Author: Alex

Food Tales: Beautiful Kyoto

After just a few hours on the Shinkansen (high-speed train), I was transported from a vast, vibrant city to the historical and cultural hub of Kyoto. As it was the old capital city, it comes as no surprise that Kyoto is filled with ancient sites, high culture and many traditional customs. Kiyomizudera Temple Kiyomizudera (Pure Water Temple) is particularly beautiful in the spring. The panoramic views of the city are well worth the climb and there are many places of worship located within the site – you’ll find yourself walking around for hours!         On the way to the temple, I picked up some steamed beef buns from Cafe Kihachiro. While I’m used to Chinese steamed pork buns, these Japanese beef filled ones were a whole new experience for me. A soft, airy bun filled with a tasty, rich beef filling. A must-try if you’re in the area!     Gion Gion is the famous Geisha district in Kyoto and although sightings are rare during the day, you’ll often find them fleetingly pass between the restaurants and tea houses …

Food Tales: Waking up in Tokyo

After the first few hours of arriving in the city, I didn’t feel like I was there. The Japanese characters greeting me at every signpost in the airport, the train journey through quaint Japanese towns, the taxi ride through Shibuya – it just didn’t seem to register as reality. Was I really here? Was this really Tokyo? Forgive me, while this may sound like the ramblings of someone who had boarded the wrong flight, it was just a case of sleep deprivation and long-awaited excitement after an overnight journey. Plus the fact that I hadn’t eaten in a good few hours – after a few convenience store snacks to keep me going, it was time to explore the city. Harajuku Harujuku – animated, extravagant and brimming with contemporary Japanese culture. With so many colourful treasures lining the streets, the food is no exception. The first thing that I noticed was the abundance of sugar-laden snacks which were just as visually intriguing as their surroundings. Every other passer-by seemed to have their hands clasped around crêpes rolled up into cones …

Dim Sum at Tim Ho Wan

There is no doubt that Hong Kong serves some of the world’s finest dim sum and in a city full of top class restaurants you’re hardly short of choice. My checklist normally includes the following points: high quality food with fresh ingredients, dishes that are innovative but not veering too far from traditional, and also something that is reasonably priced so that you can order as many dishes as possible (with some to take home too). Tim Ho wan is no secret – this is immediately evident from the large queue that gathers outside throughout the day. Although this place isn’t the most quirky or hidden, it is known to serve delicious food. Oh and did I mention that it has a Michelin star? There are a few different locations dotted around the city but I find the Central location most convenient. Although the queue looks painfully long, it moves very quickly and you’re in and seated within 15-20 minutes. The menu was split into different categories and the quantity can be selected next to the price. Dishes start at 16 HKD …

Four Seasons Claypot Rice

While the weather has stayed cool and my appetite is still very much in ‘Winter mode’, I decided to indulge in something hearty and served piping hot. Located just off Temple Street on Arthur Street, Four Seasons Claypot Rice is renowned for its delicious food and is especially popular in the colder months for its honest, no-nonsense approach to dining.     There is always a queue outside so expect to wait around 15 minutes most nights. However, menus are handed out while you wait and you are able to place your order before being seated to ensure a quick turnover for the high demand.  As you’ve probably guessed they specialise in serving steaming pots of rice cooked in clay pots containing a variety of meats, vegetables and seafood.     One thing that I was desperate to try was the oyster pancake. Although I’m not a fan of oysters generally, this deep fried version was incredibly scrumptious and consumed within a couple of minutes. When it came to the claypots we ordered one chicken and one pork both served …

Winter Warmer: Spicy Chicken Hot Pot

Hong Kong has experienced one its coldest winters of late which has left everyone in need of a little something to take the chill off. And what better way than to try a Sichuan chicken hot pot? A quick search on OpenRice uncovered Chuanpopo -川婆婆 – in Tsim Sha Tsui which offers a variety of hot pots including a ‘Spicy Chicken Dry Pot’. It took us a few minutes to figure out how to order the hot pot as it’s bit of a two-step process which you’ll read about later on. First you need to select either a half chicken or a whole chicken and then decide how spicy you want it from the options of ‘big spicy, ‘medium spicy’ and ‘small spicy’. I hate to say it, but the ordering system isn’t too far removed from ordering at a Nando’s restaurant. The price is very reasonable with a whole chicken coming in at $248 and half a chicken at $138. While waiting for the hot pot to arrive, you can create your own sauce to accompany the chicken. The pick …

Mong Kok: Street Food by Night

Mong Kok possesses a certain charm that had me seduced from my very first visit. Dazzling lights and advertisements at every street corner, the ability to get lost at each turn, and swarms of people charging at you from all angles. The unmistakable chaos and disorder of the place can leave you with an appetite so it’s a good job there’s an abundance of local street food vendors to cater. From seafood and offal, to deep fried goodies, it’s a great chance to try lots of different new foods for as little as $4. You’ll often find Youtiao – a deep fried stick of dough – sold from street vendors and takeaway restaurants. Here they are all stacked up and ready to go. A typical street food vendor in Mong Kok with fishballs, seafood and vegetables waiting to be cooked. Waffles are also popular and can either be eaten plain or with peanut butter and condensed milk. Octopus balls being prepared on a hot grill. The process involves constantly turning the balls with little sticks to ensure …

U-Hang: Contemporary Korean Dining

I must admit I was dubious at the thought of contemporary Korean food. I have been spoilt with the likes of Korean street food (see previous post A Korean Street Food Feast) and still enjoy the novelty of a Korean BBQ. So with U-Hang, I was fearing the worst – small portions, dishes with more garnish than substance, and overpriced gimmicks. However, I could not have been more wrong. Stepping into the restaurant, I was greeted with high ceilings, exposed brickwork, low hanging bare bulbs and an assortment of wooden bar tables. It certainly looked the part but was the food up to scratch? The dinner menu was divided into ‘Small Bites’ and ‘Bigger Plates’ which was ideal for sharing and sampling a little bit of everything. The Bulgogi Beef Tacos which were under ‘Small Bites’ were impressively presented and each tortilla was overloaded with that unmistakable Korean flavour. I don’t eat beef very often in Hong Kong so it was a real treat to bite into succulent juicy beef pieces marinated in Bulgogi sauce accompanied with salsa, sour …

Simplylife Bakery Café

Simplylife is a Western restaurant/café located inside the Festival Walk shopping centre in Kowloon Tong. Set among the glossy floors, endless clothes stores and and shiny escalators, the European-style restaurant fits right in. There is normally a queue for a table but I only had to wait around 5 minutes and was seated underneath some patio-style covers, we were technically inside, but it added to the atmosphere nonetheless. The menu changes quite frequently but you can expect to find fish and meat dishes, healthy options, pasta, and burgers. I ordered the fish burger in a black charcoal bun. For an extra $30, you can get this as part of a set meal which comes with a salad, bread and a drink. The burgers cost between $100 – $150 and come with fries. When the burger arrived, the first thing I noticed was the generous slab of fish in the bun. There was also a dollop of accompanying tartar sauce and a little garnish. The fish was really delicious and flaked away as I bit into it. However, …

Shanghai: Guang Ming Cun

Shanghai has previously been described as the ‘Paris of the East’ and is known as a cultural and international metropolis, filled with excitement and bustling energy, which is why it will always remain one of my favourite cities. Guang Ming Cun is located in the popular area of Huaihai Road; one of the prettiest and quirkiest parts of Shanghai. One minute you’re walking past high-end retailers and fancy boutiques and the next you stumble across old style houses and tiny side streets – a glorious combination of old and new. Outside the restaurant, the queue of locals huddled underneath umbrellas was definitely a good sign. On closer inspection, I could see that they were in fact queuing for the meat pastries on the ground floor but several people were also headed upstairs which is where the restaurant part is located. Once upstairs it’s a battle of the hungriest. There is no reservation or queuing system, it’s simply a case of awkwardly hovering around tables and waiting for people to finish. I was able to get a table after …

Beef & Liberty: Mid Mo Party

You can take the girl out of London but she’ll still sniff out the best burger joint in town. Turns out I didn’t need to look too far – Beef & Liberty is located on Wing Fung Street in the heart of Wan Chai and claims to answer all my hamburger prayers. Priding themselves on quality meat and beer, the restaurant describe their gourmet grass-fed beef patties in sour-dough rolls as the best in Hong Kong. Their latest event saw them team up with Pizza Express to present a mid Movember party with the promise of free flowing pizza, burgers and drinks. Tickets were $200 and all proceeds were donated to the Movember cause. Thanks to their sponsors, each guest was greeted with a goody bag from Kiehl’s and a $50 voucher to redeem at Beef & Liberty. A good start to the evening.     Spoilt in London by the likes of Honest Burgers and Meat Liquor, I was apprehensive as to what I could expect. Platters of burgers came around at every opportunity and I’m …