Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Tai Kok Tsui Market - Right Across Dorsett Mongkok Hotel in Hong Kong #TaiKokTsuiMarket

From the full length glass window in my room on the 12th floor of Dorsett Mongkok hotel, i always looked across and marveled at the high rise buildings ahead of me. One inconspicuous building right across didn't quite catch my attention until i realized it's a market!

So on my last day in Hong Kong, i decided to check it out. Spread across three floors, the top level of the air-conditioned market is actually a food centre which seemed more like a tze-char restaurant with plusher-looking seats. I didn't check out further as there wasn't any crowd.

According to the above notice, it's really a food centre. Strange that there wasn't any customer as food centres in Singapore would likely have someone dining at the tables or queuing to buy food at about 11 am.

Middle level was the section for wet and dry goods which include fruits and vegetables. Well, i don't know how to differentiate vegetables so i can't share if there's any unique vegetables in Hong Kong that we don't have in Singapore.

You can also find florists and stalls selling offerings (paper money, incense sticks etc) on this floor. If mom were with me, she would definitely make a beeline for the dry products store where she has a good eye for quality and can grasp the differences in pricing with Singapore. 

Ground level offered an interesting insight to the wet market in Hong Kong.

The fishmongers section was quite similar to Singapore wet markets although i did notice drier floors! In Singapore, i hate to visit the fish section as the floor is always wet and it's common to find dirty water splashing onto my feet and legs!

One startling difference was something i shared previously on my instagram; pork, beef and mutton that were openly displayed. In Singapore, the aforementioned meat had to be stored in chillers at wet markets for hygiene and safety purposes, given the climate.

An unusual thing i noticed was that the most butchers had a humongous slab of chopping board at their stalls; big enough to use it as their counter space! They were custom built by craftsmen involved in making these traditional chopping boards and you may read an article i found about them here.

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Address
63 Fuk Tsun St, Tai Kok Tsui, 
Tai Kok Tsui Municipal Services Building,
Hong Kong

Map

As above.

Floor Directory
As above.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Dim Sum Breakfast at Dragon Court (龍閣) - Near Mong Kok MTR Station in Hong Kong #dragoncourtdimsum

Before my trip, i got to know a friend who was a frequent visitor to Hong Kong and excitedly asked if he has any dim sum recommendation. Admitting he doesn't really seek for food, he did share that he frequented this place known as Dragon Court near Exit E2 of Mong Kok MTR station.

I thought it would be confusing to get to with the limited information but lo and behold; the signboard was prominently displayed outside this building that you would see right after stepping out of Exit E2. 

To make it easier for you, you may wish to note that the building housing the restaurant was Yau Shing Commercial Centre. I knew from my friend that Dragon Court was on the second or third floor; so let's continue! 

Taking the escalator, we immediately got the restaurant interior but it's not Dragon Court! Instead, it's the premises of Cafe De Coral; a popular fast food restaurant in Hong Kong that offers "both Chinese and Western at budget prices". 

One more floor and here we are; Dragon Court (龍閣)! In spite of its obscure location, the restaurant was packed with customers and i couldn't help noticing that many of them are locals and likely belong to my parents' generation. 

There was only Alex and me; knowing the former's small tummy, i know i mustn't over-order as there's a tendency i would be the one to clean up the leftovers! Hence, only four items.

Steamed Vegetarian Rice Roll with Shrimp - basically, it's the chee cheong fun (cantonese style) that we are familiar with and it's nice to see that it was already cut up for ease of taking! 

It's supposed to be a 'safe' dish for Alex but i guess the sauce was made differently in Hong Kong; there was this strong abalone taste that totally overwhelmed the rest of the ingredients. Needless to say; Alex took one piece, tried his best to swallow it and steered clear of it after that. 

Deep Fried Sesame Balls with Sweet Lotus - known as 煎堆 in Singapore, i love this snack and can finish a few at one go even though they are usually very oily with a sweet filling.

The ones at Dragon Court were surprisingly not oily and had a thin, addictive crust that was a bit sticky on the inside. It would have been perfect if the filling was the common bean paste as the ones we had appeared to have been mixed with salted egg. Even though it was pretty good, the traditional filling would still be preferred.

Deep Fried Prawn Wanton - Crunchy just like the way i like it but the overall taste was quite bland and you would definitely need the accompanying sauce which had a sweet, vinegarish tinge to it.

A whole lot of wanton skin before you get to the small prawn hidden within. 

Premium Platter - too lazy to decide and eventually went with the recommended premium platter which consisted of steamed mushroom and sea cucumber dumpling, prawn and pork dumpling with crab roe, prawn dumplings and steamed vegetarian fin with pork dumplings! 

Personally, i like only the pork dumpling with crab roe (siew mai which had more mushrooms like usual) and prawn dumplings (har gow that was larger than usual). The one with sea cucumber didn't quite appeal to us although my mom would likely enjoy it much better. 

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Overall, there were hits and misses but the ingredients were fresh and the pricing wasn't exorbitant for Hong Kong standard. I would love to try more things like baked barbecued pork pastries and crispy prawn beancurd roll but i guess this would have to wait till my next trip, and hopefully with my mom who appreciates food better than Alex. 

Address
Yau Shing Commercial Centre, 
51 Sai Yeung Choi St S, 
Mong Kok, Hong Kong

Map
As above. 

Menu
As above.

Pricing
Steamed Vegetarian Rice Roll with Shrimp - HK$36.00
Deep Fried Sesame Balls with Sweet Lotus - HK$24.00
Deep Fried Prawn Wanton - HK$24.00
Premium Platter - HK$78.00
Tea - HK$8.00 per person

Monday, May 25, 2020

Things I Miss A Lot During This COVID-19 Circuit Breaker #circuitbreaker

It has been 48 days since the Singapore government implemented the measures collectively known as 'circuit breaker' to contain the spread of the contagious COVID-19 virus. The measures, similar to a lock-down seen in other countries, require residents would have to try their best to stay at home, where possible. 

I have been working from home (WFH) since then and while i crave the return to my office where 'things are within reach'; WFH does provide some benefits. E.g. saving a total of about 150 minutes to get to work and return from it which translates into a later wake-up time and the ability to start jogging immediately after work at 6.00 pm! 

These 48 days made me realized that there are a number of things that we often take for granted and when times like the circuit breaker came, it finally dawned on us that we miss doing those stuff and pray things would quickly get back to normal as soon as possible.

Dining In
Part of the CB (short for circuit breaker) measures is to disallow dining in (to prevent congregation) which means eateries could only cater for takeaway. This is a huge blow to the survival of many food and beverage establishments, especially restaurants, pubs etc.

There are some things you can't ask for take away as it's either not possible or freshness might be compromised. I miss buffets, i miss hot pots and i miss omakase; the first thing i would do once dining in is allowed would be to bring my family to the Penang Place buffet at Suntec City Mall.

Travelling Out of Singapore
I am on track to finally completing all my travel backlogs and the upcoming problem is that i would not be travelling anywhere, anytime soon given the travel curbs and this would result in a dearth in postings given the heavy weightage of travel posts. 

Aside from blogging about my overseas trips, travelling is also a way for me to get out of the hectic, little red dot and immerse myself in good food, cultural, historical and relaxation activities. Anywhere is good, even to Johore Bahru / Batam. If it's not possible to even step out of Singapore, i would be just as happy with Sentosa, Pulau Ubin, Kusu Island, Saint John's Island etc.

Going Out In General
Even without travelling, the good public transportation system in Singapore makes it easy for anyone to travel within the city state. Issue now is that many retail outlets, except for those providing essential services like supermarkets, pharmacies, are closed and retail therapy is, therefore, not a viable option. 

Entertainment venues like movies, karaokes, theme parks, zoos are also forced to stop operating during this period of time; which means the best to way to have some entertainment is to have it right in the comfort of your own home (think Netflix). 

You can still venture to the parks although governmental advice is to only visit those near your home and safe distancing must be adhered to at all times. A bit of a hassle and i should be grateful that i could still go out and take in fresh air during my daily jog. 

Meeting Family and Friends
This was left to the last as humans are naturally social animals and i have a close-knitted family; to the extent i even got a flat that's within a 7-minute walk to my parents' place. 

In normal circumstances, i would visit my parents at least once or twice a week and the whole family would sometimes came over to my house for get-together lunch like steamboat, birthday celebrations. Jovyn would also sleepover at my house occasionally and darn do i miss her even though she kicks when she sleeps! 

I would also play host to my friends; there are three of them who would come over once every one or two months and we would just spend the day baking, binge-watching horror movies or just plain chatting! Those times were so fun and relaxing! 

Another group i met very often before CB would be my lunch kakis at work! It's even longer since i last had meals with them as our organisation is split into two teams and mine clashes with them! If the split-team arrangement is going to continue after CB, it shall be even longer before we can have lunch together. 😢

The above is my short list; what's yours? 

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Day Six in Hong Kong - Chau Kee Dim Sum, Ocean Park Theme Park, Yung Kee Roast Duck, Sugarbird Desserts, Temple Street Night Market & Mammy Pancake


  1. Chau Kee Dim Sum
  2. Ocean Park Theme Park 
  3. Adventure Land Zone @ Ocean Park 
  4. Amazing Asian Animals Zone @ Ocean Park 
  5. Aqua City Zone @ Ocean Park 
  6. Cable Car @ Ocean Park 
  7. Marine World Zone @ Ocean Park 
  8. Ocean Express @ Ocean Park 
  9. Polar Adventure Zone @ Ocean Park 
  10. The Rainforest Zone @ Ocean Park 
  11. Thrill Mountain Zone @ Ocean Park
  12. Yung Kee Roast Duck
  13. Sugarbird Desserts
  14. Fortune Telling Street
  15. Temple Street Night Market
  16. Mammy Pancake

Taking advantage of the free shuttle bus service by Dorsett Mongkok Hotel, we boarded at 9.00 am and alighted at this drop-off point opposite this Hollywood Cafe along Shanghai Street.

What i didn't realize was that it's the famous Langham Place that my colleagues often talked about! Conveniently connected to Mongkok MTR station, it boasts a 15-floor shopping mall and a 665-room hotel.

My friend mentioned before that it was a scary experience taking the escalators in the shopping centre. Said to be the "longest escalators within a shopping mall in the territory", it was in the news back in 2017 for an accident that caused 17 persons to be injured. You can check out the video here.

Jollibee is now everywhere in the world! I am honestly not a huge fan after trying out the fried chicken at its Changi City Point branch in Singapore.

Took the MTR train to Sai Ying Pun. Those who have been following the Hong Kong travelogue would find that the name familiar; this is because we were at the same area in Day 4 where we had a delicious dinner at Kwan Kee Claypot Rice, completed with traditional Hong Kong desserts from Yuen Kee.

It was nighttime when i arrived at Sai Ying Pun on Day 4; the daytime revealed a neighborhood that's surrounded by residential, instead of commercial blocks.

Objective for returning to Sai Ying Pun; breakfast at Chau Kee Dim Sum which was recommended by a friend. Food was not bad although i was a tad disappointed with the Golden Lava French Toast. p.s. the friend didn't recommend that though.

Too lazy to walk back to the train station and when we saw the iconic red taxis right in front of us, one of our arms just automatically rose to catch the driver's attention!

HK$24 was the base fare and in comparison to Singapore taxis (the normal Comfort taxi), the base fare is about 25% more expensive in Hong Kong. The subsequent rate for the general urban red taxis in Hong Kong is almost doubled that of Comfort.

Hong Kong University has an MTR station of their own?!

Halfway through our journey to our next destination, it started pouring. Oh gosh, this wouldn't be good for what we intend to do next as it would mostly be outdoor based. Despite my love for rain, the affection is limited to Singapore and only when i am outdoors.

Thankfully, the sky cleared up once we were about to arrive at our destination. How i know? I can see the cable cars from where we were!

Ocean Park Theme Park - even though it's facing financial difficulties now, the theme park, built in 1977, has given many great memories to Hong Kong residents and i can understand why as it's like you are going to a combination of zoos, museums, marine parks and amusement parks.

In spite of the rain, it turned out to be a hot day! Even though we spent close to 8 hours in Ocean Park and had the Ocean FasTrack wrist tag, we didn't manage to clear everything! For more photos, you can check out the individual zones as follows: Adventure LandAmazing Asian AnimalsAqua CityCable Car, Marine World, Ocean ExpressPolar AdventureThe Rainforest and Thrill Mountain.

It would be our last night in Hong Kong yet we had yet to try the special administrative region's famous roast goose! So let's just splurge at Yung Kee Roast Duck! It didn't impress us but the century egg did; leaving such a deep impression; i am kicking myself for not getting a few back to Singapore! For the picture, click here.

Taking the train again.

Hong Kong actually had a Hong Kong MTR station which might sound strange to some as i don't think Singapore would ever had a MRT station named "Singapore". But once you read about the history of how Hong Kong came to be known, you would probably understand why.

Our intention was to return to Dorsett Mongkok for a quick shower but the temptation of desserts brought us once again to Sugarbird Desserts which was within walking distance from the hotel.

After freshening up, we hit the street once again!

Took the shuttle from Dorsett Mongkok. We intended to check out temple street night market but were dropped off nearer to the fortune telling street! No big deal, there's always google map!

Temple Street Night Market - while the night markets at Taiwan and Bangkok appealed to me more, the one at temple street was slightly better than the ladies market in my personal opinion. Click here for more photos.

Wait, a branch of the Mammy Pancake?! As it wasn't the original branch awarded Michelin Bib Gourmand, the queue was much more manageable and although i had my dessert earlier, this was too tempting to ignore!

I had to get their classic egg waffle and i wasn't disappointed!
Check out my review here!

Busking in session; always feel so envious of their confidence. Despite my apparently outgoing personality, i am a rather shy person in reality and not as sociable as many thought i am.

Licensed mahjong schools which are technically entertainment venues for those who are above 18 years old to play mahjong and win money; yes, it's gambling hidden behind a more acceptable name.

Someone went in to take a look. Don't be cheated by his innocent appearance, this guy was an avid mahjong player at one time and his gambling stakes can mean a win / loss of close to a thousand dollars a night.

Have i mentioned before that the neon sighboards in Hong Kong nowadays were not as elaborate and as spectacular as the first time i visited Hong Kong back in 1997?

A Tiger Sugar branch; guess bubble tea is slowly taking over the world and in greater force than it did when i was in secondary school. With age catching up, i am afraid i had to cut down on such high-sugared drink.

佳佳甜品 (Kai Kai Dessert) - with a queue, i was curious and it seemed like quite a famous shop for traditional Hong Kong desserts. Pity, i didn't have the stomach space for another dessert!

Still quite a bit of crowd at almost 10.00 pm a night.

Bonjour is a retail store with about 35 branches in Hong Kong that offers beauty products. Its direct competitor would be Sa Sa, which exited Singapore's market by closing down all 22 stores late last year.

People singing on the street; an interesting sight. Even near Temple Street Night Market, there was this opera singing area where interested parties meet up to practice and perform.

A baba nyonya restaurant with roots from Malaysia near Yau Ma Tei MTR station. Well, posting this in case there are Singaporeans  / Malaysians who are missing their local food when they are in Hong Kong.

Best Mart 360 - saw this shop a couple of times in Hong Kong and decided to step in for a closer look. From the outside, it seemed to be selling snacks instead being a general convenience store like 7-eleven.

You can find a wide array of snacks and beverages from other countries, including our favourite 3-in-1 Old Town white coffee which was available in boxes of 10 sachets each, at about S$5 (HK$27.90).

Frankly, i might be more keen in buying snacks if there are samples available. Hence, i prefer looking out for cup noodles, especially those from Nissin as their quality and taste are more or less there.

My confidence in Nissin resulted in me buying a bag of instant noodles (the one with purple logo) and hauling them back to Singapore. Cooked a pack with much anticipation and it turned out to be not as good as expected; i think i will go back to Myojo prawn for instant noodles.

Yee Shun Milk Company,  another reputable eatery in Hong Kong that i didn't check out as i am not a huge fan of milk pudding which it's famous for.

Alex wanted to take the MTR back to Dorsett Mongkok but it involved making a big loop and we still had to walk. I persuaded him to take the bus instead; a google check revealed a bus 268x that we can take.

I knew we had to drop about 4 stops later outside Ming Kei College.

Turned out we missed the stop and as it's an express bus, we were brought all the way to Yuen Long which was on the far western side of Hong Kong! You can see from Alex's expression how unhappy he was! A few minutes saved turned out to be time wasted many times over.

It's an adventure to me but i am just glad my chanced visit to Yuen Long didn't happen a week later when a white-shirt mob turned violent and started attacking innocent people at the station.

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