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Around the Wan Chai harbourfront, there used to be a lack of dining venues apart from those restaurants within the hotels, and the arrival of Sanlitun was meant to change all that and create the LKF equivalent buzz for the area. Sadly, the fizz seems to have gone and very rarely do people make a hike out to try out some of the restaurants there. Since we were in the neighbourhood for a performance at the Arts Center, we decided we would revisit the area.



Opting for a more exotic cuisine, we made reservations at a rather new restaurant in Sanlitun, Rico Bistro. It's claim to fame is that Miki, a member of the teen band Cookies, is a part-owner, supposedly she and the other members of the band would somtimes come and help out at the restaurant too. Posters of Miki were plastered around the cashier area, but there was no sight of anyone famous. We only saw two occupied tables, but we were dining early at six thirty. Our Sangria mix was refreshing and full of fruit bits, which made a promising start for the evening. Following the Spanish way, we ordered a number of tapas dish to start, and a big seafood paella as our mains. 

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After a lazy lie-in and missing the hotel's sumptious breakfast buffet, we decided to head out to a nearby cafe for our morning expresso. The clear blue sky prompted us to take a walk to the Louvre, along the Tuileries. We walked past many inviting sidewalk cafes but resisted the temptation until we reached the Louvre ~ Le Cafe Marly with its spectacular view of the pyramid is our destination.



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Don't know what amount of cajoling T did to secure us a rare last minute sunday lunch booking at Le Jules Verne, which has always been on my Paris restaurant wishlist. Been eager to try out the michelin-starred cooking of Alain Reix (one Michelin *, 16/20 Guide Gault Millau) for some time now. For those showbiz fans, yes, this is also the spot where Tom Cruise proposed to Katie Holmes earlier this year.



Blessed with absolute gorgeous weather, we made our way to Tour Eiffel after a leisurely late morning stroll around Tuillieres and the Louvre. Immediately upon arrival, we noticed the crowds of people queuing to go up the Tour Eiffel. Luckily for us, Le Jules Verne has its own dedicated entrance and private elevator access at the south pillar so saves us the wait. We were greeted by a cheerful hostess upon entrance, who checked our name against the reservations and guided us to the lift lobby.

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Source~ http://www.sudoku.com 

Confession time~ yes I am addicted to Sudoku. When I popped by Waterstone's or WHSmith in London, masses of Sudoku related puzzle books were displayed prominantly near the entrance. Apparently it's been all the craze in London for some time. I picked up a few Sudoku handbooks to give to my friends in HK as souvenir and left them at home by mistake. One day when I got home and saw my mom obsessed, and soon after, Sudoku puzzles have appeared in most local newspaper and magazines here too.

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Arranged to meet up with an old friend Y for dinner to catch up this past weekend, and late afternoon on the day, was told that our plans are off, because his football team was playing that night. After some back and forth bickering SMSes, we compromised and headed for Dickens Bar in Causeway Bay ~ so that I could have my dinner, while he could watch his football.


Dickens Bar is located in the basement of The Excelsior Hotel, and is an established sports fans' haunt. In addition to live broadcast of sports matches, the place is also well-known for its lunch-time curry buffet (HK$128) and its British foodfare like roast beef and sheperd's pie - aka comfort food.


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The news the other day talked about the new Korean teenage hearthrob, Rain, having fun at a "booking club" in Seoul, which reminded me that I have yet to properly document the vibrant Seoul nightscene. So here's a little diversion from the Paris entries and marks the final posting from my May Seoul trip.



Our booking club outing is definitely worth a blog entry in itself. Whenever my (ahem, male) colleagues visited Seoul in the past, they always returned saying how awesome these booking clubs were without going into the details. All I knew was that it was fun and a "guy" thing to do. On my recent visit, I begged my friends to bring me along to check it out. They graciously agreed, even though my presence would cram their style apparently.

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As mentioned earlier, was fortunate enough to coincide my rushed London trip with UK's last bank holiday weekend before X'mas, and managed to swing by to Paris for an indulgent long weekend with my travelling buddy T.

Must commend T for her superb ability  in competing for last-minute Eurostar tickets with gazillion Londoners that were trying to escape the moody UK weather. For those unfamiliar with the Eurostar, it operates three classes - Business Premier, Leisure Select, and Standard. Standard is your normal cattle class, while for Business Premier and Leisure Select, you get the same, much more comfortable and spacious seating (see pic). The difference between the latter two is that Business Premier includes a fast track check-in and also access to Eurostar's lounges. Both classes would serve a proper meal during your train journey. Eurostar prices on a steep curve, based on demand and supply. A helpful hint is that the earlier you book, the cheaper the ticket is in general. Oh and reserving tics via a travel agent is normally more expensive than booking online by yourself. For our journey to Paris, we decided to splash out on a couple of Leisure Select tickets. (GBP99.5, versus GBP77.5 for the Standard fare on the same train).

We settled in comfortably at the pre-assigned seats and  started rummaging through the complimentary newspaper and magazines while waiting for the train to depart Waterloo. What I particularly liked about the seats is that they can recline backward, allowing us to catch up on some sleep while on the train journey. There is also a large area for keeping your luggages and suitcases, unlike in Standard class, where they are all jam packed near the exits.

As we were on a morning train (departing Waterloo @ 8:12am), instead of the champagne and three-courses, we were provided with a delicious breakfast. In addition to a pastry selection and yoghurt, we were offered a choice of hot breakfast or platter of fruit. This was definitely of a superior standard to the one you get on economy flight journeys. My serving of bacon, mushroom, tomato, rosti and scrambled egg was very tasty and I managed to finished the whole plate even after munching on the tasty croissant. A rich cup of expresso rounded off our meal nicely.

Having returned to London on the Standard class, we both agreed that GBP22 for the extra comfort and freebie meal was a reasonably good deal. Having said that, for the return when checking-in, the value seems less apparent, as Leisure Select was stuck in the same endless and non-moving queue as Standard class, while the Business Premier passenges breezed past. 

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Somehow I have always avoided the Grand Hyatt in Taipei in the past- yes, maybe in part due to the superstitious sayings of how it is seemingly haunted (almost everyone I know that had stayed there in the past has a story to tell). Out of convenience and the lack of alternatives, was finally given the reluctant chance to see for myself on my recent hopover to Taipei. The hotel lobby looked impressive - grand and spacious, with a small fountain right in the middle (?) of the hall. Promising, I thought.

My room was, however, a plain letdown – worn down and cramped, with a substandard washroom. I was surprised with the poor upkeeping, especially when compared to Sherwood or Shang, the two alternatives around town. When I complained to my colleagues, who are all frequent visitors to this hotel~ I realized I probably caught the short end of the straw. It seems while the furnishing in their rooms were tired and worn down, it was much more spacious than mine. Guess I have not used my Hyatt Gold Passport frequently enough in the past.

Check out the bare bathroom. Had a glimpse of one of my colleague’s rooms and found the bathroom of a much higher standard, with a proper separate shower cubicle and bathtub. The one I had in my room was an awkward shower head fixed on top of the normal bathtub you have at home.

Only got 40 min in-between meetings to grab a meal, so ordered the fastest room service available on the menu - Taiwanese-style braised pork rice (滷肉飯). This arrived promptly on a nicely laid out platter, with chili soy sauce and preserved veg accompaniments on the side. This was pretty decent, both in terms of appearance and taste, although I'd prefew the hawker stall one any time.



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Cuisine Cuisine is operated by the Miramar Group, which counts Tsui Hang Village amongst its portfolio of restaurants. This eatery is meant to be its fine dining crown jewel, located within the up-and-coming IFC complex, posing as a real competitor for the popular Lei Garden.



Situated at a prime location within the IFC complex, Cuisine Cuisine is tastefully decked out with art pieces here and there, with an extremely high ceiling that allowed diners to soak in the full harbour view (although Lumiere has an even better view - see last paragraph).

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This past month had been an extremely busy one for me ~ just realised that i'd been out of town for two out of the four weeks, managing to visit four countries in the process... 

Spent a gorgeous long weekend in Paris living the chic Parisienne life, whittling hours away in cafes while sipping on endless cups of expresso, and enjoying amazing haute cuisine at night. 

A quick whirl round the cosmopolitan city of London to catch up with friends and relatives, gobbling on scones and finger sandwiches in the process.

Touched down in Taipei briefly to take in the breathtaking skyline night view of Taipei city at the observation tower of the 101 Tower, which stands as the tallest building in the world.

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There's been a buzz of activity in Central recently, with the recent opening of Harvey Nichols (my fave dept store in London) and the boutique MO in The Landmark, and the upcoming launch of Four Seasons Hotel... not forgetting of course, the DisneyLand euphoria. Knowing that there will be plenty of interesting new restaurants to try out in the area soon, we made a little detour to Causeway Bay for Opia, the fine-dining restaurant located in the hip boutique hotel Jia in Causeway Bay.



We liked the stylish and sophisticated feel of the resturant (designed by Andre Fu), and settled down comfortably at the leather upholstered sofabeds quickly. Opia's menu was devised by one of Australia's most celebrated chefs, Teage Ezard, who has won many awards for his cooking at his own namesake back in Melbourne - ezard. His speciality, I read, is "Australian free style cuisine with influences from Asia"~ how interesting. We opted for the a la carte menu instead of the six-course tasting menu, which was priced at HK$500 per head.

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Am an avid reader of many Taiwan foodies’ sites, and have been intrigued by the many rave write-ups on this Chef Show Time restaurant I keep reading about. Finally had the opportunity to visit this “must-go” restaurant recently, and I agree that it was indeed a unique dining experience.



The restaurant is located off the busy Tung Hwa South Road in a quiet side street, with an unassuming red brick exterior. The first oddity I noticed was how the tableware was laid out – a pair of chopsticks took the place of the norm fork and knife in a Western restaurant. I found out that this was the chef’s idea to encourage diners to share their food, which to us sounds like an excellent idea. In addition to being able to try out more dishes than normal, it also allow the diners to have more interaction during the meal. Chef Show Time serves more than just a European cuisine, in fact, it offers an unusual combination of Taiwanese-European fusion, which worked way better than it sounds.

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Kin’s Kitchen @ Decadent livin'

Yellow Door in SoHo, along with Xi Yan in Wan Chai, is one of the more established Chinese private kitchens in Hong Kong, and because of its success, the owner, Lau Kin Wai, decided to open a proper restaurant in Tin Hau, called Kin's Kitchen. This may sound like an obscure location, but Tin Hau has now become an up-and-coming food destination. We have sadly seen most of the old moms and pops stores closed down, and are now being replaced by new (and sometimes trendy) restaurants.

Have tried Kin's Kitchen a number of times now (Tin Hau being my natural habitat) and am impressed with its consistently high quality cooking. No wonder it has to adopt the two-shift dining policy (first seating before 6:30, second at 8:00) even in my quiet little neighbourhood.

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Had the urge to book a holiday in Canada when reading my friend's account of his recent road trip to Montreal. Here's an extract of his super amazing weekend... Thanks Y for this!



I just got back from a 6 hour car ride from Montreal and I'm completely exhausted right now. But I have to tell you about this hotel I stayed at while I was there. It's called Hotel Godin (pronounced "go-deen"), and it's located at the heart of Downtown Montreal's Plateau Mont-Royal district (equivalent to SOHO in London) where all the trendy clubs and restaurants are. Looking from at it from outside, I could not believe it was our hotel. It looked more like a modern museum than anything. As we walked inside and into our rooms it only got better and better.

Honestly and humbly, it was the nicest hotel room I've ever stayed at in my whole life. The interior design was as trendy as it can get. Every piece of material from the toilet paper to the bed sheets and the matresses to the humongous flat screen TV/computer screams elegance. Even the soaps and shampoo and cream (all come in lychee flavor) were specially made in France and shipped over to Canada. They even have their own water brand. The best part is, it is not part of a hotel chain. Just simply a privately run local hotel in the city of Montreal.

FYI... http://www.hotelgodin.com/en/godin.htm

The room cost us CND$260ish in total including tax and everything, which was a really good deal considering it was Canada's civic long weekend holiday.

As for Montreal, it was an amazing city! In all honesty, even though people have told me many great things about the city before, I wasn't too thrilled about going there the whole time. Even when we first got there, I was thinking to myself "so this is Montreal, what's so special about it?). But as we spent more time in the city, I have come to realize the greatness of it that everyone talks about all the time. I totally felt like I was in Paris or some major city in France. It was like a mini Europe within North America. For a while I forgot I was in Canada. Everyone spoke French and it was hard to even find a road sign with English on it. The streets in Plateau Mont-Royal were sooo beautiful, with all kinds of trendy restaurants and lounges crammed in the entire area. And the food was oohhh so amazing!! I had a scallopini marsala (veal) and I was already impressed by the side spaghetti before I got to the veal. And as you would have expected, all the restaurants have outdoor seating like the ones in Europe and although we have those in Vancouver and Toronto as well it didnt feel quite the same in Montreal. I guess it was the ambience and the people around you that made the difference. Everyone is just so laid back and happy. Almost everyone (even the pedestrians) had a glass of wine in their hand.

And then finally, the club that we went to at night... I'm not exagerating, but it was also the nicest club I've been to in my life. It was situated on the roof top of a skyscarper (the RBC building) in the financial district. From the patio on the 41st floor, we could see the entire city beneath our feet. Not to mention that there was a lot of good looking people inside. Seriously, everybody (girls and guys) looked like Italian models.

All in all, the short lived vacation was quite an amazing experience for me. I would definitely go back again if I have time and I'd stay at the very same hotel for sure. If you ever come to Canada, Montreal is one place you MUST visit. You won't be disappointed I assure you.


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Ordering afternoon tea has become a daily ritual for our office these days, probably as a way to re-energize our tired ol’ selves for the long nights ahead. Everyday at around three thirty, people would start gathering round and begin a heated discussion on what and where to order from, flipping through the huge stack of delivery forms that we have compiled over the years. The choice normally narrows down to two – Honeymoon dessert and Honolulu. 

Honolulu is a Hong-Kong style chachanteng also renowned for its egg tarts. This is of the flaky, layered puff pastry variety, and differs from the Tai Cheong Bakery ones. (For those eager Tai Cheong fans, no, it hasn't re-opened yet, but you can bet that HKFoodie will be amongst the first to visit its new store when it does!) Must admit the glazed golden yellow custard and the slightly browned multi-layer pastry looks extremely tempting and inviting, especially as I am a fan of all custard based dessert. Sadly, somehow, my stomach is always a bit unsettled after consuming a flaky egg tart like this, and I'd feel greasy and lethargic for the rest of the day (nope, am not exaggerating). Not sure if this is because of the extra fat that the bakers used to make the flaky bits. For Chinese egg tart, I prefer the Tai Cheong style one for crust.



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