Tag Archives: travel

Little Bao – Best Brunch in Hong Kong?

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Fusion food is in in Hong Kong, and Little Bao still remains as hip as ever since its opening in 2013. This swanky diner gives western food an Asian spin, with the focus centered on the Chinese bao. They’ve also started to open for weekend brunch.

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No coffee here at Little Bao unfortunately, but they do have a rather good cocktail selection. For something more pleasant and less strong, opt for the Chris Lemonade (HKD$85, SGD$15.5) – 42 Below vodka, chrysanthemum, honey, rhubarb bitters or Yakult Fizz (HKD$85, SGD$15.5) – Broken Shed vodka, absinthe, Yakult, egg white.

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I’ve always thought that only truffle fries which are heavily laden with truffle oil and truffle salt make a good plate of truffle fries, but Little Bao’s take on Truffle Fries (HKD$98, SGD$17.9) has opened a new dimension of what a good plate of truffle fries can actually be. Their version involves shitake tempeh and truffle mayo paired with shoestring fries and resulted in an addictive side dish. And I usually do not eat mushrooms, mind you. The fries are also served with pickled daikon on the side.

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We also had another side to share – the Roasted Pork Cheek (HKD$128, SGD$23.4) which was cumin-spiced and came with fennel and burnt apple puree. The pork was sufficiently tender and moist and not fatty at all.

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Pork Belly Bao (HKD$78, SGD$14.3) – slow-braised pork belly, leek and shiso red onion salad, sesame dressing, hoisin ketchup

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For myself, I had the Szechuan Fried Chicken Bao (HKD$78, SGD$14.3). The Szechuan fried chicken may be a tad oily, but was slathered in a delightful combination of sweet Chinese black vinegar glaze and slightly spicy Szechuan mayo.

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Beef Bao (HKD$88, SGD$16.1) – grass-fed organic beef, tomato jam, roasted onion sesame mayo, shiso, cheddar cheese

Just as we were finishing our baos, a family with children sat on the bench outside the restaurant, ordered the ice cream baos, and devoured them without complaint in the light drizzle (restaurant was running full house at that time). A reminder that dessert here should never be skipped.

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The LB Ice Cream Bao (HKD$48, SGD$8.8) comes in two flavours – green tea ice cream with condensed milk and salt ice cream with caramel. Personally, I preferred the green tea bao for its distinctive green tea flavour. The salt ice cream felt more like vanilla ice cream with a muted vanilla taste. Nonetheless, the warm, crispy fried mini buns, together with the ice cream, ended the meal on a high note.

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Generally the baos are pretty small so it’s highly recommended to get some sides to share, followed by the savoury and the dessert baos for the full experience. Best brunch in 2015? Yes, I conclude.

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G/F, 66 Staunton St

Mon to Fri 6pm – 11pm

Sat 12pm – 4pm, 6pm – 11pm

Sun 12pm – 4pm, 6pm – 10pm

Sheung Wan MTR Exit A2

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Hong Kong 2014

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As one of the top travel destinations for us Singaporeans this year, Hong Kong needs no introduction, I presume. Memories of my last time here (when I was still a child) are already a blur so I was determined to come up with a good itinerary. On hindsight, Hong Kong may seem like a bore to some since all you can do is eat and shop. Indeed, those were all I did. And I was enjoying them so much that returning home was absolutely dreadful…

This time round, I’ve taken less photos compared to my other trips but I still included a guide to nearly all the places I’ve been to dine at! Hope they’ll be of help to anyone at all. I also headed up to the overrated-but-still-amazing Victoria Peak via the Peak Tram. I was actually more fascinated by the sunset over the trees on the other side of the observatory deck than the urban density.

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Kau Kee Restaurant – according to reviews, this place serves the best beef brisket noodles. I had the Beef Brisket in Oyster Sauce with Flat noodles served with broth (HKD$50) and the beef brisket sure did not disappoint. Portion sizes are huge as well. At 10pm, half an hour to their closing time, there was still a line of people queuing to get a seat in the house!

21 Gough Street

Daily 12.30pm – 10.30pm

Sheung Wan MTR Exit A2

 

Little Bao – essentially an American diner in Asian style. This was perhaps the most memorable meal for me. I really wanted to do a separate post for this place initially but I was rather hungry from waiting half an hour to get seats so I just went ahead and dug in. Plus, the food here was so good, I could barely stop to snap some crappy photos on my iPhone. Over here, I ate the best Truffle Fries (HKD$98) I’ve ever had. Instead of simply frying the fries in truffle oil and salt, the ones here come with a unique truffle mayo with shitake tempeh and pickled daikon. Who knew a mushroom-infused truffle mayo sauce can make truffle fries taste so damn good?! The Orange Chicken (HKD$98) is more of an acquired taste because of its salted egg yolk though. Their baos take the center stage here. We tried the Pork Belly (HKD$78) and Chicken (HKD$78), both were superbly tasty. Don’t leave without trying the LB Ice Cream Sandwich (HKD$48), which comes in flavors like green tea and vanilla.

66 Staunton St

Mon to Sat 6pm – 11pm

Sheung Wan MTR Exit A2

 

Lof 10 – this one’s for the hipsters who are in need of some caffeine intake. I am absolutely in love with the small, minimal space of the cafe.

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1 U Lam Terrace

Daily 10am – 7pm

Sheung Wan MTR Exit A2

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Mido Cafe – this two storey cha chaan teng is full of nostalgia, it’s like you’re transported back in time. Sitting next to an open window with a cool breeze flowing in while having their Iced Milk Tea (HKD$17), Pineapple Bun with Butter (HKD$12), Condensed Milk and Butter Toast (HKD$10) and Ham and Macaroni in Broth (HKD$30)… I don’t ever want to move an inch from my seat. Unlike the more touristy cha chaan tengs, there is no need to share a table with others, be squeezed to discomfort in a small corner or be pressured to finish up your meal and go.

63 Temple Street

Daily 8.30am – 9.30pm

Yau Ma Tei MTR Exit C

 

One Harbour Road – getting into an “atas” Chinese restaurant is also a must in HK. Originally, I wanted the all-time famous 3 star michelin Lung King Heen, but since there were only the two of us I thought it might be better to go with a bigger group another time. Dining at merely the 7th floor of the Grand Hyatt hotel may not sound as impressive, but we had a great view overlooking Victoria Harbour by the floor-to-ceiling glass windows. Service is impeccable, and I was surprised that they have an attendant in the toilets to greet you and hand you paper towels to dry your hands. Some memorable items from the dim sum menu we tried include the Steamed Honey Roasted Barbecued Pork Buns (HKD$66) and the Baked Turnip, Minced Pork and Pepper Puff Pastries (HKD$66). We also had a mouthgasmic Minced Beef and Egg Fried Rice with Black Truffles (HKD$218). Best fried rice I’ve had.

Grand Hyatt Hong Kong

7-8/F

1 Harbour Rd

Mon to Sat 12.30pm – 2.30pm, 6.30pm – 10pm

Sun 11.30am – 2.30pm, 6.30pm – 10pm

Wan Chai MTR Exit C

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Pierre Herme – I got the box of 12 at an astounding HKD$350. Well, it was worth every cent. You have to get the White Truffle with Piedmont Hazelnut macaron and the Chocolat and Foie Gras macaron. Nuff said.

IFC Mall

Podium Level 1, Shop  1019C

8 Finance Street

Daily 10am – 9pm

Hong Kong MTR Exit F

 

Syut by Tfvsjs 談風: vs :再說 – the most “concealed” place I went on the trip. This restaurant set up by their local band is hidden in one of the several nondescript factory buildings, you would think that nobody would ever find their way here. Fact is that this modern industrial themed restaurant was nearly full for lunch. The Chicken Risotto with Walnut Oil (HKD$86) was not overly cheesy while the Veal Sausage Cassoulet (HKD$98) came with a special 64°C egg and balsamic shallot chutney.

Gee Luen Factory Building

Unit B, 10/F

316-318 Kwun Tong Road

Mon 6.30pm – 10pm

Tue to Sat 12pm – 3pm, 6.30pm – 10pm

Ngau Tau Kok MTR Exit B6
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Tai Cheong Bakery – Egg tarts!! The custard is smooth, eggy and comes with a tinge of sweetness, and the crust is flaky and light. HKD$6 each.

35 Lyndhurst Terrace

Mon to Sat 7.30am – 9pm

Central MTR Exit D2

 

The Coffee Academics – the original, larger flagship store is in Causeway Bay, but I went to the newer branch at Wan Chai instead. Coffee was pretty smooth, and you have to get their Mile High Blueberry Pancake Dessert (HKD$78) for sure. They don’t look as aesthetically pleasing as the ones we have in Singapore but trust me, they beat most places hands down.

35-45 Johnston Road

Mon to Thu 8am – 10pm

Fri 8am – 11pm

Sat 9am – 11pm

Sun 9am – 9pm

Wan Chai MTR Exit B1

 

Tim Ho Wan – the cheapest Michelin-starred dim sum restaurant. It’s also much cheaper over here than our local branches. Their variation of the signature Baked BBQ Pork Buns (HKD$66) are slightly different from ours – we boast a sweeter version while HK does it salty. Singaporeans like me may prefer our local ones though. However, the Steamed Egg Cake (HKD$12) (another one of my personal favorites) here is more flavorful and fluffier.

9-11 Fuk Wing Street

Daily 8am – 9.30pm

Sham Shui Po MTR Exit B2

 

Tsui Wah Restaurant – the many branches they have show us how a simple breakfast of Satay Beef Instant Noodles with Scrambled Eggs and Butter Buns (HKD$27) can be so satisfying.

Hong Kong Intl Airport Terminal 1

Departures Check-in Hall Mezzanine, Level 8

Daily 7am – 12am

 

Yee Shun Milk Company – supposedly the best milk pudding you can find on Hong Kong island. The red bean on steamed milk (HKD$29) I had was smooth, silky and not overly sweet. We so need more of such stores specializing in milk puddings in Singapore.

506 Lockhart Road

Daily 12pm – 12am

Causeway Bay MTR Exit C

 

That’s all for now folks. Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year!

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New York City 2013 – The city that never sleeps

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FOREWORD \\  Last month was a whirlwind of adventures. This month, I’m trying to welcome the new year with a bad jetlag and pick out photos from the past month. This might be the longest photo journal yet. Friends would know I’m a die-hard fan of everything American. The dreamer in me has always lust for a trip to the east coast, so when it was confirmed 2-3 months prior to the date, I’ve been jumping around (and doing a whole lot of research) ever since. It’s time to party in the USA.

As our tour bus first drove into NYC I was spellbound. I had seen too many pictures of NYC from my smartphone in the past few months that when I finally see the city with my own eyes it feels surreal. Our maiden day touring the city was led by a tour guide and it started off with breakfast in Chinatown. We had the traditional fried dough fritters and porridge at Big Wong King (a dim sum restaurant) and they were really good. Turns out that in dim sum restaurants here you take plates of whatever dishes you want as they are taken around by servers (so you don’t have to order them individually). Pardon the grainy shot of Mott Street below, was testing out the camera for the first few shots!

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Well then we traveled to a pier and took the Circle Line Cruise round the island of Manhattan featuring the iconic Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island. Lady Liberty was glinting in the sunlight. (Motion sickness ached up – no good pictures)

Wall Street was nearby so we walked over to the towering skyscrapers – the official financial district of New York. And probably that of the USA. Here are some scenes taken en route and along Wall Street.

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The Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum was next on the list – a display of warships, fighter jets and planes. This shot taken from the USS Intrepid (ship) overlooks a snowy rooftop. Amazing weather we had that day, by the way. The gorgeous deep blue hues of the sky, though not being captured here as depicted, are extinct here in Singapore.
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Moving on to another museum – Ripley’s Believe It or Not. or aka a museum which I’m really interested in because I’ve watched Ripley’s Believe it or not shows on tv since young. It was situated in the dazzling 42nd Street of Times Square.
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By then, the sun was starting to set and the last light of the day was casting long shadows over the city – the perfect time to get high up on a skyscraper and get a magnificent view of NYC. That skyscraper is none other than the 103 storey high Empire State Building. It was peak hour for tourism on the observation deck so we queued for a pretty long moment… but all would be worth it when you stand amidst the cold gusts of winter at dusk, viewing the panoramic sea of lights that lies before you. Can’t help but proclaim that I love this shot so much. I mean, just look at that blazing trail of light.
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Later that night we headed back to the state of New Jersey where we would embark on a East Coast tour for the next 5 days or so featuring Philadelphia, Washington DC, Boston and more. I’ll leave the details and pictures out of this post for next time, so let’s just fast forward to when it ended and we were dropped off at Chinatown to end our 6-day East Coast Tour. For the first time ever, I pulled out a map on foreign land. And then navigated the rest of them from Chinatown to our hotel in Times Square via subway – the 4 of us were lugging 5 luggages.

It took us a while to get to Crowne Plaza Times Square, our residence for the oncoming 6 nights. Times Square is full of human activity. The crowd is no joke. Think about Orchard Road on a Sunday afternoon and double or triple that amount of people. No wonder it is dubbed Crossroads of the World. A rather polluted one indeed, especially with the smell of smoke from cigarettes and barbecued meats and the occasional nasty pong wafting up from the underground sewer.

That night we had dinner at a Thai restaurant (can’t remember it’s name) nearby and boy portions are huge. The lethargic me could barely finish half of my pad thai!

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The whole of the next day was dedicated to shopping and nothing else but that. We got on a bus which drove out of NYC to Woodbury Common Premium Outlets… shopped… and then went back. Funny how I didn’t take a single shot of the place though.

After another sleep.. Christmas Day! The streets of Times Square were eerily empty in the morning and we were fighting against cold winds in the -7°C weather while heading to the Rockefeller Center. My hands were so numb I couldn’t bear to retrieve my camera from its bag to get the Rockefeller Tree in a solo shot. It was only when I stumbled upon the masses of skaters and tourists on the other side of the tree facing the ice skating rink did I decide to just do it. But seriously, this place had an air of Christmas spirit.

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Right next to the tree was the GE Building which held the Top of the Rock Observation Deck, or our next attraction to stop by at. Unfortunately, snow was a no show on Christmas Day. We were met with a cloudless blue blueee sky which cast the city in a bluish hue. Over here we got a great view of the Empire State Building and Central Park.
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En route the US National Tennis Center in Queens we made a stopover at Grand Central Terminal  we traveled back to Times Square for some Christmas shopping. By that time, Times Square was already full of tourists trying to snap up holiday deals. I would be a little mad at the crowd if not for a stranger who said that this was part of “experiencing New York”.

Boxing Day came right after Christmas and everyone was rushing for Boxing Day sales. So of course we had to join in the fun. On the way there we stopped by a cafe (yay) Culture Espresso (post coming soon!) where I got a cortado. The true cortado.

That night was an awesome one. We caught a WWE show at (possibly) the world’s most famous arena, Madison Square Garden. You gotta love the hype from the crowd.

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On Friday we ventured uptown to the must-visit Central Park which divides Manhattan into her upper and lower parts. We didn’t get snow that day which was to my sadness since I suppose Central Park looks a lot more gorgeous in white. Well but it was freezing even without the snow so I can’t imagine how much colder it can get. We wandered and walked the width of the park and spent some time getting engrossed in a street performance.

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Psst these ducks were going round and round in circles.
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“If you move, you’ll never catch High School Musical again.”

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Raving at yet another one of my own shots, haha. Love these leafless branches.

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So we walked across the park to get to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met). Truly too profound for a noobie like me to fully appreciate. By the time we left and arrived at yet another museum,the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), we were drained from walking the entire day.

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And then on Saturday we went downtown Manhattan to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, which connects the island of Manhattan to Brooklyn (eventually we only walked half the distance). But wait,  before that we had an incredible breakfast at a well known brunch spot, Peels (post coming soon!). Anyway, the amount of pedestrian on the bridge was crazy and it was impossible to get a good shot with no tourists in the distance. The winds we experienced up here were equally crazy, but views were spectacular.
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Nearby was Chinatown and we headed back there again for a dim sum brunch at Jing Fong Restaurant  followed by ice cream at the one and only Chinatown Ice Cream Factory (post coming soon!)

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During our trip, we frequent Fifth Avenue for shopping and things really went bonkers on Saturday when there was massive human traffic. Roads had to be cordoned off and the traffic police were kept busy. Still, I tell myself that that was part of experiencing New York. Experiencing New York wasn’t always joyous, neither was it always magical. But when you piece each and every moment together, you get the complete story of New York City – a story that lives to be told. An experience that is always to be remembered.

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I am never the type who writes long essays, types long whatsapp messages and long instagram captions. Yet this time I broke my own rules. If you’ve managed to keep up with me till here… thanks.

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Bali 2012: Skies to seas

A recent 5-day field study trip to Bali, Indonesia:

That was my first overseas trip with my SLR as my travelling companion so I got pretty excited. I will let pictures speak for themselves – my favorite 36 shots out of 900 over of them.

Sanur Paradise Plaza Hotel was not next to a beach, but fab enough. The 4-star hotel had a cool swimming pool enclosed by lush greenery surrounded by bright orange towers.
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Dinner on the first day was at the Legong Restaurant where we had a first sight of the Balinese Legong Dance.
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The mangroves near a beach.
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Sanur Beach was bustling with locals on that particular holiday. Kids and teens were everywhere and the heat did not seem to get into them.
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The Uluwatu Cliff was a sight to behold. It was surreal.
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This man was at the bottom of the cliff, doing what he was doing for a living in the sea at low tide. Before that we saw how he slipped out of an opening at the top and disappeared within seconds. Then in minutes he was there. A tiny figure, but it was him alright.
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Staring out from the cliff – what I saw was not a horizon, but The Horizon.
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At the temple on another cliff.
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That evening/night, we had dinner at Melasti Cafe by the beach at Jimbaran. Correction, we had barbecued seafood dinner on the beach. One of my most amazing dinners ever – I have probably not seen such a beautiful sunset in my life.
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Bajra Sandhi Monument in the morning.
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We spent nearly an entire afternoon at an orphanage. I could still remember their faces – happy in the most innocent way. They made friendship bands with us; we taught them English.
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The next morning we were at the Singapadu Cultural Village for egg-painting, wood-carving and batik painting.
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The rest of the afternoon was dedicated to the breathtaking Mount Batur in Kintamani. When we arrived we had Indonesian buffet with a great scenery across craters.
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A small group of us were driven down to the crater lake of Mount Batur to conduct surveys with the locals. It was incredibly peaceful down there. I would call it the beauty of the soundless. The lake area was full of plantations of tomatoes, chili and cabbage with scattered houses.
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The lake was a nice sky blue matching the sky and that was when nature touches you.
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Last attraction stop was the Bali Bombing site.
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And as cliche as it can be, I shall end with a quote.

“We are torn between a nostalgia for the familiar and an urge for the foreign and strange. As often as not, we are homesick most for the places we have never known.” – Carson McCullers

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Snapshot: Marina Barrage Singapore

It was a beautiful day of fluffy clouds at the barrage.

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

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