As mentioned a couple of posts ago, I was away in Hong Kong for 5 days with Mum. It was back in October when I chanced upon some reasonable airfares on Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong and wondered whether Mum would be keen for me to celebrate her birthday with her there. When I booked the flight and accommodation, it felt like ages ago. Then suddenly, it was February and well, when this goes up, it’ll be March!
Anyway, 6.50am on the 21st of Feb, we were sitting in the comfy seats of Cathay Pacific awaiting take off.
As usual, I was apprehensive about flying but the entire flight was incredibly smooth. I enjoyed it thoroughly with a movie to see me through and a really good breakfast. I was impressed! Mum had cheesy omelette and I had a chicken mushroom congee. Service was pretty good too. In fact, I daresay everything was better than Singapore Airlines. At least the recent one Flo and I took to Sri Lanka in terms of entertainment, food and service. I’d like to say the smooth flight but I know that’s subject to the weather.
As a sidenote, our flight back was just as good, or even better aside from the guy in front who seemed to have a bad tummy so was releasing smelly wind from his bum. We were on the A350 and the seats were more spacious, and our hot meal (Beef ragu pasta and Curry chicken with rice) were both delicious as far as plane food go. No wait, the curry chicken was quite possibly better than many renditions we find off the plane.
Anyway, we arrived in Hong Kong safe and sound, hopped onto the Airport Express to Hong Kong station, and took H1 to JW Marriott… where we weren’t staying. We lugged our little trolley bags down the hill and a minute more brought us to the doorstep of OZO Wesley which sits comfortable on Hennessy Road in between Wan Chai station and Admiralty station.
The room was really comfy and had everything we needed. Since we were given the second highest floor – 20, we had a decent view of the buildings next to us.
First things first, lunch.
We walked over to Heard Street where Trusty Congee King is. It’s apparently Michelin recommended.
I was feeling like some pork liver even though I’ve not touched it for decades! We ordered what was supposed to be pork liver, kidney and meatball congee and somehow, it was served with additional pig’s stomach and intestines which we don’t eat.
So while the congee itself was really tasty, the pig parts apart from the meatballs were a little difficult to consume. I tried my best to eat more liver or kidneys (I couldn’t differentiate them) since they’re supposed to be good for me what with the iron and all, but mmmmnah. I didn’t like them really. My bad for thinking my body wanted some.
The Dry Shrimp Noodles though, were pretty yummy! It’s my first time having it and the prawns were fresh and bouncy, the noodles springy and altogether, it was quite delicious.
We wandered along the streets near our hotel after lunch, just getting our bearings and figuring out where everything was. The interesting thing about Hong Kong is that you can have a gorgeous street, and then parallel to it you have one that looks a bit of a mess.
This street we found ourselves on was really cute. It had lots of upmarket stores and festive decorations that still screamed of Chinese New Year.
We rested a bit after our walk before we bought our Octopus cards and took the MTR to Central station for dinner. We didn’t want to go too late lest we hit the peak crowd, and I wanted to bring Mum to my favourite wanton noodle shop – Tsim Chai Kee at Wellington Street.
We each had a bowl of King Prawn Wanton Noodles and shared a portion of super sweet Kailan topped with oyster sauce.
Giant wantons can never fail to satisfy! The noodles were good too and the portions misleadingly bigger than they looked.
With our bellies full, we decided to soak in the cool Hong Kong weather and walked all the way back to our hotel. It was quite a walk but it was a really nice one.
We returned back to our lone Tai Cheong Egg Tart which we managed to buy on our walk back from lunch.
It was pretty dang awesome! Especially the crust!
Ok I’m going to be honest here. I know how Hong Kong is a foodie’s paradise not unlike Singapore and there are lots of choices available for breakfast. But… Mum and I opted to have breakfast included in our hotel booking because we prefer not to have to get ready and head out on an empty stomach. Otherwise you’ll be facing two hangry women on the street.
Breakfast at OZO was really good anyway. Mum enjoyed it very much with their small buffet which had a spread wide enough to keep us happy each morning. They had some viennoiserie, breads (like really good breads) with an assortment of jams (and crunchy peanut butter!!), dim sum, hot food both Asian and Western, Japanese soba and cold tofu, fresh fruit, a small salad bar, cereal, a juicer you can use to squeeze your own juice, coffee machines for your choice of coffee, tea, hot milk and cold milk.
We had another walk around after breakfast, this time along the streets behind our hotel.
Thereafter, we got ready and took the train to Central once again. We made a quick pit stop to the famous Starbucks at Duddell Street that has been done up at the back to look like a cha chaan teng. Then, we walked over to The Four Seasons Hotel where I’d planned to take Mum for her 2-days early lunch at Lung King Heen. I’ll write more about it in my next post. Yup! One whole post on our lunch!
After lunch, we were totally stuffed, and my wallet, much much lighter. So light in fact, that we had to walk back to the hotel. Haha. I joke I joke. No, we decided to take advantage of the cool climate and slowly walk back towards Wan Chai. When we reached Wan Chai, we walked further towards Aberdeen, had a poke around SOGO (their food basement!!) and then walked back to our hotel.
Around Bowrington Road, there’s a market both indoors and outdoors. I was surprised to see that they still sold fresh meat off hangers by the streets. I suppose it’s something that can be done when the weather’s around 20 deg C, and I assume that they don’t sell meat like that in summer when it’s blazing hot.
Since lunch was quite heavy, we went light with another Michelin recommended hole-in-the-wall just a few minutes walk from OZO Wesley – Kelly’s Cape Bop.
We had the carb-less kimbop with beef.
Fresh tasting, and really packed with ingredients.
Day 3 with Mummy and we still hadn’t tried to kill each other.
After breakfast, we spent the rest of the day with my Grandaunt and Granduncle who reside in Hong Kong’s New Territories. Considering that we lived in Hong Kong for 2 years when I was little, I never rode on a ‘Ding ding‘ (tram) until this trip.
We went with Grandaunt and Granduncle on this so it was an easy attempt. Just board the ding ding through the back and when you exit at the front, have your Octopus card prepared to tap out.
Only thing is you have to keep watch of where you are so you don’t miss your stop. There’s no announcement or boards to inform you of where the next stop is.
We had lunch at the Hong Kong Football Club where they are members.
Considering how saturated Hong Kong is with people and how small homes are, it’s amazing how the grounds of the club were sprawling! Also amazing how spacious the shopping malls are.
We had a European styled lunch with starters at the buffet counter, and our mains cooked to order. I really enjoyed the crispy skin on the Sea Bream and the fresh vegetables cooked perfectly below.
That being said, Grandaunt thought the fish wasn’t as fresh as it could have been given that she’s spoiled by Hong Kong’s live fish available at the market.
Yup, these fish were literally fresh out of the water and jumping up and down at the Tai Po Market where we went after lunch to buy a Garoupa for dinner.
While the biggest fish may get to rule over its friends in the water, on land, the biggest fish ends up first in the steamer.
We had a sumptuous home-cooked dinner courtesy of Grandaunt – Steamed chicken with Black Fungus and Chinese Wine; Stir-fried Lotus Root with Snap Peas, Mushrooms, and Black Fungus; Cantonese Steamed Fish.
We were really well looked after and well fed by Grandaunt and Granduncle. We used to visit them from time to time when we were living in Hong Kong. I remember how my school bus would pass by their home to pick up some schoolmates, and right after Grandaunt waved goodbye to her son, Simon off to school, our bus would slide right into the just-emptied spot and I’d be waving vigorously to her.
I never spent as much time with Granduncle so it was really lovely getting to know him better and seeing what a kind, generous, patient man he is. It was truly a blessing spending the day with them both!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY MUMSY!
It wasn’t a hugely eventful day for Mum since the big lunch happened on Friday. We spent our morning post-breakfast wandering back towards Aberdeen and stopping around Bowrington Market in search for some items Aunty Anna had requested for.
On the way back from our walk, we had a light snack at yet anotherrrrr Michelin recommended eatery. I swear almost every other food stall in Hong Kong is Michelin recommended! Anyway, I’d seen photos of the Sheng Jian Baos (Pan-fried Buns) from Cheung Hing Kee Shanghai Pan-fried Buns on Instagram so held high hopes for this place.
We ordered 2 Signature Buns and 2 Truffle Buns.
The two on the left have black truffle so you can see that just below the skin is slightly darker than the two on the right.
Beautifully browned, crisp bottom.
Mum and I were failures eating our first bun. We bit into them and the juice spurted out. Our second try was way more successful. We learned to bite the thin, steamed top of the bun, suck out some of the sweet, flavourful juice, then, well, I pretty much chomped the rest of it down but for the more dainty eaters, I suppose you can then bite the bun in half before downing the rest.
Look at the truffle!! So much yum! I love that the buns didn’t feel greasy at all and the fillings were generous. There was no porky taste (I mean, it tasted like pork but it didn’t have the porky porky taste of frozen or old pork) and the skins were delightfully thin on top, with the base providing texture with its crunch.
When we returned back to our room, we were surprised by a note sitting on the table – the hotel had taken note that it was Mum’s birthday and had sent her a Happy Birthday card…
Along with a cute basket of local snacks – Sour Plum Candy, White Rabbit Candy, and Caramel Nut Slices.
Mum was so touched. In fact, she was already quite impressed with OZO Wesley overall in terms of the room, its facilities, the breakfast spread provided. This totally was the icing on top for her!
And since it was her birthday, I couldn’t resist a small surprise (although I ended up telling her what we were going to do otherwise she wouldn’t have approved of the baos for ‘lunch’). We were going to meet my friend Ceci at Renaissance Harbour View Hotel and have afternoon tea there.
We met her at 4pm and only left just before 6.30pm, which was really nice given that Mum and Ceci had never met before. I love that Mum is sociable like that. She’s always keen to meet my friends, old and new, and always tries to make them feel comfortable in her presence.
The afternoon tea was very good I felt. The savouries consisted of Tuna Tataki Toast, Black Angus Sirloin with Fried Garlic, Soy and Sesame (this was my favourite!), Serrano Ham and Manchego Bruschetta, Black Fungus and Pork Belly (which was a little mehh).
I actually liked the scones although the Chocolate Scone was a bit too short. The Plain Raisin one was perfectly moist and crumbly on the inside, with a slight crust. Mum’s more particular about her scones and couldn’t help reminiscing about the ones at Watersmeet in England, that we had years ago. Those were seriously fresh out of the oven and beautifully soft, served the traditional way with clotted coal and jam.
The sweets at our afternoon tea were above average too. I particularly enjoyed the Coconut Rum Sphere with Lemon Curd, and the Renaissance Cheesecake was really cute albeit slightly overbooked so a little dry. Can’t go too wrong with Strawberry Tart and the Caramel Shortbread was not bad either. The Earl Grey Opera was deliciously moist and very tasty as a classic opera, but not so much an Earl Grey opera since the tea wasn’t very pronounced at all.
Food aside, we really enjoyed our few hours with Ceci. It’s not often we get to see each other and I’m so glad she managed to make time to meet us since she’s often jetting around the world most weekends. She totally spoiled us with a box of Hong Kong Egg Rolls each, and then insisted on treating us to the tea. So now it’s her turn to return to Singapore so that we can treat her to a solid meal here!
So quickly, our last day in Hong Kong arrived. Considering that Mum was slightly apprehensive about spending 5 days together (“SO long???“), she too thought that our trip had gone by very quickly.
We walked our last walk of our trip after breakfast around the vicinity, stopping by Kee Wah to have a good nosy around. We bought a Chicken Pie to try since it looked quite delectable.
And not far down, we stopped by an old school bakery, Happy Cake Shop, which Les had recommended, and bought an Egg Tart, and a Chicken Pie for comparison with Kee Wah’s. Note: Kee Wah’s Chicken Pie was HK$12, and the Egg Tart and Chicken Pie at Happy was HK$14 total.
Unlike Tai Cheong’s, Happy Cake Shop’s egg tart uses a flakey crust and the filling was not too sweet. I prefer Tai Cheong’s buttery base. The flakey crust would have probably been nicer if we’d eaten it fresh. We didn’t. So it was a little soggy when we had it.
As for the chicken pies, Kee Wah wins in terms of the thinner crust and moister filling. Happy Cake Shop’s is a little more rustic with a heavier crust and slightly less filling. That being said, if I lived in Hong Kong, Happy Cake Shop is more than good enough to get my fill of chicken pies from simply because it’s cheaper and standard really isn’t miles away from Kee Wah. Egg tart-wise, I’ll still go for Tai Cheong simply out of personal preference.
Mum and I decided to go early to the airport so that we could grab some lunch before boarding the plane. We went to the food court and joined the queue for yet another Michelin recommended eatery – Tasty Congee and Wantun Noodles. We shared a bowl of their Signature wanton noodles, and a plate of blanched kailan with oyster sauce.
They put the oyster sauce in a little container so you can pour on as much or as little as you wish. Seriously though, they weren’t very generous so the vegetables only got a smidgen of sauce on them.
The noodles faired better. Springy with a nice bite. Their soup is mellower than that of Tsim Chai Kee, and their dumplings smaller but still a decent size.
Mum was obviously thought Tsim Chai Kee does a meaner bowl of wanton noodles, and their veggies are a lot tastier although cooked just as simply. I agree.
I’m really glad Mum and I took this trip together. It’s been about a decade since we last travelled with each other. I’ve always wished that I could give back to Mum and Dad a little of what they have given to me. This year, with Florian’s support, I finally feel able to give back to Mum and Dad a tiny bit. A teeny tiny bit but a bit all the same. And this holiday with Mum, treating her to a luxurious lunch, and being able to watch out for her as we navigated the streets of Hong Kong walking here and there felt awesome.
I love my parents very much! But between Mum and Dad, I know that Mum appreciates a trip like this more because Dad would probably have said “Aiya… Don’t spend the money. Keep it for yourself.” Just as parents enjoy seeing their children’s happy faces, I enjoy being able to spoil my parents every so often. Now, I don’t think I can afford to do this every year but we’ll see. I know that what is most meaningful to Mum and Dad is very simply quality time spent with Florian and I, and my brother. For that, I am grateful.
We were blessed with a perfect flight flying home. The sun wasn’t quite on our side but we had a gorgeous view of the sky in shades of blue, purple, pink and orange. The best part was exiting the arrival hall and seeing not only Dad, but Florian as well, waiting expectantly for Mum and I. Best hubby ever!! It was actually Flo’s turn next afternoon to fly to Hong Kong for a 2-day business trip so we were away from each other about a whole week!
Hong Kong really spoiled us with its weather and food, but truly, there’s no place like home, and no place better to be than in my own bed hugging my hubsy to sleep!