seafood, vegetables, tofu, and egg, and has quite the spicy kick to it. Dessert Baesuk Sherbet (HK$88)After a hearty meal, I was thankful that dessert was rather light. The Baesuk Sherbet (HK$88) is the perfect summer treat for both your stomach and your eyes. This dessert is made by first boiling the Korean pear in a sweet soup made of cinnamon, honey, ginger, and sugar. Part of the soup is then used to make a sherbet while the other part is mixed with soda water. This dessert was incredibly refreshing and I really liked how strong the cinnamon flavor was. Verdict You can really tell that Chef Lim Hee Won puts plenty of passion into his cooking – even the charcoal used for grilling is imported from Korea! Each dish uses high quality ingredients and is plated with care. If you haven’t had the chance to try the food at Momojein, I would highly recommend it. MOMOJEIN 23/F, QRE Plaza 202 Queen’s Road East Wan Chai Tel: 2789 1949 View the full article
  11. Private dining has become increasingly popular in Hong Kong over the last few years as more people in the city are opting for private kitchens to celebrate an event or to have a more intimate dining experience (no doubt thanks to the size of most flats in the city, making hosting near impossible). While there are a few private kitchens that have been around for a number of years, I went to a newer raw, plant-based private dinner the other week at Masalas and Olives. I’ve never been into the whole vegan/raw eating, but I’ll admit I was really impressed with the food and atmosphere. Vibe at Masalas and Olives Masalas and Olives is a private kitchen run by raw vegan chef Kanch and is located in her home in Mid Levels. The large dining area offers fantastic views of the city (which will likely leave you feeling quite jealous) and gives off a homey feel that is welcoming and comfortable. Kanch’s mission is to “connect people over a delicious raw plant based meal”, which I think she was quite successful in doing while I was there. Course 1 – 3 Masala Cheese Plate Kimchi Dumplings Creamy SaagWe began with the masala cheese platter made with tree nuts, okra, and papaya. I’d be lying if I said I preferred vegan cheese to real cheese, but I was pleasantly surprised with how good it was. My favorite was the kimchi cheese on dehydrated pineapple – a perfect pairing of spicy smooth cheese on a slightly sweet chewy pineapple. Next up were the kimchi dumplings made with spinach, beetroot, and ginger foam. We were all quite surprised at the kick these little dumplings packed. We finished up the starters with a creamy saag made of naan chips, spinach, and mung salad. This dish was definitely a highlight for me – the smooth saag paired perfectly with the cirsp naan chips. Course 4 – 5 Smokey Pho Chocolate Cake, Passion Fruit Ice CreamNext up was the smokey pho made of zucchini noodles, tamari mushrooms, and vegan tofu. Everyone around our table couldn’t believe that there wasn’t meat in this dish and I absolutely loved how apparent the smokey flavor was. To wrap up our dinner we had a chocolate cake with passion fruit ice cream. While I did enjoy the chocolate cake, it was the ice cream that really stole the show. The passion fruit was surprisingly pronounced, and the texture was creamy and dense. Verdict If you’re looking for a private dining experience that’s a little bit different, I would recommend checking out Masalas and Olives. All of their menus are raw vegan and there’s a variety of cuisines to choose from including Asian, Indian, Mediterranean, and Japanese. The menu takes Kanch five days to prepare, which just goes to show how much time and effort is put into each dinner she hosts. Masalas and Olives hosts dinners from 4 – 16 people with menus ranging from HK$580 – $600 (extra for an additional wine pairing, or you can BYOB). Masalas and Olives Mid Levels (address provided after booking) Tel: 5944 4971 View the full article
  12. Since its opening almost a year ago, I’ve been wanting to try Mama Malouf after hearing plenty of good things about the place. This quaint Lebanese restaurant gets its name from the Alex Malouf’s (the owner) mother. The dishes take inspiration from Alex’s mother and the recipes have been developed from his experience growing up in a Lebanese home. You’ll find traditional, as well as more modern dishes on Mama Malouf’s menu, all of which are hearty and satisfying. In terms of atmosphere, you can expect a cozy, home-like feel at Mama Malouf with minimalist decor. Mezze Cucumber and tarragon labne (HK$58)Baked eggplant salad with burrata (HK$128)Haloumi & fontina cheese fondue with fig jam (HK$118)We began with the cucumber and tarragon labne (HK$58) with safron and caramelized onions. The dip was thick and creamy, and the caramelized onions added an extra punch of flavor. My favorite starter was the baked eggplant salad with burrata (HK$128). This was a more modern dish on the menu, and I loved the contrast in texture from the creamy burrata, smooth eggplant, and crunchy salad. If you love cheese, you should definitely try the haloumi & fontina cheese fondue (HK$118) with fig jam. The cheese came to our table bubbling (get those Boomerang’s ready!) and the combination of the melted cheese and fig jam on brioche was absolutely divine. Mains Grilled beef kafta skewers (HK$178)Whole roasted baby snapper (HK$168)I was a big fan of the grilled beef kafta skewers (HK$178) with pita, padron peppers, sumac salad, and tahini and harissa sauce. The ground beef skewers were incredibly tender and full of flavor, especially when made into a wrap with the pita, salad, and sauces. The whole roasted baby snapper (HK$168) had a bit too many tiny bones for my liking, but the flavor was certainly on point and others at the table said this was their favorite dish of the evening. Dessert Turkish delight chocolate fondue (HK$58)We finished our very filling meal with the Turkish delight chocolate fondue (HK$58). We took the Turkish delight, which is imported directly from Lebanon, and dipped it into the melted chocolate before covering it in crushed pistachios. I liked how this dish had just the right amount of sweetness – perfect for when you’ve overindulged on mezze and mains, but can’t say no to dessert. Verdict on Mama Malouf If you enjoy Middle Eastern cuisine, I would definitely recommend giving Mama Malouf a try. The vibe is cozy and homey, while also being minimalist and modern – perfect for a date night or to catch up with a friend. Expect traditional Middle Eastern spices and flavors that have been incorporated into contemporary, satisfying dishes. Mama Malouf 93 Catchick Street Kennedy Town Tel: 2817 3828 View the full article
  13. I love to indulge in a free-flow weekend brunch, but there comes a point where drinking glass after glass of champagne on a Sunday afternoon becomes a bit excessive (yup, even for me). I felt like I needed to give my liver a break, so I tried Divino’s new weekend Recovery Brunch and really loved it. Although typically a after work and late night hot spot, I would definitely recommend trying the brunch here. The food was healthy and very filling, and I didn’t feel like the rest of my day was a waste thanks to a food and drink induced coma. Divino Recovery Brunch Drinks Lemon, Ginger, and Chili Detox Water (HK$58)I started with a glass of refreshing Sweet Herbal Apple Detox Water (HK$58), unlike the glass of champagne that accompanied my brunch the day before. Divino serves up three different types of detox water and they’re all refillable, so you can try all three. The other two choices are a lemon, ginger, and chili water, and pomegranate infusion tea with mint. Food Oven-baked Beetroot and Cottage Cheese (HK$138)Chef’s “Healing Bowl” (HK$138)Greek Yogurt and Granola Parfait (HK$98)For our mains, we ordered the Oven-baked Beetroot and Cottage Cheese (HK$138) with 24 year balsamic and basil oil. The beetroot were delicious, and the subtle addition of cottage cheese added a nice contrasting, smooth texture. We also shared the Chef’s “Healing Bowl” (HK$138), comprised of quinoa, smoked salmon, avocado, capers, baby spinach, poached eggs, and pesto sauce. I loved everything about this dish – the poached eggs were perfect and there wasn’t too much sauce, which meant you could distinctly taste each ingredient. To finish up, we couldn’t resist the Greek Yogurt and Granola Parfait (HK$98) and were impressed right away with the beautiful, Instagram-worthy presentation. Layers of fat-free Greek yogurt, banana, berries, and granola, with fresh passion fruit and bee pollen sprinkles on top made this parfait utterly irresistible. Verdict The Divino Recovery Brunch is a fantastic alternative to the endless boozy brunches available in Hong Kong. Not only were the brunch dishes at Divino healthy, but they were incredibly satisfying. I didn’t expect to leave this brunch feeling stuffed, but we literally waddled our way out of the restaurant.. at least it was all healthy, right? Divino Wine Bar and Restaurant 73 Wyndham Street Central Tel: 2167 8883 View the full article
  14. As I was planning my trip to Tokyo, I was told numerous times that it was a ridiculously expensive city. I ended up bringing about ¥35,000 in cash for food, drink, and whatever else I wanted to throw some dollar bills at (not including my hotel), and only had about ¥2,000 left after five days. I’m a fairly money-conscious individual, but do like to indulge every once in awhile. While there were certainly things I didn’t do while in Tokyo given my time constraints (the Robot Restaurant, for example), I left feeling like I did everything I had originally wanted to and was able to really enjoy my time here. So, if you’re wondering “how much money should I bring to Tokyo?”, keep reading for the breakdown of all my expenses over five days. Day 1: Transportation, dinner, and drinks Our flight touched down at Narita International Airport Saturday night and we had a bit of a tough time sorting out transportation to our hotel in Shinjuku. If we had more time (and if there was actually information in English), I’m sure we could have found a much cheaper way to get to our hotel, but we were tired, frustrated, and just wanted to get out of the airport. After we checked into our hotel, we decided to wander over to Memory Lane for a late-night bite to eat. This is where we discovered a little shop selling the most delicious soba noodles (this was our cheapest meal of the trip). We then wandered over to the well-known area of Golden Gai for a glass of sake before passing out for the evening. Breakdown: ¥3128 – train ticket from airport to my hotel ¥400 – the most delicious soba noodles ¥900 – sake at a little bar in Golden Gai Total: ¥4,498 Day 2: Suica Card, the best falafel sandwich I’ve ever had, Family Mart snacks and drink Despite the wet weather, we wandered over to Harajuku with a beer in hand (gotta love the liquor laws in these countries). We later stopped by for a very sweet milk tea shaved ice dessert at Ice Monster. After a bit more wandering around, we went to Kuumba du Falafel for the most incredible falafel sandwich I have had (and likely will ever have). Since the weather was absolute crap and we were exhausted, we decided to hit up a 7-Eleven for some drinks (read: wine and beer) and snacks (a mix of mochi, onigiri, and other odd things we wouldn’t fully know until opening the package) to take back to our hotel. Breakdown: ¥190 – breakfast danish ¥500 – money added onto my Suica Card (used for the metro) ¥500 – dessert at Ice Monster ¥135 – beer to-go from Family Mart ¥1200 – the best falafel sandwich I’ve ever had at Kuumba du Falafel ¥636 – hotel late-night snacks (wine, mochi, onigiri, beer) Total: ¥3,161 Day 3 : Tsukemen, sake in a cup, cherry blossoms, ice cream We started our day with a tsukemen ramen meal at Fuunji. For those who haven’t tried tsukemen before – it’s life-changing. Plus, Fuunji is meant to serve some of the best tsukemen in Tokyo and, after trying it, I would have to agree. Since we were in Tokyo during sakura season, we went to Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden to surround ourselves with all of the beautiful cherry blossoms. On our way home, we decided to try one of the restaurants in the metro for dinner, as we had heard they’re all meant to be really good. Unfortunately, my miso katsu wasn’t fantastic (the only meal I didn’t love in Tokyo), but thankfully my triple-tiered ice cream afterwards hit the spot. Breakdown: ¥1200 – Tsukemen ramen at Fuunji ¥238 – cup sake from 7-Eleven (literally the best thing) ¥200 – entrance into Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden (for the cherry blossoms) ¥1000 – recharge of my Suica Card ¥1100 – dinner (miso katsu in the metro) ¥470 – soft serve matcha, strawberry, and Hokkaido milk ice cream Total: ¥5,408 Day 4: Tsukiji Fish Market, omakase lunch, hilarious dinner We were cursed with yet another day of rain, but it was our last chance to head to the Tsukiji Fish Market since it was closed the following day. So off we went, umbrella in hand, to devour all of the snacks and sushi from the market. By 10:00 am, we had eaten our fair share of snacks as we wandered around, but saved just enough room to enjoy a fantastic omakase lunch at Sushi Katsura. For dinner, we went to well-known Narukiyo. There was penis paraphernalia everywhere, great music, a hilarious chef, and just all around super fun vibes. Although on the expensive side, I think the experience alone at Narukiyo is well worth it. Breakdown: ¥906 – snacks from the Tsukiji Fish Market (strawberry mochi, corn fritters, salmon onigiri, tomago) ¥280 – coffee at a local cafe ¥1340 – lunch at Sushi Katsura ¥596 – 7-Eleven snacks and drinks ¥10000 – dinner and drinks at Narukiyo Total: ¥13,122 Day 5: Cooking class, Sensoji Temple, Ippudo Ramen I began my day incredibly hungover (thanks to three flasks of sake at Narukiyo, followed by a night of dancing in Shibuya), but managed to make it to my wagyu kaiseki cooking class at Cooking Sun (the cost of this class would typically be ¥8,500 per person, but it was sponsored by Flight Centre). After a few cups of coffee and some food, we made our way over to the Sensoji Temple where we walked around the area and ate plenty of snacks. We found an Ippudo Ramen nearby, and while there is one in Hong Kong, we figured we’d try the “real deal” here in Tokyo. As expected, it did not disappoint. Breakdown: ¥538 – amazing instant coffee from our hotel, found at a grocery store ¥150 – coffee at 7-Eleven (which was surprisingly good) ¥560 – Suica Card recharge ¥960 – snacks from the Sensoji Temple ¥890 – Ippudo Ramen lunch ¥185 – pastry dessert Total: ¥3,283 Day 6: 7-Eleven haul, coffee, flight back to HK We had an early morning flight to make, so we were up at 4:30 am. After a quick 7-Eleven haul (including the most heavenly matcha choux cream puffs), we made our way to the Ginza line. We were headed to Ueno Station to catch the first train (Keisi Skyline) to the airport that departed at 5:58 am. The train is super fast, and we made it with a bit of time to spare (our flight was at 8:40 am). Breakdown: ¥660 – 7-Eleven haul before heading to the airport ¥200 – Suica Card ¥2200 – Keisei Skyline to the airport transfer ¥130 – vending machine coffee Total: ¥3,283 Hotel I chose to stay at the Washington Shinjuku Hotel Annex for a number of reasons. Namely, because it was in a central location and it was one of the more reasonably priced hotels (you could definitely find cheaper if you want to stay in a capsule hotel). You can read my full hotel review here. Total for five nights at the hotel: ¥48,925 (per person) Grand total for five nights in Tokyo: ¥81,877 View the full article
  15. One of the great things about Tokyo is that you’re guaranteed a good meal at just about any restaurant or little shop you walk into. Heck, even the Family Mart and 7-Eleven offer great options if you’re on the go. While you could certainly eat up a storm in Tokyo without doing any research ahead of time, I’m pretty damn glad I did because I managed to have an incredible meal each of my five days in the city (as well as some great ones that just didn’t make my ‘top 5 places to eat in Tokyo’ list). 5. Kuumba du Falafel I know what you’re thinking: why in the world would I get a falafel in Tokyo?! Simply because it will be the best falafel you’ve ever had. Kuumba du Falafel is a little shop in the outskirts of Shibuya with only one thing on the menu: falafel. I ordered the full portion of the falafel sandwich (¥1,200) with all the fixings and was honestly in vegetarian heaven (and I didn’t even really like falafel before coming here!). Read more about Kuumba du Falafel here. 4. Tsukemen at Fuunji I had heard a lot about tsukemen (the type of ramen where you dip the cold noodles into the lukewarm, slightly fishy broth) before, but had never tried it prior to arriving in Tokyo. Fuunji was recommended to me and after doing a bit of research, I quickly discovered this was one of the most popular spots in Tokyo for tsukemen. Arrive early (or late) to beat the queues, as there are only about 15 spots around the kitchen, and indulge in a massive bowl of unbeatable tsukemen for a very reasonable ‎¥‎1,000. Read more about Fuunji here. 3. Sushi Katsura A trip to Tokyo isn’t complete unless you visit the Tsukiji Fish Market and have an incredibly fresh omakase experience at a nearby sushi shop. While the more famous shops, like Sushi Dai and Daiwa Sushi, charge a pretty penny and have queues that start as early as 3:00 am, Sushi Katsura is a much more reasonable option. With no need to queue up at a ridiculous hour (it only opens for lunch and dinner) and an omakase menu that starts at only ¥950, Sushi Katsura is a perfect alternative for those who care more about the quality of sushi (and getting a decent night sleep) than the name of the restaurant. Read more about Sushi Katsura here. 2. Soba Noodles on Memory Lane I stumbled upon this little soba noodle shop along Memory Lane in Shinjuku on my first night in Tokyo at around 10:00 pm when we were scouring the streets for something to eat. There were about 10 seats crammed around the small one-man kitchen and five people queuing in front of us, which naturally led us to believe this place was a winner. For only ¥400 (the cheapest meal I had in Tokyo), I sat down to a delicious bowl of fresh soba noodles, a mountain of vegetable tempura, and a soft boiled egg. Read more about the soba noodles on Memory Lane here. 1. Narukiyo This was my one splurge during my time in Tokyo and I don’t regret a single yen spent. From the moment I stepped foot inside Narukiyo, I knew I was going to have a great time. The place is covered in penis paraphernalia (yes, you read that correctly) and I had the pleasure of sitting right in front of a massive black penis for my entire meal. As I’m sure you can guess, the vibe is incredibly fun (be sure to snag a seat around the kitchen) and we ended up spending over three hours in the restaurant. As for the food, you simply tell the waiter if there is anything you won’t eat and after a few minutes, your food starts arriving. We had three flasks of sake and 7 courses (three individual, four shared), and our bill came to ¥20,700. Read more about Narukiyo here. View the full article