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thisgirlabroad

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  1. If you’re an adventurous foodie who often finds yourself planning a travel itinerary based around all the food you want to try, then Penang is the perfect travel destination for you. The food found in Penang is insanely good, oh-so cheap, and most of it is difficult to find outside the country. Although I had made a stopover for a few days in George Town about five years ago, I never really explored all the local food this area had to offer. With that in mind, I made sure to do research on the regional food I could find in Penang. I ended up planning my days around pit-stops at local food stalls and night markets, and managed to put together this list of all the local food in Penang that I loved and that you must try. 1. Asam Laksa Asam laksa is arguably the most well known dish from Penang. While many people have tried the creamy version of laksa that is relatively easy to find around the world, asama laksa is unique to Penang and is difficult to come across outside Malaysia. Asam laksa has a sweet, slightly sour taste from the pineapple and mild fish base. You can find asam laksa just about anywhere – this bowl was from a night market in the beach area of Batu Ferringhi and only cost RM4. While the laksa at night markets was fantastic, a highlight for me was heading to Moh Teng Pheow Nyonya Koay in George Town (recommended to me by the staff at Hotel Penaga) for a bowl of these insanely delicious noodles. 2. Cendol One of the most famous desserts in Penang is Cendol – an iced dessert made with coconut milk, green rice flour ‘noodles’, red beans, shaved ice, and palm sugar. So famous in fact, that above one of the food stalls (Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendul )selling this dessert on Lebuh Keng Kwee is a massive mural of a man taking a big spoon full of cendol. There is also a stall directly across from it called Penang Road Famous Chendol where I bought a bowl for RM2.90. We were actually told by a local to go to the latter one because the ‘famous’ one’s quality has declined since many tourists visit it anyway. Regardless of which one you go to, this is the perfect roadside treat to cool you off. 3. Local jelly desserts Sticking with the theme of dessert, Malaysia has a variety of local jellied desserts that are popular. I actually didn’t know about this until we went to Moh Teng Pheow Nyonya Koay, where they have a large selection of these homemade desserts for sale. The flavors we tried were: Kuih Bengka – Ubi, Kuih Talam, Pulut Tai Tai (Kaya Kuih), and one Abuk. These desserts weren’t overly sweet, which was certainly appreciated after a heavy meal, and ranged between RM0.60 – RM1.50, and RM3 for the Abuk (the one wrapped in the lotus leaf). 4. Curry Mee I discovered curry mee rather accidentally when I was trying to eat as much local food as I could possibly consume before my flight. I found this delicious curry mee at Pisa Cafe food market in Bayan Baru. This massive bowl of the most delicious, creamy noodles was only RM4.50 and came loaded with thicker yellow noodles and thin vermicelli noodles, tofu, and cuttlefish balls in a spicy coconut sauce. 5. Nasi Kandar When I was doing research on the must-try dishes in Penang, nasi kandar came up numerous times with reference to a popular restaurant called Nasi Kandar Line Clear Restaurant. We popped in on one of our first nights in George Town and were welcomed with a mountain (no, literally, there was enough food to feed at least two people) of rice, chicken (you could choose your meat, but one of the staff recommended the roast chicken), fried bitter gourd, okra, green beans, cucumber, and a few other ingredients that I had no clue about. This was one of my favorite dishes I had in Penang and it only cost RM14.30. 6. Iced Kacang This was another surprise dish found in Pisa Cafe on my last night in Penang. Although I had read plenty about Cendol and tried it in George Town, I didn’t hear about this dessert until I was wandering around the food stalls and came upon one selling iced kacang. I asked the lady behind the counter about it and, despite being incredibly full from two big dishes already, I couldn’t leave Penang without trying it. This refreshing dessert was comprised of red beans, grass jelly, nata de coco, and agar hidden under a mound of colorful shaved ice, sweet corn, condensed milk, and a scoop of taro ice cream. 7. Char Kway Teow Char kway teow is another popular dish in Malaysia and can be found at almost any local restaurant or market. I didn’t find this dish as exciting as the others, since I can find it quite easily where I live, but it’s a great dish to order if you’re looking for some simple comfort food. This (rather small) plate of char kway teow was from the night market in Batu Ferringhi for RM5. 8. Street-side Indian Snacks In the heart of George Town you’ll find an eclectic area called Little India. This section of small shops, eateries, and plenty of colorful characters is where you can get your hands on some delicious Indian food. There were a number of food stalls along the road selling a variety of snacks and desserts – I went for the vegetarian samosa (RM0.60) and instantly regretted only buying one. I then went on a mission to find gulab jamun (my favorite Indian dessert) and finally came across a little shop called Mr. Sweets where I filled a bag with 4 pieces of gulab jamun and 5 other mystery sweets that looked delicious for only RM11.90. View the full article
  2. When people think of Hong Kong, they often piece together an image of tall skyscrapers, hoards of people taking over sidewalks, and little greenery. While some of this may be true in certain parts of the city (no one wants to be walking around in Central during lunchtime!), there is a whole other side to Hong Kong that many people don’t know about. If you’re a fan of spending the day conquering a hiking trail, discovering the local geology of a place, or hoping on a boat to explore lesser-known parts of an area, then Hong Kong should definitely be at the top of your list. Discover Hong Kong is offering three outdoor package tours that will guide you on a fantastic eco-journey filled with picture-perfect views, rich history, and unique experiences. Each of these hassle-free guided hiking tours by locals include a professionally qualified geo-tour guide that will teach you about the history and tell you plenty of stories about everything you’ll see along the way. Lai Chi Wo Hiking Tour Photo from the Hong Kong Tourism BoardOver 400 years ago Lai Chi Wo was one of the most prosperous villages in the New Territories. Located within Plover Cove Country Park, this Hakka village is located along the coastline and is mainly populated by its older original inhabitants. You’ll begin the hike at Tai Po Market MTR Station where a bus will take you to Wu Kau Tang. Follow the guide as they tell you interesting Feng Sui stories and take you to Sam A Tsuen where you’ll get to stop and have lunch. From there, you’ll make your way to Lai Chi Wo to explore that area. To wrap up this tour, a scenic boat ride will take you to Ma Liu Shui Ferry Pier, which is right beside University MTR Station. Start time: 10:00 am Length of tour: Around 8 hours Starting/Ending point: Tai Po Market MTR Station/University MTR Station Price: HK$1000 including lunch Book your tour here. Geopark Hiking Tour Photo from the Hong Kong Tourism BoardAnother great option is the Geopark Hiking tour that will take you along the beautiful coastline in Sai Kung. This area has plenty of natural geological landforms and rock formations caused by volcanic activity, waves, and weathering from 140 million years ago. This guided tour will take you through the impressive hexagonal columnar joints, a boat ride to see the natural tombolo on Sharp Island, and an inland water dam at High Island Reservoir. Amidst all of these sightseeing locations, you’ll stop for lunch at Sha Kiu/Pak Lap for lunch. Start time: 8:30 am Length of tour: Around 8 hours Starting/Ending point: Central Price: HK$1000 including lunch Book your tour here. Geopark Boat Tour: Sai Kung Islands Photo from the Hong Kong Tourism BoardWith the longest coastline and most outlying islands in Hong Kong, Sai Kung is best explored by boat. This tour will take you through the areas unique biodiversity including sea stacks, tubular rock columns, sea caves, the volcanic rock columns of High Island, and rhyolite on Sharp Island. While you’ll see most of the sights on the boat, you’ll have a chance to get off and explore Sharp Island at the end of the tour. Start time: 9:00 am or 2:00 pm Length of tour: Around 3 hours Starting/Ending point: Sai Kung Pier Price: HK$975 Book your tour here. This post was written in collaboration with the Hong Kong Tourism Board. View the full article
  3. I have always been a huge fan of laksa – it’s probably my favorite soup noodle dish. Although I’ve had the popular creamy-based laksa many times, I had never tried asam laksa as it’s really only popular in Malaysia, specifically Penang. At our hotel in Georgetown, I asked one of the staff where to find the best asam laksa and she immediately told us to go to Moh Teng Pheow Nyonya Koay (莫定標娘惹粿廠). Just like that, we were off on what turned out to be a fairly big and long mission to source out the city’s best asam laksa. The experience The cutest entranceDining areaFinding Moh Teng Pheow was no easy task. It wasn’t until we gave up all hope and popped into a nearby hotel to ask whether the restaurant was close by that we finally sorted our directions out. Finally, after about 30 minutes of walking in the brutal heat, we came upon Moh Teng Pheow down a little alleyway off Lebuh Chulia. I’m not exactly sure if we went in through the main entrance way, but we walked through the kitchen first and then went into the dining area. The restaurant was relatively empty, so we had our pick of tables (unfortunately no air conditioning, so a table by a fan would have to do), and the staff were friendly and could speak English well enough for us to get by. The food MenuAsam laksaIn laksa heavenWe wanted to try a range of items on the menu, but we knew we had to order the asam laksa so we each got one (for only RM6 – HK$12!). Honestly, this laksa was phenomenal – just look at the huge smile on my face! Asam laksa is very different from curry laksa in that it’s slightly tangy from the pineapple and has a fishy undertone, but don’t let that put you off.. I swear, this bowl of noodles was life changing. Moh Teng Pheow served a decent-sized bowl of laksa, though it was more on the snack side, which is perfect if you’re doing a bit of a food tour in Georgetown like we were. Had we not ordered dessert as well, I definitely would have ordered another bowl to devour. Variety of Malaysian dessertsOur dessert picksI was less familiar with which types of dessert to order, despite the English names on the menu. Thankfully, one of the staff members told us to come to the counter where we could actually see all of the dessert on display. After a few questions about what the flavors actually were, we settled on the: Kuih Bengka – Ubi, Kuih Talam, Pulut Tai Tai (Kaya Kuih), and one Abuk. I’m not typically a fan of jellied desserts, but I honestly loved all of these. Moh Teng Cheow is open Tuesday – Sunday from 10:30 am to 5:00 pm, so plan to go during the day Moh Teng Cheow Nyonya Koay Jalan Mesjid Off Lebuh Chulia, 10200 Georgetown View the full article
  4. Nasi Kandar is a popular local Malaysian dish that originated in Penang. When I was searching for local dishes and restaurants to check out, I came across Nasi Kandar Line Clear Restaurant Penang. I read about how this local canteen-style shop apparently served the best nasi kandar in Penang, so I obviously had to try it out. Let me jump to the point: I loved everything about my experience at Line Clear Restaurant. From the insanely delicious (and messy!) nasi kandar to the friendly and helpful service, this is one local food shop you need to visit when in Georgetown. Location of Line Clear Restaurant Penang If Line Clear Restaurant Penang didn’t have a few signs on the sidewalk pointing out exactly where you need to turn to get your nasi kandar fix, we likely would have walked right by. Tucked away off Penang Road, it’s located right in the heart of Georgetown, beside 161 & 177 Penang Road, and is an easy walk from just about anywhere in that area. Plus, it’s open 24 hours so you don’t need to worry too much about when to go (I’d avoid lunch hours during the weekday, as it becomes incredibly busy with locals). The experience As soon as we began walking down the short alleyway to the restaurant, we were eagerly welcomed by the staff. We told them that we had read about Line Clear online and wanted to try their famous nasi kandar. Since we had no clue how to actually go about ordering, one of the staff members simply asked us to choose a type of meat (I went with the tender roast chicken based off of his recommendation) and then told us to sit down while he prepared the dish. The food After only a few minutes, a whopping plate of food arrived in front of us. For those that don’t know, nasi kandar is essentially a variety of curried meat and vegetables. Aside from the rice and chicken, I wasn’t entirely sure what was on my plate, though I did recognize fried bitter gourd, okra, green beans, and cucumber. I’m less clear about the rest, but it didn’t even matter because this was hands down one of the best dishes I had while in Penang. To top it off, all this food (literally enough to feed two) was only RM14.30 – less than HK$30. View the full article
  5. While spending a few days in Georgetown is well worth it for the delicious food, artsy vibes, and unique architecture, you’ll likely feel like you need a few days’ rest and relaxation afterwards. Most people head to Batu Ferringhi to spend some time at one of the resorts along the beach. My choice was the Golden Sands Resort Penang by Shangri-La because of its overall good value when looking at the price and facilities offered. Although the sea isn’t exactly swimmable at this beach thanks to the copious amounts of jellyfish in the water, there was still plenty of space to lounge around by the pool or on the grass close to the beach to get that much needed R&R. First impressions of Golden Sands Resort Penang by Shangri-La After spending two scorching days in Georgetown, I couldn’t wait to throw my bags down and just zen out. Golden Sands Resort Penang is a massive 387-room hotel with great facilities. The hotel lobby is open concept and the hotel staff are quick to assist you with whatever you need. Check-in was relatively seamless, but I had paid extra for a “balcony sea view” room and the original room they put me in was on the first floor with a building directly in front of the room which obstructed any view. After a call to reception to ask for a new room, they managed to switch us to a higher floor with a much better view. *Note – I would definitely recommend asking for a room that faces the pool/sea, as you’ll likely be able to hear the call to prayer if you’re on the east side of the hotel and are facing the street. The room The room was a good size for two and came with a comfy big bed, which was hard to part with at the end of my stay. The spacious bathroom had two sinks, a bathtub/shower, and a range of amenities that came in handy. My favorite part of the room was definitely the balcony. Perfect for early in the morning and later on at night; I enjoyed a morning coffee outside before breakfast and a nighttime tea before bed. Overall, I really did like the room. The only thing I will say is that quite a lot of it does seem to be outdated – as an example, built into the desk is what appeared to be some sort of radio tuner with electric outlets. I do think the resort could use a bit of an uplift, but for the price, I won’t complain (too much). Breakfast Breakfast was included and I found it funny that the hotel actually had these traffic light signs up showing the busiest and least busy times to go for breakfast. The Garden Cafe accommodates well over 100 people and was always busy in the morning when we went down for breakfast. The buffet spread had a large international selection of hot and cold dishes, so even the fussiest eaters will likely find something they enjoy. For my breakfasts, I mainly stuck with fresh fruit, eggs, and toast with kaya spread. Facilities Golden Sands Resort is a great place for families, with slides and water activities, an indoor play area, and supervised kids’ activities throughout the day. For those without kids (myself included), I still enjoyed the facilities here, though for me personally, it was a bit too family friendly at times. There are a number of pools, mainly swarming with children, but there was one pool that was for adults only. If you’re looking for a bit of an escape from the screams of excited children, find a lounge chair on the grass away from the pool area. I liked that you could order drinks and food that were brought to your lounge chair and the poolside bar also had a good happy hour of buy one get one free drinks (hello pina coladas!). The resort was within walking distance to the night market and a fantastic cooked food center with deliciously cheap eats that you should go to instead of eating all meals at the hotel. Overall thoughts on Golden Sands Resort I really enjoyed my stay at Golden Sands Resort. Although the majority of the hotel could use a modern update, the price point for the facilities and quality of service more than made up for it. While I think this hotel is great for families, I also enjoyed my time there though did find the constant running around and screaming of children to be a bit taxing at times. Ultimately, if you’re looking for a quick beach getaway in Penang that’s good value, I would recommend Golden Sands Resort. Golden Sands Resort Penang by Shangri-La Batu Ferringhi Beach View the full article
  6. When looking for a hotel in Georgetown, I came across the lovely heritage boutique hotel: Hotel Penaga. I knew I wanted something with a good dose of traditional charm, but still have a variety of modern necessities. Built in the 1920’s, the building was originally comprised of homes and ground floor shops until 2008 when a couple purchased the property, and carefully renovated and transformed it into Hotel Penaga Penang. The hotel is full of history and fascinating artwork throughout, and the staff are very helpful and welcoming. I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better hotel to spend a few days in while exploring the lovely area of Georgetown. First impressions of Hotel Penaga Hotel PenagaLobbyThe concierge was all smiles as he opened the main doors of Hotel Penaga upon our arrival. Everything – from check in and out, to getting information about Georgetown and arranging transportation to another part of Penang – was so incredibly easy thanks to the helpful staff. I really did feel at home here thanks to the staff who were always going out of their way to ensure we had a great stay. Aside from the staff, I immediately fell in love with the design of the hotel. It honestly felt like I was taking a luxurious step back in time while walking around this heritage boutique hotel. The room I had the most beautiful room – from the minute I walked in, I fell in love with all of the polished wooden furniture, the subtle Asian touches, and the paintings that adorned the walls. My favorite features of the room itself were the large canopy bed that took center stage and the wooden dresser decorated with red Chinese designs. Hotel Penaga also supplied a good range of fairtrade coffee and teas in the room with a life-saving espresso machine that made a killer cup of joe. Although it may sound a bit silly, I relished time spent in the bathroom when I was showering and getting ready in the morning. The bathroom was huge (almost the size of my bedroom in Hong Kong!) and I loved the contrast between the light blue tiling and the dark wood paneled floors. I always look out for a big bathtub when I’m choosing a hotel and Hotel Penaga’s massive jacuzzi did not disappoint. We were also lucky enough to get a room with a balcony that overlooked the pool and other parts of the hotel. Perfect for enjoying a cup of coffee in the early morning before breakfast (and before it became too hot outside!), I loved being able to have a bit of outdoor space. Also, if you didn’t notice from the photos, many of the room’s light switches were actually bells – a really neat added touch. Breakfast Breakfast at Hotel Penaga Penang was a casual affair. They offered a variety of hot items (some changed daily), breads and spreads, and fresh fruit and juice. The service is prompt and friendly and there was a good selection to choose from, whether you liked more of a western-style breakfast or an Asian one. They also offered any style of eggs you’d like (poached eggs on toast, please!) and had a selection of their own Penang homemade bread with kaya spread (a delicious coconut jam) and other unique locally sourced jams. Facilities Hotel Penaga Penang has just about everything you could ask for. The location is perfect in that it’s within walking distance of everything you’d want to see in Georgetown (just be sure to bring comfortable shoes!). There is a lap pool with a handful of covered tables around it and a few loungers if you can bear hanging out in the blistering heat. The hotel also has a spa, library, meeting rooms, and a restaurant/bar. One thing I found quite interesting was the artwork throughout the hotel. Hotel Penaga actually runs an artist residency program where contemporary artists can apply to have their work put on display throughout the hotel, so be sure to take your time while wandering around to read about the artists and their work. Overall thoughts on Hotel Penaga Penang Hotel Penaga Penang is a boutique hotel with a whole lot of charm and personality. The service is honestly exceptional here – they even used their own personal phone to call us a Grab (the company that recently bought out Uber in Malaysia) when we couldn’t use the app in order to get to our next destination in Penang. During the two nights we spent at Hotel Penaga everything was fantastic and I would definitely recommend booking your stay here when you visit Georgetown! Hotel Penaga Corner of Jalan Hutton & Lebuh Clarke 10050 George Town Penang Malaysia Tel: 04-261 1891 I partnered with Hotel Penaga for this post. As always, all views and opinions are sincerely my own. View the full article
  7. Sushi Man’s latest location in Whampoa (original location was in Tseun Long) has made it much easier to get your omakase fix now. Situated just across from the MTR station, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to Japan once you step through the front doors. The seating is intimate without being stuffy, so it’s perfect for any occassion. During lunch, you can order from Sushi Man Hong Kong’s a la carte menu, but I would recommend going for their omakase dinner menu in order to get the full experience. Omakase – HK$1750 Dinner MenuSteamed Egg Steamed egg with eel to startWe began with the steamed egg dish. Although it wasn’t what I expected, it was still really good. The eel on top made for an interesting contrast to the smooth, tofu-like egg underneath. The overall flavors were quite subtle, helping to ease us into our next courses. 6 Kinds of Sashimi Baby sea eel with yuzuBaby squidOctopus – head & tailLightly battered fresh scallop with shisoWhite fish with kelpI was actually quite surprised with the sashimi dishes, as they weren’t your typical cuts of fish. I tried a few interesting dishes like the baby sea eel (not everyone’s cup of tea!), and liked how Sushi Man Hong Kong really tried to separate themselves from other omakase menus by including such a variety of sashimi. My favorite sashimi dish was the octopus tail – the octopus is slow-cooked for 24 hours and has an incredible smokey flavor to it. 8 Kinds of Sushi AbaloneBaby SnapperBaby CodSalmon RoeSand Borer (Kisu)KuromutsuEelTuna CheekI really loved all 8 pieces of sushi. I’m not a fan of abalone at all, but was pleasantly surprised with the taste of it here. Moving on, the salmon roe balls were so sweet in comparison to other sushi restaurants I’ve been to – I could have literally ate them by the spoonful. My favorite piece of sushi had to be the tuna cheek. It was so incredibly tender and full of flavor – absolute heaven in a bite. Cup of Uni Rice, Uni, Ebi We were all patiently waiting for this massive bowl of uni to come out. Although I do like uni when it’s fresh and of high quality, I still don’t quite get the obsession with it throughout Asia. Regardless, this dish was immaculate: layer upon layer of sea urchin covered a small mound of rice.. Sushi Man certainly does not skimp out on portions! Temaki HandrollWe literally had no idea what we were eating when the sushi chef handed us this handroll, but the chef said it was some type of root plant. Not my favorite handroll, but I did appreciate a more subtle dish after the rich uni bowl. Soup & Kudamono We finished with a bowl of miso soup and a large pre-sliced wedge of fresh cantaloupe for dessert. Verdict on Sushi Man Hong Kong If you’re looking for a new omakase menu to check out, I would definitely recommend Sushi Man Hong Kong. The restaurant is cozy (especially if you’re able to book out the private dining room/counter), service is prompt (although there is a language barrier, which made it difficult to understand all of the ingredients in each dish), and the food is incredibly satisfying. Sushi Man Hong Kong 6 Tak Hong Street (Across from Whampoa MTR Exit A) Whampoa Tel: 2794 3995 View the full article
  8. Hoi An is most famous for its Ancient Town – filled with the most delicious food, bright yellow shop walls, and a whole lot of lanterns. Although spending a few days wandering around the Ancient Town is a must, if you’re there in the summer you should rent a bike and head to the beach. There are two main beaches in Hoi An: Cua Dai Beach and An Bang Beach. I honestly wouldn’t recommend either beach. Instead, I discovered a “Hidden Beach” that was a perfect little oasis between the two main beaches. If you’re wondering which beach to check out, you should head to Hidden Beach Hoi An. Why I wouldn’t recommend Cua Dai or An Bang Beach Unfortunately, Cua Dai has been severely affected by erosion and the beach is now covered in sand bags with barely any sand to lay out on. An Bang Beach remains a popular choice for many tourists, but, because of that, it’s also a bit of a tourist trap. As soon as you begin biking along the main strip heading to the beach, you’ll have people trying to get you to park your bike in their spot. For a fee, of course (though some places just want you to buy a bottle of water). Once on the beach, you will need to rent a lounge chair – either for a fixed fee or you’ll have to agree to having lunch at their restaurant later in the day. You’ll also likely be pestered numerous times with vendors roaming the beach to buy various souvenirs. I completely understand that everyone needs to make a living, but I’m sure we’re all just wanting to put our feet up, relax, and listen to the waves. Hidden Beach Hoi An Walking up to Hidden Beach; restaurant on the leftHidden BeachParadiseAfter experiencing An Bang Beach the last time I was in Hoi An, I was on the hunt for something more quiet and less intrusive this time around. A few Google searches later and I had come across a number of articles written about Hidden Beach. Located practically in the middle of An Bang and Cua Dai, Hidden Beach Hoi An was just what I was looking for. Unlike An Bang Beach, you can park your bike AND use the lounge chairs for free. Hidden Beach is a small family-run beach area with a little restaurant (they did mention that they would appreciate you eating lunch at their restaurant if you chose to eat while there) and clothing shop. I went there two times when I was in Hoi An (actually, the first time I went it was because a lovely older couple I met while getting banh mi’s told me about it!) and had a very relaxing and enjoyable time. How to get to Hidden Beach I’m a bit apprehensive about giving detailed instructions on how to get to Hidden Beach because I wouldn’t want this quiet oasis to become overcrowded. So, I’ll just say that if you’re coming from Cua Dai and biking up towards An Bang along Lac Long Quan, keep your eyes peeled for a sign on the side of the road that says “Hidden Beach”. Once you spot the sign, turn right down a little road and head all the way to the end. View the full article
  9. Night markets are one of my favorite parts of traveling throughout South East Asia. I love the food, the knick-knacks, the mix of locals and tourists, and the general buzz that surrounds you. The night market in Hoi An has certainly come a long way since I was there over three years ago. Although the selection isn’t quite as vast as some other night markets, you can still find a good selection of sweet and savory delights, along with numerous stalls selling souvenirs and other trinkets at the Hoi An Night Market. Picture taken from the end of the night marketThe beginning of the night market – less than an hour later and these walkways were packedWhat to buy at the Hoi An Night Market I would recommend heading into the night market when the sun begins to set, as it gets very busy later in the evening. The little trinket shops sell everything from tableware to purses, though I found it a bit more difficult to negotiate here. I wanted a woven bag and the lady originally wanted to charge US$20 and would not go any lower than US$15, which I found to be expensive when compared to shopping in other markets. Regardless, most of the items you’ll find here you’ll have likely come across on your travels elsewhere. What to eat There are mainly sweet snacks with a few savory items. Start with a sausage on a stick or a fried shrimp pancake, though I would recommend having something more substantial beforehand. Personally, I went straight for the stalls selling sweets. You’ll find the ever-popular banana nutella pancakes and rolled ice cream, along with some lesser known treats that I hadn’t tried before. This thin crispy waffle with ‘dragon candy’, condensed milk, and chocolate sauce inside was an absolute highlight. I also ordered a thicker version made with shaved coconut and peanuts (both picture above). Most food items on offer will run you between 20,000 VND – 30, 000 VND, but you can sometimes negotiate if there aren’t many people around (I was able to purchase deep fried banana pancakes for 10,000 VND during the day). While I did enjoy the food at the night market, I much prefer these places to eat in Hoi An. How to get to the Hoi An Night Market The night market is located on the busy little island of An Hội. To get there, simply head into Hoi An Ancient Town towards the iconic Japanese wooden bridge. You’ll see a small and busy bridge right in front that leads you over the river. Cross over the water and turn right. Walk straight and take your first left – the street will be filled with vendors on both sides. View the full article
  10. Hotels often put on a fantastic buffet brunch spread and the Kerry Hotel brunch buffet is no exception. Although it’s a bit out of the way in Hung Hom, the copious amounts of food along with stellar views overlooking the harbor make it worth the effort. I honestly think this was probably one of the largest buffets I’ve ever been to. There was an incredibly wide range of cuisine and it’s quite good value too if you can make the most of it (ie. stuff your face). Vibe at Kerry Hotel Brunch Big Bay Cafe is huge. There is seating for around 300 people and there is SO MUCH FOOD it’s borderline ridiculous. The brunch buffet is very family friendly – they have a magician and clown walking around stopping at tables to show you a magic trick and make a balloon animal or flower. It was quite cold when I went so we sat inside, but there is ample outdoor seating that is perfect for a nicer day (with great views, too!). Buffet Spread DIY noodle soup stationIndian food selectionThe grillRound 1My DIY noodlesFrom the grillThere was so much food that I had to make a strategic plan (no joke!) before I began filling up my plate. I’ve been to my fair share of buffets before, but I can’t recall ever being so blown away by how big the buffet was. Whether you’re a meat-lover or a vegetarian, wanting to eat healthy or go all-out, you’re guaranteed to find something at the Kerry Hotel brunch. I tried to have a nibble of everything and my favorites were the DIY noodle soup (anyone else love fish balls?!) and grill station (the lobster is a must try). If you’re a pasta lover, you’ll be pleased to know my friend loved the make your own pasta station so much she went there twice. Dessert All the mini cakesI swear this plate wasn’t just for me!Ice cream with a viewBefore you reach the point of no return, don’t forget to save some room for dessert. There is a massive variety of mini cakes, crepes and waffles, ice cream, the most delicious salted caramel macarons, a chocolate fountain, fruit, and a table dedicated to other desserts like donuts. Verdict If you love a good buffet brunch that has a wide selection of cuisines on offer, you should check out the Kerry Hotel brunch. I think it’s especially worth the trip over there if you go on a nice day and can sit outside while enjoying the views along the harbor. The Kerry Hotel is also a good brunch for families given the magician and clown that walk around to entertain the young (and old!). The only thing I didn’t love was just how busy it was – the whole restaurant was packed and it felt a bit crowded. Details The buffet is available every Sunday from 12:00 pm – 3:30 pm. Adults – HK$428 Kids between 7 and 11 – HK$214 Free-flow soft drinks and juice – additional HK$40 Above plus wine – additional HK$200 Plus Veuve Clicquot Champagne – additional HK$300 Kerry Hotel – Big Bay Cafe 38 Hung Leun Road Hung Hom Bay Kowloon Tel: 2252 5888 View the full article
  11. Aside from roaming around the ancient town, one of the more popular things to do in Hoi An is to rent a bicycle for a day and head outside of the main town to explore. You’ll come across rice paddy fields, a few water buffalo, and, if you fancy, you can end your ride with a few hours at the beach to cool off. While there are numerous companies that charge for bicycle tours, I’d recommend renting bicycles on your own and mapping out a route based on what you want to see. Renting Bicycles in Hoi An Most accommodation in Hoi An should have complimentary bicycles for their guests to use for the day. If yours doesn’t, they will likely work with a shop a few meters away who rent bicycles to tourists. You shouldn’t have to pay more than US$1 or VND20,000 for a day’s rental. I would suggest you take the bike on a quick test run up and down the street to ensure the breaks and gears are all working (I actually ended up having an issue with the left pedal of my bike that didn’t begin until I was 3/4 of the way to the beach). Hoi An Bicycle Tour – Route Starting point and village Begin by heading down Cua Dai towards Cua Dai Beach. The road is fairly wide and not particularly “scary” to bike down. Head through an entrance-way with flags on your left before you cross the bridge over the river (see first photo above). You’ll bike through a small street with a handful of homes on either side. There are quite a few dead-ends, so if you find yourself on one, just turn around and go a different way. Eventually you’ll get to the paths along the rice paddy fields. Rice paddy fields & water buffalo After 5-10 minutes of biking through the little village, you’ll come out into the rice paddy fields. There are about a dozen different paths you can take around the paddy fields. We ended up biking around for a bit in hopes of finding water buffalo. When we finally did find one, I felt a bit bad that the water buffalo were being ridden, so we just stayed and watched for a bit, took a few photos, and continued on our way. We spent some time wandering through the fields – it’s really not that big, so you shouldn’t get lost. Because I was here over Tet, the fields were pretty much empty. There was a tiny bridge over the river we crossed (one of the larger paths you’ll see on Google Maps before Hai Ba Trung Street), which then connects to Hai Ba Trung Street – cross this little bridge and stick to the left. Then, you’ll have to make a right down Hai Ba Trung Street. Follow this busy street to the beach. Ending at the beach If you keep following Hai Ba Trung Street, it will take you directly to An Bang Beach. This is Hoi An’s most well-known beach and while it is nice, I decided not to stay here this time because it’s crowded, you have to pay to rent loungers, umbrellas, and to park your bicycle (or they make you buy a water in order to park your bike “for free”), and you’ll likely get hassled while trying to relax on the beach. If you’re not too fussed about that, just keep it simple and stay there. If you’re looking for something a bit more secluded where you don’t need to pay to use the loungers/umbrellas or park your bicycle, head down the beach a bit to Hidden Beach. View the full article
  12. Okra has been in Hong Kong for two years now and, despite living only a few minutes away, I only just dined there for a much-anticipated feast. Over the past years, I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews about Okra Hong Kong, so my expectations were admittedly quite high. I won’t beat around the bush: every dish that I tried was incredibly unique and delicious, and the atmosphere was cozy yet upbeat; something that most restaurants struggle to provide. If you’re looking for a different dining experience in Hong Kong, I would highly recommend heading to Okra. Vibe at Okra Hong Kong The dining space at Okra is small so it’s best to go with only one or two other people. There is seating around the bar/kitchen, which I would recommend trying to snag, and a few tables for two if you’re looking for something a bit more intimate. The music, which is curated by Okra’s chef-owner Max Levy, is a fitting mix of Dead Kennedies, The Misfits, and the like. I also loved the massive risque mural adorned on the wall inside. As the night continued, conversations grew louder, the sake continued flowing, and the vibe kept getting better. Sake “THE COCK” Junmai Ginjo (Fukuoka) HK$108 per glass or HK$798 per bottleOkra Hong Kong has a great sake list that is broken down into a few different tasting notes. We opted for the hilariously named (although appropriate given that 2017 was the year of the rooster) “The Cock” Junmai Ginjo (HK$108). Aside from the slightly acidic and refreshing tasting points of this sake, I liked that it was made in collaboration with Tsui Hark specifically for Okra. Starters Nigari Sai Farmhouse Tofu (HK$98)Goose Blood ToastGoose Blood ToastSalt Tomato (HK$88)We began with the popular Nigari Sai Farmhouse Tofu (HK$98) with Okra’s handmade Pigeon Sauce. The handmade tofu was silky smooth and paired beautifully with the fresh cherry tomatoes. Although this is not a dish I would typically order, the Goose Blood Toast was on the specials board (sorry, can’t remember how much it was!) and I was curious to try it. The goose blood was somewhat similar to a pate and was full of flavor. We also tried the Salt Tomato (HK$88), which was on the specials board. Despite the simplicity of the dish, this was one of the best tomatoes I’ve had in ages (in case you weren’t aware, Hong Kong is not known for its produce). Mains Dry Aged Beef Tongue (HK$168)Dry Aged Baby Tuna (HK$118)Unabi Fun (HK$188)Moving onto the mains, we began with the Dry Aged Beef Tongue (HK$168) from the specials board. I wasn’t entirely sold, given that I’ve never tried tongue before, but I have to admit it was really tasty. The thick pieces of cured meat were absolute perfection and I had to stop myself from devouring the entire plate. Another really interesting dish was the Dry Aged Baby Tuna (HK$118), also from the specials board. Dry aging fish heightens the taste, giving it that umami flavor everyone raves about. Despite living in Asia for 6.5 years, I had yet to try eel (I know, it’s shameful), so we decided to order the Unabi Fun (HK$188) – eel on crispy sushi rice. The eel had a delicious smokey flavor and the rice around the clay pot was perfectly crispy. Dessert Uji Matcha Cookie Boy (HK$76)We finished our meal with the Uji Matcha Cookie Boy (HK$76) – a roasted green tea and red bean cookie with smoked cream and lemon salt. Although I liked the overall flavor of the cookie, I wish the outside was crispier. Verdict From the cozy yet lively atmosphere to the delicious pours of sake, and incredibly unique and refreshing dishes on the menu, I loved everything about Okra Hong Kong. If you’re tired of the same restaurants in the city and are looking for something different, you need to try Okra. Perfect for a date night or an intimate catch up with a friend, the setting compliments the food flawlessly and I can’t wait to go back and slowly work my way through the rest of the menu. Okra Hong Kong 110 Queen’s Road West Sai Ying Pun Tel: 2806 1038 View the full article
  13. For years I’ve heard people rave about Megan’s Kitchen, the well-known hot pot restaurant in Wan Chai that attracts locals and expats alike. Megan’s Kitchen is best known for its interesting and unique hot pot soup bases – they have everything from tom yum cappuccino to Japanese miso tofu. Although I can’t say I particularly enjoyed my last few hot pot experiences, I decided to give Megan’s Kitchen a shot when a group of my girl friends were organizing a night out. All in all, I ended up having a really fun night (most of which was thanks to the company and the free flow wine we ordered), but like everyone else had already told me, it was expensive considering you basically cook your own food. Vibe at Megan’s Kitchen Hong Kong Restaurant InteriorMegan’s Kitchen is pretty plain. There’s not much decor, the orange chairs are less than appealing, and there’s large flat screen TVs playing some type of Chinese soap opera around the room. Thankfully, we didn’t come here for the ambiance. The staff were friendly and nice, and were quick to refill our empty wine glasses (much to my later demise). What we ordered Make your own dipping sauceKimchi Dumplings, Pork Dumplings, Vegetable DumplingsBeefRainbow Cuttlefish BallsOur feastWe began by making our own dipping sauces (they charge a rather ridiculous price of HK$25 per person for this), though I’m not entirely sure why since the soup bases are already flavored. For drinks, they had a free-flow package available, which included white and red wine and sake for only HK$138 per person, which we all obviously opted for. The menu is massive, so we ordered a little bit of everything. The kimchi (HK$88), pork (HK$88), and vegetable (HK$88) dumplings were all surprisingly delicious, though I’d say the kimchi ones were my favorite. Since we had a few vegetarians with us, we only ordered two meat dishes: Australia grass-fed rib eye (HK$298) and another beef dish, but I honestly can’t even remember what it was (oops – I’ll blame it on the wine!). We also ordered a range of vegetables, noodles, and the popular rainbow cuttlefish balls (HK$98). As for our soup bases, we went with the tom yum cappuccino (HK$188) and sichuan (HK$168). The sichuan one was a bit too spicy for all of us, so we pretty much put everything into the tom yum soup, which was still a bit spicy for some but I really enjoyed it. As a heads up, if you don’t want the century eggs or other “welcome starters” they automatically place on your table when you arrive, you need to tell the staff right away. Otherwise, you will be charged. Verdict I was surprised at how much I enjoyed my time at Megan’s Kitchen. Though, I’m sure that was mainly due to the company and the obscene amount of wine I consumed throughout dinner. The food was good, although nothing really had that wow-factor, except for the kimchi dumplings. For HK$600 per person for a table of 5, we left absolutely stuffed with both food and wine. If you haven’t been yet, I would recommend getting a fun group of people together for dinner at Megan’s Kitchen. That being said, I’m not exactly racing back to spend that kind of money to essentially cook my own food. Megan’s Kitchen 5/F Lucky Centre 165-171 Wan Chai Road Wan Chai Tel: 2866 8305 View the full article
  14. There’s no shortage of places to get together with a group of friends on the weekend for a little (or big) boozy brunch. Just like most expats here, I’ve been to my fair share of them: from a la carte menus to buffets, and cappuccinos to champagne. Although I love all brunches, I was in the mood for something a bit more refined, so I decided to check out the ON Dining brunch – Le Grande Brunch, and boy do they know how to put out a great spread. We went through a whopping 6-course brunch (accompanied by champagne, of course) filled with a wide range of exceptional dishes. Vibe at On Dining brunch I’ve only been to the bar area of ON Dining (absolutely love their outdoor patio space), so when we went down the stairs to the restaurant portion, I fell in love with the clean, simple, and modern decor. The floor to ceiling windows are also perfect, day or night, to take in the view of Hong Kong. To start Bread BasketOyster, King Crab, Beef Tataki, Cauliflower & Salmon Roe, Caviar TartletWe began with the most delicious bread basket that came with croissants, pain au chocolat, panatone, and baguettes. On the side, we had a three-tiered tray with a variety of preserves (passion fruit, chocolate, and strawberry), fruit, and yogurt. Next, we had a beautifully presented plate with a variety of bite-sized snacks including oyster, king crab, beef tataki, cauliflower & salmon roe, and caviar tartlet. I liked that we were able to try a range of nibbles without having to commit to just one. Starters & mains Starter: L’Oeuf d’Okinawa – Chanterelle parmesan cheese & shaved black truffleThere were four options for starters on the menu, but my heart was set on the L’Oeuf d’Okinawa, comprised of Chanterelle Parmesan cheese and shaved black truffle. Simply put, this dish was amazing: the ingredients harmoniously came together and I savored every single bite. Les Cavatellis – Homemade cavatelli, seafood ragout, carabinero prawnLe Boeuf – Prime beef ribs teriyaki, creamy mushrooms, romaine saladLe Bar de Ligne – Wild sea bass, artichoke puree, spinach, sea urchin emulsion, pearl barley, black truffle julienneAlthough all four mains on the menu sounded delicious, I opted for the Le Boeuf – Prime beef ribs teriyaki, creamy mushrooms, romaine salad. Honestly, the picture does not do this dish justice. I could have used a butter knife to cut the beef, it was so tender and the creamy mushrooms were an absolute treat. The other two dishes my food-loving friends ordered were the Les Cavatellis – Homemade cavatelli, seafood ragout, carabinero prawn and the Le Bar de Ligne – Wild sea bass, artichoke puree, spinach, sea urchin emulsion, pearl barley, black truffle julienne. Both dishes were greedily lapped up within a mere minute, so it’s safe to say they really, really liked it. Cheese & dessert Cheese selectionDessert platter: Homemade pastries with fruit and sorbetAfter we were done with the mains, a good selection of cheese was brought to our table. Each cheese was explained to us and we were directed to try the cheeses from left to right. I usually prefer more mild flavored cheese (though the stinky ones are beginning to grow on me!), but I actually loved every single cheese here. To wrap up, it was time for a beautiful dessert platter with a variety of homemade pastries, fruit, and sorbet. My favorite dessert was surprisingly the mini lemon meringue pie (quick background story: my parents used to always buy lemon meringue pie when I was growing up and I absolutely hated it – in hindsight, I think they totally did this because they knew I wouldn’t eat any! – but recently lemon desserts have grown on me and I actually really enjoy them). Verdict on ON Dining brunch The ON Dining brunch – Le Grande Brunch – is a fantastic option if you’re looking for an elegant brunch experience. I thoroughly enjoyed the six-course meal and would highly recommend it. Although it is a bit pricier than other brunches, the quality of the food more than makes up for it. Price Le Grande Brunch – HK$688 per person + HK$228 for additional 2 hours of free flow champagne, wine, beer, and soft drinks ON Dining 29/F, 18 On Lan Street Central Tel: 2174 8100 View the full article
  15. I’ve been contemplating laser hair removal for awhile now, but have always put it off (mainly because I wasn’t ready to commit to the pain and price!). I finally decided to take the plunge and tried laser hair removal in Hong Kong. After speaking with a few friends, I settled on two different places to try (I’m a terrible decision maker in case you didn’t know): The Skin Gym for my underarms and Strip for my bikini. Is it worth the money? Definitely! Is it worth the pain? Didn’t feel any! Laser Hair Removal VS IPL Okay, so apparently there are two different types of permanent hair removal (who knew?!): Laser and IPL. If you’re like me and really have no clue about either, you’re probably asking yourself why laser hair removal is more expensive than IPL. After a bit of research and speaking with the lovely team at The Skin Gym, I discovered that IPL is less effective in permanently getting rid of your hair because they emit a range of wavelengths (akin to a light bulb), and therefore aren’t focused and don’t always penetrate deep into the skin. Alternately, lasers emit a single concentrated wavelength, which specifically targets individual hair follicles. Thus, you end up achieving better and faster results with laser. Laser Hair Removal Hong Kong: Underarms at The Skin Gym Image from The Skin GymTry not to judge, but I always found that I get a “five o’clock” shadow on my underarms hours after shaving and I was just tired of having to shave every single day. So, I made an appointment at The Skin Gym to have my first laser hair removal session on my underarms. Session 1 I walked in without any idea about what would happen next. Thankfully, the staff were friendly and informative, and the whole process was honestly painless. They started off at a lower voltage (I think I’m using correct terminology here..) and the device used almost looked and felt like a warm suction cup. I was in and out of The Skin Gym within five minutes. After about a week without seeing any results (perhaps in part because I continued with my normal shaving routine out of sheer habit), I began to notice that my hair was much more fine and wasn’t even growing back. I was really surprised, as I didn’t think this would happen after only the first session. I didn’t need to shave for about 2 – 2.5 weeks, at which point random thin hairs began to pop up randomly. Session 2 You’re meant to go back every 4 – 6 weeks, so I did just that and experienced almost the same results, except I don’t think I shaved for about 2.5 – 3 weeks after the hair began falling out (which happens about a week after the treatment). The second time around, the voltage was turned up a fair bit higher on the machine, and while it didn’t hurt per say, it wasn’t particularly comfortable. Overall, I’m super satisfied with the results (and I’ve only had two sessions!) and would 100% recommend laser hair removal at The Skin Gym if you’re looking to permanently get rid of unwanted hair. Laser hair removal for underarm: HK$1690 per session The Skin Gym The Centrium 21/F, Room 6 60 Wyndham Street Central Tel: 2810 8088 IPL: Bikini at Strip Image from StripSince I was so happy with my results from The Skin Gym, I opted to also get my bikini hair removed as well. Given the relatively sensitive nature of that area and my general curiosity of the difference between the two forms of permanent hair removal, I went with IPL. For this treatment, a cooling gel was put on first and then the laser went on top. It was completely painless and quicker than I had thought. My results were surprisingly similar to my underarms: after about a week or so, the hair fell out and didn’t start to grow back for about 1.5 weeks. Afterwards, a few random, thin hairs began to pop up. It’s been almost a month and there’s still very little there. I’m really happy with my results and will definitely go back for more sessions. IPL hair removal for bikini: HK$1680 Strip 9/F, 8 Lyndhurst Terrace Central Tel: 3950 3950 Featured image from mtlblog.com View the full article
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