Mission: To respond thoughtfully and responsibly to my experiences of drinking and dining at restaurants with regard to the quality, service, preparation, presentation and overall experience received thereat. The standpoint is one who respects the crafts of the chef and sommelier and who seeks to understand their choices in the kitchen and cellar and grow in knowledge. In this, I will seek to be fair, reasoned, direct and constructive and aim to keep my ego in check on our mutual journeys through the worlds of food and wine.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

IWFS Kuala Lumpur Hong Kong Jolly January 2019 Day Four

IWFS Kuala Lumpur Hong Kong Jolly January 18 - 22 2019 - A recollection of Five Days of Food and Wine in Hong Kong, and how I became a Lap Cheong mule

Day Four - Monday January 21st

Many of the Jolliers were making their various ways back to Kuala Lumpur today. Lenglui and I had decided to extend an extra day, with an original plan to take a day trip to Macao. We were dissuaded from this by the Money, who advised that it would take two hours to get there (and back) and would be not highly enjoyable given the preponderance of mainlanders visiting the Island. What about the Ferry? Faster, but still have to put up with many mainlanders. Some more, it now seems that most of the world needs a Visa to visit since it is all part of China. These can be arranged, but the story goes that it is tedious and requires patience and time and as a result better to spend an overnight on Macao rather than go through all the rigmarole just for a day trip. Fair enough. I guess. Maybe next time. Or not. 

So... following the now traditional breakfast of scrambled eggs and beans with bread and butter, we all variously lounged and rested up until 11am to get the Hotel Shuttle that would take us the ten minutes drive into Central and the IFC Mall containing shopping delights for everyone by the bucketful. The IFC also houses the Airport Express that can take people direct to the, er, airport and time it so that you can buy your ticket and check your bags, shop and eat in the Mall and then get the lift down to jump the Express and be on your plane and off into the world faster than Superman. Hugely efficient and totally integrated. Very impressed with the system. 

Those with luggage saw it parked near the shuttle bus entrance ready to get faster offloaded at the Central. The rest of us gazed out of the windows at the water and the traffic and eventually got down and headed into the bright and airy Mall. Floors and floors of stores of mostly globally known brand names of various calibre. And buzzing - people moving quite quickly through the floors with roller bags and families in tow. Lots of families, all looking well heeled and brand savvy. I must have cut a comparatively forlorn figure in my baggy chinos and walking boots. So it goes. I dress for function and utility rather than brand projection. 

Lane Crawford was the designated destination by mutual consensus (well, not that the guys had much say in this). Three couples separated and wandered their individual ways around for about an hour. I took off on a tour of the Mall more for exercise than looking to spend. Hugely spacious and with superb natural light coming through various windows in the centre. A surprisingly enjoyable walk. We eventually all met back up at the appointed meeting spot and headed off for lunch, a noodle place of apparent legend somewhere in the Mall. There was a queue to get in and it was heaving full. One of the group gave the name for the waitlist and the men wandered back along the walkway to where a wine store was conveniently located, spending a solid ten minutes ogling the lovelies. Then it was back to the Noodle Shop for a bowl of steaming and tasty noodles. Six of us were packed around a tiny table and elbowing our way to chopstick and spoon the food into the mouth. In my years in the tropics, I have adopted the Oriental way of soup eating - face close to the bowl and chopstick the noodles onto the spoon and suck it up. Or skip the spoon altogether and chopstick the noodle straight into the mouth. It might look a bit unclutured - but it is a hugely efficent way of eating this kind of dish. Also avoids splashes of soup from staining the ensemble. 

I suppose the noodles were good - can't remember too much about it nor the place except as said that it was crowded. Lots of noise too. Though apparently it is a must eat place. Well, and all right I guess. Didn't impact that much on me. Noodles is noodles, no?

We then decided to part ways, with Barry and Jan heading off to Kowloon in search of markets and the remaining four of us grabbing a couple of taxis to take us to Sogo in Causeway Bay. We could also have taken the Subway but didn't want to waste the time doing the escalators and getting confused over how to pay. Well, I didn't. We arrived at about 2.30pm and figured to meet back up for coffee somewhere in the Sogo about 4pm.

Sogo in Causeway Bay is a shopping emporium of apparent legend. The place is ten storeys of pretty much everything you could want to look for in a department store. Though initially I found it a shade confusing as we were dropped off at a side entrance and could not find the central escalators. The signage also seemed a bit thin. But it was clear that the elevators did not go down. We asked a lady who was looking after the elevator lifts in visual (viz point up, then upturned palms = up, how?) who pointed the way with a smile. Lenglui went up whilst I went down to the amazingly stocked supermarket to spend about thirty minutes ogling at all the fresh meat and fish and the well stocked and fairly reasonably priced wine racks. Though there was ultimately nothing to buy - the beauti9fully fresh meat and seafood would not survive the trip. And anyway we had already spent at the Enoteca on the Saturday.

The place was heaving. On a Monday afternoon some more. In fact, the whole of the main road was a constant moving mass of people all moving in and out of each other to their various destinations. During my time at the Sogo I popped out through a back entrance to get some respite. No chance - the backstreet was equally teeming with bodies going in and out of the various pharmacies located there. I joined the throng for a brief hunt for my magnetic soles. No joy. 

Having scaled the escalators a couple of times in an unsuccessful search for my magnetic soles, I was getting pooped so I headed back to the rendezvous spot and found a spot to sit and rest the legs for a while and plugged into the free Sogo wifi to send a couple of whatsapp messages. After about 15 minutes I spotted the Lenglui approaching looking equally pooped and told her of a coffee spot on the seventh floor. We both went up and on her approval sat down. Our friends had found another spot on the fourth floor, but Lenglui insisted they join us on the seventh as her remembrance of the fourth floor cafe was small and dim whilst the seventh was brighter and more room. They came and we shared some cake with our respective coffees. It was a very pleasant way to rest up ahead of whatever HongKong could throw at us. 

Sogo Causeway Bay
555 Henessey Road
Hong Kong
+852 2833 8338

Our dinner was to be at Kam's Kitchen, which Google Maps said was a 15 minute walk from Sogo. We were a bit early so decided we would look for a pub to pass some of the time. Google reported that there were none in the immediate vicinity. So we opted to gently walk to the restaurant and look to find somewhere on the way. We ducked into a couple of malls and along some roads but met with little success. Presumably the Mall rents militated against small scale operations. We looked into a bar in one hotel en route but decided against. Too dark and not very relaxing.

The Bar at the Hong Kong Taphouse
Back out into the sunlight, we followed my paper map which indicated a pleasant walk through the Victoria Park and out past the Tin Hau station onto Electric Road. Our destination was Mercury Street which was up a few blocks and to the left. Paul and Molly were walking strong ahead when I looked to the left and saw a bar looking style place. Lenglui took a brief stroll along this side street to confirm what was the Hong Kong Island Taphouse. Perfect - somewhere to sit down and have a couple of beers ahead of the dinner. I waited for Paul and Molly to turn around and pointed and gesticulated drinking a jug and they quickly returned. Seem to be getting quite good at this visual communication - they understood perfectly. 

Lenglui, Molly and Paul. And the beers. Yes.
The Taphouse is basically a bar and burger joint, but the edge is that they have a range of 40 craft beers from across the world on tap. And they offer a tasting of your choice of any five which comes in a wooden glass server and you can share with each other to decide which is a personal favourite and proceed to get merrily sloshed whilst watching the football. What was also interesting was the availability of Hong Kong Craft beers, which presumably not much of which would leave the island given the transport costs. So it was a grand opportunity to get a taste of the local and see how it compared with the overseas. 

Some of the available craft beers
I seem to recall we ordered some chips to go with our beers and spent a merry hour tasting the beers and figuring which one was our favourite. Though it seemed to be a strange location for a beer haunt such as this - clearly aimed at the expat crowd, it was a bit out of the way and quite quiet for a 6pm in the evening when joints like this should be jumping. Thouhg on reflection it was a Monday; maybe Fridays would be stomping. So it goes. We certainly enjoyed it. We posted a few photos on the Whatsapp Chat Group. The Jolliers seemed to like what they saw and were all keen to find out all about the place when we saw them at breakfast the following day. Teh Hong Kong Taphouse is well recommended for the thirsty traveller in need of a refresher in the Causeway Bay side of town. And a great destination for the adventurous seeking to sample craft beers from both across Hong Kong and the world. It would be be brilliant to see something like this in Kuala Lumpur. Though I suspect it will be a long time coming - not much of a craft beer culture here at this time. And probably a lot of ding dong to try to get a licence for this. So it goes. 

Hong Kong Island Taphouse
1a-1b Tsing Fung Street Flyover, Tin Hau, Hong Kong
+852 3705 9901

Think it was Foie Gras on deep fried bread. Wicked yum.
Back out into the street for a ten minute bowl along the Electric Street and looking for a Mercury Street. The Electric Street seemed to be living up to its name - lots of activity in the shops and eating places, brightly lit and buzzing. Adn with a couple of Michelin Star stickers on windows of food stalls that we passed. Seems we were at the end of the food market, lots of fresh veggies and meat still being hawked on the street. It was beginning to drizzle a bit so we put a step on and reached Kam's Kitchen pretty much on time. 

Minced Pork deep fried, I think. Double wicked yum
Kam's Kitchen is the breakaway venture from the Yung Kee restaurant talked about in Day Three where one of the grandsons set up the kitchen with the Yung Kee chef. The Money swore it is the best goose she has ever tasted and went and organised a dinner with the four of us along with Yasu and Allie who would be making their individual way there. We almost passed it, and would have done were it not  for a small sign in English on the shopwindow procaliming it to be the restaurant. In through the door, it lived up to its name - most of the place was the kitchen. Only the front area was tabled, and looked to have a capacity of about twenty maximum. Clearly one would have to book well ahead to get a table, though apparently they do a roaring takeaway trade. 

The Roast Goose. Beyond sublime. Wowowowowowowow...
The Money and the Bank were already there sorting out the wines and glasses and we sat to crack a tasty white ahead of the meal and catch up on everyone's day. 

Lap Cheong Fried Rice. Double wicked. 
I don't now remember too much of the dinner except that it was huge fun and full of taste and good wine and fellowship and that the goose was indeed the absolute top dog business. Best, best ever. The skin and the meat when combined with the special gravy that chef puts together is out of this world. Massive taste, full of rich fat and salt and grease - so, so good. I would go back there in a second. The other dishes were of equally good taste but they just paled in the presence of this awesome goose. Which was far from cheap. But wicked good. The folks back home would love it. 

Booze for the night
What I didn't know was that the Lenglui had ordered two cooked geese for takeaway to those folks back home in Kuala Lumpur. Seems that Lenglui's extended family would often come to Hong Kong and buy back the Yung Kee Roast Geese to share with the siblings. So I was somewhat shocked when two foil wrapped masses made their ways into plastic bags for transport back to the hotel for packing into the cases. Unbelievable. Smack my gob with some goose feet. So what with all the Lap Cheong and the wines and other bits we had pruchased along the trip, we would now be adding two cooked geese. And the gravy. Yes. 

Jolliers outside the Kam Kitchen, well wined and dined
Allie and Lenglui
Sanjeev, me and Yasu
Yasu, Chris, Molly and Paul
Kam's Kitchen
G/G Hoi Hing Building 5
Mercury Street
North Point
Hong Kong

Paul and Molly would get a lift back to the Jen whilst the Lenglui and I opted to brave a taxi. I didn't fancy trying to negotiate the Underground with all the booty in our possession and the booze in the system. Pay the money, shut the eyes and thank the goose gods. 

The taxi was good and fast and got us back in fair time. Have to say the cabs here are far better than expected. Clean, efficient, and fair. Puts the KL street and mall/hotel cabbies way in the shade. On the drive back to the Hotel Jen, I got a SOS Whatsapp from May. Seemed she had left all of her Lap Cheong loot in the Hotel room fridge and could someone please fetch it back for her. I guess I was first responder and was able to retrieve it from the reception and park it in our room fridge for packing. So we come to it….   what with Lenglui's purchases at both the street market and the Kam Restaurant and the Yung Kee, and now coupled with coming to the rescue of May's Lap Cheong buys, this had become a massive shedful of Lap Cheong and Roast Goose to pack back to Kuala Lumpur. Wow. Don't quite remember signing up for this. Never mind, we would figure it. Just as well we had a fair sized fridge in the hotel room - I managed to pack most of the Lap Cheong in it. The Goose would have to sit on the desk table. We turned up the aircon to keep it cool and shivered our ways to sleep and figuring that tomorrow should prove interesting. 

Click here for Day Five of the Jolly>>>

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