#2039 | Stunning Starbucks Showoff: Thong Lor, Bangkok

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imagesBangkok, Thailand

Some people collect stamps and postcards, I collect pictures of beautiful starbucks outlets around the world. Sound about right? Perhaps this is my starbucks addiction taken to a new level, but when I passed the Starbucks outlet in The 49 Terrace, Bangkok, I just had to pop in for a quick coffee stop…

Make that tea. Starbucks Singapore just launched it’s Teavana menu, which I adore for the matcha espresso creation, but I wanted to try the offerings in bangkok as well. Also – they were having a 1-for-1 when we were there! I got the Iced Shaken Black Tea with Ruby Grapefruit & Honey, which is also available in Singapore but which for some reason I hadnt tried back home. It was the drink i never knew i needed on a sweltering bangkok day. What can i say? Not all heroes wear capes..

PS. I also really, really, really wanted to take a picture where the lady is sitting in the picture above. But she just WOULDNT MOVE! I waited for about half an hour then gave up, and when i walked away i saw that she was watching some korean drama on her phone…….. ok, i cant blame her. If i’d settled in a spot like that I’d never give it up.

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The architecture of Starbucks outlets have never failed to intrigue me. It’s the biggest coffee chain in the world. Arguably the most successful. All their stores need to have a certain recognisable aesthetic – but they’re never exactly the same. How do you get twenty three thousand stores in the world to look the same yet different, and have them all be beautiful at the same time? That is – how does the most common coffee chain in the world differentiate itself as a unique product? I dont have an answer, but somehow they’ve done it. I’ve always made it a point to pop by different starbucks outlets whenever I travel, and they’ve always remained both staunchly recognisable yet subtly varying in terms of interior decor. The outlets in Shibuya, Tokyo, and Taipei’s 101 benefit from incredibly iconic city views, and the outlets in Singapore play with location as well – the outlet in One Rochester, for example, sits in a colonial-style black and white house, and the one in Fullerton Waterboat House offers a gorgeous panorama of our landscape. This one in Thong Lor reacts to its surroundings in a very different way, by making use of the most consistent thing thailand has to offer by way of weather – the sun.

Floor to ceiling glass windows? It’s hard to say if this is a coffee chain or my dream home. The same concept might not have worked as well in a different location, but Sukhumvit Soi 49 blooms with lush greenery that’s both zen-like and deliberately pruned to casual perfection. As a result, the open feel of the store creates a cool, air-conditioned bubble that sits you right in the middle of all that smoky sunlight and greenery without being subjected to the unforgiving humidity. Coming from the country that has mastered the art of getting the hell out of the heat, I can tell you that this is a winning formula.

And of course, it helps that this outlet is situated in the Japanese expat neighbourhood of Bangkok, meaning that it’s clientele often features young families, trendy freelancers working off their laptops, or older japanese people just looking for a place to rest while walking their dogs…

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… because who doesn’t want to go to starbucks and make a new friend? Say hi to พาหุรัด, a word i google translated from english. Because that’s what she’s called – a thai word which translates to bracelet. And she is the hugest, laziest dog ever. I have a feeling she and Athena would get along.

Starbucks, The 49 Terrace
20 Soi Sukhumvit 49/1, Khlong Tan Nuea, Watthana, Bangkok 10110, Thailand

x
♥jem

#2030 | Matcha Mondays: Cha Cha Matcha

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Mocha Mondays is a new and semi-regular feature on cafes and how workable they are, for freelancers or students looking for a place to park themselves at while getting work done. It may or may not actually feature mocha.

Apologies, guys, the Mocha Monday series that I was so enthused about at the start of last year seems to have taken quite the hiatus. The semi-regular in semi-regular feature being taken far too literally, if you will. But here I am again, and all I have to offer you by way of apology is this: a scathing sense of sarcasm, and also a gentle reminder that everything on this blog is free to read, FREE, i say! So, chill, yknw?

Anyway. I hit up Cha Cha Matcha on my last day in New York. It opened my last week there, actually, and immediately instagram was hit with a flood of pictures from the place, which looked like it was built to cater exclusively to hipsters and instagrammers. And indeed, when I stepped in, my first thought was: this is where hipsters go to die.

The first warning sign? Cha Cha Matcha is card-only, which means it doesn’t accept cash, at all. Because cash, ugh, you know? So mainstream. And in this cashless, trendy cafe, walls are decorated solely for the purpose of being backdrops to your perfect instagram photo – pink and green chairs, leaves, coffee cups. You can’t fault them for that: it’s working. People have been snapping this place nonstop since it opened, and it’s not tough to see why. The place is decorated like Malibu barbie’s pad on drugs. Like Katy Perry’s california girls song became a person and threw up all over the walls.

Was it too much to hope that a beautiful place like this would serve good matcha as well? Apparently so.

Came for the Instagram photo #honestinstagramcaptions #doitforthegram

A photo posted by Jemimah James Wei (@jemmawei) on

Our matcha tasted like nothing. It didn’t taste bad, you understand. It just didn’t taste like anything. Confused? So were we. We ordered both the classic matcha latte and the coconut matcha latte and they tasted exactly the same, which is to say, like an empty drink void of taste, that kind of left a little bubbly feeling on your tongue. The soft serve fared a little bit better, because you could actually tell it was matcha flavoured, if largely because it was half green. But if you’ve actually tried any decent matcha before, this brings nothing new to the table.

It left me wondering: what was it? Why were people raving about this place? Were they all brainwashed by the cute interior? Or had they simply never tried proper matcha? Or – best case scenario – were we the unlucky ones who got a dud batch, and did everyone else get heavenly tasting brews? Our answers were granted a week later, when another girlfriend went to CCM after seeing my snapchat. Jem, she texted me, Cha Cha Matcha sucks. Lol. Fullstop and all.

The real question, I suppose, is: does it matter? In an era where taste is fleeting and photos are forever, it seems that the six bucks you pay for a crap latte is really an entrance fee to the hippest photo prop for instagram right now. I sure paid my dues. Don’t we all? My only hope (and a fervent one), is that this doesn’t become a trend – substandard kitchen fare giving way to the perfect pastel paint job on the wall. Is it too optimistic? Or are we already there? Say it isn’t so!

When all is said and done, will one lonely pessimistic review on the net make a difference? Of course not. People will still flock to the place for it’s pink walls and green decor, and I don’t blame them. Ah, this instagram life! So be it.

Cha Cha Matcha
373 Broome St, New York, NY 10013, United States

x
♥jem

#2013 | Mocha Mondays: Starbucks Fullerton Waterboat House (noch ein mal)

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Mocha Mondays is a new and semi-regular feature on cafes and how workable they are, for freelancers or students looking for a place to park themselves at while getting work done. It may or may not actually feature mocha.

The fun fact of the day is that noch in mal means one more time in German, drips and drops of the residual German I’ve retained from seven months living there a couple of years ago. And there you have the enrichment portion of today’s post – checked.

I’ve actually featured the Starbucks Fullerton Waterboat House in my Mocha Monday series before, so for those of you who havent seen that, here’s the TL;DR:


TL;DR
Starbucks on Fullerton Waterboat House
Famous for: BEING STARBUCKS
Seats: Plenty
Wifi: YES
Power points: YES!!

I went back recently to try out the new Starbucks lunch menu, which is basically a $9.90 set comprising one of their gourmet sandwiches with a tall-sized iced freshly brewed coffee or tea, running from 11am-3pm. The rest of the new items are available through the day, and what I’m really excited about is the additional food options for those of us who work through the night at one of the many 24hr Starbucks outlets – finally, something else substantial to munch on at 3am!

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My favourites from the set include the tuna sandwich, the country chicken pie, and the triple turkey pie, all of which are unreasonably good for a place that is mainly known for coffee and convenience. No complaints, though. Since trying the set I’ve been back several times to get the tuna sandwich, although opinions differ: most people prefer the meatball sandwich which I’m honestly quite half-half on. Team Tuna, you guys!

I also wanted to take the chance to sneakily introduce a new book recommendation: an extraordinary short story collection. Love and Obstacles by Aleksandar Hemon. The man makes the short story form look like an art. The ten stories are loosely connected, self aware, and sharp in their humour. For those of you who’d like a preview, here’s one of his short stories from the collection – the titular Love and Obstacles: read here.
(Also, if being featured on the New Yorker isnt a stamp of approval, what is?)

Till next time.

x
♥jem

#1967 | Mocha Mondays: London Grind

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imagesLondon, England.

Grey dress: The Velvet Dolls | Furry cardigan: my sister’s | Floral flats with silver Ankle Strap: El-ska

All photos taken on the Nikon D750 on a 35mm lens.

Mocha Mondays is a new and semi-regular feature on cafes and how workable they are, for freelancers or students looking for a place to park themselves at while getting work done. It may or may not actually feature mocha.

It’s been way too long since my last Mocha Monday, which is a sad reflection of how incredibly crazy life has been… both in terms of time to pen these mocha monday posts and in terms of, well, time to drink the damn mochas. Anyway, in today’s Mocha Monday, we hit the UK for the first time..

London is a bit of a coffee mecca, and a lot of my pre-london hype included squealing over potential cafes to hit. We caffeinated ourselves at a fair number of cafes this time in London, but one of the more memorable ones had to be the London Grind. Located on Number Two, London Bridge, the cafe looks like a hipster exploded in it, but thankfully, unlike other similarly conceptualised cafes, still serves great coffee.

I found London Grind the same way I find most of my cafes while abroad – by lazing in my airbnb apartment and location searching options near me on foursquare. I talk about foursquare so much here that people are going to start thinking I work for them (I don’t). Still, it remains one of my favorite apps to use while abroad, something you guys would already know if you’ve been reading my travel posts (re: Guide to Top five free travel apps). This particular cafe had great reviews and was pretty walkable from our airbnb apartment, so we decided to head over on our last London morning before heading to Bath.

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One of my favourite things about London Grind: the incredible window seats offering a fantastic opportunity to raise your creepy people watching street cred.

The cafe, to general surprise, is located on London Bridge itself. We walked past it several times not realising you could go in – it doesn’t have very clear signage, maybe a deterrent to annoying tourists like us? Anyway. Once you actually identify the place, you’re rewarded with exposed brick walls, great natural lighting, marble top counters, and the incredibly smell of coffee brewing. Mmm. We decided to go all out and brunch there instead of just getting a cuppa. The place was too beautiful not to linger. (Idea: a good marketing strategy, perhaps?)

And what a great idea that turned out to be. If the coffee was swoon-worthy, the food was divine. We (over)ordered three dishes to share – Banana bread with creme fraiche and honeycomb, One-pan eggs, and the Breakfast Focaccia. I’m the type to also foursquare food recommendations, so of the three, two were tried and tested by the 4sq community (banana bread and breakfast focaccia), and one was pure adventure (one-pan eggs). Worked out pretty well. Also, I swear, I dont work for foursquare.

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1. Banana bread with creme fraiche and honeycomb.

I dont usually do item by item breakdowns but i feel like i havent done a mocha monday for so long that i kinda owe it to the series to whack 1 x good one, plus also this is totally worth it. The banana bread was recommended both by online users and by the barista, and it was incredible. I’ve never had banana bread so light and non-chunky. I had to google what creme fraiche meant – and its the atas cousin of sour cream, and about three times yummier. Plus the honeycomb! Ever since a disastrous date with Seoul’s Milk Cow Honeycomb Ice Cream, I’ve had a mild phobia of honeycomb because I feel like it’s just disappointment waiting to happen – the one i had in Seoul had the consistency of cardboard and tasted like dashed dreams. But this one was soft and viscous and all around delicious. This dish made me wish I could bake (one bakes banana bread, right?) and made me feel incompetent and inadequate. I wish I inspired as much desire in other people as this banana bread concoction inspired in me.

10/10 would recommend.

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2. Breakfast Focaccia

Firstly, focaccia is a funny word and I cant say it without putting on an accent, which is probably very offensive to someone somewhere in the world. Secondly, this breakfast focaccia was so highly recommended by nearly every reviewer on 4sq that even though the other items on the menu looked better, I just had to order this one. It would be a crime not to. Because the internet is always correct, right?

Right. This focaccia made me forget my own name when I took a bite of it. Bite two and I wished it would never end. It was like disneyland in my mouth. I looked at Xiaoqi with my mouth full and made a real effort to mumble: “What is going on?!” She did not understand me.

But seriously, your first reaction to this dish will be the same. What is going on?! Are there drugs in this? Is it possible for food to make you feel so good? Why am I getting goosebumps? Can I marry this focaccia? And then before you know it, it’s over and your life is back to the empty meaningless hole it was before.

The Breakfast Focaccia consists sausage, back bacon, asiago, egg, and aioli, which everyone knows is just another name for freaking delicious. No, seriously though. I have thought about this focaccia a lot in an attempt to understand what on earth happened in London Grind that day. My conclusion is that asiago (a type of cheese) and aioli (a Provençal sauce) are the condiment version of soul mates, and when they get together, good things happen. Plus rocket salad. I trust anything with rocket on it. Rocket is life.

22.5/10 would recommend.

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3. One-pan Eggs

Now, I dont mean to be unfair to this pan. In any other cafe, this would have probably been a really great dish. But in this unholy trifecta, it was the ugly stepsister. The dish contains spinach, tomatoes, beans, and pistachio. I don’t like beans, and I don’t like pistachio. From the start, this was pretty doomed to me. Why did I order this? I didn’t. Xiaoqi did. (Blame the woman!)

I don’t have much to say about this because I didn’t eat the bulk of it, given that i do not like beans. I dont understand why people put beans in things. Do you know that beans make you pass gas? I’m pretty sure I learnt that from a campfire cheer somewhere. Legitimacy not guaranteed. But I do admit that for a dish with beans in it, it made a pretty decent bread-spread. The dish comes with lightly toasted bread, and everyone knows that bread across that part of the world is amazing. The idea is to put the pan mix atop the bread and eat it, but I ended up just eating the bread.

Do not want to give recommendation rating because i suspect i am highly biased, make your own decision on this based on whether you like beans or not.

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Sidney Rose Gold Watch c/o Jord Wood Watches

So the food was good and the coffee was good. The one thing I found off about the place, though, was their complete disregard of cappuccino latte art, which is an act I found indicative of curious confidence in a time where the instagrammability of one’s dishes are of paramount importance. Xiaoqi had a latte, which came beautiful, but just look at my cappuccino above! It looked like a place where hearts went to die. Yet another case of What is Going On, except this time in all seriousness. Still, it tasted delicious, which means very little in terms of how postable it is. I’ll leave you guys to debate what this means about the state of our generation yourselves.

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London Grind
2 London Bridge, London SE1 9RA, United Kingdom
+44 20 7378 1928
7:00 am – 11:00 pm

Overall verdict: if you’re in the London Bridge area, there is zero reason why you should not visit this cafe. Start your day here and then wander down the iconic London bridge while singing that song that gets stuck in your head everytime..

x
♥jem

#1949 | The 24hr Guide to Hipster Hongkong.

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imagesHong Kong, China.
All photos taken with the Nikon D5500

Hong Kong and I go a short way back. My first trip to Hongkong was midway through first year of uni, and I was there with my family on tour. Now God knows why we decided to go on tour given that exactly 0 of us liked being shuttled into a bus at 6 in the morning and zipped off to irrelevant diamond factories, but that the fact remains that we did and hated it. Thus my first impression of HK was such: Mickey Mouse speaking to me in Cantonese in Disneyland HK, the musty inside of a bus, and a whole cluster of touristy things I would never voluntarily sign up for again.

When Skyscanner and Hong Kong Tourism Board approached me and proposed a trip to Hong Kong, I have to say, part of me was apprehensive. The other part jumped at the chance to change my impression of Hong Kong, to redo and blank over past transgressions. In this way we boarded our flight to Hong Kong at 6am one sleepy morning, excited at rediscovering a city half-familiar to us, ready for adventure, heart set on steering clear of all tour-bus attractions. And thus the 24hr Guide to Hipster HongKong was conceived.

We tried to cover Hipster HongKong over the span of one full day so as to jam-pack the itinerary in for people looking to get the most out of a really short weekend trip, so here goes:

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Mornings in Hong Kong

We hit HK smack in the middle of their summer, which meant long, hot, days, and 5am sunrises. Start the day early if you want to tick off most of your HK bucket list items – and you’ll find that you’ll be limited more by stomach space than anything else.

We begun the day with breakfast at Australia Dairy Company. It’s one of the things that my friends swear by, and I was feeling left out, hearing Emmanuel rave about the best eggs he’s ever had nonstop, so ok, fine, eggs it is. ADC is walkable from the Jordan train station and looks nothing like the hipster cafe one would imagine it to be, given it’s westernised name. It’s more a old school coffee house, and it’s famous for great eggs and bad service. Perfect!

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To be fair, the eggs really are fab. I dont know why they decided to put spaghetti in soup, and wasnt too keen on that myself, but it came in a set… so I suggest getting the eggs, the milk, the milk tea, and a milk pudding ala carte to share. The milk pudding is out of this world.

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There’s usually a pretty long queue, but if you go in the afternoon you’ll get a seat almost immediately, so it’s up to you. An alternative is Yee Shun, which is ADC’s direct competitor shamelessly selling almost exactly the same things with friendlier service, but we tried both and agreed that ADC is still better.

Australia Dairy Company
G/F, 47-49 Parkes Street, Jordan
佐敦白加士街47-49號地下
Mon to Wed & Fri to Sun: 07:30-23:00
Closed on Thu

Share everything you buy, because..

Right next to ADC is Mak’s Noodles, a famous chain of legendary wonton mee stalls. Another must-try, but expensive for what you get, so split it.

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The wanton mee you get in HK is done in a specific style unique to Hong Kong. I say this in the most neutral of terms because I haven’t decided if I like it or not yet. I do have friends who adore it though, so I’m not writing it off. The noodles are firmer and tangier than the ones I’m used to, which is what threw me off, but the broth was delicious and the prawns used in the wonton dumplings were fresh and very generous. Definitely worth a try is what I’m saying.


Mak’s Noodles

G/F 51 Parkes Street Jordan, Kowloon 佐敦白加士街51號地下 (MTR Jordan Exit C2)
Tel: +852 2736-5561
Opening Hours: 12:00pm-12:30am

After that, it’s time to walk it off. You’re near enough to the famous Tsim Tsa Tsui district, so just make the ten to fifteen minute walk over to digest your food. You can choose to explore the area, or take a train out – which is what we did – to the Central Train Station.

Afternoons in Hong Kong

So here we go: most of the great things to do (read: eat) span the distance between Central and Sheung Wan train station. Get ready for a whole lot of walking uphill and cursing, and take comfort in the fact that it is at least a mild form of exercise..

All that walking is incredibly hot and tiring, so you can start by taking a break and charging up at the most old school starbucks in Hong Kong. This Starbucks outlet is famous for being done up in the traditional style of the old school bing sutt, which means coffee house. The coffee options are more or less the same, but the food has a local sort of twist to it. Worth it just to sit and take refuge from the heat for awhile though, because it’s so nice and cold and gorgeous.

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This outlet is along Duddell Street, and is halfway up a long flight of stairs. Pretty soon you will find that most of Hong Kong consists stairs or 45 degree slopes, so leave your heels at home and come in sneakers or flats if you dont want a broken ankle. The reason for this is because Hong Kong Island itself is basically one huge mountain, which is why everything is sloped and you always feel slightly off balance..

Duddell Street Starbucks
號, 13 Duddell St, Central, Hong Kong
+852 2523 5685

After you feel sufficiently ready to leave Duddell bux, it’s only a few minutes walk to Tai Cheung Bakery, which is where you can get the best egg tarts in the world. Like seriously, these things are life changing. They cost about 7HKD a pop, and no, they dont get cheaper if you buy more of them, unlike most pastries in HK with bundle pricing. This shows you how confident they are that people will pay for boxes and boxes of them anyway – and we did.

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Tai Cheung Bakery

G/F, 35 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central
中環擺花街35號地下

From Tai Cheung it is but a short stroll downhill the next street over to Pololi, a Hawaiian Poke Bowl Cafe. Pololi isn’t exactly traditional HK food, but it’s one of my favourite things in HK because SASHIMI, OKAY?

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When you walk in, a cheerful tanned girl chimes Aloha! and then takes you through the ordering process if it’s your first time. A Poke Bowl is basically a salad/rice bowl topped with marinated sashimi, and it’s a type of Hawaiian dish. The owner herself isn’t Hawaiian, but has family in Hawaii and returns every single summer, and she said she loved Poke Bowls so much she had to bring them back to HK. Well good on her, because they’re freakin amazing! She lets you try the different flavours before deciding on what you want, and it’s about 90HKD for a 100g Poke Bowl, and 60HKD for just the Poke without the salad/rice.

I had a salad topped with both thai style and avocado marinated sashimi, and it was incredible.

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If you’re not into raw fish you can get this wrap thing called Musubi – it’s like sushi, and has egg and spam in it. It’s warm and really freaking good. It’s 20HKD for that, and I 100% recommend both.


Pololi

35-39 Graham St, Central, Hong Kong

Right up the slope from Pololi you have a wall which I presume is famous because people kept taking photos with it. Like, there was an actual queue. So yes, being tourists..

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Walking on. The street is a straight walk down the most amazing alternative gastronomical experiences in Hong Kong, but more than that, it’s actually a really bustling and interesting street to be down. We popped into a bunch of strange looking shops, though we didn’t actually buy anything. Here’s what your route will be like if you follow what we did and walked from Central to Sheung Wan station, in geographical order:

Duddell Bux -> Tai Cheung -> Pololi -> PMQ -> Little Bao -> YardBird -> Teakha -> Kau Kee Beef Brisket Noodles.

This is the most convenient way of doing it, but it’s well worth noting that because Little Bao only opens at 6pm and Teakha closes at 7pm, you’re probably going to have to choose one or the other. Otherwise do them on two separate days. Of the two I prefer Little Bao, but ok, you’ll see.

We actually did Teakha on a separate day. Teakha is a new hipster teahouse which is all the rage on instagram right now, but it’s a bit of a hassle to find. The interior is pretty and reminds me of taiwanese cafes, which is strange given that I’ve never been to Taiwan. It’s also very popular – the entire time we were there, people were streaming in and out.

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We had everything recommended, that is to say – their famous matcha cheese cake (good), the thai iced milk tea (just tasted like every thai milk tea ever honestly), and the hibiscus tea (which was refreshing and wonderful but tasted exactly like ribena).

Not bad, the entire experience, but unsure if I would return given the hassle and also the fact that I can get chilled ribena for fifty cents anywhere else anyway.


Teakha

18 Tai Ping Shan St, Hong Kong

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PS. One other thing we wanted to hit but couldnt was this drinks stall called Mum’s Not Home. It’s closed on Thursdays, which was the day we were doing the writeup for this feature, but you know it’s the ultimate hipster place because 1. it’s located in someone’s home 2. they only sell strange drink concoctions and no food, and 3. you can freaking get your hair cut there. Which I dont recommend, because Adrian went and said everyone who got their hair cut came out looking like they had an inverted bowl on their head. But hey, yeah, no one said hipster things had to make sense. In fact, they rarely do.


Mum’s Not Home
1/f, 302 shanghai st
Yau Ma Tei, Hong Kong

Evenings in Hong Kong

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Dress: Topshop Hong Kong

You start your evening with digesting your food by browsing PMQ for a couple of hours. PMQ stands for the Police Married Quarters, which was what it was back in the day, but it’s since been refurbished and now it’s a complex full of pop up stores and exhibitions catering to local budding artists. Entry is free, and you get all sorts of stalls in there, ranging from really indie local artists to international ones like Vivienne Tam and Goods of Desire.

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The entire complex is seven stories and divided into two wings, so trust me when I say you can spend a considerable amount of time in there. You can also get coffee and cake – they have cafes littering the lower levels. Pretty interesting.


PMQ

No.35 Aberdeen Street, Central
7am-11pm

Once it hits 5:45pm, I suggest going out to perch by the door of Little Bao. It opens at 6pm, and if you’re not one of the first people in, the wait can be quite awhile. It seems to be a thing in HK where really popular hipster places deliberately rent really tiny shop spaces, possibly to force the creation of a queue… or yknw, because of rent. Whichever.

Little Bao is one of the places that lived up to it’s hype for me. Little Bao does western favourites with an Asian twist – think truffle fries with shallots, burgers with bao instead of buns. It’s not cheap, and even borders on expensive – a bao the sized of your palm, which is organically sourced and made in front of you, is slightly under 78HKD, which is approx 15SGD. And it’s tiny. But it’s good.

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We had the pork belly bao, and it was pretty good IMHO.

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The fried ice cream bao was 48HKD. Would not order this again because it was confusing, rock hard (read: hard to eat), and also hurt Cindy’s braces. Plus tiny.

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Truffle fries were approx 98HKD. These were amazing – and the serving was huge. Even before they set it down in front of us we could smell the truffle wafting over, and when we actually saw it my first thought was that they gave us the wrong order. Because this mountain of stuff looked nothing like fries – but ok, they turned out to be buried under the pile of truffle, mushrooms, and shallots. Very interesting and delish, but definitely a dish to be shared.


Little Bao
66 Staunton St, Central, Hong Kong
Mon-Fri: 18:00-23:00
Sat,Sun: 12:00-16:00, 18:00-23:00

Because Cinch and I shared everything, we still had space for small bites, so we walked down to Yardbird, which is known for serving legendary Yakitori sticks. You’ll know it’s good because the place was overflowing with people – and the rest of the stalls on the street with similar dining concepts were half empty. The wait for Yardbird can be quite crazy but we were blessed enough to be seated within ten minutes because there were only two of us and we were both there – they dont let you sit unless all members of your dinner party is present, which is why we could bypass so many people waiting in line.

I think everything we had at Yardbird was good. We ordered four items to share – Chicken Thigh Skewer, Chicken Wing Skewer, Korean Fried Cauliflower, and the seasonal item: Scotch Eggs.

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The Korean Fried Cauliflower deserves some kind of special mention. It’s not pretty but it was mind-blowing – I never knew cauliflower could taste like that! I don’t even know how to describe it, which is just as well since I dont identify as a food blogger anyway, but lets just agree to call it intense. 10/10 would recommend.

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Everything was done to perfection and I just have zero issues with anything at Yardbird – the staff were polite, friendly, and I suspect they only hire good-looking people. Ah well.


Yardbird

33-35 Bridges Street
Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
6pm to 12am

Walking down from Yardbird we tried to route our way back to the train station, and the nearest was Sheung Wan. By this time it was nightfall, which meant half the shops were closed, but the ones which remained open were really quite interesting. There are a lot of lifestyle shops down that route, and there’s even a Superga Spin Shop, where you can buy a pair of supergas, pick your ink colors, and then put them in this machine which spins and splashes ink artistically onto your brand new sneakers. Yeah, don’t look at me. Apparently it’s a cool thing to do. Clean sneakers aren’t in anymore. Whatever.

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It was about 9pm when we passed by Kau Kee Beef Brisket Noodles. Now, I’m not sure if that’s the actual name of the shop, but there are the words Kau Kee in it somewhere and it is famous for beef brisket noodles, so there you go. I read online that the queue for this place can stretch up to an hour, but we were seated immediately because we were there during supper-timing. The trade off is, some items will be out of stock if you choose to go late. But I didn’t mind because I hate queuing and whatever that was in stock was very good anyway.

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We shared a bowl of Beef Brisket Soup Flat Noodles. I think that’s what it’s called. There’s an english menu, which they offered us after seeing us majorly struggle with the HK one, so ask for that immediately. The beef was incredibly tender and the broth was great – we didn’t finish the noodles, but those were good too.

We also got iced lemon tea which was legit ice lemon tea. I really adore iced lemon tea in HK because they take the drink at face value and really whack all the lemon in the tea, not like the sugary syrup nonsense you get elsewhere. I actually think I prefer HK iced lemon tea to HK iced milk tea because it’s lighter and more refreshing, which is very necessary when all you do is eat in HK..


Kau Kee Restaurant
G/F, 21 Gough Street, Central
中環歌賦街21號地舖
Mon – Sat 12:30-22:30

From Kau Kee it’s a really short walk to the train station, where you can conclude your day.

Wrapping up

If it seemed like the whole day was just walking from food place to food place it’s because it was true. HK for us really was a case of too many things to try, too little stomach space. In Hong Kong, the meal doesn’t stop when you’re full, the meal stops when you hate yourself. Still, I preferred this way of seeing HK much more than the tour-bus route I tried the last time I was here – much, much more. So make your peace with that, try everything, then work out pre/post trip accordingly.

Alright then, I hope this guide was helpful to those of you who are planning trips to HK in the near future! And for those of you who identify as hipster and take offence at this guide because it’s not actually hipster enough for your tastes, take it easy. We had a great time, and at the end of the day, isn’t that what matters? Trust me, you will too.

A more general guide to Hong Kong is to come, but till then, thank you for sending us on this trip, HKTB x Skyscanner! Thank you for the opportunity to rediscover Hong Kong in a much lovelier way – it was entirely too enjoyable. x

x
♥jem