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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 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: 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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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 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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December 16, 2010

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.

December 14, 2010

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.

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.

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: 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 5, 2010

Hong Kong: Brunch Club

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Apparently brunch is a thing in Hong Kong too.


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