7 Must Try Places in Hong Kong

1. Dim Dim Sum Dim Sum Restaurant

We laughed so much because the name was hilarious and sounded like a joke but the food was no joke. Generally, the dim sum served here was the best, even better than Michelin starred Tim Ho Wan and One Dim Sum. Although this has no michelin star, it is well reviewed and recommended by Anthony Bourdain in TimeOut.

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The Har Gao here had the best tasting skin, it was thin and soft, delicious to eat! Besides the usual fare, they also have creative dim sum inventions and modifications.

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The Prawn Cheong Fun was stuffed with tempura fried prawns, a modern twist on this traditional dim sum. I loved it! There was also mushroom buns which were baos that looked like mushroom with a curry-like filling. They didn’t taste particularly fantastic though.

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Lastly, you have to try the brinjal with prawn paste on top, it was so delicious we ordered two plates!

The service here was the best, with kind ladies recommending the good food to you and always having a smile on their faces. I almost tripped over my chair while walking over to settle the bill and all the waitresses instantly had this worried look on their faces while saying ‘Be careful!!’. What wonderful people that make me want to go back again and again 🙂

G/F, Man Wah Building, 23 Man Ying Street, Jordan
Tel: 2771 7766
MTR: Jordan
Mon.-Sun. 10:00-01:00

2. Tim Ho Wan at Sham Tsui Po

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Tim Ho Wan is famous for its unique creation of crispy skin barbecued pork bun and it did not disappoint. The filling was meaty enough and salty enough to complement the sweet crust. However, I felt that it would have been better if the crust was a little more baked.

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Another star for me was the Siew Mai. The meat was not fatty and instead of putting dyed ‘fish roe’ on top, they put gei ji, a pleasant change. The filling of the Har Gao (shrimp dumpling) was the tastiest, though the skin could have been softer and thinner. 

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The turnip cake left an impression on me because it was filled with turnip and less floury than usual, which is how I like my turnip cake to be. Besides their buns, Tim Ho Wan is also good in the usual dim sum dishes.

Visit Tim Ho Wan in the morning, around 10am, when there is no queue at all. We were delighted to get our table immediately 🙂

9-11 Fuk Wing Street, Sham Shui Po
深水埗福榮街9-11號地下 (10 min walk from Sham Shui Po MTR)
Tel: +852 2788 1226
Opening Hours: 8:00am – 9:30pm (Daily)

3. One Dim Sum

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We ate One Dim Sum twice because it is near Mongkok, which was where we shopped every single day. One Dim Sum has this screwed up way of arranging seating, so be prepared to wait 30 minutes for a table. I loved the boiled vegetables in One Dim Sum, so much so that I ordered one whole plate for myself. Call me a veggie freak.

Besides that, the century egg and pork congee is worth trying and so is the Har Gao and Siew Mai, typical dim sum dishes. Don’t bother trying the overly floury turnip cake.

15 Playing Field Road, Kenwood Mansion, Prince Edward, Shop 1 & 2, G/F,
MTR: Prince Edward
Tel: 27892280

4. Australian Dairy Company

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The BEST ever scrambled eggs I’ve eaten in my entire life. Seriously, you need to try their scrambled eggs and toast. The eggs don’t steal the entire show because the warm buttered toast is amazing as well. Try the egg pudding too which tastes like the chinese version of creme brûlée. My friends loved it but it was too sweet and eggy for me. Don’t bother trying their milk tea because it is tasteless.

The waiters here may be busy but they are quirky amidst their busyness. My friend took a photo on her iPhone and a waiter who walked past peeped at her photo and said that it wasn’t nice, hahahaha.

Visit Australian Dairy Company in the mornings for breakfast. Don’t book a hotel that includes breakfast because you’ll be wasting one meal and your money too! You have to eat at Cha Chaan Tengs for breakfast. Live like a local!

47 Parkes St, Hong Kong
MTR: Jordan
Tel: +852 2730 1356
7:30 am – 11:00 pm daily, closed on Thursdays

5. Mak’s Noodles

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I tried the Wanton noodles and Dumpling noodles here. They came in small portions which left me wanting for more. The noodles were very springy and the wanton skin was thin and delicate, making it easy to slurp each prawn wanton up. The dumplings had more filling in them, so order them if you want more meat.

G/F, 77 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong,
Central MTR – Exit D2.
Tel: +852 2854 3810
Operating Hours: 11 am to 10 pm Daily

6. Tai Cheong Bakery

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Egg tarts, egg tarts, egg tarts. These are the freshest egg tarts I’ve ever eaten. They are sold right out of the oven, with the egg custards still wobbling and the tart still too hot to eat. The pastry is the buttery, crumbly kind, not the flaky Portuguese egg tart kind. I like how the tart shell melts in your mouth and is salty, complementing the sweet egg custard.

35 Lyndhurst Terrace, 中環擺花街35號地下
Central MTR – Exit D2.
7.30am-9pm

7. Lucky Desserts

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Lucky Desserts is famous for it’s durian desserts. The durian pancake was much raved about online but I felt that it was overhyped. The mediocre cream ruined the durian pancake, it felt like I was eating more cream than durian and wasting my calories on cream from the can.

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My friends loved the durian cream with sago but I much preferred the mango cream with sago and pomelo. They were very generous with the mango, with at least half a mango inside my bowl. The thickness was just right as well and it wasn’t too sweet. The perfect end to the day 🙂

G/F25-27 Soy St, Mong Kok 旺角豉油街25-27號
1pm-2am

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Maldives

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I visited the Maldives for a week-long break in May to enjoy the sun and sea with the family before going off for college. The cluster of islands in the Indian Ocean is a well known holiday spot, and for good reason too. It is the perfect place to unwind and disconnect from city-life – basically, do nothing. So if lazing around on the beach for a week is your kind of thing, the Maldives is a must-visit; but be warned, if your idea of a holiday is packing as much sight-seeing as possible in the daylight, I suggest you try somewhere else.

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Guests pretty much just spend the entire day suntanning.

{Pre-Trip}

A couple things to note before you head off, firstly, the Maldives is a Islamic country. So when packing, do keep in mind that all alcohol is prohibited, and bring along a sarong to cover up. If you intend to buy one there instead, USD is the accepted currency on most of the resort islands. Additionally, you might want to bring along snorkeling/diving equipment and swimsuits rather than rent them to save money. An underwater camera and sunblock would also come in most useful.

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View of the capital.

{Malé}

Singapore Airlines is one of the few flights that can get you to Malé, the capital of the Maldives. While slightly pricey  for a round-trip from and to Singapore, the 4.5 hour flight is a comfortable one, especially during off-peak seasons where you can get an entire row of seats to yourself.

The airport itself is on a separate island, Hulhulé . After alighting, we were met by representatives from Hotel Octave and boarded a ferry to Malé where we stayed a night. Maldivians are incredibly friendly and welcoming to tourists, but unfortunately we experienced rather poor service from Hotel Octave with the wrong room and late pick-up drivers. At USD300 per person for a night and breakfast the next day, I suggest you search for another hotel nearer the ferry jetties.

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Locals going about their daily business.

I would recommend you spend half a day on Malé to soak in the local atmosphere. Just take a stroll down the narrow streets, pop by the fish markets and mosques. Although keep in mind for both men and women to respect the local culture and dress modestly. Do grab a couple of bottles of water as well, as drinks on the resort islands often cost quite a bit.

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Hello paradise!

{Maafushivaru}

After a morning on Malé, we headed to our resort island, Maafushivaru, in the South Ari Atoll via a seaplane. The islands are up to 40 minutes away from the capital and not accessible by boat. So the ___ plane ride though expensive, is compulsory. Although, you do get 40 minutes of to-die-for scenery as the seaplane rides just among the clouds.

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Killer view from the seaplane.

We were greeted by incredibly friendly staff as stayed in the beach villa which opens out into your private patch of the beach. The entire island is only about half a kilometre long, and you can stroll around it in 20 minutes. Amenities wise, it has a water bar, a cuisine gallery for meals, a spa centre with a yoga pavilion, and a diving school.

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The first one to great us on upon arrival.

Maafushivaru is actually smaller the other resort islands, but no less gorgeous. Fine white sand to squish your toes in? Check. The clearest, bluest waters you’ve ever seen? Check. Idyllic and romantic? Check. Most of the other guests wake up at a leisurely 10 am, take a dip in the ocean in the morning, spend the afternoon sunbathing on the beach with a book, and hang out by the water bar for drinks in the evening. Like I said, people come just to relax, although there are a few activities you can take part in.

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The oncoming storm.

House Reef

Surrounding the island is Maafushivaru’s own coral reef where you can snorkel among the entire cast of Finding Nemo, and even a black tipped reef shark! There is a USD$10 introductory snorkeling course conducted by the resident marine biologist. I gave that a pass and snorkeled around on my own, but I highly suggest you go for the course if this is your first foray in the ocean.

Just some of the colourful marine life you can see.
Just some of the colourful marine life you can see.

Whale Shark Expedition

For USD$55, you can join a marine biologist and a boat crew out and snorkel with whale sharks. You will get to swim right next to the most gorgeous gentle giants you will find in the waters, but be ready to bump into snorkelers from other resort islands as well. Let your breath be taken away by the immensity of the ancient beast, admire the graceful sweeping of its fins, but do respect the whale shark and not touch it.

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Gentle giants.

Manta Ray Expedition

Like the Whale Shark Expedition, the boat will take you around the atolls and when a manta ray is spotted, you’ll be signaled to jump in and swim after them along with the instructors. Similarly, the whale sharks and manta rays all have distinguishing marks and if you can catch a good photo, the individuals can be identified by the researchers studying the marine life of the Maldives. If it’s a new individual, you even get to name it!

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Manta rays are badass.

The expeditions are a four hours each and you get to enjoy a boat ride out to the sea with your fellow resort guests. But if you get seasick easily, do take the seasick pills which the instructors will offer. With any luck, you may also get to see sea turtles and pods of dolphins along the way!

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Baby dolphins chaperoned by adults from the main pod.

Sunset Fishing

This was my first try at fishing, and I’m glad to say I was successful! Everyone is given a spool of fishing wire with a hook and weight, along with bait. You get to watch the sunset as you wait for that telltale tug on your line. I caught a 3o cm red snapper (biggest of the trip!), while others caught white snappers, yellowtails and parrotfish, which were all grilled for lunch the next day.

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Fishing yachts floating along.

Lonobu Island

Maafushivaru owns a much smaller island next to the main resort. There are daily trips to Lonobu Island or you can even book it for an entire day and get the whole place to yourself. This, along with a private dinner, is a popular choice for couples on a retreat.

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Nothing like a dramatic sunset.

There are more water sports and diving tours you can try. But we only stayed for five days, unlike other guests from the US/UK who normally stay for three weeks minimum. The benefit of the small size of Maafushivaru is that you get to interact with guests from all around the world. Through the expeditions and meal times, I befriended with most of them which contributed to the jovial atmosphere all around the island.

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Having a beer by the sea.

The Maldivian economy relies mostly on tourism, so tax rates are rather high. But as a once-in-a-lifetime trip, the money is well worth it, and it’s an experience you’ll definitely relish!

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This is a guest post by Suzanne Ou.

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Beijing (I)

Beijing

It’s been a while since I posted because I’ve been away on holiday to Beijing to visit my aunt who stays there. Having an aunt who is an expatriate there means going to good restaurants and eating good food :)) Everyone has this perception that all food in China is greasy and unhealthy which is true to a certain extent if we are only talking about their local food but China has so much more to offer besides their local food. The food scene in Beijing is an exciting one, with many foreign chefs setting up shop to offer Beijingers all kinds of cuisine.

In the short span that I was there, here were the eateries that left an impression:

1. Temple Restaurant Beijing

600 year old temple

Named as Timeout Beijing’s top Restaurant of the Year 2014, I can see why. Service is impeccable once you sit down but note, only once you sit down. This restaurant has a terrible practice of overbooking which meant that even though we reserved a table for 1.30pm, we still had to wait 15 minutes for a table (even after complaining like a Singaporean). The manager blames the customers who take longer than expected but they should really figure out a way to solve this problem. Asking your customers to wait while handing out free champagne to pacify them is not the solution

Temple

Complaints aside, the ambience was top notched. The restaurant is situated in an old temple, hence its name. Weekend Brunch includes baskets of pastries and bread. You get to choose a 5 course or a 8 course meal, with or without wine pairing. The food was fantastic though the servings were tiny. Special mention goes to the sea bass which was so fresh and smooth and the cream of mussel soup which tasted like the sea, in a good way.

Dessert

嵩祝寺23号, Shatan N St, Dongcheng District
Beijing, China
+86 10 8400 2232

2. Flo Brasserie

Flo

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Beef Patty

Flo is Beijing’s oldest French restaurant and it is of no surprise to me that it is the longest surviving. Its set lunches are very reasonably priced, a deal that you cannot find in Singapore for this quality, 125 (S$25) RMB for 2 courses and 155 (S$31) RMB for 3 courses. The freshly baked mixed grain rolls were delicious and so was the rest of the food we ordered.

Crepe Suzette

Their menu offers Crepe Suzette for an extra $10, which my dad did not hesitate to order as its his favourite dessert. We got a flambé show and enjoyed the Grand Marnier soaked crepes. Yum!

18 Xiaoyun Rd, Chaoyang District
Beijing, China
+86 10 6595 5135

3. Duck de Chine

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Duck de Chine serves Peking duck in the modern way, with almost no fats under the skin. The pancake was a tad too thick for my liking but the sauce accompanying the duck was interesting, a mix of Hoison and Sesame sauce, if I’m not mistaken. Although this Peking duck was the most expensive one that I ate, it was also the best. The skin was crispy and the meat was flavourful, delicious enough to be eaten on its own or in a pancake. Other noteworthy dishes are the Wawa vegetable broth (simmered local cabbage) and the stir-fried lamb.

1949 Club
No.98 Jinbao Street, Dongcheng District
Beijing 100027, China (Tian’anmen / Wangfujing)

4. Lost Heaven

Jiaozi

I hope heaven has such delicious Yunnan food because I would die for their jiaozi, filled with pork and lemongrass, a unique combination that appeals to my Southeast Asian palette.

Mian Xian

Their mianxian (noodles) in soup was such a tasty dish that showed how sometimes, simplicity is simply the best. A must try is their grilled pork! Once dipped in their magical sauce, you’d feel in heaven.

No.23 Qian Men Dong Da Jie
Beijing, China

5. Haidilao

Haidilao

Haidilao is the most famous steamboat chain in Beijing, they even have a branch at Clarke Quay in Singapore. I went to the branch at Baijiazhuang and at 3pm, there were still people streaming in to eat this steamboat. There are 3 choices of soup, spicy and non-spicy. We chose the clear soup, called 三鲜汤 (san xian tang) and ordered a whole variety of meat and vegetables. I especially enjoyed the vegetables, prawn balls and beef slices. The beef was not very expensive and of good quality.

The best part of this local restaurant is their warm hospitality, very unusual of a restaurant in China. Trust me, most of the waiters and waitresses in China are grouchy. Haidilao has games and even nail painting services to keep customers busy while waiting for their seat.

Noodle dance

They also have noodle dances where a man dances around while stretching the noodles that you ordered. Eating here is full of fun!

Visit www.haidilao.com for locations of their branches

6. Central Perk Cafe

Central Perk

For everything that China imitates, this is the best replica ever. This cafe is modelled after the Central Perk Cafe in Friends. The furniture and the decor may not be the exact replica but they are similar enough to create that atmosphere which all fans of Friends always wanted to indulge in. The cafe even has a cat (because Rachel gave Gunther her cat in one episode)!

Central Perk

Central Perk

If you are a die hard fan of friends, spend your afternoon in this cafe watching reruns of Friends while sipping on a Cappuccino (they serve good coffee).

616, Bldg A, Chaowai SOHO | CBD, Chaoyang Distrtict
Beijing, China

7. Beijing International Youth Hostel Cafe

Beijing International Youth Hostel

Flowers

This cafe is easily the prettiest cafe I have ever been to in my entire life. That sounds like I am exaggerating but trust me, I am not. The doorway of the cafe is filled with pots of roses and hanging yellow flowers. The inside of the cafe is not lacking in flowers either, with a pot of flowers on each table. It’s a great place to chill and smell the flowers.

No.113-2 Nanluogu Alley, Dongcheng District
Beijing 100006, China (Tian’anmen / Wangfujing)

8. Rooftop drinking at Sanlitun

Nali Patio

Sanlitun is the hippest place in Beijing and you can’t get any hipper than drinking on a rooftop, perhaps Nali Patio?

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