Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Day 2: 利強記北角雞蛋仔 (Lee Keung Kee North Point Eggette)- Wan Chai, Hong Kong

On the Ding Ding Tram

After some rest, we headed out towards Wan Chai in search for the Wan Chai Computer Centre. This was an easy ride- rather than going on the MTR, we went out through the "Ding Ding" tram-- a fun option if you want to see the city while utilizing transportation.  

Not exactly knowing where we needed to take off from the tram, I asked the driver and he was very friendly in informing me where I should get off. When we arrived at the correct stop, he even beckoned us to leave the tram-- a very nice gesture! Two Hong Kong Dollars later per person (one dollar for children or seniors) we were off to a great evening walk. 

利強記北角雞蛋仔 Exterior

Arriving at our destination, we did not head into the Wan Chai Computer Centre immediately as right next door were plenty of food outlets, ranging from fast food outlets like McDonalds to bakeries and full service restaurants. Also right next door was this vendor: 利強記北角雞蛋仔. I've previously coined it as North Point Hong Kong Egg Waffles but a check on Openrice revealed that there is actually no English name for this vendor! I've included the translation above just as a reference.

Shiny Tea

Next door to 利強記北角雞蛋仔 was a vendor called Shiny Tea. According to the red sign it is authorized by the inventor of Taiwan's Tapioca Milk Tea (or Boba Milk Tea). We probably should have tried it along with 利強記北角雞蛋仔, but decided against it.

利強記北角雞蛋仔 Celebrities
利強記北角雞蛋仔 Celebrities Part 2

As I have stated in my previous post on 利強記北角雞蛋仔, this vendor has had plenty of buzz from celebrities and news media alike. Lots of presence from TVB people as you can see in the pictures-- you can identify those pictures with the red, green, and blue circle.

利強記北角雞蛋仔Savoury Items

This evening, 利強記北角雞蛋仔 happened to also be extremely busy; there were plenty of people coming for an after-work snack as well as parents bringing kids from school. There were so many people that we actually had to wait for our waffles-- all of them were freshly cooked out of egg waffle irons with no delay, as there were so many people buying them!

利強記北角雞蛋仔Savoury Items

The employees also had the savoury items to contend with, but the wait was skill kept to a minimum. If you read my previous post on  利強記北角雞蛋仔, you should see that in this picture that the sauces are in bottles! Three years brings plenty of change-- this change is fabulous in improving sanitation.

利強記北角雞蛋仔 Waffle Makers/Pricing
(Prices and egg waffle irons)

利強記北角雞蛋仔- Eggette/ Hong Kong Style Egg Waffle

After almost a wait of ten minutes, our eggette/egg waffle and its special bag with steam holes was in our hands! In contrast to our previous visit here, this time the waffle cost 13 Hong Kong dollars instead of 11. Inflation has caused many of the vendors to increase their prices in Hong Kong; five years ago most vendors sold them for ten dollars or less! This trip, every vendor that we bought these egg waffles from sold them for double digits.

利強記北角雞蛋仔- Eggette/ Hong Kong Style Egg Waffle 2

Nevertheless the taste of the waffle still remained consistent as before-- very fragrant with lots of egg flavor. It was not very sweet, unlike the ones we have had at Tasty Garden in the USA. Almost all of the egg waffles for me on this trip felt that they could be sweeter; probably my constant experiences with the extremely sweet Tasty Garden version has caused me to feel like this. 利強記北角雞蛋仔's waffle was also extremely crispy on the outside, with a tender and chewy interior. It was quite important to eat this immediately-- when it was fresh the flavors and textures were optimal, while eating it ten minutes later, it felt bland and not special.

Overall, it was a very good rendition of a Hong Kong egg waffle to start out our various tastings of several Hong Kong egg waffles!

利強記北角雞蛋仔 (link to Openrice)
灣仔柯布連道2號地下(G/F, No. 2, O'Brien Road)
Wan Chai, Hong Kong

Find the rest of the posts in this series at this trip's TRIP INDEX. 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Day 2: Fung Shing Restaurant- Sheung Wan, Hong Kong

Sheung Wan Architecture

After breakfast, I headed off to Sheung Wan with my companions to visit some friends, and soon enough it was lunch already! So, being the territory that my friends knew best, they decided on the location for lunch. Their choices always rotates on restaurants in the walkable vicinity, so every time with them we visit a different restaurant.

Treasure Lake Banquet Restaurant

So when I thought we were actually going to Treasure Lake Golden Banquet Restaurant for lunch, I was in for a surprise. For some background information, the reason why I though we would be eating at Treasure Lake was that we had dinner here during our last visit, and it was quite pleasant-- great modern style interior and tasty food.

Fung Shing Restaurant Sheung Wan

We were instead going to the restaurant right below, Fung Shing Restaurant. It is much more traditional style in terms of the interior of a banquet style restaurant.


Inside there were some modern design elements, but overall the restaurant did feel older and more traditional in terms of a Chinese banquet restaurant. We ended up ordering another set meal again, and even over-ordered asking for a set meal for eight people when we only had seven! That would be a wrong choice; as evident by Very Good Restaurant's set meals, set meals in Hong Kong are quite large in size!

Roast Pork and Char Siu with Peanuts Plate

First up was a platter of Chinese barbequed pork (cha siu), roast pork (siu yuk/yook), and peanuts, which was served with a side of hot mustard. The barbequed pork was tender, cut thinly, with plenty of honey flavor while the roast pork on the other hand was not too fatty with a very crispy skin and flavorful pig meat. Dipped in the hot mustard it was delicious-- the mustard cut down on the fatness of the pork while providing additional flavor. I also liked the fact that the barbequed pork did not have the bright red tinge, meaning that probably no food coloring was added.

Mixed Seafood Tofu Soup

Next was a large bowl of crab and shrimp with tofu and egg soup. It was very light in terms of flavor; some of you would probably call it "flavorless." This could have been executed better had there been fresher seafood and more seasoning, but then again Chinese set meals in my experiences usually do not offer the restaurant's best items but rather what they happen to have plenty of or need to get rid of.

Shrimp Toasts with Mayo

It was my first time having shrimp toast with mayonnaise; if you have read my blog for a long time you'll notice that I usually will not intend to order fried foods. The dish anyway consisted of thin rectangular pieces of white bread which were fried with shrimp. With the mayo it was quite delicious, but then comes the question of "shall I indulge or not?" Fung Shing's set menu did not tell us exactly what the dishes would be so this was a surprise.

Stir Fried Carp

I found this fish course quite interesting in that the fish was rolled with bamboo and king oyster mushrooms and then pan fried-- a preparation that I have never seen before. Carrots, vegetables, and aromatic yellow leeks were added to the wok and choy sum vegetables were presented on the sides of the dish. Overall the preparation was quite interesting, but this was quite oily! The fish in terms of taste was fine, tender but not very fresh.

Abalone Mushroom and Peatips

We were quite satisfied with this platter of pea tips with abalone sliced placed on top. The pea tips were crunchy and not too oily, while the abalone and sauce provided additional flavor. I think the abalone was canned though, just like at Very Good. Otherwise this would become a very expensive dish!

Fried Rice

The fried rice was average, but provided plenty of carbohydrates to go along with the meal! It was a simple preparation with some shrimp that was not very fresh.

Crispy Chicken

We wished that we could have switched courses when we saw this crispy chicken placed on the table; again here was something that was oily. A regular poached chicken would have probably tasted better. The chicken was tender but was not very juicy or flavorful- it definitely needed sauce to go along with it.

Vegetable Noodle Soup

Last we ordered a mixed vegetable noodle soup, which had a wonton soup base, bouncy egg noodles, and a variety of fresh vegetables on top. The soup base was very strong in flavor though, but otherwise this was a perfectly fine light noodle soup.


We ended the meal with plenty of leftovers; again this is why ordering by your yourself is better than relying on set menus that serve large parties. For the rest of the trip we remembered to order by ourselves and definitely had better experiences.

Now what is the content on the jar above? My friend told me to take a picture of it first, and then explained to me that this is the top of milk dried and has a salty flavor. Interesting product right?

Sheung Wan Architecture

Walking outside we noticed a great example of how architecture varies in Hong Kong-- there is a mix of old and new buildings everywhere. In the foreground is Sheung Wan while the tall building in the background is the IFC building. 

Western Market

We also passed by the Western Market while walking out from Fung Shing, but didn't go inside. The ferry terminal to Macau is very close by from Fung Shing actually. That's how convenient Hong Kong is! Instead of taking the MTR, a ten minute ding ding tram (the Pacific Place one is an example) could bring us right back to our hotel. But in this case, we went back to the hotel via MTR (subway) after looking around Sheung Wan.

Fung Shing Restaurant (鳳城酒家) (link is to Openrice)
G/F, Hongway Garden, 7 On Tai Street, Sheung Wan
Tel: 2815 8689

Find the rest of the posts in this series at this trip's TRIP INDEX. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Day 2: Breakfast at cafe TOO in Island Shangri-La- Central, Hong Kong

Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Logo

Sleeping early the previous night, it happened to be that everyone rose up early-- meaning before six in the morning! So after waiting for a while (since according to cafe TOO hours that the buffet didn't open until 6:30 A.M.) we went downstairs to an empty cafe TOO. We found out downstairs that we actually could have had the buffet open to us before 6:30A.M.

Plate 1

At such time frame there were not many guests eating inside cafe TOO other than business travelers. The food was barely touched, but the chefs were already busy preparing more food for the morning rush.

What was really great visiting early was that the food really was fresh-- the steamed dumplings had been barely touched and everything was very hot and fresh tasting. On this plate: fried rice, fruit (dragon fruit, watermelon, honeydew, papaya, pineapple), four dumplings (pork, juicy pork dumpling, clear vegetarian, and siu mai), grilled items (tomato, zucchini, and chicken), and some stir fried rice cake. This plate was a bland in terms of flavor-- the fried rice especially and the stir fried rice cake too oily but bright with the onions-- but otherwise everything was quite decent. The chicken was even seasoned with some herbs including tarragon.

Fish Porridge

I also decided to visit the congee corner and order some fish congee. The chef was very friendly and suggested I add some ginger when he gave me this bowl of congee. In addition, I added some preserved duck egg (the black object you see in the photo), black pepper, and green onion. I certainly enjoyed this bowl of porridge; it was lightly seasoned with a fresh sea scent from the tender fish slices (probably grass carp since it is widely available), and the ginger and green onion did wonders in providing some brightness.

Orange and Watermelon Juice/ Milk

I love pouring myself plenty of juices when I travel and happen to visit a breakfast buffet like cafe TOO which offers tons of juices. And so here are glasses of orange juice and watermelon juice, both of which tasted fantastic being freshly made. The milk was also creamy and fragrant; but then again it was the "fresh milk" or full fat milk that I chose.

Plate 2

After having the first plate I thought I would try some other options. So, I placed some kimbap, vegetable curry with batsmati rice, a "sandy" egg yolk bun, soba noodles, and a granola parfait onto my dish. What I really enjoyed in this plate were the "sandy" buns and the vegetable curry with rice. The curry was fragrant and flavorful with plenty of hearty vegetables, while the "sandy" buns had a hot egg yolk filling. If you happen to see these during your visit to cafe TOO, I highly suggest them! 

The soba noodles were not as impressive-- not very chewy or cold, and the kimbap tasted the same as the ones I had the day before.

Granola Parfait

As for the granola parfait, it consisted of a yogurt layer on top, saccharine granola, and a sweet raspberry sauce on the bottom. I think it would have been better if the raspberry sauce had been placed on top, as it provided lots of sweetness to the granola. While the granola also became sweeter, it also lost its crunchiness. I did like the garnishes on top though- a candied pecan, strawberry, dried pineapple, and blueberry.

To end the meal I ordered a waffle-- a very familiar food in my experiences at cafe TOO. I remember being impressed by this clover/heart shaped waffle years ago as it seemed very unusual for a waffle. After ten years it has still stayed the same-- familiar but still just as delicious as before. This time, I put some Bonne Maman jams (apricot, fig, blackberry, strawberry) along with some pancake syrup and whipped cream to go along with the waffle- all great accompaniments! I did prefer the fruity flavors from the jams more than the pancake syrup- they provided more interesting flavors to the light and crispy waffle.

Thanking the employees for the meal, we headed out around the hotel and the nearby area. The pictures that I took of the fitness area in this post were all taken right after this filling breakfast!

cafe TOO at Island Shangri-La
Pacific Place
Supreme Court Road
Central, Hong Kong
Tel: (852) 2820 8571

Find the rest of the posts in this series at this trip's TRIP INDEX. 

Friday, April 8, 2011

Day 1: Dinner @ Very Good Restaurant- North Point, Hong Kong

Very Good Restaurant Fortress Hill/North Point

We were meeting up with friends the afternoon and soon enough it was dinner time! Our friend's area happened to be near North Point and Fortress Hill, where there are plenty of food selections. We all knew what our first pick would be: Choi Fook, the place where I found the joys of eating dried scallop and egg white fried rice. Unfortunately, arriving at Choi Fook gave us some bad news- they were not available due to the fact that it was the holiday season. Asian families typically hold reunions/get-together events during weekends and holidays and so popular restaurants like Choi Fook were completely booked. So we walked from restaurant to restaurant to see whether or not if they had any seats available. My friend and I went three restaurants in search for seats but the restaurants all said they had no room left; thus my friend had to find some other restaurants. I had no clue of the Fortress Hill/North Point dining scene so unfortunately, I could not help him.

Very Good Restaurant

Very Good Restaurant was the next option. My friend stated that he felt Very Good Restaurant was not the best of the options he had (Choi Fook being the best in the area that was not in a hotel) but there were not that many choices left. So, we went in to Very Good Restaurant and it happened to be that there were seats! Still, the front desk manager was warning us- "Are you sure you want this reservation? You only have only about an hour or so to eat before the next guest who wants the table comes. Is this ok?" We accepted, and finally had seats for a proper dinner.

My companions decided to order a set menu for dinner. After all, set menus don't require plenty of thinking as to what dishes one would want. Less time to decide on food equals more time to talk with each other in this case.

Chicken (Whole)

First up was a whole salt and peppered poached chicken. Hong Kong chicken as I stated in my last post is definitely more flavorful compared to what we have had in the United States- this would be our first experience with Hong Kong chicken this trip Lightly seasoned with salt and pepper, the chicken flavor was really concentrated and the salt helped the chicken flavor to become more pronounced. The chicken was also tender and not dry, with a nice pull.

Straw Mushroms with Scallop and Bok Choy

Second to arrive was a plate of straw mushrooms with baby bok choy. I was surprised biting into the round mushroom and noticed it had a happy face- just like what I saw months earlier on the blog, Mochachocolata Rita! (two posts actually: "Smiley Straw Mushrooms with Tong Ho (Edible Chrysanthemum Leaves)" and "Easy Microwaveable Side Dish: Zucchini & Mushroom in Butter & Herbs") However, these mushrooms tasted more like as if they were canned and made "special" with some dry scallop, oyster sauce, and a slurry mixture of starch and water that makes everything look shiny and pretty. The bok choy tasted better this way but overall a typical vegetable side dish. Traditional style, and to my tastes a bit oily as companions probably forgot to say, "less salt and oil" unlike how we usually do in California!

As to the comment I left on  Mochachocolata Rita at the post "Smiley Straw Mushrooms with Tong Ho (Edible Chrysanthemum Leaves)", I've actually eaten plenty of these after researching them online at the Mycological Society of San Francisco- the ones I have eaten are shelled, like the mushrooms showing at their page, "Straw Mushroom."

 Abalone and Talons with Lettuce Base

Third was some canned abalone with goose feet which was served on top of a base of iceberg lettuce. I didn’t try much of this, I only had some of the abalone which was probably canned. Still, the sauce provided plenty of flavor and the abalone had a nice pull but was very tender- a sign that it was canned.

 Broccoli and Scallop/Squid

Fourth to arrive was a plate of broccoli with squid, peppers, and scallop. This was lightly flavored and most of the flavor simply came from the ingredients themselves along with some garlic and salt. Simple and easy, nothing special. The scallops and squid were not rubbery, but they were nothing too special neither.

Dried Scallop and Egg White Fried Rice

Dried scallop and egg white fried rice just happened to be the fifth course! Although this was not at the original restaurant where I started to eat way too much of this dish, I still enjoyed this rendition. The inclusion of carrot in addition to the usual gai lan and other ingredients and overall was quite light, not too oily. I would have liked some more dried scallop and egg white but overall it was pretty good. Since my friends seemed to want more of this dish I ate less. I just thought to myself that there would be plenty of eating by the end of the trip- why not wait a bit?

Chicken/SharkFin Soup

Portions of chicken and sharkfin soup were handed out later. Again, this was nothing too special, with the typical flavors seen in these types of soups. In the soup were some chicken strips (a bit dry from boiling but that is also typical) and a mix of fake and real sharkfin- more of the fake than the real, but that is expected in such set dinners. Real sharkfin is expensive and harmful towards sharks, so I don't eat it unless some one happens to order a dish with it in which this case there was.

Steamed Fish

Next was a steamed fish- I don't know the type. Being of a large size, this was undercooked, with the parts close to the bone still somewhat rare. From past experience we knew that large fishes typically are not steamed to perfection as with smaller fishes  due to the size, and so this was somewhat expected. Unfortunately the fish wasn’t very fresh. Actually, most set dinner fishes were never very good from my experience- usually the taste is compromised due to a not so fresh fish.

Longevity Buns

To end the meal, we had a dessert of longevity buns/ peach buns (shou bao- Cantonese phonetic). These buns are typically eaten during birthdays and celebrations to signify longevity; completely fitting the occasion. Besides, these buns were quite delicious. Inside the soft, steamed bread exterior was a filling of lotus paste, with a piece of salted egg yolk. For those who have not tried these buns, eating these longevity buns is similar to having a mooncake, but with less lotus yolk and the addition of bread. They can also come in red bean fillings.

Christmas Tree
(City Garden Christmas Tree & AIA building)

Overall the meal was nothing too remarkable- my friend felt this restaurant would not be as great as Choi Fook, and I happened to feel that way too after enjoying the meal- but with these reunions the people is what really matters, and not the food. If the food was great, it would be a plus, but normal and typical is fine too- especially with such busy situations in the restaurants we encountered.

Now of course if we had ordered by ourselves then my critique probably would be better as the food is more towards my taste, but for a set menu situation I'd say the satisfaction rating for this meal would be quite high. It was much better compared to what I have had in California for a set meal, and it was a good value. It would take us another meal before we realized we really needed to order what we wanted instead of a set menu for full satisfaction- more on that later.


And what is this picture in the post for? Buses are one of my friend's favorite things- he has the Hong Kong routes essentially memorized with his frequent travels, and so this picture is for him. Pictures of buses with a backdrop of apartments at Fortress Hill/North Point area.

After taking some more pictures we went back to the hotel for a good night's rest. Although it was still quite early at night, we were easily able to sleep thanks to the jetlag- one long day allows for a earlier rest, and this case the jetlag was very helpful!

Very Good Restaurant (百好酒家) (Link is to Openrice)
G/F, Block 4-Block 5, City Garden, North Point
Tel: 2806 3838
Fax: 2806 0198
MTR exit: Fortress Hill @ Exit B (need to walk somewhat)

Find the rest of the posts in this series at this trip's TRIP INDEX. 

Day 1: Breakfast at cafe TOO in Island Shangri-La- Central, Hong Kong

Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Logo

After settling in to our rooms from the long plane flight, breakfast was next in the list of things to do. So, we all headed down to cafe TOO, where the employees greeted us and walked us to our table, asking us our room numbers, number of guests, and if we wanted newspapers along the way.

Buffet Plate 1

Walking around cafe TOO again for the first time in more than two years, I felt very impressed by the food display. It had seemed like a 14 hour flight had brought me into such a different environment- immediately the stress from the past few weeks before this trip seemed like it had disappeared.

I was also surprised by the amount of people in cafe TOO- lots of people happened to be staying in the Island Shangri-La compared to before for this vacation period. Families were having large get-togethers and reunions here and everyone seemed to be in a very happy mood. Of course along with the families were plenty of business travelers- lots of variety in terms of people in the restaurant.

As I ate my first plate of food I was quite impressed yet again....everything seemed to taste scrumptious! Of course the juicy pork dumplings (xiao long bao) were not juicy- I knew that would be so from past visits, but I was surprised this time that there was a teeny bit. All the flavors were there however. The other dumplings were all superb- high end dim sum quality with freshly made fillings cooked to just the right state and nicely made wrappers.

The fish and the "quiche" like egg were from the main sections- I primarily got them to have a sample of everything; the fish was nothing special (but good protein and fresh) while the "quiche" had a very tender egg mixture with plenty of ingredients including ham and onions dispersed throughout.

I balanced this plate out with some fresh fruit- melons and pineapples, while the chocolate croissant was a tasty pastry, with plenty of chocolate and buttery layers.

The other items on the plate were kimbap- decent but could be more flavorful as there were only egg omelet (sweet) and pickles, roti paratha (too oily) with some mild but flavorful indian curry, and a spring roll to test out more items.

Rice Crispies/Cereal in Milk

With all buffets, if I happen to see any rice crispies, I'll definitely get a bowl of them along with milk. Personally I don't eat rice crispies often at home- so to me they resemble vacation and travel. The fresh, creamy tasting milk was great along with the rice crispies which popped in my mouth as I enjoyed each spoonful; there was also some shredded wheat cereal which I included for some more variety.

Fishballs with Roe, Meatballs, Spinach in Pork Bone Broth

Since my companions were raving about the noodle station, I decided to go up and order my own bowl. They really liked the noodles-- the egg noodles for example had a creamy yellow color and were very springy and bouncy, with varying thicknesses. Coupled with the deeply flavored shrimp shell and pork broth, my companions had a noodle soup that was on par or even better than what we have had in Southern California! 

Being impressed with the food already just in the hotel, we took note of what we needed to try in Hong Kong during our trip: chicken was definite as it we knew chicken in Hong Kong is very flavorful, while noodle soups and the famous Hong Kong egg waffles (gai dan zai) were other must tries. 

Tasting my own bowl of spinach, fish balls with fishroe, regular fishballs, and meatballs with a pork bone broth, I was even further impressed. The spinach was so fresh and crisp, while the fish balls with fish roe brought memories of Shangri-La in the past. These special fish balls in my opinion are not offered in all Shangri-La properties, and it happens now to be that only this location has it from all the Shangri-La's we have been to in the past. As for the regular fishballs they were bouncy, but the meatballs were awkward, being ultra crispy in texture (when bit). I did like the pork broth though, which was porky, creamy, and smooth. The bowl was good to the last drop.

Eating some more food (not pictured) and being energized by the meal, we walked down to Pacific Place to check things out again after hearing that it was being renovated. The day had started out great- even if some jetlag was moving in, it was not hard to keep myself awake!

cafe TOO at Island Shangri-La
Pacific Place
Supreme Court Road
Central, Hong Kong
Tel: (852) 2820 8571

P.S. This is the 250th post including indexes here on Eat. Travel. Eat! 

Find the rest of the posts in this series at this trip's TRIP INDEX. 

cafe TOO at Island Shangri-La, Hong Kong Index

Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Logo

Here are all the posts on cafe TOO located in Island Shangri-La at Central, Hong Kong.

cafe TOO at Island Shangri-La, Hong Kong: Introduction
Day 1: Breakfast at cafe TOO in Island Shangri-La- Central, Hong Kong
Day 2: Breakfast at cafe TOO in Island Shangri-La- Central, Hong Kong 
Day 3-4: Breakfast at cafe TOO in Island Shangri-La- Central, Hong Kong + Sickness
Day 6: Breakfast at cafe TOO in Island Shangri-La- Central, Hong Kong

Address information:

cafe TOO at Island Shangri-La
Pacific Place
Supreme Court Road
Central, Hong Kong
Tel: (852) 2820 8571

Hong Kong/ Guangzhou Trip Index 2010

Here are all the posts on our Hong Kong/ Guangzhou trip that I have written so far (still a work in progress):

Cathay Pacific Flight CX883: LAX-HKG

Island Shangri-La, Hong Kong:
Island Shangri-La, Hong Kong 2010: Public Spaces + Check-In
Island Shangri-La, Hong Kong 2010: Deluxe Rooms
Island Shangri-La, Hong Kong 2010: Harbor and Peak Views 
Island Shangri-La, Hong Kong 2010: Interiors
cafe TOO at Island Shangri-La- Central, Hong Kong: (Introduction), (Day 1) (Day 2) (Day 3-4) (Day 6)

Cafe de Coral- Admiralty, Hong Kong
cafe TOO at Island Shangri-La- Central, Hong Kong: (Introduction), (Day 1) (Day 2) (Day 3-4) (Day 6)
Can-teen- Admiralty, Hong Kong

Chiu Hing Noodles House- Wan Chai
Very Good Restaurant- North Point, Hong Kong
YLK- Hang Hou, Hong Kong
Yoshinoya- Wan Chai, Hong Kong
Zen Chinese Cuisine (Pacific Place)- Admiralty, Hong Kong  
利強記北角雞蛋仔 (Lee Keung Kee North Point Eggette)- Wan Chai, Hong Kong

Points of Interest:
Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre/ Golden Bahunia Square- Wan Chai, Hong Kong
Hong Kong Park- Central, Hong Kong


Listed below are the posts in sequential order (1st post on top):
Cathay Pacific Flight CX883: LAX-HKG
Island Shangri-La, Hong Kong 2010: Public Spaces + Check-In
Island Shangri-La, Hong Kong 2010: Deluxe Rooms
Island Shangri-La, Hong Kong 2010: Harbor and Peak Views 
Island Shangri-La, Hong Kong 2010: Interiors
cafe TOO at Island Shangri-La, Hong Kong: Introduction 
Day 1: Breakfast at cafe TOO in Island Shangri-La- Central, Hong Kong
Day 1: Dinner at Very Good Restaurant- North Point, Hong Kong 
Day 2: Breakfast at cafe TOO in Island Shangri-La- Central, Hong Kong

Thursday, April 7, 2011

cafe TOO at Island Shangri-La, Hong Kong: Introduction

Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Logo

An introduction? What do I mean by an introduction? Well, this post is going to focus only on the interior and the layout of the restaurant- I mean cafe TOO. Typically I do postings with the interiors and the food critique together, but this time I am going to do cafe TOO's separately since I am hoping to do posts talking about each day's events on my past trip to Hong Kong. 

Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Entrance

I've been to cafe TOO probably more than 30 times throughout the years. The reason why? Complimentary breakfast for two people in our group thanks to Golden Circle's benefits in being a mid tier member (Jade) or above. No, it's never been completely free for all of us during our trips, but why miss out? Cafe TOO offers an awesome breakfast with a wide amount of selections, and so do all of Shangri-La's other buffets.

Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Bar Area/ Dining Room
Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Lines of Seats + View

After all these years, the interior of cafe TOO really has not changed much- maybe none at all! It was very modern looking to begin with ten years ago, and to this day looks perfectly in tune with today's designs. Bold splashes of colors along with light wood tones and a white meshed ceiling work wonders.

Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Juices Wide
The morning routine is simple- as we enter cafe TOO, employees greet us with the background of pickled foods in jars for show(that used to be very vibrant looking by the way) and wine. With a longer stay, they might welcome us back again and actually recognize who we are. Then it is off to the newspaper table to see if we would like any newspapers and asking how many people are in the group and the room number. Reaching the table, the question is always on drinks: "Would you like some tea or coffee?" in which we respond usually with tea, or something random. After then it's off to choose from the vast variety in the large space. It is a very simple process, but it is done with great professionalism and friendliness. Sitting down, the waiters and waitresses apologize deeply for even the smallest of mistakes; they really are a great crew and this past stay has shown that very well.

Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Juices Detail

What I really enjoy about Shangri-La's breakfast buffets are the juices. And at cafe TOO, the juices are located right at the entrance. This stay, drinks included: fresh orange juice (not from concentrate!), fresh watermelon juice, apple juice (can), carrot juice, tomato juice (can), water, chrysanthemum tea (quite sweet but otherwise great), water, and an interesting cucumber and lime juice. All really great fresh and cold beverages to start out the day! With lunch and dinner though, this juice section becomes a brimming display of cold seafood.

Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Vegetables

Nearby the juices are some healthy options-plenty of cold cuts and vegetables- I view this more as the healthy cold section to the buffet. Three types of salads, plenty of cut vegetables, and some smoked salmon on bagel- all very light and tasty options.

Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Cold Cuts/Natto/Soba

Turning around the corner presents several Japanese and Korean options- natto, soba noodles, kimbap, and kimchi are presented in tiny plates while cold cuts are nicely presented on platters.

Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Dairy

And turning right are plenty of dairy options- a variety of Emmi and Nestle yogurts, yogurt drinks, hot milk and then cold skim, whole, and chocolate milk. Not desiring dairy? There's also cold and hot Asian style soymilk that runs very smooth down the throat- light and tasty. Larger fruits (dragonfruit and grapefruit cut in half) as well as museli make their appearance here- they don't fit well to the rest of the buffet where there is no ice.

Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Cereals

Turning at the next corner brings more large fruits- this time bananas and lots of dried fruits and cereals. Nicely presented are some granola parfaits, and large dishes/bowls have varieties of cereals ranging from corn flakes to rice crispies to cereals I don't know the names of. Smaller bowls house tasty snacks like candied pecans, banana chips, and more. They are great by themselves for snacks during conversations or with cereals as intended.

Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Cold Section (Preparation for Lunch)

After breakfast, preparations for lunch are quite swift. Here's the same section that I just talked about, but now cleared up quickly for lunch.

Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Main Line Wide Shot

The main action that happens though is on the right hand side from the entrance. For breakfast, all the hot food options as well as several cooking theaters are located here for eggs, noodles, and congee.

Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Dim Sum Bamboo Steamers

Dim sum is probably the most popular area besides the cooking theatres. After all, when you have shrimp dumplings (ha gow/ xia jiao), juicy pork dumplings (xiu loong bow/ xiao long bao), chicken feet (phong zhao), Chiu Chow/Chiu Zhow style dumplings (chiu zhou fun goh), vegetarian dumplings, golden sand buns, lotus buns, steamed barbeque pork buns (cha siu bao), two types of siu mai (beef and pork/shrimp), and more, who doesn't want to line up for some? Sometimes I even saw people eating a large plate of dim sum, with several varieties dumped onto one plate to the fact that it looked like a platter of fried rice- but instead of fried rice it was dim sum.

Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Main Line

That doesn't mean however that the rest of the buffet is nothing good- there are still plenty of great options that are changed every several days. For example, the chicken egg drop soup that you see in the foreground in this picture is typically bak kut teh. Sometimes baked barbecue pork buns will make an appearance. An Asian style vegetable dish seems to be always offered, as well as some form of stir fried noodle. Ten years ago, quiche would even make its appearance. Instead of stir fried noodle one day during our stay, stir fried rice cakes (chao nien gow/ chao nian gao) was in the wok.

The egg station separates two ends. One can get the egg in any way they want- hard boiled, poached, scrambled, omelettes/omelets, sunny side up, et cetera. Past the egg station are more typical English-style preparations- bacon, ham, potatoes, some form of grilled vegetable, eggs benedict, et cetera. One Staub pot holds a surprise- usually fried rice, but it can be baked beans, chili, creamy oatmeal, or other varieties- those four were what we saw during out visit.

At lunch/dinner the egg station becomes a meats section for things like chicken, peking duck, char siu, et cetera for what I know.

Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Noodle Station

The noodle section offers much more than just noodles. Don't want noodles? You can get anything you want in the section to be cooked to go along with two varieties of soup- a pork bone broth or a shrimp/pork broth more commonly used for wonton soup. Need help deciding? Just ask someone waiting nearby or the chef if they are not busy.

Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Noodles Preparation

Weekends however are very busy times. Some good options may run short - like the fishballs with roe inside them- but there is still always plenty of other options to choose to cook. Vegetables and mushrooms blanched and served with broth is a great way to start the day.

Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Congee Station Wide Shot

The congee station is another cooking theater that is right next to the noodles station. To go along with the freshly cooked congee, there are condiments like the noodle section, there is also the fried doughnut (or you zha guai meaning oil fried ghosts).

Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Congee Station

Like the noodles section, there are several varieties of meats to choose from for making the congee. The congee is very light and smooth, and one can choose pretty much anything to go along into the wok to cook together. For example, you can have pork and preserved egg congee (pai dan shou yok jook) or several varieties of meat in one bowl of congee. The chefs will also tailor the congee so that it is flavorful and delicious- for example, with fish congee they will add some ginger to make the fish not feel fishy to those who are very sensitive to fish flavors.

And what do these sections become at night? As from what I recall from a past visit, one of these stations becomes a rice cake station- as in the fried rice cakes that are crispy and then doused in soup.

Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Curry/Japanese Section

A new section that we saw for the first time was this expanded section for Indian/Malaysian curries and Japanese options.

Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Japanese Rice/ Miso Soup

Housed in these two ceramic pots are usually steamed rice and miso soup for the Japanese breakfast seeker. With some other dishes from other sections of the buffet, one can make a decent Japanese style breakfast!

Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Fried Foods

Next to the curries are some fried foods- spring rolls and roti paratha from what I recall. They are quite oily though.

Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Curries

As for the curries, there are three types housed in three of the four woks and a special basmati rice house in another of the red Staub pots.

Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Bakery

The last section of all is the bakery and fruits section- separated from the rest being on its own island.

Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Fruits

The fruits section has plenty of fresh options- in the smaller bowls are smaller pieces of cut fruit like fruit salads as well as dragonfruit. On the main platters are large pieces of papaya from the largest papayas I've ever seen (at least a foot long in length), cantaloupe, honeydew, fresh pineapple, and watermelon.

Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Pancake and Waffle Station

On another side of the island is another cooking theatre- this time specializing in fresh pancakes and waffles. The chef will also toast breads here, and along this side are plenty of condiments- jams and preserves from Bonne Maman (French) and Berenberg (Australia, honey from Bonne Maman, and butters. There is also freshly whipped cream, powdered sugar, and pancake syrup along with other condiments that go along well with pancakes and waffles.

Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Bakery
Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Bakery Detail

The rest of the island is devoted to the bakery selections- again here is yet another large variety of foods ranging from brioche, tarts (what you see the lady trying to get- it tastes like an egg tart but with fruits), cakes, donuts, pastries, croissants, and more!

Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Center Island
Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Lunch Gelato

Simply for your information, for lunch and dinner this becomes a large dessert section. The cooking station here becomes a souffle and crepe section, and there are also chocolate fountains, ice creams and not to mention a multitude of cakes and pastries!

So there you go- a rundown of almost everything cafe TOO. Next in the series are finally the traveling and eating action going on!

cafe TOO at Island Shangri-La
Pacific Place
Supreme Court Road
Central, Hong Kong
T: (852) 2820 8571

Find the rest of the posts in this series at this trip's TRIP INDEX.