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 Five

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 Five - Tuesday January 22nd

Woke up to a pretty uneventful but intensely busy morning trying to figure the puzzle that was the packing of all of the Lap Cheong and the other foodie bits. I was concerned at the amount we were to carry. If the cases got scanned, then most if it could get confiscated - pork products coming into Malaysia? Not good methinks. So I stuffed as much as I could in my backpack, which took a lot of the strain out of the cases. All the Yung Kee and all of May's were vacuum packed so it was an easy fit to the backpack. Lenglui was able to pack the Century Eggs into her hand baggage roller. Notwithstanding, both mine and Lenglui's cases had to take one goose each along with the Lap Cheong bought from West Villa Restaurant and bagged in normal plastic. The wines were wrapped in socks and stuffed into the foam wine carriers for extra protection. It was two darn heavy cases at the end. Just as well we were flying MAS with its hugely generous 30kg baggage. 

Having solved the packing puzzle, we headed down for a late breakfast and rested up back in the room ahead of our return flight to KL. 

We checked out at 10.30 and sat in the Jen reception pending an elevator down one level to where the shuttle bus would stop. We had decided to take an earlier shuttle bus (the 11am) to the Central with a view toward buying some hard to find gin at the airport. The shuttle was quite full and the driver again opted to stack all the luggage in the front bus area; this made for much ease of de-bagging when we arrived at the Central 10 minutes later. Check in at the Central was a breeze - buy your Airport Express tickets in the machine (with group discount again - for four pax total HKD280), go through the barrier to the MAS Counter, check the bags in and stroll back out to the Airport Express train to the airport. Hugely efficient. The airport itself was a bit large and involved a fair walk to get to the immigration. We lost one of the couples on the way, and so it was that four of us parked up in the CP lounge for lunch and bubbles ahead of the afternoon flight home. I have half a memory of being in the lounge a long time ago on a transit flight from USA. Very pleasant, food not bad, though not really able to do it justice so early in the day; could have used an extra hour to have let breakfast settle. So it goes. 

The flight was at 15.10 which gave us about an hour to shop the duty free. We found the Duty Zero and snagged a bottle each of Four Pillars Gin (HKD405) and Edinburgh Gin (HKD355) for cash which pricewise seemed fair, all wrapped up in the brown foam protection mesh and plastic bagged before heading off in search of the boarding gate. 

Uneventful flight. Ate some food, watched a movie and pretty soon we were belting up to land. Quickly through immigration thanks to a designated MM2H counter and out to the carousels. 

And so we came to it - the X-Ray machine at the KLIA and the last hurdle to negotiate before the Airport Limo home. What would happen? Would they be checking all bags coming through as I had previously read? What would they say to all our booze and food? I had visions of being the poster boy for a Lap Cheong mule. Scary. I trundled with trepidation to the duty exit preparing to plead Mat Salleh ignorance...

It became a non-event - there was one guy at the machine who was being selective about who to stop (with an apparent predisposition for cardboard boxes) whilst the rest of us just kept on sailing through. I later wondered whether it was because we had got our bags along with a number of other flights and that 7.10pm was prayer time with a resultant thinning out of staff at the gates. Could be. Whatever, I breathed a massive sigh of relief as the Airport Limo counter came into view. Lenglui went off to return the RoamingMan machine to the counter in Departures and, having bought the Limo ticket, I waited for her to come back near the main exit. 

And that was it. Back home for 8.30pm, early supper of a Burger King cheeseburger that Lenglui had picked up at the Airport with a glass of our house red, unpacked for the laundry, parked the food booty in the fridge for distribution and bagging on the morrow, and sleep. My time as a Lap Cheong mule was done. Never again. Well, not on this scale. Maybe one or two packs. But not twenty. And no more goose. Geese. Whatever. 


This had been a brilliant trip of food, wines, friends and general merrymaking. Supremely well organised by the Money and the Bank, it took us on a great ride across their Hong Kong and, thanks to liaison with their IWFS compadres, into places we might otherwise have not got to visit. So many wonderful memories, some of which I have tried to capture in these scribblings. All the restaurants we went to were brilliant - the H Kitchen for its unique style and sense of exclusivity, the Ying Jee for some excellent dim sum, the Boardroom for the booze and farm to plate freshness, the Tycoon Tann for a wonderfully bubbly dim sum lunch, and the Tosca for the view. The IWFS Hong Kong is in process of organising a APZ Festival for November 2020, and hopefully those of us in the IWFS KL will be able to join and maybe return to these places. 

Hong Kong is a hugely vibrant place with a buzz I have not felt for years. My last visit was circa 1995 and I remember getting hugely drunk in some bar and dispensing wisdom to some guy on the verge of leaving his wife and pretty much little else. Oh, there was a walk by the dock where some locals were getting their feng shui and tai chi exercises in. I was the only gwailo and one of the assembled asked me how I knew this place. "Just on a walk from the hotel. Nice place here - feels good." He smiled and outside of a nod goodbye the rest was silence. Sometimes it is good to just follow the sense of the soul and go where the feet of serendipity take you. 

But I digress. It has been way too long to have spent away from the place. Yes, it can get expensive and this has probably militated against me going there - hotels, food, all of it can add up and whack this half Scot and half Eng Choon's heart with the costs. But you can save here and there - load up on a good breakfast at the Jen, catch a tram or the subway to Causeway or Kowloon and find the backstreet stalls to snack and feast. But if you are prepared to pay for it, the food can be exceptional, far more so in terms of its intensity and ingredient freshness across all the cuisines we could want to compare. And shut your eyes and devote your savings to the cost of the goose at Kam's Kitchen. One of the tastes of my life, seared into the soul along with the sea bass in pastry at Paul Bocuse in Lyon, the steak at the Extebarri in San Sebastian, and the Bresse Chicken at the Hotel de Ville in Beaune. An absolute and total privilege to have been able to have tasted these things, and so far still with the mobility and appetite to taste more. Roll on the next food adventure! 

Click here to go back to Day One of the Jolly>>>

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