After my trip to Hong Kong in September, I wasn’t expecting to see the vibrant city so soon, at least not within this year. But things always happen when you are least expecting them, so when an invitation came from the Novotel Group to gather a few bloggers from all over Asia for a short holiday in the land of dim sum and roast goose — my answer was short and sweet: YES! I want to eat egg tarts!
On my previous trip, we were scrambling around Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, and Lautau Island and it was more of a touch-and-go as we wanted to see as many places we could. This time round, I did a lot more eating and shopping at a much relaxed pace — so to add on to my earlier guide, here’s another 10 Things to Do in Hong Kong.
I was there during the Halloween week in end October, and the notable difference was the change in weather. Back in September, it was warm and slightly humid, but this time round, the weather was good great fantastic. It was windy, and starting to get cold. Everyone was out in their semi-winter clothing: coats, scarfs and boots. It’s a nice change to be able to dress up without having stares as though I’m a weirdo. I love Hong Kong!
Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival 2010
If you are planning a holiday to Hong Kong next year, why not go during the Hong Kong Wine & Dine Month during November? With a diverse assortment of unique traditional Chinese festivals and Western cultural celebrations, there will be plenty to see and EAT.
We got passes for the opening Gala of the Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival, and it was a magnificent event with wine and food from all over the world. The picture of the burger you see above, is the best burger in the world, only because it was the first proper food that I had for that day. Imagine being surrounded by crates of wine when you are on an empty stomach.
The Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival was held at Kowloon and the venue had a brilliant view of Victoria Harbour. The yearly festival is organized by the Hong Kong Tourism Board, with more than 160 wine booths and another 60 food booths participating for the event.
I must have like what, five, or six samplings of dessert wine. Minh and Boo were amused by my sweet tooth as they opted for glasses of white wine instead. After many glasses of wine (priced at 1-2 voucher tickets, 10HKD each voucher), nibbles of cheese, and a few bites here and there, we decided to call it a day to prepare for the next day.
Visit during the Halloween week and watch Lang Kwai Fong comes alive
It was so much fun looking at all the people who dressed up for Halloween! Everyone was in their crazy outfits, and I swear all of them flocked to Lang Kwai Fong – the most happening nightlife place in Asia. The Hong Kong police was there to cordon the area and we had to take a huge detour just to get to Lang Kwai Fong.
Queue up for the World’s cheapest Michelin-Star restaurant
Is Tim Ho Wan Dim Sum Restaurant worth queuing up for? Yes. Is it true that they are the cheapest Michelin-Star restaurant? Yes. Are their dim sum really so good? Yes.
The dim sum at Tim Ho Wan are so good that they deserve a post on its own, but I’m too lazy to blog a few separate posts. I shall attempt the impossible and try to squeeze everything within my list of 10 things to eat in Hong Kong.
My fellow food bloggers Minh and Boo went early at 9.30am to queue up for a table. By the time I got there at 9.50am (don’t judge me, my hotel was much further away), and lo and behold — a long queue forming outside the restaurant. There was a sense of relief as the restaurant opened its doors at 10am and we were the first batch of 29 people to get into Tim Ho Wan that day.
Baskets and baskets of dim sum started to arrive on our table, and there was “ooh” and “whoa” all around. I’m not going to go into details of everything that we had, but some of the must-try dim sum at Tim Ho Wan are:
The Baked bun with BBQ pork (Char Siu Bau). How can something so simple taste so good? The char siew filling was perfect, it hit the right tones for savoury and sweet, and the deep-fried bun was crisp around the edges but not too oily. I actually exclaimed “oh my god” aloud. The Steamed Prawn Dumpling was very well executed with thin and translucent skin, and fresh crunchy prawn. I managed to grab a Siew Mai from the folks who shared a table with us. It had the right proportion of lean meat, I put the whole thing into my mouth and swallowed it. Oh the tasty little thing!
I’m not a fan of ham siu kok, but very few dim sum restaurants serve this nowadays, so you may want to try it at Tim Ho Wan. It was also my first attempt on Chicken Feet as I always thought that it’s disgusting. But since I’m already at Tim Ho Wan, there’s nothing to lose so I decided to give it a shot. I hate to say this, but it was surprisingly delicious.
I was having one of the best meals of my life, and somehow I managed to eat so much dim sum even though my stomach was protesting. “Just one more, just one more dim sum. I promise to eat less for dinner.”
Between the three of us, we had 15 dim sum dishes and paid only HKD 210 (SGD$37)! Can you imagine paying just SGD$12 for top quality dim sum? It’s dirt cheap! Is Tim Ho Wan really worth the hype? Yes, I’ll willingly queue up for their dim sum every time I’m in Hong Kong.
I recommend going to Tim Ho Wan early in the morning. They open at 10am so you decide what time you want to be there. If you are there after 10am, they will give you a queue number so you can walk around the area and come back later.
Getting there: From Mong Kok Station, find Tung Choi Street/Women Street, turn right and walk all the way to the end of the street and turn left. If you get lost, scream for help get directions from the locals.
Tim Ho Wan
2-8 Kwong Wah St
Mong Kok, Hong Kong, China
Eat at many Michelin Star Restaurants if you have the money to splurge
Maybe it’s just me, but I didn’t particularly enjoyed the Michelin Star experience. Well, I mean they are great, in the sense that you are feeling: “whoa, I just ate at this Michelin Star Restaurant!” But other than that, there’s really nothing to shout about. My first michelin star restaurant was Yung Kee during my previous trip to Hong Kong earlier in September this year. The Roast Goose was good, but I wouldn’t pay that kind of money or queue up half an hour for it.
After eating at Tim Ho Wan, we went to Island Tang Restaurant the next day to have lunch with the folks from the Hong Kong Tourism board. To be fair, the dining experience at the Michelin Star restaurant is pretty good: impeccable service, good food – but it wasn’t really out-of-this-world. Maybe it’s just me.
Island Tang Restaurant
Shop 222, The Galleria,
9 Queen’s Rd, Central
Tel: 2526 8798
Take the Cable Car and visit Ngong Ping 360
If you have some time to spare after shopping at Citygate outlets, take the 25 minutes cable car ride to Ngong Ping 360 — one of Hong Kong’s must-visit tourist attractions on Lantau island. There, you get to see the spectacular Giant Buddha, and visit the Po Lin Monastery. The Ngong Ping village has a couple of interesting eateries and it incorporates two major themed attractions: Walking with Buddha and Monkey’s Tale Theatre.
Getting there: Tung Chung Station, and go to the Ngong Ping cable car station (round trip tickets for standard cabin is 107HKD)
Temple Street Night Market
I didn’t get to visit Temple Street during my previous trip to Hong Kong, which was a shame since there’s so much to see at the famous night market. Temple Street is known as one of the busiest flea markets in Hong Kong, it’s interesting to walk around and see the different stalls that sell cheap & random merchandise, and there’s also food stalls along the way.
We were having beef brisket by the roadside during the evening, and it’s amazing to see how the street slowly came alive as the vendors started to set up their stalls. Anyway, if you are in the Temple Street area, there’s a pretty famous Claypot rice place at Arthur Street.
Getting there: Yau Ma Tei MTR in Kowloon.
Gong Zai Mian – Hong Kong Style Instant Noodle
“You must have the Gong Zai Mian!” my friend repeatedly emphasized this when I told her I was going Hong Kong for the second time this year. I refused to go to any Hong Kong Cafes in Singapore because of this dish. I thought it’s ridiculous to pay $6 for a bowl of instant noodle with sunny side up and luncheon meat.
Mr Gadget and I had breakfast at a random place near Temple Street, and we ordered Gong Zai Mian. I swear it’s so yummy! And the best part? They are so much cheaper than the Hong Kong Cafes in Singapore.
Shopping Paradise in Hong Kong
Mong Kok is definitely on the top of the list for Shopping in Hong Kong. There’s Fa Yuen Street which is famous for selling sports wear and equipments. If you are into photography, PLEASE get your camera stuff in Hong Kong! It’s probably around 15-20% cheaper than what it is in Singapore. Mr Gadget introduced me to Wing Shing Photo Supplies, which is supposedly one of the most reliable camera shops that locals go to. I was almost tempted to get a lens there which is SGD$200 cheaper. There’s also Langham Place shopping mall within walking distance from the Mong Kok MTR.
Anyway, moving on from Mong Kok, there’s Causeway Bay, one of Hong Kong’s major shopping districts. Otherwise, check out the largest shopping mall in Hong Kong (not sure if it’s still the largest, but it’s definitely one of the biggest) Harbour City at Tsim Sha Tsui (TST). If you like big shopping malls, I’d suggest going to the new Elements Mall at West Kowloon – the place is huge and spacious, and like the other Hong Kong shopping malls, they have all the big brands under one roof.
But when I talk about shopping in Hong Kong, all I can think of is H&M!
This may sound crazy, but I actually went to four different H&M within a day. As the Men Clothing at H&M Langham Place has very limited stuff, I went to H&M at Canton road, TST (which was located directly opposite Harbour City), and H&M Queen’s Road Central. Both outlets are very crowded, and there are at least a dozen people eying the same thing at one time. Of the four H&M locations in Hong Kong that I went to, my favorite is definitely the H&M at Elements Mall. The place was practically empty and I could shop at ease without having to ‘fight’ with anyone to grab the clothes.
Wing Shing Photo Supplies
55-57 Sai Yeung Choi Street
Mongkok Kowloon, HK
Tel: 2396 6886
H&M Hong Kong
30 Canton road
Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
Tel: +852-3521 1171
68 Queen’s Road Central
Central, Hong Kong
Tel: +852-2110 9546
Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
Tel: +852-2196 8391
Mong Kok Station
Mong Kok, Kowloon
Tel: +852-3580 7621
Eat, eat, eat, eat, eat, eat, eat, eat, eat, eat, eat, eat, eat and eat
You are in Hong Kong! There’s only eating, and shopping, and eating, and more shopping on the agenda. I had my favorite Mango ice from Hui Lao Shan, feasted on Beef Brisket by the roadside, ate countless Egg Tarts and Po Luo Bao in random bakeries, enjoyed a leisure afternoon tea after a whole day of shopping, tasted some of the famous Hong Kong street food like Curry Fish Balls and Siew Mai while having Gong Cha bubble tea.
Travelling is just another excuse for me to eat more.
Stay in Novotel Hotel Hong Kong
I stayed in the Novotel Citygate at Tung Chung during this trip. If you are in Hong Kong mainly for shopping at the Citigate factory outlets, it makes sense to stay at Novotel Citygate since they are just located within the shopping mall. Otherwise, the Novotel Group has another two hotels – Novotel Nathan road in Kowloon, and Novotel Century at Wanchai. All three Novotel hotels are conveniently located within walking distance to the MTR stations.
Novotel is extending an offer to readers of my food blog: Simply quote ‘Novotel blgr’ when you make a direct booking with any of Novotel hotels in Hong Kong, and get a free upgrade to the next room category. Valid until end of August 2011. (Novotel Century Hong Kong: email@example.com; Novotel Nathan Road Kowloon: firstname.lastname@example.org; Novotel Citygate Hong Kong: H6239-RE1@accor.com).
// Many thanks to the team at Novotel Hotel Hong Kong and PRDA who hosted us for this trip. No payment was received, only the air-ticket and accommodation were sponsored.