Hong Kong: What I ate while waiting for my next meal

Taking a leaf out of YY’s book to write on the commute to work – anyway it’s been a super long time since I’ve updated, so I might as well.

Hong Kong, as always, is a great city to eat through. I’ve always liked Hong Kong for its efficiency and the food it has to offer. Japanese chains always seem to make Hong Kong one of their first outposts outside Japan, and I obviously made a beeline for them…

1) Bake Cheese Tart

This is everything I expected it to taste like – and more. Most people who have eaten with me would know that I don’t take cheese, but I really can’t get enough of these tarts!!! for cheese haters (like yours truly), this tart is more of a ‘sweet’ than ‘savoury’. It tastes like a Japanese cheesecake baked in a tart. And a pretty damn good cheesecake at that. So light and rich, yet not too rich that one tart is too much. I had it semi warm from the store, which is perfectly fine by me (and yes it is molten!) but I prefer it cold(er) rather than warm. The hype is real people, go get your hands on a cheese tart! Or pay someone to buy you one.

2) Omotesando Koffee

Tokyo’s favourite touristy coffee spot opens in Hong Kong! Situated in the middle of Wan Chai, this space is way bigger than the house they used to operate out of in Omotesando. Coffee’s still the same. Most people get the iced mocha (pictured) but I’m a hot coffee kinda person. Plus when you get a hot coffee you get to pick your beans. The coffee’s still good, strong enough to give a buzz. The kashi which was sold out in Omotesando previously when I went, was in stock this time!

The kashi is a very fancy (read: expensive) square shaped canele. Good though. Also the coffee really cost a bomb: hkd 45-60 if I recall correctly.

3) Oddies Foodies 

Fans of Oddies, rejoice. Our new favourite joint is now easily accessible at Gough Street in Sheung Wan! After a comforting bowl of ngau lam e meen at Kau Kee, swing by for a comforting scoop of gelato. Yes, this is the Oddies that I would not shut up about previously.  The usual suspects like night wolf and the mob are available, but what I got this time round was just a scoop of its bikini wax: lychee / black sesame paste / coconut macaroon icecream. I loved it. Lychee was bold and didn’t get lost like it usually does in the flavours. And black sesame!!! they go so well together.


I’d recommend that people try the drama cones. At hkd 88 per cone, you really do get a massive cone with crazy, incredible flavour pairings – does yogurt gelato, oatmeal raisin cookies, hojicha semifreddo, sesame crumble, and blueberry coulis sound good? I thought so too.

4) Elephant Grounds


I have been eyeing this place since I saw their icecream sandwiches on instagram about a year plus ago. Finally, finally made it here after a long day getting completely soaked in Macau (thanks, typhoon) and having to buy a cardigan in the Venetian because it was freezing  – though I think it turned out to be the best buy of the trip. Anyway, when we got back to HK it was about 8pm and we immediately dashed to Elephant Grounds as the Gough Street branch closes at 9. We made it, with 8 minutes to spare!

Roasted hojicha icecream sandwich with digestive cookies and chocolate popping candy for hkd 60. Kind of wish the hojicha was a bit more pronounced and less milky, but I gotta admit the sandwich was held together quite well. Everything complemented and the popping candy was fun to eat! My only gripe is that it melts too fast (just have to eat faster I suppose!) Available on weekends only at Gough Street & Causeway Bay.

 5) Under Vacuum

Getting here required us to walk about the entire Tsim Sha Tsui underground – it’s really close to TST East MTR station. In the middle of the park, I’d imagine it’d be really pleasant to hang around outdoors in cooler autumn nights.
I had the sous vide beef sandwich with an extra side of scrambled eggs. This sandwich is MESSY, but UV helpfully provides plastic gloves for eating! It’s been ages since I last had an epic sandwich and this was truly worth the hkd 53. Scrambled egg + mustard + beef = can’t go wrong. The beef was the star of the sandwich, as it should be. There were other interesting things on its menu, such as french toast stuffed with nutella and marshmallow, and deep fried stuffed waffles with green tea paste. 10/10 would recommend!

Addresses of everywhere:

Bake Cheese Tart: B2-16,B2, SOGO, 555, 555 Hennessy Rd, Causeway Bay
Omotesando Koffee: Shop no24-25,G/F., No.200 Queen’s Road East, Wan Chai, Lee Tung St
Oddies Foodies: 45 Gough St, Central
Elephant Grounds:
11 Gough Street, Central/Sheung Wan.
Under Vacuum
: Kiosk, Centenary Garden, 63 Mody Road, Tsim Sha Tsui East (Exit P2).

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Hong Kong: Oddies Foodies

Ok so this is about 3 months late but Tess said I should write chronologically and so I think my entry about Tokyo should be coming to my loyal readers (er probably about 2 people at this point) maybe in Dec 2015, if we’re lucky.

The #1 thing about HK right now and that I miss SO MUCH – BEHOLD (NSFW! FOODPORN AHEAD!!):

Night Wolf: soft serve italian gelato with 66% chocolate swirl, banana icecream, passion fruit pannacotta, brownie, crunchy cereals, chocolate chip egg waffle.
ohh tea!: italian low fat soft gelato served on a bed of earl grey bergamot panna cotta, caramel apple, butter crumbs, organic jasmine tea sorbet, hibiscus tea espuma, strawberry tea caramel popcorn and a chocolate dipped tea bag

UM?????? LIKE??????? EXPLOSIONS IN MY MOUTH PLEASE. After having this I felt like my heart was exploding with mini fireworks and afterwards it started doing somersaults. It’s one of the biggest party in my mouths I’ve had all year and just WOW. I swear as I had it my head was going OMGOMG??????OMG??????? Banana + chocolate – everyone knows it works, but the passionfruit pannacotta really cut through and the citrus zing was a v pleasant end to a combination which would likely be quite heavy on the palate. ohh tea! was v different from night wolf – flavours were all subtle and very complementary; a perfect after dinner guilt-free snack (ok IT IS ANYTHING BUT GUILT FREE but it’s so light that it’s guilt free ok??). For me, I am in love with the idea that Winnie, the owner of Oddies, took a leap of faith and decided to run an icecream shop instead of going into pastry like most of her fellow Le Cordon Bleu counterparts. She runs this small tiny stall in Wan Chai by herself daily with one or two helpers. So much respect for this lady. Follow oddies on Instagram for their monthly update – Ohh Tea! is no longer available (soz). HERE!!

This is a place that is so off the charts that it really deserves a short entry of its own. This place is very very special and I cannot recommend it more – anyone travelling to Hong Kong should carve out some time to visit Oddies and savour Winnie’s magical creations, and of course, marvel at her little set up and like me, get all excited because she sure has a bright, shiny future ahead. Also, please bring someone along so you can try everything. Preferably someone with a HUGE APPETITE so you don’t feel fat when you order everything off her menu because everything is likely to be pretty damn delicious.

Oddies
灣仔道149號地鋪F號 Shop F, G/F,
149 Wan Chai Rd, Wan Chai.
Tues-Sun 12pm-10pm.

P.S. I know the picture links for some of the older entries are not working, I will get around to fixing them… sometime soon.

San Francisco: Bay Area, Stanford & Palo Alto

Yes, I know, I came back from San Francisco more than a month ago – somehow I feel like chronicling my foodventures through the places I’ve been is a lot simpler and easier than just a restaurant in itself. Feel like a place does influence the kind of food people tend to cook cos 1) culture and 2) profitability. I mean, you see like a smorgasbord of pressed juices/green juice/kale in SF, which is definitely not as prevalent as say, HK (yes, HK post coming right up). Also what better time to write a new entry than when I have 3 tutorials in the next 3 days?? Gah, ethics….

After the culinary high that was Melbourne and Sydney, I have commented to people that I doubt I’d be able to find a place that matches up to them both because almost every single meal was a “WOW!!!” from me. For people who don’t know me, I categorise my life/experiences into roughly these 5 categories: ‘wow factor’, pretty great, good, alright and meh.

SAN FRANCISCO: WHAT I LIKED
(disclaimer: my time was spent mostly around Palo Alto, a chichi suburban neighbourhood where Stanford is located, and it honestly felt pretty dang good to be away from the crazy ass city life for a bit.)

1. La Tacqueria, The Mission District
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Ah, tacos in the mission district. This is definitely a MUST DO in San Francisco. Alight at 16th Mission and take a leisurely stroll down (or up?) to the 24th. La Tacqueria is conveniently located on the 23rd if I recall correctly.

THESE TACOS ARE NOT NORMAL TACOS. They are soft tacos wrapped around with a crisp hard taco and filled with the most luscious guac, pico de gallo and whatever choice of meat you choose. Rj ordered for us and BOYYYYYYY these were fan-freaking-tastic. They were dripping with goodness, (yum I love messy food) but THE TACO SHELLS (skins???) RETAINED THEIR STRUCTURE TILL THE VERY END. I did not want to give up the last mouthful to Tebello.. but anyway the point is. Come eat here. I haven’t had that many tacos before, and I’m not sure if taco joints all around the world do this soft taco/crisp taco thing, but that was the highlight for me. That and the perfectly charred meat and copious amount of guac heaped onto my taco. We also had agua frescas but they tasted like sugary watermelon & mango juice diluted with water. I’m not sure I’d try it again… but damn these tacos. If I ever go back I’m not sharing any.

So the Mission isn’t really my favourite part of town because the only word to describe it is DODGY (or sketchy, if you’re American)…. and the smell of pee is everywhere. Walk one block down to Valencia and it’s a whole new world. I would like to own a house on Valencia tbh. It is such a hip, happening place with great spots like…

2. Craftsman & Wolves
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THIS PLACE IS EPIC!!!!! C&W is most well known for ‘The Rebel Within’ – a savoury muffin with sausage, asiago, green onion and an entire gooey soft cooked farm egg in the middle. Don’t even know how they manage to keep the yolk runny, but what a gorgeous sight when I sliced it down the middle. So, the verdict on this? I wished it was warmed up.. and I think fans of cheese would love The Rebel Within. It was one of the most unique things I’ve ever tried, and a pity I couldn’t truly appreciate its full awesomeness because well, I don’t like cheese. That said, the farm egg in the middle is a genius idea – who would’ve thought? My coffee was excellent & my takeaway blackberry muffin was bursting with blackberry goodness. Topped with bran flakes, it made a wonderful lunch. I love it here.

3. Tin Pot Creamery, Palo Alto
Stanford students have it so frkn good, and I am insanely jealous of every single one of them because they have this frkn epic ice cream shop at their doorstep. When Rj told me Tin Pot was voted best icecream shop in Palo Alto I was kinda skeptical, but after having it, I think it should be declared best icecream in San Francisco. Humphrey Slocombe cannot compare. AT ALL. I had the blueberry lavender & pumpkin and oat strusel; I think the latter was a halloween special. I really cannot stand it when my icecream is icey and this was pure, creamy goodness. Blueberry lavender is such a special lavender pairing; seriously, earl grey lavender was so last year. It was creamy, floral and fruity at the same time. I really want a tub of it right now. I wouldn’t recommend pumpkin to anyone who doesn’t even like pumpkin but I gotta admit that oat strusel makes for fun eating, texturally. THIS HAS MUCH WOW FACTOR!!!! And if I had to pick a #1 item on this list, THIS WOULD BE IT

4. Evvia, Palo Alto
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My first experience with Greek food! Grilled octopus, the most lovely charred lamb riblets and marithes tiganites – crispy smelt with a garlic and potato skordalia. Okay food aside, doesn’t SKORDALIA REMIND YOU OF A POKEMON????? Or izzit just me?? FYI: a skordalia is a sort of thick, chunky dip. Here the skordalia made my entire meal. The lemon rly complemented the bold and punchy garlic and the crispy smelt was the perfect fish to hold it all together. Taste & texture wise, it was faultless. Ok think: fried crispy fish with the most garlicy dip in the world. YUM??? The lamb riblets were a bit gamey for me; I generally have a distaste to lamb, BUT I really wouldn’t mind having more of this; and the grilled octopus…. just….wow…. I feel like my favourite dishes at restaurants are those which are cooked simply with the freshest ingredients; while I enjoy the oohs and ahhs molecular gastronomy brings to food in general, sometimes the best kind of food is choosing the best cooking method to let your choice of ingredient shine. GIVE ME MORE OF THAT OCTOPUS

Tbh, most of my time was spent eating great food at Casa Italiana where RJ lived – I am still in awe at how catered food can taste this good. I’m quite sure freshman 15 would not be limited to just the freshmen, considering the open kitchen at Casa, and the food that Jose churns out day after day.

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HONOURABLE MENTION: Food at Casa Italiano; the monkey bread & kale mojito at CoHo

I’ve already talked about how frkn amaze Casa’s food was but honestly everyone needs to go visit Stanford just for the Monkey bread! Crisp buns of walnuts and drizzled with just the right amount of honey? caramel? when toasted make the best. snack. ever. And also, it will be one of the best $3 you spend in your life. I also miss the kale mojito, a juice blend of kale, mint, mango, celery, parsley and orange juice. I swear all green juice skeptics will change their minds on kale and green juice AFTER HAVING THIS. It is refreshing and exhilarating and makes me feel like I’m at a beach with a hot bod when I clearly am sitting at Coho with an expanding waistline instead.

OH, AND ONE LAST ONE (how could I have forgotten):
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In-N-Out: just because you’re in the West Coast. Also, it’s better than Shake Shack.

WHY MUST I DO ETHICS WHY

Melbourne

Alright, it’s been more than a year, and what a difference a year makes. So what inspired this – basically ET asked me to update and today Trish asked me about Melbourne AND about Tummytay in lecture and during lunch. So why not? And also, I feel like I may never have such satisfying meals for a while since almost every meal was an epic meal in Melbourne and Sydney.

Plus it helps that I have to watch a video in preparation for mediation tomorrow. Obviously I should write a hugeass long post about food instead of preparing for it.. #priorities.

Without further ado, I present:

MUST EATS IN MELBOURNE

1) Coconut-Pandan gelato at Spring Street Grocer
And I thought I tasted the mother of all gelatos in Italy. I was wrong. Completely and utterly wrong. This was *magical*, the pandan and coconut were like pb & jam, yknow? THEY GO SO WELL TOGETHER. Like Britney and Justin. (They are still my OTP. Do not judge.) It was incredibly smooth, with NO ICE CRYSTALS AT ALL – don’t you hate icecream that is icy? AND IT IS SO HARD TO ACHIEVE THAT FEAT. Gelatos for the win. Who needs iceream or any other gelato flavour anyway? This gelato spoilt the market for the other gelatos I had in Melbourne, and none of the others I tried even came close to this. Not even the famous Messina.

2) Fried Brioche at The Hardware Societe

I think I loved this mainly because it was an infusion of all the flavours I enjoyed – rosewater/earl grey panna cotta/fresh raspberries – that reminded me of Pierre Herme’s famous ispahan. Prior to visiting Melbourne I had heard so much about THS (OMG SAME INITIALS AS ME?????) and I was not disappointed at all. The portions are huge, and because the flavours are quite complex, and the brioche is fried, it does get a bit heavy. But no problemo, it just means that you have to eat two dishes so as to alternate between that and the fried brioche. Which brings me to….

BAKED EGGS DEUX at THS.
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This was beautiful. I love baked eggs but I find sometimes the problem with brunch food/eggs is that I can easily replicate it at home. NOT THIS I CAN’T. three baked eggs sitting pretty in a pot full of warm tomato stew, silvered almonds and hidden spinach at the bottom. This really warmed us up on a blustery winter morning.

3) Grilled lemongrass banh mi at Ba’get

One thing I really missed about western nations: their sandwiches. Alright, banh mi is asian… but wowowow. Perhaps it was because Nick and I were RAVENOUS after trekking half of the CBD to get here (so much for me saying “it’s really nearby”. No one should ever trust my direction sense. More to come later). The baguettes were crisp and provided a REALLY satisfying crunch when we bit into em. I also enjoy pickled vegetables so this sandwich really ticked the right boxes for me. The best part: $6.95 for each banh mi. SAY WHAT???? It also stays fresh for a long time because I brought half a banh mi onto the plane home. It was still as great 6 hours later. Dammit sometimes I wish Willy Wonka’s TV were real then I’d be able to reach through my screen and grab whatever food I want and EAT IT.

4) Soft shell crab burger at Hammer & Tong 412
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Hammer & Tong’s logo is reminiscent of the CCCP for some reason (Communist Party), and that’s another reason why I like it. The soft shell crab burger has been talked about so much by the online food community (thank you urbanspoon.) that I think one of the stupidiest decisions I made in Melbourne was to share the burger with Nick. It should not be shared. Period. CRISP SOFT SHELL CRAB, PILLOWY BRIOCHE, and forgettable greens. It was also very light!!! Deepfrying a soft shell crab is not that easy ok??? Alright, maybe the Bill Murray at Lucky Chip has a greater wow factor (hellooooo wasabi mayo + secret sauce, how not to win!?) BUT THIS WAS A GREAT BURGER ON ITS OWN MERIT. Tummytay approves.

5) Original beef burger with the works at Andrew’s Hamburgers

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RLY ANNOYED BECAUSE I WAS SO FULL SO I COULDN’T FINISH MY HALF. Any burger with bacon and egg is also a winner in my books. And honestly? Andrew’s is better than The Royale Brothers whom we made the trek out to Middle Brighton to search out. Don’t know how to describe just how awesome (see, running out of adjectives) this burger is, so please just look above for the gorgeous cross section. Dammit why aren’t burgers this accessible in Singapore? WHY? (Answer: we don’t grow our own cows, that’s why.)

6) Spaghetti Scoglio & Lobster tail tagliatelle at Villa Romana Trattoria
2767No trip to Melbourne is complete without a trip to Lygon Street, even though food has been said to be a hit and miss, cos yknow as places become touristy, food standards just plummet ): But!!! THIS! WAS! SO! WOW! Alright, so the Scoglio was a bit dry for my liking and I felt there should have been a bit more white wine – yes yes I know the irony of this statement considering how alcohol and I are not friends – so as to create a nice vongole type sauce. But hey, I’m not the italian so.. ohwel. Other than it being a bitttt too dry (not ‘moist’ enough. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA) it was A GREAT HEARTY DISH OF CARBS AND SEAFOOD IN A HUGE PAN. I would highly recommend this dish; it is pasta done simply and done well. The lobster tail tagliatelle was also for two, but there was a creamy sauce instead, just right to coat the pasta without it being too cloying. We loved it. Maybe a bit more than the Scoglio… but just a tiny bit.

7) HONOURABLE MENTION: Vegie Bar (no pictures though. OOPS.)
Vegie Bar is the kind of place I think Adele and I would frequent if we lived in Melbourne. It is completely vegetarian but in Singapore there tends to be this stereotype that vegetarian food = tasteless rabbit food and that there is a sense of being ripped off paying the same price for a dish that has no meat. I regret not taking pictures of the wonderful place but its menu is quirky and innovative, and EVERYTHING SOUNDED YUMMY – baked mushroom with quinoa!! vermicelli and soba salads, omg. The serving plates were also bigger than my face. Though the interior was dark, and lighting was a bit sleep inducing, I enjoyed the bar concept of it (neon lights! YAY!) and how they have managed to make vegetarian food cool.

8) ONE OF A KIND LOCATION: MART 130


So there was this day we were supposed to meet Ray at this lovely brunch spot in the middle of nowhere (HPSTR ALERT!), called Mart 130. Mart because it’s tram spelled backwards and it is literally right at the tram stop. Like when we stepped off the tram, crossed the tram tracks – I LOVE CROSSING TRAM TRACKS. “You are waiting for a train…” (DOES ANYONE GET THIS REFERENCE) – and there it stands, on the other side of the platform. Alright, silly me didn’t think to capture a picture of it on a digital medium – I have it in film. I think everyone should pay this a visit, I have never seen anything like it before. Just don’t make the same mistake as me and take the tram in the wrong direction (THE TRAM IS NOT TOWARDS EAST BRUNSWICK.) only to realise that we’ve gone in the wrong direction at the tram’s second last stop. #winner

9) COFFEE!

3730Another thing I really enjoyed about Melbourne was the availability of great coffee. I love how serious the coffee culture is and as much as I try to pretend I’m into the whole thing, I only describe coffee as whether it is ‘gao’ enough. The best part is waking up at 10ish everyday and making a pilgrimage to a new coffee spot while Nick sleeps in (what a pig.). I enjoy the peace and quiet that comes with sitting at a coffee joint alone with my coffee and kindle. It is quite a thing to be in a city but yet be able to stay grounded and not lose yourself in it. I love it. My favourite coffee spot was a little bird told me… possibly because it was the nearest to us (ha!!) but also of it’s non-cramped space and open interiors. Brother Baba Budan‘s interior decor was incredibly quirky – a ceiling full of chairs!! but it was a bit dark for and cramped for my liking. Maybe now Singaporean hipsters will be inspired to adorn their cafes with chairs instead of just BICYCLES. Bicycles are so 2012.

Next up: Sydney!!!

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