Travel: Our Macau/Hong Kong Getaway (6D/6N)!

Follow our 6 day, 6 night adventure in these lands of amazing food, awesome culture and astounding sights. See how we ate, shopped and laughed our way through Macau and Hong Kong! :)

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Monday, January 30, 2012

Travel: HK Day #4 - Australia Dairy Company 澳洲牛奶公司 @ Jordan, Mongkok, Ladies Market, Hui Lau Shan Healthy Dessert


After a tantalizing meal at Mak Man Kee, it was time to have dinner #2 (I know, I know, what gluttony :p) just conveniently next door at the famed Australia Dairy Company (澳洲牛奶公司)!



Australia Dairy Company is one of the top char chan tengs (茶餐厅) in Hong Kong according to Openrice.com having crowned it one of 2011's Best Restaurants under the Hong Kong Style Tea Restaurants category. Basically, it's an old-skool version of the modern, jazzed-up Wong Kok Char Chan Teng or Kim Gary that we get here in Malaysia.



During our pre-trip research, we read a lot about how the queues for Australia Dairy Company would be insane in the mornings and Zhen Han's Hong Kong friends, Tiffany & Cecilia, confirmed this. So if you intend on paying them a visit, it might be beneficial to consider making your way there in the night instead. We went in close to 10pm after dinner at Mak Man Kee next door, and although the place was still crowded, we didn't have to wait long for a table. :)



I suppose the menu can be considered pretty extensive for a char chan teng, but we decided to leave the food ordering to our two experts and chose our drinks instead.

Service at Australia Dairy Company brings a whole new meaning to efficiency - each waiter has a tiny little memo pad with him, and as he writes each order, he tears it off and hands it to other waiters walking past. Before we were done with ordering food, our drinks had arrived without our waiter even leaving our table! :D


Our choice of drinks didn't vary much - it was either the Hot Milk Tea (热奶茶, HKD 17) or Iced Milk Tea (凍奶茶, also HKD 17) that Hong Kong is so famous for. And it didn't disappoint! Definitely different from what we're used to, a more distinct smooth, milky flavour instead of condensed milk.


We ordered a few servings of this to share at Tiffany & Cecilia's recommendation - the Scrambled Eggs with Toast (炒蛋多士, HKD 14). I can see why everyone waxes lyrical about Australia Dairy Company; the layer of scrambled eggs were soft and still slightly runny, but the toast deserves a sentence on its own. A hands-down winner, the thickly sliced toast was fluffy, airy and soft. Perfect!


Something else that we're told is good in Australia Dairy Company, is their famous steamed puddings. See the area above, where it's just bowls and bowls and bowls of pudding waiting to be served?


We ordered two to share round the table. First, we tried the Steamed Egg White Milk Custard Pudding (蛋白焞鲜牛奶, HKD 20). I enjoyed the smoothness of the egg and the strong flavour of fresh milk which made for a very soothing hot treat.

But of course, let not the yolk go to waste! There's also the yolk version - Steamed Egg Custard (杏汁燉蛋, HKD 20). This has a far stronger egg flavour due to the yolk being used and is also sweeter. I prefered the milder egg white pudding, while the guys couldn't decide and instead married the both together in a separate bowl, declaring it the best way to have the puddings. :D





Like every other char chan teng in Hong Kong, Australia Dairy Company also does set meals consisting of varied combinations of macaroni in clear broth (another popular char chan teng delicacy), toast, eggs and drinks which was what we saw a lot of people having at other tables. Too bad we were already too stuffed that night, or we would have went all out! Another trip to Hong Kong, anyone? :p



To walk off a bit of all that food, we made our way on foot to the Jordan MTR station and took a quick train ride to the Yau Ma Tei MTR station one stop away. 



Some streets are closed off to only allow pedestrians during certain hours of the night, so you'll get to experience the busy, bustling night streets of Mongkok! Look at how lively the place is, people from all walks of life and bright neon signs everywhere you look. :)




Bryan had been requesting to have Chou Dau Fu (臭豆腐 - Smelly Tofu! I know it sounds crude but there really is no better translation than that, haha) so our feet stopped at the first snack shop (Kai Kee Snack Shop) we saw on Dundas Street in Mongkok, to have some. Or rather, our noses stopped! No joke, the pungent aroma of these fermented tofu cubes hits you from metres away.

Bryan was the only one bought a pack, and I decided to gingerly take a bite (even though Adam threatened he wouldn't come near me the rest of the night.. hey, you only live once right! And, if CNN Go lists it as #41 on the World's 50 most delicious foods, who is he to complain? :p). Surprisingly, despite it's foul odour, it didn't taste as bad. Crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, it actually tasted a lot like normal tofu to me.  Not something I would return for. (I'm sure Adam is pleased!)



We walked further up along Sai Yeung Choi Street (西洋菜街, the two pictures on the right), a popular spot for many HK-ites plying their trade in the arts to the crowds there. We saw a band playing, some martial arts, and the lady in the bottom right picture, who was writing chinese characters with powder. It's also a famous filming location in Hong Kong of late; notable movies that have filmed scenes there are 72 Tenants of Prosperity and The Fortune Buddies.

Further up is the notable Tung Choi Street (通菜街) or better known as Ladies Street (女人街, lui yan gai), where you'll get all sorts of stuff - from bags to stuffed animals, from clothes to iPhone covers, even pirated card games like Saboteur! Bargaining is allowed, but I'm quite crap at it so I'm sure you can all get better deals than I did. :p



As the night wound down and the stalls at the Ladies Street began to shut, we decided to stop by Hui Lau Shan Healthy Dessert for a nightcap.

Hui Lau Shan is so notoriously well-spread across Hong Kong, that I reckon it's nearly impossible for you to go a day without seeing one on the streets. With one main ingredient - mango, they've managed to build this huge dessert empire from drinks to ice cream to tong suis, even food (no mango in that though!) is found on their menu.


Everyone was all tired out from the hot humid Hong Kong weather so all we really wanted was a icy cold drink which Hui Lau Shan had plenty of, ranging from aloe vera, to pureed mango, to sago.


Being a mango lover, I felt compelled to order the Mango Trio Dessert Platter (HKD 39) just so I could sample a mini version of some of their popular desserts. The platter consisted of the Crystal Jelly with Mango and Mango Ice Cream (left), Mango & Glutinous Rice Balls in Mango Juice (top) and the Mango Mochi with Fresh Mango Slices. This was not too bad, although I really only liked the refreshing mango ice cream made from fresh mangoes and the mango mochi, with cold fresh mango filling.

(Gosh, I don't think I've ever typed 'mango' so many times in my life before! o_0)

If you ever drop by Hui Lau Shan, I would say that the drinks are definitely more worth trying, especially on a hot day. Ignore the platter and choose a refreshing, fresh mango drink instead.

And that, also brings us to the end of a great Day 4 in Hong Kong. With nearly all the sightseeing and touristy stuff done, it was time to indulge in some female activity on Day 5. *cue male groans all around*

Till next post! :)

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Australia Dairy Company 澳洲牛奶公司 | Openrice
G/F, 47-49 Parkes Street, Jordan
(佐敦白加士街47-49號地下)

Kai Kei Snacks 佳記小食店 | Openrice
41 Dundas Street, Mong Kok
(旺角登打士街41號)

Hui Lau Shan
58-60 Sai Yeung Choi Street, Mong Kok
旺角西洋菜街58-60號地舖



Thursday, January 26, 2012

Travel: HK Day #4 - A Symphony of Lights @ Tsim Sha Tsui & Mak Man Kee Noodle Shop 麥文記麵家 @ Jordan


Note: This post was jointly written by Adam & Wendy because there was just too much to say! :)

And also, Gong Xi Fa Cai to all our dear readers - in the spirit of Chinese New Year, we figured we'd bring back some posts about Hong Kong! :)

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After spending an exhausting day at Ocean Park, all we wanted to do when we got back to the apartment was shower and sleep! We did shower, but we didn't have much time to nap before it was time to head out again. Thus far, we've spent most of our time exploring Hong Kong Island, so much so that it was definitely time to head over to the Kowloon side. Zhen Han had made arrangements to meet a couple of his friends there, so off we went to meet our next tour guides. =D


Dinner was on the itinerary of course, but before that we had one more sight to see after alighting at the Kowloon MTR station. No it's not the Clock Tower at the start of Salisbury Road (I don't know why Wendy put this picture here or what I'm supposed to do with it =D)... just walk ahead a little more after you see this landmark and its...


...the A Symphony of Lights (幻彩詠香江) show at the Victoria Harbour waterfront! 

Every night at 8pm, throngs of people flock the Victoria Harbour waterfront to witness the grand spectacle of 44 skyscrapers taking part in a light and music show. We The girls got distracted at H&M on Canton Road and when we finally reached the waterfront at 8pm, on the dot, the place was already packed - hence, the blurry pictures because Wendy had to tiptoe over everyone else to take a picture of the flashing laser lights! 


Wendy grew up seeing Hong Kong in TVB dramas so visiting the harbour and seeing the iconic panoramic view of the Hong Kong night skyline was something very special for her. However, even for me, it was a great experience being able to enjoy am amazing view like that, let alone one with flashing LED & laser lights accompanied with music. Definitely, go early to get a vantage point/good seat for the show. :)

For those interested in the narration of the story of the lights, there's narration broadcasted over speakers at the Victoria Harbour waterfront at Tsim Sha Tsui, where we were, or if you're on Hong Kong island instead, it's available at the promenade outside the Golden Bauhinia Square in Wan Chai. The narration is in English on Monday, Wednesday & Friday; Mandarin on Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday and finally, Cantonese on Sunday.

Isn't it a sight to behold?
The A Symphony of Lights show lasts about 15 minutes and most of the crowd disperses pretty quickly, so we were able to go right up to the railings and take some pictures. 

Happy faces after a very enjoyable experience! =D
When it was all over, I think we were all pleased as punch that we had not missed the chance to see this spectacle with our own eyes. KL may be a vibrant city, but Hong Kong really is in a class of its own. When might we ever see buildings like KLCC synchronizing lights with other nearby buildings to create such a wonderful tourist attraction? =)

After the light show, we took a cab to Jordan for dinner. At the time we didn't know it, but Zhen Han's friends Tiffany and Cecilia were taking us to 2 places on our To-Do Food List!


We had read much about Mak Man Kee (麥文記麵家) and it's noodles (particularly the har zi meen we had tried so hard to find in Macau), so to be brought there without our knowing was a wonderful surprise! We're most grateful to Tiffany & Cecilia for taking us there, because if we had tried to find the place ourselves we would have taken the train and tried walking around.

That would have been a mistake though, because Jordan has many parallel roads and it's possible to miss one shop out of many. Our advice to visitors is to follow what we did and take taxis there too. The money spent saves on a lot of time and hassle.. =D


The shop inside isn't very big, just like most Hong Kong coffeeshops. When we got there it was already about 9pm, but the place was still packed like dinner time. Thankfully we found 2 booths at the back for all 8 of us, we got to sit and eat in comfort. =D


The menu at Mak Man Kee is plain and simple - everything can be summarized on one framed picture on the wall! As a noodle shop, they really only do different types of noodles and no rice dishes. There are no English names, so if you can't speak / read Chinese I would advise you to at least bring pictures of what you want to make ordering easier. =D


Since we came so far for the Prawn Roe Noodles (虾子捞面, har zi lou meenHKD39), obviously this was going to be on our list. The noodles is plain except for a generous sprinkling of prawn roe on top. Basically it's like the normal wantan mee that we get at home except that Mak Man Kee's version is far springier and the prawn roe gives it great flavour. Having the noodles on its own might not feel very tantalizing, but add it together with....




...a generous bowl of beef and that's when you realize why Mak Man Kee has become a must-go destination for all foodies in Hong Kong.

The Braised Beef Brisket with Chu Hou Sauce (淨柱侯牛腩, chu hau ngau lam), was an excellent dish! Chu hou paste is generally a bean-based concoction of soybeans, sugar, garlic and ginger, and a popular ingredient in Cantonese beef brisket dishes. Here, the flavour had been so well absorbed into the juicy, tender beef bits and the sauce made a perfect companion for the dry Har Zi Meen. It doesn't look very appetizing when served, but pop a piece into your mouth and any doubt there was about the quality of this restaurant flies away.

This was brilliant on its own (HKD 50 for a big serving, HKD 34 for small), or on top of wanton soup noodles (柱侯牛腩面, HKD 27), which we also had (greedy, much?). :D


Beef isn't everything at Mak Man Kee. What they're really famous for are their Prawn Wantans (首创全虾云吞, har wan tan). Over here in KL, the size of our wantans get pathetically smaller every year, especially if it has prawns inside. It's amazing there are even shrimp that small! But at Mak Man Kee, I get the feeling the wan tans served haven't changed in size over the last few decades, because the size is so big! 


These Prawn Wantans are so big that each one is filled with at least 3-4 shrimps inside. A bowl of just prawn wan tan that costs about HKD 26 is well worth the price. I would gladly pay the equivalent in RM if I could find this here. The wantans are filled to the brim with flavourful, bouncy prawns and the soup is also very clear, and goes well with the noodles in case you don't fancy the more salty beef. It was so good, we ordered another serving after we had finished the first!




The Nam Yue (fermented beancurd) Pig Trotters (净南乳猪手, nam yu chu sauHKD 50 for a big serving, HKD 34 for small) is another popular dish on the menu, but unfortunately neither of us could appreciate it, so this was largely left to one or two others to finish off. The bones were big though, and each piece had a good amount of cartilage and fat. If that's the definition of a good pigs trotter, then this should probably get 5 stars. =D




Mak Man Kee also serves seasonal hand picked vegetables (拣手油菜) and the recommendation from Tiffany was to order a simple dish of boiled Chives (韮菜花, gao choi faHKD14). It might seem impossible for vegetables to impress, but the deep green chives at Mak Man Kee really do with its freshness and natural sweetness; nothing like the dry, flat ones you get here. It comes with a small dipping plate of oyster / hou yau sauce (油) for flavour, but it tastes just as good without.




Being famished after the Symphony of Lights show and having craved some authentic Hong Kong-style wantan noodles before our trip, we happily devoured every morsel of food ordered... in record time! Some say Mak's Noodles is a better bet, and I'm sure others have many other wantan noodle preferences, but for us, Mak Man Kee was a tasty experience and highly recommended!

Made from flour and eggs alone, the noodles here are light and bouncy and the wantans are a few classes above what we're used to here. That, coupled with the other great dishes on the side, make Mak Man Kee Noodle Shop a recommended eatery. :)

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A Symphony of Lights | Site
Tsim Sha Tsui Waterfront,
Kowloon

Mak Man Kee Noodle Shop 麥文記麵家 | Openrice
G/F, 51 Parkes Street, Jordan
(佐敦白加士街51號地下)

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Food: Good Tenderloin at Savory Bistro @ The Fare, Mont Kiara

Another year has come and gone. We thank all you loyal readers again for sticking with our blog for the past year that we have seriously dedicated ourselves to this project. If you're still with us, that must mean we're doing something right! =D  As work and other commitments pile up, we may not post as often as we would like, but rest assured we're going into 2012 determined as ever to keep this going.. =)



So anyway, I guess the big question everyone asks on New Year's Day is "Where were you on New Year's Eve??". For us, the more important question is "Where are we going to eat on New Year's Eve??". Since it's the last meal of the year, obviously it's nice to end on a nice note. But that can be tough especially when majority of restaurants try to make a quick buck by jacking up prices and offering set dinners on NYE. We were planning on heading to Solaris for the New Year countdown, so I needed a place in the area. Enter Savory Bistro. =)


Tucked away inside a building that is tucked away on a dead end road on the way to Solaris Mont Kiara, the ambience at Savory Bistro is nothing short of classy. It may look a bit dodgy from the outside with the heavily tinted glass, but that sets the mood for the inside, where everything is dimly lit for a quiet atmosphere. 



There is indoor and outdoor seating, so smokers need not worry. The outdoor seating has a nice view of the tranquil Mont Kiara environment, so there's incentive to dine outside. When we first arrived, we thought something was wrong because there was no one else there! Luckily people started showing up later (mind you, we are already notorious for being late eaters!), so Savory Bistro didn't endure a quiet NYE in the end. =D 


Since my two friends Dom and Pok said they were going to be late, we decided to get something to munch on first so it wouldn't look so weird for the only 2 people in the place to read a menu for half an hour. With a serving of their Calamari Fritty (RM 18), our initial peckish-ness was satisfied. Lightly coated with batter and served with dill tartare sauce, we found no wrong with this.


As the night wore on, people started coming in, but my two friends were still nowhere in sight. Wendy was nursing a fever, flu and sore throat on the last day of the year, so we thought a Mushroom Soup (RM 11) might do her some good. This held up the fort for awhile, creamy and just chunky enough, but too salty for our palate.


Finally the two guys arrived, and we could carry on with the eating with gusto! We ordered this Wrapped Beef Bacon (RM 12), which was one of the most interesting items on the tapas menu. It's a nice creation, beef bacon wrapped around asparagus and cheese with pesto mayo; it makes a good snack with beer, but for a starter before the mains, perhaps ordering another one is needed, since this will hardly fill the corner of your stomach. =P


For the last meal of 2011, Dom ordered the T-Bone (RM 55). A nice slab of meat served with some veggies and mash potato underneath. Personally I'm not a fan of T-Bone (I prefer my Ribeyes!), but I think Dom likes it because it's a big slice of meat, like this was. The meat was well marinated and well cooked, even Dom who usually has high expectations with meat gave this a pass. 


Wendy ended 2011 with what else but....a burger! The Savory Cheese Burger (RM 28) was a hearty, juicy serving of a 200g beef patty and some satisfying hot, melted cheddar cheese. The steak fries they came with were heavenly as well. One of the better burgers we've tried last year!


Myself and Pok chose to give ourselves a grand send off to 2011 by ordering another steak dish - the Fillet Mignon (RM 50)! An extremely thick cube of meat; the tenderloin is served with a bit of vegetables and very awesome, creamy mash potato underneath


I asked for mine to be done Medium, and look at the result achieved! Two thumbs up to Savory Bistro for being spot on with their timing. Our tenderloins were very tender (heh, pun intended) and juicy throughout. The size of it might not look like a lot, but because it's thick, the initial appearance is deceiving. We definitely gave ourselves a pat on the back for ending 2011 with such a good decision. =D


We thought it would be nice to make the dinner complete with a small dessert, and Dom chose the Apple Pie with Vanilla Ice Cream off their specials board. Presentation-wise it was quite flawless, but the taste was hardly memorable. One of my pet peeves is serving a dessert with subpar vanilla ice cream and this was one of the things that went wrong with this dessert. I would give this a miss next time, and perhaps try something else. =)

Blurry pic of us. I swear all waiters should have camera training in their job skills -_-
And with that, we bade farewell to our eating adventures of 2011 and head off to countdown into the new year of adventure. But not without a couple of beers first, because Savory Bistro was having a free flow of Carlsberg from 10pm - 1am! They served by the glass, so there was no queuing up like other less reputable "free-flows". We made sure we made Savory Bistro poorer by a few bottles of Carlsberg before we made a move!

This year we'll have to see if the free flow is on again, and if it is perhaps you'll see us there again soon! =D






Savory Bistro | Site
The Fare, 10 Mont Kiara,
Jalan Kiara 1, Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +60 3 6211 5100
Email: info@savorybistro.com.my
Opening Hours: Daily, 8:30am-12 midnight
p/s: Savory Bistro has live jazz bands playing on Wednesday nights

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Travel: The Baba House Hotel @ Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock, Melaka

Since "graduating" from secondary school, a close bunch of friends and I have managed to still meet up weekly at our favourite mamak for nasi lemak throughout varsity days. All that changed once we started entering the corporate rat race, one by one. Now, meet-ups are quite a rarity, and even if they do happen, it's more oft than not that one or two are missing, and that we start at about 9pm. Some even get so caught up at work that they arrive at about 10:30pm or just plain cancel.

All the rushed meals made us all the more determined to plan a trip together. The last time we all packed up and actually went somewhere was all the way back in 2005 or 2006! Thus, our impending trip to Bandung in March 2012 was born.

Not content with just that, we freed up one weekend in December where we could just go somewhere near to relax, chill... and EAT. :D

And what better location than Melaka?


Upon arriving in Melaka (and enduring the famous weekend jam for a bit) we finally reached our location - The Baba House Hotel. Located on Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock, this quaint little hotel within a row of old residences/shops is only a stone's throw away from Jonker Street which made it the ideal spot for our weekend getaway.

Parking in front of the hotel is scarce as the road is narrow and congested, but drive round the back and you'll be able to park at an open space behind the hotel.


When we arrived it wasn't quite time to check in, but the friendly staff at the reception allowed us to store our bags there for collection at 2pm.


I took the opportunity to explore the hotel a little and immediately fell in love with the place and decor. The hotel lobby and common areas are furnished with sturdy wooden further, all of which boast grand carvings and an air of elegance from eras ago.



The open courtyard, with lots of greenery and of sunlight streaming through, was my favourite part of the hotel. The next morning, I spotted some having their buffet breakfast at that table as the cafe was too crowded. Wish I'd thought of that first! I wonder if the architecture has Portugese influence, because the whole place reminds me greatly of the time we visited Casa de Lou Kau in Macau.


After lunch (which was a pig-out affair that deserves a whole other post devoted to it), we checked into our rooms. Rooms at Baba Hotel are small, but neat and clean. As it was supposed to be nothing more than eat-sleep-eat-sleep that weekend, I can attest to the bed being comfy because I unhealthily fell asleep a lot after eating too much :p

Outside and inside the bathroom
The bathroom has acceptable water power, and more importantly, water heating! What I really liked was the oriental-patterned sink although most won't like the fact that the sink is located outside the bathroom. The tap gave us hell though; it was difficult to turn off and water kept on trickling! No hairdryer is provided in the rooms, but I saw some situated in the hallways should you really need to blowdry your hair.

Breakfast to sustain us for the long Chicken Rice Ball queue :p
Baba House Hotel also serves a simple breakfast that comes inclusive of the rate you pay for the rooms. A simple buffet breakfast consisting of toast, scrambled eggs, baked beans, sausages and fried mee mamak for 2 pax comes with each room. If you have more than 2 to a room, you can add on RM 7 for breakfast for each additional pax.

The Baba House Hotel cafe
A night at The Baba House Hotel cost us RM 157 per room (RM 78.50 per person). Adam feels it's expensive for the size of the room we got and the amenities available, but what we both agreed on is that we're paying for the ideal location. As I mentioned, Jonker Street is literally only a minute's stroll from the hotel. Good food is only a stone's throw away if you choose to stay here. :D


The Baba House Hotel | Site
No. 121-127, Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock,
75200 Malacca
Tel: +606 281 1216, +606 281 2168
Fax: +606 281 1217
Email: thebabahouse@srikota.com.my

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