Monthly Archives: May 2012

Review: Australia Dairy Company

Australia Dairy Company is a cha chaan teng in Kowloon. Over the years, it has become a must visit every time I come to Hong Kong. I love their steaming bowls of milk custard, a traditional Chinese dessert. It has also become a must go for many people, including tourists. On this visit, my tablemates were not locals either. The first three spoke French and the second group spoke Mandarin. Still, many locals come here for breakfast and tea as can be demonstrated by the all-Chinese characters menu.

I found myself in a line, a good sign of the restaurant’s popularity, but I was inside within a few minutes. You wouldn’t go to Australian Dairy for the service or the relaxed atmosphere. The servers, all males and dressed in white smocks, were very efficient, maybe a little brusque. They wanted to take my order very quickly and get me out of there quickly too.

I ordered hot milk tea, hot milk custard and a scrambled egg sandwich, having practised this in Cantonese several times before 😉

The milk custard came out first after a few minutes. Australia Dairy kept many of these bowls of custard steaming so that was likely why it was ready so early. I was not sure how they kept them all so fresh, but they must be very popular. Each spoon was a delight. It was creamy and smooth and had the right amount of sweetness.

The milk tea came out next. This was also very smooth. This may have been my personal taste, but I thought that the tea could have been stronger or steeped longer to balance out the creaminess of the evaporated milk.

Lastly, the scrambled egg sandwich on toasted bread arrived. Their scrambled eggs are apparently a fan favourite. There used to be even a Facebook fan page for the eggs. My eggs were very rich. I felt there was too much butter though (yikes, is there such a thing?)  and on the dense side. The toast was perfectly crisp. While the eggs were tasty, I didn’t understand the hype around them.

I will definitely keep coming back here, but I will probably stick with the milk custard. The steamed egg custard is also quite tasty as well.

Australia Dairy is located at 47 Parkes Street, Kowloon, Hong Kong.

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Roots’n’routes

Most of my explorations so far have been on Hong Kong Island where I live and work. Although I am by no means an expert on Central, I can find my way around. However, I’m still unfamiliar with Kowloon. I was able to change that a bit when I went to the Hong Kong Museum of History in Kowloon last Saturday. Afterwards, I walked around the surrounding streets and once again, it was wonderful just to walk and soak up the city.

My morning started off in Central. I had breakfast at Lan Fong Yuen, a famous cha chaan teng. Cha chaan teng means tea restaurant. They serve HK-style, casual and homey foods. I hope to write more detailed posts on the restaurants I go to so I won’t describe too much right now. I have to mention though that their silky smooth milk tea gave me a much needed caffeine boost to kickstart the day!

My mom brought me and my siblings  to the History Museum when it opened about ten years ago. I vaguely remembered the visit, but I was glad I went again. The museum was split into two parts: first, the natural history of Hong Kong and then each of the Chinese dynasties’ influences on South China and Hong Kong. There was also a feature on folk culture in HK. I was pleasantly surprised that I was familiar with some of the traditions mentioned such as writing marriage proposals, which is carried on today more or less.

Bun tower–this is continued in a modified form. Traditionally, people would race up the tower made of buns and try to get a “lucky” bun, but on one occasion it collapsed and some people died. Now they do a safer version of this tower.

The second part picked up from the Opium War and the cessation of Hong Kong to Great Britain. The exhibits continued through World War II and modern HK up to the handover to China.

Cute British mail boxes, many of which were removed from the streets just before the handover.

I loved seeing the museum’s pictures of places in Hong Kong that I was familiar with but also saddened by how many beautiful buildings were torn down in the last half century.

When I was younger, I felt that the whole museum was about “history” or a “long time ago.” During this visit I soon made the connection that the exhibits in the second half were within my grandparents’ and parents’ lifetimes. I felt touched to learn more about my parents’ lives. My parents were always open about their childhood and I was eager to listen, but unfortunately never took it to heart.

It was never my intention to find my “roots” during my two months here, but that was partly out of ignorance and fear of too intangible a goal. The museum and my trip here so far have made me more interested in learning more.

After the museum, I made my way to get some wonton mein (noodles) for late lunch, and then I popped into one of my favourite places in Hong Kong, Australian Dairy, for dessert, milk tea and a scrambled egg sandwich, a fan favourite on the internet. I definitely overate, but I chalked it up to not being in Kowloon enough. Pictures to come!

Sights in Kowloon: Bowring Street Market

From Kowloon side, looking across Victoria Harbour to Hong Kong Island.

In the evening, I had a lovely dinner with my mom’s cousins. My grandmother is the oldest of ten children, and my mom is the oldest of her generation. To put things in perspective, my mom’s youngest cousin is the same age as my sister. Now I have second cousins about twenty years younger than me, yet we are in the same generation! It was a great day thinking about my family.

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Hollywood Walk & Roll

I’m still taking short walks during lunch. It has been raining more though and I’m not as keen to go out (but I still try!). I also started feeling under the weather yesterday unfortunately, but hopefully I am preventing it before it gets worse. Here are some highlights from the last couple of weeks.

Exploring Hollywood Road and SoHo (“south of Hollywood Road”). This area has a lot of funky and hip restaurants and bars.

Along Hollywood Road: it looked as if the wall was just standing there.

Various restaurants

I followed a wayfinding sign to go back to work, which led me through a walkway behind some buildings. I found an interesting housing complex.

 Neat alley.

Have a good weekend! I hope to recover, but still do something fun.

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The Art of Eating a Mango

Mangos for breakfast.

Mango overnight oats: 1/2 mango slightly mashed up, 1/3 cup oats, 1/3 cup milk and let the fridge do the work.

Mangos for snack.

Mangos for dinner.

Spicy mango tofu aka cooking without a recipe 🙂

Heat oil in pan, saute tofu, add mango and any spices or chili sauce. Next time I’d use chicken or add some peppers or veggies to add some variety to the texture. I’d also put in the spices and chili sauce before the tofu.

I love mangos and they seem to taste even better here. I was very lucky when my Great Aunt Patricia bought some for me.

Mango from Australia on the left and from the Philippines on the right.

She also taught me a great trick to make the mangos last longer, since once mangos start to go brown, they all go brown very quickly: Wrap the mangos individually in newspaper and store in a bag in a cool dark place. Added bonus: the inside of the bag smells heavenly.

I like to slice the mango on both sides as close to the pit as possible. Then I “score” the flesh without piercing through the skin,

and pop!

Eat straight off the skin or use a spoon to scoop up perfectly bite-sized pieces. Then peel off the remaining skin around the pit and enjoy all the remaining mango goodness.

If you don’t want to get your hands sticky (but isn’t that part of the fun?) or, as my mom used to joke, if your significant other’s family gives you a mango to eat as a “test” of your table manners: Score a small rectangle slightly larger than a teaspoon on the skin. Peel off the skin and eat as if you would eat a soft-boiled egg. Flip and repeat the process.

Mmmm.

Bonus fruit round: persimmons. I didn’t always like persimmons because I thought they were too sweet. My family waited until the persimmons were soft to touch. By this stage, the insides were mushy. My great aunt told me you can eat persimmons while they are still firm. They are still sweet, but taste much fresher.

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ART HK 12

Over the weekend I went to ART HK 12, an annual art fair held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. International galleries came to HK for four days to display contemporary artwork. There was a focus on Asian artists as well as on young artists under 35.

I enjoy looking at art, particularly modern art, even though I don’t know what good art is. I was there for nearly five hours though and by the end of it, I felt that I had reached my quota for modern art for a while.

I was distracted by two things: firstly, there were a lot of people and some people (I saw about five) were touching the artwork! AGH! On the flip side, this was the first time I was in an environment where people were talking about purchasing US$500,000 pieces of art. That said, it was a great event and I was really appreciative that the general populace was welcome to look at and learn more about contemporary art.

I was not sure what the photography policy was. There was a sign saying no long lens cameras which seemed to imply that point and shoot cameras were permitted, but there was also a sign saying no photography. However, it wasn’t enforced unless there was a sign right by the artwork. I did snap a few shots of artwork I liked. I hope that’s alright.

Thought this title was amusing 😉

There was one exhibit featuring amazing advanced technology that allowed us to view the Caves of the Thousand Buddhas in Dunhuang, a small town in northwestern China, while still preserving it. We could point an iPad at different parts of the wall and the sensors would determine the corresponding view from that position.

Ai WeiWei’s work, displaying letters from the government regarding the schools that collapsed in the Sichuan earthquake in 2008.

Very life-like children dancer sculptures

The Exhibition Centre was in the Wan Chai area, which I hadn’t explored much on foot before. For lunch I wanted to try something different. However, I forgot how illiterate I was when it came to Chinese characters. Wan Chai, as opposed to Central, caters to a local crowd. As for Chinese food, most of the restaurants only have Chinese menus and no pictures.

Although there were a couple dishes I could piece together from words I knew, I decided to try a Filipino restaurant since I didn’t know much about that cuisine and there was English. Unfortunately I didn’t enjoy what I got.

I chose pork adobo, assorted vegetables and rice. The pork tasted fine, a little salty and sour like the adobo I’ve had before. I didn’t realize until I got it that the pork was pork belly though and I didn’t feeling like eating so much fat for lunch. The food was kept heated from below before being dished out, resulting in lukewarm food.

I had a weird taste in my mouth after lunch. I walked into a bakery and picked up hot milk tea and bo lo bau (“pineapple bun”), my first one this trip! It also helped to cleanse my palate.

Milk tea is very strong steeped tea with carnation milk. My drink was creamy and delightful. Bo lo bau does not actually contain pineapple and is only named so because of the crumble topping that looks like pineapple skin. Bo lo bau is really just a big fluffy bun. They are very fresh in HK and so much fun to eat. Half the bun was more than enough to make me happy again.

After the art fair I was quite tired so I went to Cafe de Coral, a chain of HK restaurants, which serves standard HK-fare and is always reliable. I had Portuguese chicken and rice with iced milk tea. Portuguese chicken is a creamy, mild curry-like dish. This was very filling, even without eating all the rice.

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Review: Kau Kee Restaurant (Beef Brisket and Noodles)

Recently I met with a friend from Hong Kong whom I met during my exchange to Singapore two years ago. It was great seeing her again. She actually came to Toronto later that year and I showed her around a bit. This time she could show me the local’s  perspective of Hong Kong.

She brought me to Kau Kee Restaurant to eat beef brisket and noodles. Kau Kee is a small  hole in the wall restaurant and it seems these kinds restaurants often serve the best food. There was a line outside, which was a good sign. We didn’t have to wait long though to be seated with two other pairs already at the big round table. This kind of grouping is normal in Chinese restaurants. There’s no need to acknowledge the other people, which sounds a little anti-social, but people seem to just want to enjoy their food. I just have to make sure  I don’t accidentally bump elbows with the person beside me.

Kau Kee only serves one dish: beef brisket and noodles. There is a choice between three kinds of noodles (ho fun, a wide flat noodle, yee fun, a thin, flat noodle and vermicelli). There is also a choice between curry beef brisket or beef brisket and soup. I chose curry “yee fun.”

This was probably the best beef brisket and noodle I’d ever had. Firstly, the noodles were bountiful and soft, with a slight bite. The beef brisket was tender and fell apart with ease. The tendons melted in my mouth. The curry was so rich, but I just wanted to drink it up. Finally, the dish was garnished with green onions which cut through the richness. All together, the bowl of noodles was very satisfying and filled my stomach with warmth. Perfect meal to reconnect with a friend.

Kau Kee Restaurant is located at 21 Gough Street, Sheung Wan, Central, Hong Kong.

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Uniqlo-ve

I am officially a Uniqlo convert. Uniqlo is a Japanese brand that features good quality basics in a fantastic multitude of colours and prints for affordable prices. They also team up with well-known designers to create lines. Uniqlo is likened to H&M and Zara’s fast fashion.

By the way, I’m the first to admit that fashion is not my forte, so I don’t have a great judgement call on what looks good. However, there aren’t any shops in Canada yet so I couldn’t wait to go to one in Hong Kong. I stepped in and fell in love with the bright store and fun colours.

I went to one in the Miramar Shopping Centre near Tsim Sha Tsui MTR (the subway system) station. There’s a mosque outside the station which is a rare sight to see in HK.

An example of an HK mall. Very open and bright. This isn’t even one of the grander malls yet.

I just wanted to try on all the lovely colours. I got a v-neck, a printed t-shirt, a scarf and a casual blazer, which I’ve been looking for. I keep telling myself to stop buying t-shirts, but I think these are OK 😉

I was concerned at first because I’ve heard their sizes run small to fit the Japanese stature. The sizes seem to match North American sizes for the most part. I hope they come to Canada soon!

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