Friday, November 4, 2011

Hong Kong is where the heart is...

I sometimes worry I might lose my love of travelling. I know, call me crazy, but it's true. I'm not one of those people who get totally psyched up (more and more so lately) before I travel somewhere, which is bad, because then I end up doing all my research on where I want to eat in the last two days before I head off, when it actually clicks I'm leaving somewhere.

And sometimes I do feel it wane when I've been away from home for a while, and sometimes when you are travelling you can get kind of lazy. You get that traveller's fatigue. You end up wanting to just check out places nearby the hotel, and you get that tinge of guilt that you're lying around in bed when you could be checking out the city and breathing in the culture. Or maybe that's just me being pedantic that I'm not making the most of my time.

However, Hong Kong, always, always surprises me.

I suppose technically it is my home town. I was born in Hong Kong, and went to school there until 1998, when we then moved to Australia. Although, even after spending 10 years in Hong Kong, I am an absolutely hopeless Chinese.

Yet still, every time I return to Hong Kong, there's just a sense of nostalgia which is so comforting. I love walking around Causeway Bay and seeing things that haven't changed since I was a 9 years old. That corner store at Times Square still selling sugar cane juice, red and white taxis, the ever efficient tunnels of the MTR. As cheesy as it sounds, my heart responds to the place. To the hustle and bustle, that I find somehow reassuring. Hong Kong is still somewhat home.

This recent trip I barely had a day and a half in Hong Kong, my flight getting in at around 5pm, but by the time I got through the queues for immigration, and the taxi, I didn't get to my friend's place until about 8pm. Aaah Asia. I do sincerely wish I had had scheduled more time in Hong Kong. Sigh.

So I didn't get to eat as much as I would like, but I very much did enjoy what I did eat!

On my first night, my friend, who I call 'G' in real life, cause he's that cool, walked me over to Soho, a stone throw away from his apartment, which I think was a part of town I had never visited before. Down the narrow and crowded road we went when he eventually led me down an even smaller alley way, following a rather adorable sign.

The Mostaccioli Brothers, is set up, not surprisingly, but two Italian men apparently, and just off the main street, they've created a calming and intimate setting. With lovely Italian produce, my friend couldn't resist buying back a bottle of plump and luscious olives which we nibbled on while watching reality tv later.

Eggplant and a caprese salad, classic, simple and delicious. Surprisingly fresher than I expected!

I completely forgot to take a picture of our mains, but we both had veal, mine was a parmesan veal, with a rather sinfully yummy crust around it. Veal is not so much my thing though I've decided, or at least this time, it was quite dry. But that parmesan…mmmm.

And of course dessert meant rustic, made with love, tiramisu, which G and I absolutely dove into. Spongy layers of cake, meshed with delicious marscapone, and oh that hit of coffee! It was a delightful meal.

The next day, I met up with an old family friend, who kindly helped me reapply for my Hong Kong ID (which I was supposed to renew when I turned 18…oops), and then trundled me down through the business end of town to find somewhere to have some dim sum for lunch.

I didn't take pictures of everything I ate, but there's really nothing like having dim sum in Hong Kong. Nothing like it. The skins on all the dumplings are just light and you can just tell everything is freshly made. That Har gou, oh my goodness, I didn't realise what we were missing out on back in Melbourne! The skin was supple and so transparent, it's so much tougher at home!

After lunch, I wandered around Causeway bay, found a Uniqlo, fell in love and bought up a storm.

Then I had some cake.

And a macaron.

I forgot where though.


Dinner was at the extremely exclusive China Club, for a casual meeting. I didn't realise how exclusive China Club was until I called my mum a couple of hours prior and told her of my dinner plans, to which she shrieked, MAKE SURE YOU WEAR SOMETHING NICE! IT'S AN INSTITUTION! THE PLACE IS EXCLUSIVE

Woah. Okay!

And my god, am I glad I did don on a pretty little outfit and a pair of heels! China Club is members only, has been around for ages and is supremely decadent. From the old school framed Chinese hand drawn cartoons in the elevator to the dark, ornate wood and artwork adorning every wall of every room. It's like in the movies, I bet the snooty Chinese mafia would have a hangout like this! One of the guys I was meeting was wearing just a t-shirt at the reception area, so they loaned him a jacket to wear while in the club! Gives you an idea of the kind of place right?

The China Club is not all looks though, it's food is divine as well. My host ordered for us, and we had an assortment of lovely peking duck (although not cut at the table), to some of the most divine xiao long bao's I've ever had.

How pretty do they look? I love the little 'swing' stand they are perched on, so that you do not rip them and tear them accidentally when taking them out of the steamer! The skin was so thin, it totally blew my mind.

Although a fair few of the dishes were your fairly generic Chinese dishes, there was so much more balance in the flavours and freshness in the produce. A really lovely meal. If you have a friend who's a member, GET THEM TO GET YOU IN.

The next morning, I had a morning flight to Bangkok, meaning I had to get to the airport at a sickeningly early hour, meaning I didn't get to eat anywhere else in the city.

However, I was quite tickled when I got to the airport that they had a Fauchon store (how do you pronounce that anyway?), selling…macarons! 9am in the morning? Suuuure why not.

Morning tea at the airport consisted of 3 macarons, a pistachio, a hazelnut and a chocolate flavour. The pistachio was not particularly pleasant at all. It was too sweet, had no nuttiness to it and was a bit too artificial in flavour for my liking. Chocolate was getting better, but there was no deep cocoa flavour, and I found the redness of it to be a little off putting. Hazelnut was by far the best flavour and I was relieved to have saved it for last! A true nuttiness that was rich and somewhat creamy.

So not bad Fauchon, but I've had better.

And then with that it was off to Bangkok.

I'm not actually entirely sure what I would do if I had more time in Hong Kong next time. I think I would go to the races, eat more dim sum, get some roasted goose (or duck, whatever I came across) and do a little more research next time….

Mostaccioli Brothers

B/F & G/F 16 Elgin Street
Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2525 5770

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China Club

13/F, The Old Bank of China Building
Bank St
Hong Kong

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