cafés… western-styled, local-styled 

Generally, businesses in Hong Kong seem to enjoy a slightly longer lifespan as compared to Singapore. Or maybe it just boils down to them having a better head for business? Cafes and F&B establishments here open and close fairly quickly, but somehow I noticed that in Hong Kong, cafes seem to be enjoying business brisk enough to open more outlets. Perhaps these are only the rare ones that we see, and that there could be much more that are closing which we are not aware of. Anyhow, it was only on this trip when I realised that the Cupping Room, a cafe that I had visited in the Sheung Wan area a couple of times before, had opened new outlets; there is one that is conveniently located along Wellington Street near to the mid-level escalators, and another which is nearer to the Wan Chai area.

I popped into the double-leveled Central outlet one morning for a cuppa while my friend was still sleeping. It was a nice, cool morning, and what’s a cup of Joe without something sweet to balance out the acidity that caffeine brings? So I ordered a banana bread, something I had always wanted to try, instead of going for their breakfast mains, though I was really tempted. The banana bread, more like a loaf cake, wasn’t too bad but again most of them taste generally the same. However, I did enjoy the sojourn, sitting there slowly sipping coffee and taking bites of the bread, while catching up on some reading.

When that was done, I made use of the connecting overhead walkways to IFC Mall, to do a spot of sale shopping at Zara, while waiting for my friend to contact me.

We finally met up at Lan Fong Yuen, which I had read about online and wanted to try their milk tea/coffee and bread. It’s really a non-descript hole-in-the-wall shop that was so cramped on seating that you are literally sitting elbow-to-elbow with other patrons, while trying to keep your butt on the mini stool. I can’t imagine how it must feel like in the summer heat, squeezed in that little space amidst so many patrons. So anyway, we decided to order the 鸳鸯, as my friend didn’t really enjoy the one we had at Tsui Wah, though I felt it was fairly OK, but then again I seldom drink that so I don’t know how it’s supposed to taste like.

For food, we opted for a stir-fried instant noodles with chicken and spring onion oil, as well as the toasted bun with condensed milk.
I think the yuan-yang here was a little disappointing for me because it felt just like a milk tea, without a single hint of coffee. Is that how it’s supposed to taste like, or had the coffee I took at the Cupping Room in the morning seasoned my tongue to the extent that I couldn’t detect the trace of coffee in this mix? The noodles were a winner for me. Despite that it’s a little oily, the fragrance from the spring onion oil made them so tasty! I should learn how to make noodles like that, though it isn’t so healthy to be eating instant mee, even if we are not dumping in that sinful pack of MSG-laden powder. Let’s take a closer look at the plate of heavenly goodness.  Then came the fall. The condensed milk bun… was just sad. For me. I admit that I am not a big fan of white breads, in most forms anyway, but the Tsui Wah bun, and another that I had tried at an open-air local coffee joint somewhere in the alleys of SOHO, were pretty decent and enjoyable. Somehow, this was a complete letdown. It’s like the bun wasn’t well-toasted enough, even if they had more condensed milk smeared on it than Tsui Wah.
Or maybe it could just be that a different type of bun or bread was used? So my conclusion was that, take online reviews with a pinch of salt, even if there are many positive reviews, because we all have different tastes, and also because sometimes reviewers just have not tried enough places to know which are the really good ones.As it was winter solstice, we proceeded to Cong Sau at Causeway Bay to have our 汤圆!  We also ordered the almond paste (or I think that’s what the other bowl was since it’s white haha), and I really like the tang yuan, because of its size. Even though there were 6 pieces which meant that we had to take 3 each, one ball was just a mouthful or two, and it contained black sesame, my favourite! Peanut would have been a good second choice but oh well, both are great. What I also liked about it was the soup base used, which is cooked in ginger, giving you a feeling of warmth as the spiciness of the ginger spreads through you on this cold day. Is it because it’s winter solstice that it feels colder that day? Because the next couple of days felt warmer, with one day even having temperatures that felt like what we typically have in Singapore, for December in Hong Kong – that is just an anomaly.
Since we were at Causeway Bay, we decided to just hang around the area and checked out Hysan Place, where we spent a long time browsing books and stuff at Eslite Bookstore that spanned several levels of the mall. They have pretty interesting reads stocked that I would have thought of buying, but they would just accumulate into clutter for me, even if I personally prefer physical books to e-books. I haven’t been reading much these recent years, which I think I resume reading, but because I was preparing to move, I decided not to get anymore stuff that would require me to transport them from the old to the new home.

After a while, it was feeding time again. Initially, we thought of having a tea/coffee break, so we were kind of looking around for tea-time sets, like coffee/tea with a slice of cake or something. But after some time, we thought that we should just have an early dinner instead, so we checked out this Japanese bistro. Perhaps it was a weekday night, so the place was quite empty, it almost felt like we had the whole restaurant to ourselves. Both of us took the set menu, which came with a small portion of salad and a mushroom soup as appetisers.These were our mains. My friend’s hamburg steak and my teriyaki grilled chicken. They were too generous with the sauce as you can probably see, and the fries were an indulgence for me. 🙂
Close-up of the mains.  
And that concludes the 冬至 day of feasting. Happy ‘belated’ winter solstice!

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Omakase Burger, Wisma Atria

I don’t know how long they have been opened at Wisma Atria, but recently I made my first ever visit to Omakase Burger. It’s an expensive burger joint, as compared to what I know of burger places, which are fairly limited to the fast food chains like McDonald’s, Burger King and the likes. Of course, I know everyone will tell me they are different, or even worlds apart for this is a gourmet burger joint. Well, maybe.

I wasn’t so keen on beef even though their signature being the Omakase Burger boasts a beef patty. I considered a veggie burger but decided to just go for what sounded pretty safe, a Chicken Sandwich. Boy was I wrong. So this is my safe-sounding chicken sandwich, with a portion of sweet potato fries! It’s actually my first time having sweet potato fries, I think. Yes I am that slow. And they are pretty awesome though not as awesome as spam fries.IMG_0431.JPGThis is my friend’s burger. I can’t recall if it is the Omakase or a regular Cheeseburger but apparently their cheeseburgers are good too. And the usual shoe-string fries that I was having such a strong craving for.

IMG_0432.JPGYummylicious-looking! I regretted not going for the recommended because this indeed looks like it would be better than what I had.

IMG_0433.JPGThe Chicken Sandwich. It is actually not too bad, but it’s more like deep-fried chicken fillet burger. The chicken is so oily that quite a fair amount of oil pooled at the crevice of the paper envelope that was used to contain the burger. -_-|||

IMG_0434.JPGOther than that oiliness which had me feeling guilty for a whole week (!) the chicken was nice, like all deep-fried stuff (that are not fried in stale cooking oil). And the bun. Oh my, that has got to be the winning factor for me. It’s so nice and soft and I am quite sure that even on its own it would taste fantastic. They is such a alluring fragrance from it that I couldn’t help appreciating it more than the fried chicken. And this is coming from someone who prefers the tougher, more chewy multi/wholegrain kind of bread.

The fries weren’t too shabby, like how shoestring fries are nice as compared to thick-cut ones. Maybe if I ever return, I will check out the vegetarian option or just stick to the cheeseburger. Haha.

i’m on a roll

For some time, I have been exercising excellent control over my cravings and addictions. Well, actually it is never up to me to do it because in the flesh, we are weak. But I know that it is ok, once in a while, to just indulge. Which is what I have been doing, although maybe a little too often and too much. I have recently found places that serve shoestring fries, my favourite type. I don’t fancy chunky fries for some reason, although I don’t mind eating them but they kind of remind me a little of potato wedges and I am not a fan. I know they are still potato, deep-fried ones, but I still prefer them in this form.20140518-230716.jpgAnd no thanks for any truffle oil or the likes, I prefer my fries plain, neat, whatever you want to call them. Basically, you just need to fry them and serve them up to me without anything. I don’t even want any salt on them, which was why in the past when I go to Mac’s I always try, whenever I can, to request for unsalted fries, which also meant I can get freshly-deep-fried French fries! And the places that I found that serve these shoestring variety of fries know all about value-for-money because they charge a fair amount and give me a whole humongous plate of them I’d guesstimate it to contain at least 2 large packets of Mac’s fries. Gosh.

What are fries without beer to accompany them. Yep, to me, beer is the complementary item, not the other way round. Best of all of course, is the company to have the beer and fries with, while catching up on our lives. Hope you all have a wonderful week ahead!

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Paulaner Brauhaus, Millenia Walk Singapore

Sometimes, I wonder if seeing such pictures from me more often signify a good or bad thing.

The small and the big. Strangely, the stereotype always stick. The service staff would serve the 0.3L to me and the 0.5L to the man. In this case, they were wrong. I recalled once when I was at a pub with my cousin and he ordered a wine (or a cocktail I couldn’t remember) while I ordered a beer and I think the first instinct was that the wine was coming to me, but the service staff was smart enough to ask before setting the mug/glass down.

20140306-090528.jpgI found the shoestring fries that I had been missing, and this was an awfully huge-ass ginormous portion that was well worth the $11.50 paid for it. Just thankful there was someone to share the calories and guilt.

20140306-090544.jpgLet’s see what happens. Habits die hard and I thought I’d already kicked this habit, especially when I could even go a few months without touching alcohol over the last couple of years.

Cornerstone, Singapore

Before I visited the Green Room at Bishan Park towards the tail end of 2013, it had been a really long time since I last went there. Years perhaps. But recently I made another trip there, to check out the eatery that my friend and I almost had our annual Christmas dinner at. I recalled that we stopped by Cornerstone, took a look at their menu and was quite ready to ask for a seat when we thought that we might want to take a look at other places, which was what brought us to the Green Room instead because of its interesting concept.

Apparently, Cornerstone is opened by a friend’s friend, in partnership with someone who is a chef. Or at least that was what I was told. It was a weekend evening after a short bout of downpour which left the air muggy but we decided to sit outdoors anyway because the inside looked like it could be cold.

And yes, I know I said I am cutting down and indeed I have done so, tremendously over the last couple of years or more, but once in a while, one or two beers won’t hurt. I still don’t really enjoy the taste of alcohol, to be very honest, but sometimes it just feels right to partake in this malty beverage, or perhaps wine or something similar.

20140227-094623.jpgBuffalo wings! These were pretty tender and easy to eat, with a fork and knife no less so that I didn’t have to get my hands dirty. They come in varying degrees of spicyness but what we ordered were mild stuff. I don’t see the point of torturing my taste buds with extreme spice that can only serve to numb my tongue and make my eyes water and nose run, isn’t it better to just savour and enjoy the deliciousness of the wings?

20140227-094630.jpgAnd as always, I can never do without fries when it comes to having beer. I am an odd one, who can order fries even with other types of alcohol, say cocktails and yes, even wine! So far, I think only one other friend has indulged together with me in such weird combinations but we just love our carbohydrates that much.

20140227-094636.jpgThese were a cross between thick-cut and shoestring; these days there don’t seem to be many places, at least from the few drinking holes that I know and go to, that serve shoestring fries. Between the two, I prefer shoestring, for some strange reason, I think shoestring fries taste better, or I wonder if it is the McDonald’s effect, since among the fast food outlets, McD’s fries are the ones that I used to enjoy the most, although A&W’s curly fries were also a favourite despite them being usually too hard and stale like they have been fried and left standing for too long.

These fries came with four different types of dips, which is pretty much secondary to me. I can have my fries without any sauces and still think they taste just as good.

20140227-094641.jpgCornerstone is a pretty nice and cool place, but I think I wouldn’t recommend alfresco seating these days due to the dry weather that have led to a high incidence of mosquitoes. Oh and this area is dog-friendly I think. I’ve seen people bringing their dogs there but I’m not too sure which ones allow dogs and where of the eateries they would let them dogs into.

occasional treat

I hit a patch. Or should I call it a block. There isn’t anything that I would really want to blog about, or perhaps the truth is that there isn’t anything that I deem worthy of sharing. Such is my life, running on a routine that most would categorise as staid but oh well, a life is a life.

The weekend that just passed had a slight twist from its usual route though. One of my friends was back in town to settle some big personal matters, and finally, after a great deal of effort, we managed to tie down a time to meet up. Originally, we had planned to head to Hard Rock Cafe, this outlet which I have only been to maybe all of once in my entire life, because Friday night was the night that the UnXpected plays there now. But the problem with wanting to catch live bands are that they typically start at timings that aren’t so friendly to me anymore. I find it an effort to stay out late, even if I can still stay up late at night at home, so 10pm that was the time they would start jamming seemed rather ambitious for me.

We spent a couple of hours chatting over coffee and shared a Banana Walnut Loaf at Coffee Bean, which we couldn’t finish between us, although in my case I was trying not to, i.e. control, whereas for her I think it’s a case of not being able to. Somehow, even with the smaller portions I eat now, my appetite and stomach space are still really healthy and generous. Hmm.

Eventually decided to give the live gig a miss, since it still was sometime to them starting, and went for another session of drinks instead. Of course, what are drinks without these?     20131029-112323.jpg

As I munched on these shoestring fries, my favourite type of fries, drenched and soaked in oil no less, looking at how the paper placed beneath the fries had turned soggy, I tried not to think of the detriment of consuming them. Obsession yes, but probably still not to the point of total abstention. My friend was having a sore throat that day, so you probably could guess it right, that for her, coupled with an appetite that is almost next to nothing, I wolved down most of the plate. These were the leftovers. Up to a point, somehow the oily-ness and unpleasant smell of stale oil got to me and I had to stop eating. So maybe, just maybe, my liking for fries has developed some limitations?

Bazin, Marina Bay Sands

Sunday evening was spent at Marina Bay Sands, where I got another birthday treat! Yay to treats! Originally we were thinking of heading to South Coast, as I requested for “casual dining” but when we walked past, the place seemed rather crowded and there was only al fresco dining (if we weren’t mistaken), so we moved a little further and saw Bazin, which is also categorised as “casual dining” as per MBS’ website, and it also features al fresco dining, but it had an added advantage of an open-concept indoor-dining area (no walls) so it wasn’t too warm with some airconditioning and fans. Besides, the pizzas that I saw other patrons having seemed really good and I was sort of having a pizza craving.

Colourful drinks before dinner is served. 20130724-091720.jpg

Although we had originally ordered chips and salsa (from the Bar Menu), it wasn’t available that day, so we changed to truffle fries instead. To be very honest, I am ok to have fries plain as I am not a huge fan of truffle fries. I don’t not like it but to me, it’s just adding some salty flavour to fries that works the same as good old salt perhaps; they taste roughly the same to me, and I usually prefer fries without any sale. But still, these were a great welcome to me. I think I have been depriving myself of fries for a long time, even though the last I had fries was actually just a week ago, but compared to days past when I would eat potatoes/fries/whatever on a more regular basis, I think it was a good time to give myself a treat too! These were nicely done and freshly-fried, but felt a tad oily as when they were served, the oil was visibly glistening off the surface of the fries.20130724-091733.jpg

Our pizza came next. We ordered the Smokey Chicken pizza, and it was huge! Well, by my standards the size was big. Not the biggest I’ve seen or had (Pepperoni Pizzeria seriously has huge XXL-sized ones), but for two persons this was considered big.20130724-091745.jpg

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Here’s the pizza taken with other items in the picture for comparison of the size. I love the pizza though, its crust was so thin and crispy and they don’t exactly stinge on the ingredients even if I wouldn’t have minded if there was more! Haha. It reminded me a little of Skinny Pizza, but this wasn’t as crispy. When I had pizza at Skinny Pizza, sometimes I feel like I’m eatng a biscuit more than pizza, but they have great pizzas too. 🙂

Bazin, a celebration of food and drink.

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Apparently, they have other types of menu too, i.e. Theatre Menu, Kids & Dessert Menu. They also serve a selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, and that evening actually some people were just sitting having some beers enjoying the view of the sunset over the marina. From where we were, we could get a fairly good view of the evening sun setting behind the silhouette of the skyline created by skyscrapers in the business district across the waters. It was a beautiful evening, and a great way to wrap up the birthday weekend.

Bazin serves high tea too! Maybe next time, I’ll return to try that, or the other items on the menu!