I wrote this on Friday in Hong Kong:
It's been an interesting and exhausting week here in Hong Kong. We've been working ever since we landed on Friday afternoon, a week ago. And there's one more day of work left. It's Friday evening and I'm here in my little oasis of calm, ie the hotel room. It's pretty tiny, decent enough for just me, but for two people (it's a double room) it will be a tight squeeze. Thank goodness my colleague and I got individual rooms despite the very low perdiem of just $200 a day (including accommodations). The hotel (Stanford Hotel) is in Mongkok, and the moment you step out of the MTR station, it's madness. Middle-aged women hand out brochures, schoolkids chatter, music blares, lights flicker, it's a never-ending assault on the senses. And of course, battling the crowds is another horror. I've never seen a day when it's not crowded - not Monday, not Tuesday... not any day. Thankfully, this hotel is on the quiet end of Soy Street.
We've eaten at many of the cha chaan tengs around here, and although my colleague is vegetarian, she's managed to get some pretty decent vegetarian dishes.
Fish congee for dinner
Macaroni with luncheon meat, almond milk for brunch
I am quite fond of meat, as you can guess, but I do have my limit, and after a couple of days of noodles with beef, or macaroni with luncheon meat or roast meat rice, it was a bit too much for me, and I have started ordering a plate of veg (you cai) quite regularly. While I am fond of eating as the locals do, I did get cravings for non-local food and we've eaten at California Pizza Kitchen (it's nearby), Dan Ryans (er yeah),
Rice Paper (a Vietnamese restaurant) and Itamae Sushi. And I must say, I enjoyed the change, especially the sushi. It's the conveyor belt sushi chain but the variety of fish available beats Singapore hands down - I had
salt saury and
foie gras sushi, as well as some scallop and salmon for just HK$99. There are branches everywhere but I ate at the one at Festival Walk in Kowloon Tong (just one stop after Mongkok East and was less crowded than other malls).
Onto the work bit, we've been doing interviews as part of a research project, talking to all kinds of people in the arts/creative industry and this job in HK has allowed me to see parts of HK I'd never see as a tourist, I guess. Such as heading up to the New Territories (Fotan), Kowloon Tong, Lok Fu. Very residential/industrial areas. I've also hit Wanchai several days in a row, and fond some really good lunch deals at the Hong Kong Arts Centre's Pumpernickel Cafe, where a soup, vegetable lasagne and coffee/tea goes for just $65.
They also do a nice juicy burger with some great potato wedges. The only things is that it gets very crowded at lunch time (especially after 1230) so either go early or make a reservation.
I got a bit fond of the Tai Yau building, as it offered two cafes for a good rest in between interviews at Wanchai. One was Pacific Coffee and the other, the Suzuki Cafe.
We've also hit Hui Lau Shan a couple of times, mostly cos it's convenient. And both times I've had the mango pudding (with mango ice-cream) in mango juice with extra mango. Despite the cold weather, it's a great pick-me-up.
Steamed milk and egg custard at a dessert shop in Jordan (Parkes Street).
On Saturday, we ate at the 'farmhouse style' Japanese restaurant at Miramar shopping centre.
And for our last Hong Kong meal, dimsum for a leisurely Sunday lunch. We checked out at 11 and headed to Miramar again, where we had made a reservation the night before at Hakka Hut.
I had eaten there the last time I was in Hong Kong (a few years ago), and remembered their 'premium siew mai'.
Our seven dishes (including that really good char siew bao) came to just HK$139 (about S$26).
The thing is, it's been such a tiring trip that at the end of the day, all I want to do is eat something nearby, avoid the crowds and hide in my room and watch TV. Don't get me wrong though, I do like Hong Kong. I think I have greater respect for people in HK, especially those I have met. Their passion and interest in the arts is so strong. And while they might hold full-time jobs, they do their art-related work - whether it is organising events, working for arts organisations or creating art - after work or on the weekends. It was definitely an eye-opener.