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May 2, 2011

Hong Kong: Loon Kee Seafood Restaurant

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At the head of Hong Kong's Gage street, right across the street from Lan Fong Yuen tea house, Loon Kee draws passersby in with a visual siren's song of roasted meats hanging in the window.

Behind them, men stand in the window chopping and prepping meat for customers. Their hands, shiny from the greasy skins of pork and duck and chickens, just looking at them work, going in was an inevitability, not an option.


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April 29, 2011

Hong Kong: Thai Hut

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On a particularly debaucherous evening out in Hong Kong, our host took us out to Wan Chai to give us a peek at the seedier side of town. Its probably pretty telling that above all the working girls and over the top everything, we saw there, the thing that I really remember is Thai Hut.

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April 28, 2011

Hong Kong: Tsui Wah

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In our first week in Hong Kong, we passed by branches of the Tsui Wah chain more than a few times without realizing that it was another of the cha chaan tang tea houses, like Lon Fong Yuen (basically diners), that we'd read about. Thankfully, we discovered it in time to stop in a couple times before we headed home.

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April 27, 2011

Hong Kong: The Peak

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Hong Kong is beautiful. I fell for it the moment I looked out the window of the Midlevel apartment we stayed in. The view of the world below, the harbor and Kowloon off in the distance made me want to find explore it as much as I could. That view probably also ruined me for The Peak.

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Hong Kong: Cha Chaan Tang at Lon Fong Yuen

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Among the notes I got from friends and friends of friends ahead of our trip to Hong Kong, I read a couple references to cha chaan tang tea houses as a particular institution in local culture. Despite what I read about it being the home of low budget comfort food, it never occurred to me that it would basically be a diner.

One in particular, Lon Fong Yuen, was highly recommended and conveniently turned out to be right at the beginning of Gage Street, the strip of markets that I obsessively returned to, ogling the Butcher shops and the people who worked there.

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April 25, 2011

Hong Kong: Gage Street

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Walking through Central Hong Kong, it was easy to forget that I was 8,000 miles from home. There were skyscrapers and office buildings this way, hi-rise condos that way, Westerners abounded and English was everywhere. Central certainly didn't have any of the challenges of Saigon or even Tokyo in navigation or communication. I enjoyed exploring the area a lot, but it almost felt like cheating.

Then we took a turn off from under the Mid-Level escalators and found ourselves on Gage Street and found ourselves somewhere else, entirely.


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February 24, 2011

...And back again

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Tammi and I got back from Barcelona this afternoon. It was a great trip and I've got loads to write about. I hope to spend the next day or two catching up on my posts about this trip, San Francisco, Aspen and Hong Kong.

February 19, 2011

Hong Kong: Darlie

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With all the flights between Vietnam, Cambodia, Hong Kong and The Philippines, we ended up needing to replace toiletries during an overnight stopover. Tammi found a Darlie toothbrush, the descendant of the Darkie brand and just had to get it. I had never heard the story before, but she had. Apparently, back in the day, this brand had a top hat sporting Al Jolson-style logo, seen here. After the obvious uproar, they changed it to Darlie and adjusted the logo, although apparently in Chinese, the name of the brand is still "Black Person."

January 20, 2011

Hong Kong: Brew Dog Punk IPA

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After drinking all that yellow, fizzy beer all over Asia, I was craving something with hops. Every beer you find out there, be it local or import, is light, sweet and after a while, cloying. San Miguel was my favorite of the bunch in Hong Kong and The Philippines, but really, it was all mostly the same.

So, I was very happy to find Brew Dog at a pub in the expat nightlife area, Lan Kwai Fong. The ad, posted on every table spun its marketing campaign as being 'punk,' different, possibly 'too good for you.' The idea would be more clever if the folks that make Arrogant Bastard hadn't been doing it for something like 10 years, but I certainly didn't care. It had hops and was unapologetic about it and for that I appreciated it.

I had the blue label, which provided the over the top hoppy experience that was all the range in beer in the US five years ago. As happy as I was to have it, I could only enjoy a round or two at a time. By then though, my palate was more than happy to return to the lighter local brews.

December 19, 2010

Hong Kong: No Dog Fouling

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Mid-Levels, Hong Kong.

Hong Kong: Smog

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On our first morning in Hong Kong, I looked out at the gorgeous view from our friend's apartment and peered through the haze across the harbor to Kowloon.

It reminded me of San Francisco and the fog that comes in in the morning off the bay. It seemed pretty cool until our host mentioned that it was actually smog coming off of the mainland. Apparently this time of year is the worst. Above is the view of the Hong Kong Island from the Star Ferry terminal on the water. It reminds me of how clean the air is in New York, even if we can't always tell it on the ground.

December 18, 2010

Hong Kong: Just Married

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Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong. 2010.

Hong Kong: Spanish Hourly Hotel

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Apparently when it's not inundated with shoppers, Kowloon's Mong Kok area hosts any entirely different marketplace after hours. It wasn't the first time in Hong Kong we saw some blatant signs of prostitution, but I have to wonder what makes this place 'Spanish."

December 17, 2010

Hong Kong: Egg Tarts at Tai Cheong Bakery

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On my list of recommendations for places I should not miss in Hong Kong, a friend added the egg tarts at Tai Cheong Bakery. I didn't know much about it, but it sounded like a nice snack, so we went for it. When we finally found it, the line out the door and the newspaper clips posted of the former British governor scarfing down the famous tarts confirmed that we were in the right place.

The bakery appears to sell other items, but it seemed like the egg tarts were the main attraction. Right in front of the counter a warming tray keeps them hot and ready for each new customer. Take a look after the jump.

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Christmas in Hong Kong

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The timing of our annual trip means that every year we end up seeing the Christmas season kick off in some place far from home. From the unfamiliar displays in Paris to the cognitive dissonance of sun and palm trees in Hawaii, it's always interesting to see how different cultures handle the holidays.

In Hong Kong, that's entails playing Christmas music in every subway station and shopping area as well as putting up these huge decorations in Kowloon near Victoria Harbour.


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December 16, 2010

Hong Kong Food Finds: Cream Flavoured Collon

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Found in a Hong Kong supermarket. I'm pretty sure there's nothing I can say that will make this more ridiculous.

Hong Kong: Amazing Ramen at Butao King

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When planning the Hong Kong portion of our trip around Asia, I expected to partake in all sorts of Chinese food from Cantonese to Szechuan and all sorts of foods I'd never heard of. What I didn't plan on was spending two hours in line to go to a Japanese ramen shop, but that's what happened. The night we arrived, I picked up a copy of the local Time Out to see what food and events were below the radar of the guide books. The review for Butao King, a tiny ramen shop in Central was so amazing that there was no question we had to try it.

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Hong Kong: HSBC Protest

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Protest at HSBC office building, Central Hong Kong.

December 15, 2010

Hong Kong: 7-Eleven

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When we had our little TV Dinner adventure on our first night in Hong Kong, the idea of 7-Eleven there was secondary to the urgent need for something to eat.

7-Eleven has always been something of a mystery to me. There are a few in New York now, but growing up in the land of bodegas, it was a fairly foreign brand. It existed in the suburbs and on television - comedians joked about it and I didn't really get it. So, it was pretty funny to find this brand of Americana on nearly every block in Central and the Mid-Levels.

Hong Kong: Bamboo Scaffolding

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I'm all for using sustainable materials as a way of cutting down on waste, pollution and all that. It's a noble effort and we all ought to be involved. That said, I have to admit to being totally freaked out by the use of bamboo for scaffolding just about everywhere in Hong Kong.

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Hong Kong: Rush Hour

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Rush hour at the Admiralty MTR Station, Hong Kong.

December 14, 2010

Hong Kong: Makeup on the Subway

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Apparently, this happens in Hong Kong too.

Hong Kong: The Mid-Levels Escalators

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This is one of the Mid-Levels Escalators. It is remarkably useful for getting from sea level in Central to up in the hills where we are staying. It is remarkably less useful after midnight when it shuts down.

At the end of our first day in Hong Kong, we hung out in SoHo and drank wine and took advantage of the fact that our bodies thought it was the middle of the day. When the bars closed at 2am, we discovered that we had a long climb ahead of us.

This was all days before we found out that the cab ride up the hill only costs US $3. Even so, drunkenly hiking up the side of a mountain making our way home after a day of exploring was a fun experience - just not one I plan to do again soon.

Hong Kong: The Mong Kok Market

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A couple days after we landed in Hong Kong, Tammi and I went on an expedition for a yarn shop. We made our way up to the northern part of Kowloon to an area called Mong Kok. This turns out to be the big shopping neighborhood - not the fancy shopping of Central, with the Louis Vuitton and such, but the real Herald Square/Fulton Street-type of shopping. We made the mistake of going on a Saturday afternoon, which lead to an hour of fighting a tide of humanity searching for a particular address, hidden behind rows of street stalls.

Not recommended. On the plus side, there was some great looking food around that I'd have loved to have tried, but never got the chance to.

December 13, 2010

Hong Kong: Brat

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Among all the western foods available in SoHo, Brat stuck out most of all to me. An American-style sausage shop, done up like it could be in Brooklyn or Downtown Manhattan - in fact there's a place called Brats in Chelsea.

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I stopped in once and was tempted to eat there. I was put off by the lady who worked there who insisted that I could only take photos if it was for personal use. I don't know the restaurant politics in Hong Kong, but I didn't really feel like going somewhere where I'd be hassled about taking food photos.

Still, given the American junk I ate on my last day of the trip, I should definitely gone here instead.

Analog: Airport Security

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Tammi and I landed back home in New York yesterday from Hong Kong. I've got plenty to post about and hope to get them flowing out of there next week or two.

Over the last couple weeks, we've been on 10 flights through six countries and dealt with countless different stages of airport security. Ever since I started shooting film, one of the biggest potential hassles has been dealing with airport security.

X Rays can severely damage the emulsion on film in a way that can totally screw your images. Now, the first thing any screener will say is that it'll only affect film that's faster than ISO 800 or even 1600. What none of them understands is that slower film isn't invulnerable to X Rays, it's just that it takes more passes to do the same damage because it's less sensitive.

I've read that it takes five passes to damage 100 speed film the way one pass damages a faster roll. Given that we've passed through maybe a dozen security checkpoints on this trip, the hazard is still there.

In one of the few compliments I've ever really considered about the TSA, I will say that they invariably will do a proper manual swab of my film without giving me a hard time.

Less so in Japan, above, where the security guy at Narita insisted on opening up and visually inspecting each of my 20+ rolls. In the end, it's better than the Cambodian guard who insisted that I put my one roll of 1600 speed film in the x-ray because the sign said it was 'film-safe.' I haven't shot it yet, so we'll have to see how it comes out when I get home.

Hong Kong: 13 Hours

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When Tammi and I went to Japan three years ago, the huge time difference was significant. It took us a few days of waking up at 3am before we finally adjusted. This time around in Hong Kong, it's been more challenging.

I think what's made it harder this time around is social media. Back in 2007, we'd check email once or twice a day but otherwise be pretty disconnected from the world at home. Now, we're so wired to Twitter, Facebook, tumblr and everything else that make us constantly aware that we're not on our usual schedule. Every evening we'd get back to our room and as we were winding down, a slew of posts and tweets and updates would start flowing in. It could be a little disorienting.

I also put together a couple Midtown Lunch posts while away and had to keep in mind what time it was at home - and when communicating with Zach, what time it is in California as well. That's not including the changes between Hong Kong and our stops in Vietnam and Cambodia to the west and The Philippines to the east.

I'm not complaining or lamenting, I think it's been really interesting to have to juggle multiple time zones like this. Now that I'm back on EST, I'm of course jetlagged and sitting here writing this at 4am and getting updates in the middle of the night when you can't sleep suddenly seems much more appealing.

December 10, 2010

Hong Kong: Bubies

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In Central Hong Kong, there is a bra shop called Bubies (pronounced boobies). If that weren't awesome enough, the display in the window lists names for many of the 'models' of bra. These names include Chocolate Glory, Tempura, Pepper Steak and Gelato.

So. Wonderful.

Hong Kong: No Napkins

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One odd thing we found nearly everywhere we went in Hong Kong and to an extent in Vietnam and Cambodia: Napkins are few and far between. Except for the most Westernized restaurants, no one provides napkins with your meal. Even here at Yung Kee, a well known and popular Chinese place in Central, when we asked for a napkin, they brought us a box of kleenex-style tissues.

At other places, I noticed that people walked around with packs of tissues and used those. It made for interesting improvisation after long messy meals to have to figure out how to clean my hands without making a mess of my clothes.

December 9, 2010

Hong Kong: San Miguel Beer

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Asia doesn't really have much in the way of great beer. Pretty much all of it is light, yellow and fizzy. It's a bit sweet and most often indistinguishable from one another. You may eventually notice differences between Tsingtao and Asahi and Sapporo, but mostly they're very similar. Given that, San Miguel, a Filipino beer became my beer of choice. Again, it's not significantly better, but you take what you can get.

December 8, 2010

Hong Kong: Guts on a Stick

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I was really excited about the street food when coming out to Asia and I've eaten quite a bit of it, particularly in Vietnam - more to come on that. But I couldn't quite bring myself to try these intestines at a market in Kowloon while we were in Hong Kong. They looked interesting and even Tammi thought about it until asking what it was. The lady gestured to her gut and it was immediately clear.

We'll be back in Hong Kong a couple more times before heading home, so maybe I'll muster up the -ahem- intestinal fortitude to give it a go.

Hong Kong: CraftSteak?

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Walking through one of the restaurant strips in the SoHo area of Central Hong Kong, Tammi and I came across CraftSteak. I hadn't known of Colicchio and co having another branch of the now closed restaurant, so I looked closer.

According to the card, the CraftSteak Hong Kong as a whole family of familiarly named restaurants including Blue Smoke, BLT Burger, and Olive among others. I'm presuming these are all licensees and not some crazy joint venture that somehow flew under the radar.

December 7, 2010

Hong Kong Food Finds: Curry Beef Brisket & Tendon with Rice

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We landed in Hong Kong just before midnight. There wasn't much exploring to be done by the time we got to the apartment and our friend whose house we were staying in was out of town, so couldn't direct us anywhere. But we were both ravenous. We made our way to the nearby 7 Eleven in the hopes of anything to eat.

That's when I an across this particularly interesting Food Find: Maxim's Beef Brisket & Tendon with curry and rice. Adventures in TV Dinner after the jump.

Continue reading "Hong Kong Food Finds: Curry Beef Brisket & Tendon with Rice" »

December 5, 2010

Hong Kong: Brunch Club

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Apparently brunch is a thing in Hong Kong too.

December 3, 2010

And on to the next one

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It's 5am and Tammi and I are getting ready for a flight to Cambodia for the weekend. Vietnam has been quick, but fascinating. We'll have another evening here before we head back to Hong Kong and then The Philippines, so I hope to get a chance to gorge myself further on pho and street banh mi.

I can't promise updates for another couple days, so follow me on Twitter for more up to the minute posts (12 hours ahead).

December 2, 2010

Hong Kong: McDonald's Red Bean Pie

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While in Hong Kong, we made an emergency bathroom run to a McDonald's in Kowloon. I tend to avoid such Americanisms even at home, but really try to avoid them when I'm out of the country. That said, I'm very intrigued by this Red Bean Pie dessert they sell there. The fried pie shell reminds me of the old school apple pies of my youth and I'm curious how it all works with red beans.

We'll be back in Hong Kong twice more before we head home, so maybe I'll give in and try it out.

Hong Kong: Do Not Misuse

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SoHo, Central, Hong Kong.

Saw this on the side of an ambulance the other day. I don't know how bad a problem false alarms are in Hong Kong, but I love the use of these cute little characters to bring home the point.

December 1, 2010

Hong Kong: Jackie Chan Approved!

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"Effectively Reduces Hair Fall" - Hong Kong Supermarket, Mid-Levels.

November 30, 2010

Greetings from Hong Kong!

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After five days in Hong Kong, we head to Vietnam today (tomorrow?) - Wednesday. It's been a great time so far and there's tons to post about, starting with this, the view from our friend Bobby's apartment, where we've been staying.

There's so much more to see and do here and I'm happy that we're going to be back a couple more times before heading home. For now, check my tweets and Flickr for semi-regular updates.

November 24, 2010

And We're Off! Asia-bound

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Today's the day. Tammi and I are off to the airport for our flight to Hong Kong. Even though I'll be away for the next two weeks, I've still got a bunch of posts that I've been working on that should be going up here from Philly, Montreal and cooking at home. There are also some posts queued up on Midtown Lunch and on Analog UltraClay, so stay tuned!

September 8, 2010

Looking To The East

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Pretty much as soon as we got back from Hawai'i last year, Tammi and I were already thinking about where we would go for our annual trip this fall. We had been all over the place, but hadn't really centered on anything specific until we were invited to a wedding in The Philippines two weeks after Thanksgiving.

After a good deal of budget consideration and some awesome finagling with frequent flyer miles, we managed to get everything arranged. We will be spending a week each in Hong Kong and Vietnam this fall, plus a couple days in The Philippines for the wedding.

Right now we are in the information gathering part of planning, so if you've been to the area and have recommendations, please chime in.

In the meantime, I expect to do as much research on Cantonese, Vietnamese and Filipino food in New York as I can. More to come.


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