Wednesday, November 19, 2014

And even more of Hong Kong

As I've been reminiscing about my Hong Kong trip, I found myself missing the city again.  So... I just came back from a short weekend getaway.  Yes, I know, I really can't get enough of Hong Kong.

This time around, it was a relaxed leisurely trip to enjoy the city, the eating, and the shopping (even though I didn't actually buy anything - which still feels so weird).  For part of the leisurely feel of the trip, we enjoyed getting up to room service.  Mandarin Oriental's the Statue Square view provides such a breathtaking way to start each day watching the weekend and weekday crowds bustle around Central.

Staying at the Mandarin allows us to readily eat at the hotel's restaurants.  In our past trips, we've dined at Man Wah and Pierre.  This time around it, we felt like taking things more casual.  Cafe Causette is a perfect place for a quality, yet relaxed meal at any time of the day.  Local publications recently awarded this establishment with the "Best Hotel Burger".  After dining at the restaurant for lunch and dinner, with a classic burger for each meal, I can conclude it is a satisfying burger.  They do, however, need to work on the consistency.  At lunch, the simplicity and minimalism made a clean burger with the intense quality of beef shine.  At dinner, the lettuce and mayonnaise were slathered on too much and made for a messier burger experience.

Hong Kong has been all over the international news these past weeks and months.  It was fascinating to see how protestors are still affecting the city.  The partial closure of Connaught Road is surprising to see in person.  It's such a significant road and protestors are successfully redirecting major traffic.

In other current event news, we also witnessed the ceremony of Remembrance Day, also known as Poppy Day.  While no longer an official city holiday since 1997, it was nice to see how the history of British culture is still alive in the island.

Room service with a view

A classic burger, paired with red wine

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Starting off the week at Disneyland Hong Kong

The happiest place on earth!  And because everyone wants to be happy, it's also the most crowded place on earth.  Disneyland Hong Kong is so much fun, but get ready for the crowds and hoards of people.

Following the biking afternoon adventure around Lantau Island, I extended my stay in Hong Kong just a little bit more.  My flight home to Manila was now scheduled in the evening.. so that left me with a good 5-6 hours at the park.  That's more than enough time to get a few rides in.

If you go to Disneyland HK during summer months, get ready for the crowds and get ready to spend money on cold drinks all day to stay hydrated.  It's the happiest, most crowded, AND most sweaty place on earth.  Heat and hoards of people aside, it's still Disneyland.  It's still so cool, regardless of age.

The park is smaller than Los Angeles, but it's slowly growing with many appealing attractions, like Toy Story Land, as well as an Iron Man Experience soon to come.  There are also the familiar rides like Space Mountain and the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters.  There are about a handful of rides offering Fast Track tickets before lunch.  It's so worth it.  To cool down, there are also a fun variety of indoor rides and on-screen and live productions, like the Lion King.

Before the sun had a chance to set, I had to take off to catch my flight (where the airport is also on Lantau Island).  If you go to the park and it's your first time, the fireworks show is amazing.  There's something about fireworks in Asia that's so spectacular..

A seas of umbrellas under the Hong Kong heat

Monday, November 10, 2014

Biking around Lantau Island in Hong Kong

Coming from a bustling, chaotic convention crowd over in Hong Kong Island, fresh air and nature were needed to end the weekend.  Lantau Island is a perfect place to get your nature fix.

Thanks to my best friend, who currently resides in Lantau Island, we quickly rented bikes and were on our way to an enjoyable Sunday afternoon.  I'm so impressed with the bike paths - they are so safe and off the road.  It keeps everyone in their own sections preventing accidents for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motor vehicles.

You can get all the sceneries around this island.  Greenery of trees and mountains, water, and cityscapes.  There's also the view of planes flying from the airport and the speed of trains whizzing by heading to Tung Chung and to the airport.  Water and greenery quickly blended with the rush of a city - it's pretty breathtaking and a great way to take a pause from the routine of life.

I really do love HK

Along the water

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Gogyo: A "ramen dining" experience

Ramen is a food I cannot go without.  At least one bowl a month brings balance into my food life.  But, it has to be good ramen because average and mediocre ramen just makes you hungrier for better broth and better noodles.

Hong Kong always has new restaurants every time we revisit.  In IFC, restaurants and stores constantly change or revamp.  Where one ramen shop used to be, another one opened up earlier this year.

Gogyo comes from the creator of the Ippudo Ramen.  Gogyo's concept is "Ramen Dining". It's sort of a higher end ramen dining experience, away from the rush of traditional ramen stalls.  Started in Kyoto, the ramen shop became known for it's burnt ramen, Kogashi.  Here in Hong Kong, there are also a few other bowls, including those similar to Ippudo.  I actually find the broth here cleaner tasting.  Plus, I lean toward places that have clean atmospheres and are relaxed for the diners to eat and drink.  Aside from ramen, there are also artful skewers and yakitori, all made with quality ingredients.  Another fun selling point are the selection of alcohols, as well as craft beer pairings with the ramen bowls and skewers.

Good ramen and good beer!  That's the perfect combination.

Mini Aka Ramen

Monday, November 03, 2014

Can't get enough of Hong Kong

I have come to love Hong Kong because of my mom who summered with her family in the Central district as a child.  Central is really where it's at.  You still feel British Hong Kong, and I love that.  It has culture, discipline, high fashion, great foods, and a true modern metropolitan city feel.

Visiting the city for these many years, we have a certain set of traditions or routines each time we come back: staying at the same hotel, having a Chinese feast, enjoying tapas, and trying out new establishments from international chefs.

Staying at the Mandarin Oriental is a true privilege.  The cleanliness, the service, the attention to detail - it all lives up to its reputation here in Hong Kong.  A benefit in staying at this hotel is the restaurants just upstairs.  The Man Wah has become one of our favorite Chinese restaurants in the city.  They have it all - attentive service, artful presentation, quality, and taste.

On the hotel's mezzanine floor of restaurants, Cafe Causette has a generous list of breakfast items perfect for a weekend brunch.  I'm a fan of corned beef hash, and theirs blew me away.  The plating, the quality of the beef itself and how it all tasted together was just the best I've encountered so far.  There is so much quality and finesse in it.

Across the harbour (via Star Ferry which is a fantastic way to go to Kowloon), Gateway Arcade in Harbour City has a great variety of restaurants.  Our family favorite is Sergi Arola's Vi Cool.  I can't get enough of the tapas and pitchers of sangrias.

Another international chef that has been a long stay in Hong Kong, Joel Robuchon, has recently expanded several outlets of his cafes across the city.  Le Cafe de Joel Robuchon in Gateway is a good place for dessert or for afternoon tea.

Hong Kong is really about the eating.  And I can't wait to go back for more.

View of the harbour
Mandarin Oriental Hotel