HK Foodtrip: Boqueria

I am not too fond of walking too much nowadays – I used to, when I was younger, but now I just get tired too easily. Chalk it up to aging and leading a sedentary lifestyle. So when my friends and I trooped to find this quaint little resto for Brunch  in Central, Hong Kong, I remember thinking: the food had better be very good. You see, Central is quite a big place and it took us a lot of walking up and down winding side streets before we found Hotel LKF, where Boqueria was neatly tucked away on its second floor.

When we first entered the place, I was quite charmed by the way it looked so cozy, like where you would hang out with your friends after a long day (or week). It wasn’t the place to be seen out and about; it wasn’t intimidating. Exactly my kind of place.

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To be honest though, we didn’t come for the food but for the unlimited do-it-yourself sangria, which you can easily do following three simple steps: get your ice and fruits, pick your juice (orange or grape) and wine (red or white), add sprite (if you want), and voila! Your very own sangria.

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We started off our meal with glasses of sangria – we were very strategic with it: we got the table nearest the sangria station and just across the kitchen door. Our sangrias were perfectly paired with appetizers from their carritos (mobile carts),which fortunately always starts with our table. Hahaha!

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I love their plate of Embutidos y Quesos (cold cuts and cheese) which we drizzled with olive oil (by request) and Ensaladas y Especialidades Espanolas (salads and specialties). I normally don’t like cherry tomatoes but that day, they were just oh so fresh and perfect with my meats and cheeses. I would of course, pick the cold cuts and cheese that are so abundant in France, but this would be a lovely substitute.

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It was the Christmas season when we visited Boqueria and pretty soon, a big group of expats entered the place. In fact, their group was so big it was just them and us! They all ordered oysters and since we were the only other table, we were given free oysters as well! I need not tell you how much I love my fresh oysters!

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The brunch package (which you can get with the unlimited DIY sangria) also includes their Paella del Dia (Paella of the Day) which was the perfect base for all the grilled goodness that was served shortly before it.

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I was seriously full before we even got to taste their Verduras del Dia a la Piancha and Churrascos de Carne (grilled veggies and meats) but I can’t say no to grilled salmon, beef and pork, can I? Especially when they’re all hot-off the grill. I never tried pairing my grilled meats with mustard and tartar sauce but I was pleasantly surprised with how good everything tasted.

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After serving us all those yummy grilled meat, guess what the finale was? We were so proud when we saw the Cochinillo Asado (suckling pig) being rolled out on the last cart – or none other than our very own lechon!

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I was seriously full to the brim by then; one more bite and I would have thrown up and made a mess right there. But then, the next cart rolled in and it was laden with plates of delectable Postres – freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, brownies, apple pie, and churros drizzled with chocolate syrup! So decacent and oh so tempting for a chocolate lover like me. They were not fancy concoctions but it was their simlpe familiarity that made this dessert plate a winner in my books.

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And to top off our Boqueria experience, we tried the Porron – similar to a beer bong, the bartender would pour an alcoholic beverage through a small tube straight to your mouth and would only stop when you give the word.

Two thumbs up!

Food Trippin’ The Michelin Star Way

I guess it’s a pretty known fact that HK is one of my favorite destinations abroad – it’s just a two-hour flight (shorter than going to Fairview from Makati on a weeknight), and it has theme parks (kid at heart here!), shopping (hello, outlet stores!), and perhaps the best reason of all: it is a paradise for foodies like me.

For my trip with my friends last holiday season, we wanted it to be as laid back as possible, and maybe sneak in a couple of tourist spots. But our main agenda was, yes, you guessed it: FOOD.

And we couldn’t even wait until we stepped out of the airport. First stop – the one Michelin star Ho Hung Kee. We were initially planning on going to their main outlet over at Hysan Place in Causeway Bay but as we where about to step out of the airport, we noticed that there is actually a Ho Hung Kee right there!

We weren’t really that hungry so we just got some shrimp siomai, noodles, and of course, their world famous congee.

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To be honest, I am not a dimsum fan. In fact, I don’t even like Chinese food that much (or maybe, I grew up eating too much of it that I had grown too used to it). But their siomai was so good. Ever thought of how some siomais tend to rely on their main ingredient, like if it’s pork, it’s just the pork that carries the entire dish? Well, the meat of this one was equal parts sweet and salty, and the shrimp was fresh and tender and not gummy at all. Even the yellow wrap was very tasty – I wanted to cut the siomai into different parts so I could taste each. And the crab roe added a nice texture to the siomai. I didn’t even need my usual soy sauce/chili/calamansi mix!

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We couldn’t decide on what noodle dish to get so we got the house specialty wonton noodles in soup. The wonton was good! Same with the siomai, the wrapper itself was tasty. And, the noodles were also a bit sweet! A welcome surprise as I had gotten used to salty noodles. Plus, the dish itself was very heavy – we split all our food into three parts but we still could not finish everything.

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For our finale – we got their abalone, pork and chicken congee. I was expecting a lot from their congee since this was what got them on the Michelin list. But, I was quite taken aback that it was… Sweet. The porridge was a little too sweet for my taste, and the rice too fine that it felt like I was eating puree. I had to drizzle pepper and salt on mine before I could eat it. It was good and tasty, with the individual ingredients all accounted for in terms of taste and yet creating a whole that was greater than each part but, maybe for my Pinoy tastebuds, it wasn’t what I was expecting in a congee. I was expecting something along the lines of my beloved arroz caldo with all its ginger, chicken, salt, and atsuete seed coloring but got something like ginataan malagkit, minus the coconut and a tad less sweet.

All in all, I would still recommend Ho Hung Kee, if only to experience that authentic congee and dimsum. And, for a Michelin-rated restaurant, the price was pretty much hard to beat: our entire meal only costs us about HK$600, with drinks.

(Watch out for the next parts of my HK Food Trip!)

 

A Disney Christmas

The Christmas season found me in one of my favorite destinations – Hong Kong, which tops my list for a whole lot of reasons: it’s near (travel time is about two hours which is like a one-way commute from Makati to Fairview), it doesn’t require a visa (so yeah, you can practically show up at the airport, buy a ticket and go), and I can do a lot of things while there: hit up some theme parks, go shopping, and EAT!

I normally start all my HK trips with a visit to the happiest place on earth: Disneyland. I mean, how can you not? It’s just two stations away from the airport.

We were honestly tired when we arrived so we decided to catch some ‘zzzz first. It was late afternoon when got to the park – just in time for the afternoon parade!

Disney parades are always a sight to behold! I can just wander around the park all day watching the parades. Oh, and they normally change depending on the season. I remember that during summer, the characters would have spray guns!

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And be sure to catch the parade at night! It’s even more spectacular with all the lights set against the darkness.

Disneyland is very pretty during the day – like all theme parks should. But for me, it’s at night wen the magic comes alive! There’s just something about all those shops on Main Street lit up that brings out the child in me. And you have got to watch the fireworks! It never fails to bring tears to my eyes.

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There was a special attraction during the holiday season: Anna and Elsa leading the crowd in the tree lighting ceremony. It was quite fun seeing the “snow” falling but I found it mildly annoying that all Anna and Elsa did were stand there making hand gestures while two Pinoys belted out Let It Go. I wish they just let the singers do the acting also, or, if they wanted the actors to be Caucasians, looked for actors who could also sing.

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We wrapped up our visit with some dessert at the Corner Cafe, where I got a mug of hot cocolate to go with our molten chocolate cake and fresh fruits.

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It’s my nth time at HK Disneyland but my first time to try the Hollywood Hotel. I previously stayed the the Disneyland Hotel (the Victorian style hotel with sweeping views of the ocean). Well, price points aside (the latter was twice as pricey) and minues the seaview, they are both superb. The rooms are comfortable and spotless and the staff are very nice. Disney hotels will always be my favorite hotels in the whole world. Teehee. ☺️

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The Hollywood Hotel has smaller grounds but when you’ve got acres and acres, dmall becomes a relative term, right? It has a wide garden and a pool, although at this time of te year, I guess swimming is hardly on anyone’s list of priorities in HK.

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Okay, I must admit. I was quite giddy when my friends agreed to have breakfast at the hotel. I mean, it normally costs more to eat in hotels and the fare is restricted to what’s on the buffet table, so we usually eat outside but having breakfast at the hotel meant we could pose with Mickey at our leisure. How cool is that?

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I was quite full will all the bacon I stuffed in, but I could not resist getting Mickey Mouse waffles. i mean, come on! Look at it!

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Could you tell by my wide smile just how happy I was?

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See you again, soon, Mickey!

Food Trip in HK (part 2): Dimsum Overload and Burger Mania

If there was one thing we didn’t run out of, or skimp on while in HK, it was food. I am practically as big (and as heavy) as a walrus so going to the touristy sights (read: Disney; I would have loved to go there but we didn’t have enough time and I don’t think I would have had energy for it) was quite out of the question so the next best thing was to eat.
For someone who is generally not a fan of Chinese food (and Korean, which I try to avoid as much as I can), except for the occasional dimsum and fried rice, I ate a tremendous amount of food. 

DIN TAI FUNG
After our three-Michelin star dinner, it was back to normal fare for us (and our wallets, for sure) although I couldn’t really complain getting the downgrade to a one-Michelin star, especially if the food was as good as at Din Tai Fung.

Luckily for us, our hotel was right across Silvercord where one of the two HK branches of this Taiwanese food is located (both branches have the same star rating). The waiting line gets a bit crazy a little after 12 but we came in shortly before that and got a table for three in less than ten minutes (or maybe it’s my baby bump luck striking again!).
And… tea was served. Seriously, I must have drank more tea during this trip than in my entire life. Once you are seated, your assigned server immediately pours you a cup of steaming hot tea. They never let you have your cup half-empty (or even your glass of ice cold water which we were delirious for after downing countless cups of tea) which I think is very nice and attentive of them. 
We weren’t particularly hungry so we just got some boiled spinach with ginger which I thoroughly enjoyed. I love spinach. I would sometimes eat it for days on end at home, paired with fried fish and I’d feel like heaven.

And of course, we had to get the xiao long bao for which Din Tai Fung is famous for. It’s funny to note that they even have a printed guide to show guests the proper way of eating xiao long bao: put a bit of soy sauce, vinegar, and ginger on the sauce dish, dip the dumpling, put it in your spoon, and using your chopsticks, poke a hole in it to let out the broth, and tada! Enjoy! I could probably live off of spinach and xiao long bao forever. 😛

Xiao long bao! This is one of the places that used cloth base for their dimsum, which was nice coz then they wouldn’t stick and give us a hard time picking them up. 😀
We also got the pork chop fried rice (it’s quite true, that you can’t keep a Pinoy away from rice for so long; two weeks in Europe prior to this trip taught me that I would go into serious withdrawal if I don’t get rice on a normal basis) – a good thing I shared this with my friend as the serving was quite L-A-R-G-E. The rice was good: soft and had lots of egg in it. But the pork chop was a bit bland (and surprisingly dry) for my taste. I prefer my pork chops drenched in salty McCormick breading or anything similar. Luckily, the spinach and xiao long bao more than made up for it. 

We had a hard time getting cold water to drink at the previous restos we’ve been too, and this one was no different. But our server had the presence of mind to call someone who can speak English and we got our precious bottled water.
I don’t recall how much our meal cost, but judging how quickly I forgot, it must have been quite reasonable. So anytime you’re in HK, try to visit DTF. I don’t recommend restos on a normal basis but this one is worth it. 🙂

MAXIM’S PALACE CITY HALL

Have to admit, this place wasn’t on our radar. We were just aiming at restos in the Tsim Tsa Tsui area where our hotel was located and this one was at Central (two stations away). But thanks to our lucky stars, my friend’s friend treated us to this dimsum feast. 
I can’t really give you a guide on how to get there but just get off Central, exit H, and ask around for Maxim’s and you should be able to find it. On the way there, we passed a couple of alleys that were filled to the brim with Pinoy OFWs – I honestly have never seen such a huge gathering of OFWs in one place. It was a Sunday, and as we all know, that’s rest day for most OFWs and it was nice to know they have this support group overseas. 
The line at Maxim’s was insanely long. One from our group had already line for us while we were still at the train station but we still had to wait over an hour to get a table. By then, I was really curious as to what awaited me – I mean, if people willingly waited this long, it must be good, right?
You betcha. This place is actually named the most famous dimsum place in HK on a couple of lists I saw online and I have to say, it quite lives up to the hype for a number of reasons:
a) Interiors are clean and classy – the dimsum places in Manila should take a page from Maxim’s book: this place actually has chandeliers, crisp white linen, gilded, tassled, and cushioned seats, and even a red velvet curtained stage for when you hold banquets (I suppose that’s where the bride and groom would be if a wedding feast were being served here). Even the servers wear starched white uniforms. Everything was so white and bright I felt like shielding my eyes. How’s that for rhyming? Hahaha! I know my description makes the place a bit gaudy, but trust, it contributes to the whole experience!
b) The dimsum is delivered on a traditional cart where you can just point and get what you want and the servers just mark it on your order card. The only downside is, most of the signs are in Chinese but there are a few English translations if you squint a bit. How quaint is that? It just makes the experience all the more “authentic.”
c) You can’t go wrong with the food. Even if you can’t understand the menu, you can always ask and as I repeat, you can’t go wrong because everything’s good (I’m starting to sound redundant now). We even made the “mistake” of ordering veggie dimsum but in the end, we still finished it off. It was that yummy. I can’t really recommend any single dish because I liked everything but what I remember are the custard and pork buns,  and the octopus tentacles. It was my first time (I think) to try the latter, and definitely won’t be my last. It was crispy/salty/spicy in all the right places, and it was cooked perfectly – not gummy at all which is usually what happens when food from this particular animal family is prepared. 

Well, they can say what they want about Thailand mangoes (this one tasted like it came from TH) but I will still pick our very own mangoes. They’re sweeter, softer, and fresher.
CRYSTAL JADE
As if we were gonna run out of dimsum, we also made pit stops at Crystal Jade. Funny, but our first meal in HK was at the Crystal Jade at the airport, and our last meal before we headed back to the airport was at the branch near our hotel. 
True to form, we ordered xiao long bao both times (Din Tai Fung’s is better though but I also enjoyed this version), some very thinly slice beef (so thin I had a hard time picking it up with my chopsticks. Not that I’m an expert in using those sticks but still), rice and veggies which I loved to bits. 
Not your average donuts – these are empty buns drizzled with confectioner’s sugar. Good, if you want a change from the overly/sickeningly sweet Krispy Kreme once. But if you have a sweet tooth, this one’s not for you.

I am not a veggie fan but the sauce was just too good and putting it in the wrap and finishing it in one big bite was the highlight of this meal. Hahaha!

So thin it was almost see-through!

xiao long bao. Arrg, I am salivating just looking at the photos.
Fine, we ordered a bowl of fried rice (I think we actually ordered a second serving). Can you blame us?
The good thing is, there are several Crystal Jade restos in the PH (and there is one just five or so minutes from our house, hahaha!) so you can always satisfy your craving (and that’s me making parinig to hubby).

BLT BURGER

Lest you think we stuffed ourselves full with Chinese food – we did make a couple of exceptions. One is our high tea outing which I wrote about here, and BLT Burger.

It was one of those instances when we were just too lazy to go anywhere far and since our hotel was right smack beside the Harbour City, it made sense to look for a place to eat there (and shop at the same time, right?). We wanted to take a break from all the dimsum we consumed so with our trusty TripAdvisor mobile app, we found this must-try burger joint at the 3rd floor of the Ocean Terminal part of the Harbour City.
Again, the line was insanely long – we waited 45 minutes and I was soooo hungry the entire time and also tired from lugging my purchases (this was after our second day at the outlet stores in South Horizons) that I would have walked away if not for the patience of my two companions. 
Haha, you know me all too well that I can’t really deal with long lines unless I’m stuck with good friends or a good book, or a really good mobile game to pass away the time. Luckily, I had all three on hand.
I was so hungry (am repeating it to make a point here, :P) that I ordered one BLT burger combo meal for myself (check out their menu here). The burger, as its name suggests, had one big patty -7-0z to be exact, smoked bacon, lettuce and tomato and it came with fries and soda which you can upgrade to fruit juice, milkshake, or beer. I opted to get an upgrade to the campfire marshmallow milkshake which was served with a huge grilled marshmallow dunked on top.
You can also choose the kind of fries you want. They have skinny, fat, and waffle fries. I was thinking the skinny ones were like the piknik ones but they turned out to be the normal sized fries (as you can see below) but one of my friends got the waffle fries which turned out to be a cross between KFC’s colonel fries and McDonald’s criss cut fries. I liked her fries much better. Tasted better too as I think they put some spices on it.
I am dubbing this the most expensive burger meal I ever ate –  at HKD202 for the combo. But that big mashy on top of the milkshake is just begging me to have another go at this place.
The meal is not cheap though considering I only ate a “burger” but the serving is large and my combo meal could have fed two. Silly me thought I was hungry enough to eat for an army but I ended up eating only half of the burger and barely touching the fries before my tummy begged to be spared more. Hahaha!
I made myself hungry with this post and if you end up with a growling tummy after my lengthy post, then I achieved my purpose (insert naughty grin here). I can’t wait to go back, and this time, I’ll make sure the hubby tags along – he loves Chinese food and he’ll definitely love these places.

Food Trip in HK: Lung King Heen at the Four Seasons and High Tea at the Peninsula

Let’s take a quick break from all the European posts and head somewhere a little closer to home: Hongkong. I’m about as big as a walrus and this is likely my last trip abroad until the end of the year so I had to make the most of it. By eating a lot.
We didn’t have any particular itinerary planned for this trip (except for the outlet stores that our friend was adamant we just had to go to; more on that in another post), so on our  third day, we agreed to have afternoon tea at the Peninsula, which is served at the Lobby Cafe from 2PM to 6PM.
We got there a little after two, but the line was already insanely long – we had to queue for an hour before we got a table. Good thing we were inside and the AC was working overtime. Otherwise, I simply would have fainted. Oh, and they have a casual vibe going on but please don’t wear flip flops.

Honestly, I am not a tea person. My parents both love tea (and coffee) but my tea “gene” never manifested. That, or I am just generally a lazy person who couldn’t be bothered with making tea. 😛
Oh but the scones were just so delish especially when mixed with the strawberry jam and the clotted cream! Quite filling too – one is enough to fill you up for your next shopping spree. And all those dainty sandwiches with smoked salmon, chicken, and ham were perfect (I skipped the cucumber one). I was too full before I even reached the third layer containing little cakes and macarons, not to mention the small serving of ice cream and a piece of truffle that came after.


And true to form, I ordered rose tea. I am really having a rose overload – I recently bought a rose facial wash and moisturizer, and regularly use a rose-based soap and perfume. I even use rose oils and spray for our house. Hahaha! 

But I digress. The rose tea went perfectly with the scones. I mixed about a 1/3 cup of milk and and white sugar in it and it was just heavenly. We spent the next hour or so just being lazy and chit chatting. I guess afternoon tea is really one underrated English custom which would be nice to indulge in every once in a while.

After tea, we rushed back to our hotel to change and get a makeover session before our dinner at the Lung King Heen at the Four Seasons Hotel. They have a smart casual dress code but since most of our clothes were fit only for sightseeing and shopping, we all had to make a mad dash to the H&M across the street to look at least decent. Hahaha.

Dining at Lung King Heen wasn’t really part of our itinerary but that’s what’s good about having to agenda at all – we were like go with the flow or whatever. So when a friend of a friend recommended we try this place, the only 3-Michelin star rated Chinese restaurant in the world, we just had to go. I mean, I’m not particularly fond of Chinese food (as hubby would attest) but if it’s good food, then I’m all for it.
Literally translated to “View of the Dragon,” Lung King Heen has a marvelous view of the harbour from the 4th level of the hotel. We didn’t get a nice view though since it was a full night (in fact, our reservation was for 9PM since all earlier slots were taken) but we did get a secluded couch dining area all to ourselves. A big plus that they gave me a fluffy pillow to rest my back (Don’t you just love dining at these places? The Peninsula also gave me a nice pillow for my back during our tea earlier. They really know how to pamper guests).
I loved the ambiance. It was classy and everything but didn’t feel stuffy at all. And the staff were all so nice and attentive. I don’t like fussy servers who are downright obtrusive but we never felt that here.  I felt so right at home I wanted to kick off my heels.
Of course, being a top-notch restaurant,  expect the prices to be quite on the higher end of the spectrum. The tasting menu costs a wallet suicide inducing HKD 1,600++ per set – which of course was way too expensive for us. Hahaha. So we opted to order ala carte (which was actually a good idea since of the three of us, two don’t eat much, myself included), which greatly reduced the cost to roughly the same, but for all three of us instead of for one.
For our appetizer, we had this crispy tofu with day fish surrounded with chili sauce. I don’t recall ordering it and I didn’t see it in our bill but it was oh-so-yummy. I don’t eat tofu at all but this one made me change my mind – melts in your mouth goodness. 

Our next dish was the crispy scallop with fresh pear and ham. This was served with fresh lemon and sugar, and we were also given three different chili sauces (light, moderate to hot; but I found even the hot disappointing as it wasn’t spicy at all!) to mix to our preference. The different ingredients would have been powerful on their own but surprisingly, they all tasted good together and I didn’t get that fishy taste at all from the scallop. Again, the dish melted in my mouth – I wonder how they do that? I do wish though that it was a bit more flavorful as I found it a tad bland without the lemon juice and chili sauce.

After all the dry, crispy dishes, I was looking forward to the next dish on our list – the shrimp wanton sweet and sour soup. It was my kind of spicy too and the shrimp must have been cleaned and cooked so well that my seafood allergies didn’t kick in one bit. I loved it! But make sure you have a glass of water nearby as you can get very thirsty.

I was more or less undecided whether I liked the place or not but their bestseller LKH roast chicken was served next and I went straight to heaven. You know how we have roasted pork (lechon) here in the Philippines and everyone scrambles to get a piece of the crispy skin? Well, this chicken has crispy skin which was way better than lechon skin ever was. It was thin, crispy, and so flavorful. It didn’t crack when you try to peel it off the chicken but it melted upon touching my tongue. Simply put, it was the clear winner of the night for me.

I was too full by the time our last dish was served – crispy noodles with vegetables and pork so I couldn’t comment much. And besides, after the roasted chicken, it was kind of a let-down. It was good to be fair, but not mind-blowing. In short, I’ve tasted better.

Of course, even with our wallets quite silently complaining already, we weren’t about to let the experience go incomplete without sampling dessert so we ordered the red bean puffs. To our surprise, we were also served custard puffs with jelly (or whatever it was called), which, according to our very attentive server that night, was quite a bestseller as well.
I would have been very happy with the red bean puffs, what with the gently sweet taste of mashed red bean enveloped in a very soft crust bursting in your mouth, but the custard puffs made me forget my name. Hahaha! I can’t describe it but do order it if ever you find yourself here. 

The custard puffs (?) we got for free
All in all, I would say the place is a definite must-try although there are some dishes which left me wanting a bit more, considering its Michelin rating. Oh, and for those on a budget, be prepared to spend at least US$50 per person (and that’s already the lowest you could probably go).

Travel Make-Up Kit

When I was younger (teens and my early 20s), I didn’t care much about make-up and skincare. In fact, I never owned anything remotely related to beauty. It was only in my late-20s that I discovered and cultivated an obsession with cosmetics and since then, I’ve become some sort of hoarder, although I have yet to get to the part where I actually learn to use them. 
 
But even though I am practically clueless when it comes to putting these products on me, I have a tendency to pack every single one I could into my luggage whenever I travel. You know, for that unforeseen event when you would have to do your own make-up and everything. And because I have this weird notion that I know and have the time to put them on before I step out my hotel room for the day, so that I would at least look decent in my travel photos. 
 
Ahh, such trivial pursuits. Hehe. 
 
But, packing five bottles of foundation and a dozen lipsticks can be quite problematic for those of us with limited baggage allowance (not to mention my overpacked kikay kit is bursting) so I figured, why not edit a bit, right? So I stared long and hard at my dresser drawer and figured out which products I use on a daily basis (in an ideal world).
 
  • Primer. I’ve recently discovered this primer, That Gal, from Benefit which I absolutely love. It’s pink and it brightens my usually dull and pale skin, plus it smells like strawberries! I’m usually allergic to fruity scents but for some reason, this one agrees with my nose. 
  • Lip/Cheek tint and blush. Also from Benefit , this nifty little box of tricks is a lifesaver. I mean, it has a small bottle of bestsellers Benetint (lip/cheek tint) and High Beam (a highlighter), a powder blush, a creamy gloss, a brush, and a pocket mirror. With matching instructions to boot! I normally just use the tint and highlighter though, since I’m too lazy to use powder blush and I tend to “eat” the gloss. 
  • Cream blush. On days when I really want to look a little made-up or more presentable, I put on this Nars Orgasm blush. This has been voted the best blush-on many times and what can I say? It lives up to the hype.
 
From left: Kikay kit from Benefit contaiing tint, highlighter, powder blush and lipgloss; Nars Orgasm cream blush; Benefit’s That Gal primer

Oh, and one other thing I love? This little wand from Benefit which has the tint on one end and a clear gloss on the other end. See? You only need this in your bag and you’re good to go! And did I mention that the tint smells oh so rosy? As a finishing touch and when my face feels a little too oily, I pat down this minty face balm, also from Benefit. It works as an oil absorbent and also to set your make-up and it smells citrusy. But again, for some reason, my nose loves it!

 

Clockwise from tip: Benefit’s Pocket Pal with tint and gloss; L’Occitane’s Rose hand cream; Benefit’s Dr. Feel Good face balm; Clinique spot correcting cream; Benefit’s high-beam. These are the minimum carry-ons in my kikay kit.

And I just have to add this little power-packed moisturizer. During my last foreign trip, my skin got so dry (I think it got confused with the weather – 31 C during the day and 11 C during the night) it started cracking. None of the moisturizers I packed (the Tea Tree line from The Body Shop) helped so I asked the kind girl at Sephora to give me her strongest moisturizer and she gave me this FAB Ultra Repair Cream. FAB actually stands for First Aid Beauty. And it truly lives up to its name. 
 
FAB repair cream; Benetint lip balm with SPF – smells like roses!

On a side note, I’m stuck in bed right now and since I don’t want to be totally unproductive, thought I’d write about some of my latest make-up purchases. These babies aren’t exactly new – just a very late post. Hope you get to try and like them as much as I do!

Hey, Mickey, It’s You Again!


I suddenly found myself on a trip to HK, which I was partially unprepared for. One, I thought it wouldn’t push through, and two, if it did, I thought I was going alone. Thank goodness I had a colleague with me (imagine geographically challenged me finding my way in a foreign country – never mind that it’s a country I’ve been to a couple of times in the past). Anyway, we had only a full day free before we had to head back to Manila so we sort of weighed the pros and cons between Disneyland and Ocean Park and decided to go with the former.
Our first stop? Mickey and Minnie photo op! I didn’t get a picture with them last time I was here (since we lined up at Fantasy Land, and you can only have a photo with one character at a time there) and it was my companion’s first time, so we braved the glaring sun and the almost two-hour queue for this:

Voila! Mission Accomplished! Okay, on to my outfit (geez, hadn’t done this in a long time!): lace cardigan from my sister in law, top from Ever New, leather shorts from Forever 21, boat shoes from Sperry, and my “paparazzi” shades from Michael Kors
It’s lucky that we started out early since the queues weren’t that long at most of the rides/attractions. We even got to ride Autopia in less than 15 mins (compared to the almost one hour wait I endured with the hubby and little brat)!


Even though I spent two full days here just two months ago, there were several parts of the park I wasn’t able to visit and I made sure we got to visit those this time (again, luckily, my companion didn’t want to walk and wait in the sun too much so indoors it was for us).
 Went to It’s A Small World – which is actually for very little kids, as you are treated to a montage of the different cultures/races around the world (both real and fantasy – they even had flying carpets and mermaids) while floating down a small “river” on a motorized boat.

One of my favorites 🙂

I honestly enjoyed it! It was so colourful and I felt quite proud that they put a portion for the Philippines!
Look! Our tarsier has its own spot!


The afternoon parade was scheduled early this time around so we had to dash from our little boat ride to Sleeping Beauty’s castle to catch the parade. I was a bit worried it would be the one where they spray you with water but this one was fairly water-free. Hihi.

Look at the crowd!
I am somehow reminded of Michael Jackson with this ensemble.
Pooh!


Oh, I finally got a bit up-close with the Disney Princesses! Too bad Aurora wouldn’t look our way.
Cinderella
Snow White and Belle (Aurora was standing to Belle’s left, but she was facing backwards, so…:(
Right after the parade, we headed back to Fantasy Land, just in time to catch The Golden Mickeys – one of the highlights of this trip. I was immediately sorry we didn’t take Joey to watch this show. Again, we were lucky coz the queue wasn’t too long and we only waited 15 minutes or so.



Almost all the famous characters were there – Mickey and the gang, Mulan, Ariel, Tarzan, Belle and the Beast… I particularly liked the Beauty and the Beast segment where they started off dancing behind a curtain and then the stage was transformed into a huge ballroom!

 And then there was also the Little Mermaid segment and well, you all know how much I love Ariel. Under The Sea was my ring tone for years because of this movie. Too bad flash photography wasn’t allowed and I couldn’t get a decent photo from where I was seated at the back.


I loved the show so much I actually wanted to line up again. 

After that, it was another indoor activity for us – this time, the Mickey Philharmagic. Well, the show was in 3D so I have no photos to show you but it was really good. I got dizzy joining Donald on his wild flying carpet ride and got literally sprayed with water when he went under the sea to visit Ariel (and yes, I got teary eyed hearing Jodi Benson’s voice singing Part of Your World).
It was getting dark by then so we made another mad dash to Toy Story Land. Too bad that the Parachute ride had a verryyy long queue; the estimate was actually 90 minutes before you can enjoy a three-minute ride. So, no thanks. We weren’t about to miss the fireworks for this. Haha.

On our way to the most recent addition to the park, Grizzly Gulch, we passed by the still under construction Mystic Point. It’s going to be launched in 2013 and I can’t wait to come back with the little boybie when this one opens. 
Pretty!
Anyway, didn’t get to enjoy Grizzly Gulch. It was already dark (I get dizzy in the dark) and the rides were not for the faint of heart (read: roller coasters) and I couldn’t trust my companion to carry me back to our hotel in case, well, in case I fainted. So we just roamed around and went back to Sleeping Beauty’s castle. 
No, I am not riding anything more than five meters high.

To cap off our one-day excursion, we braved the crowds to get as close to Beauty’s castle without getting crushed. Trust, the crowd was so big, and most of them were sitting on the paved roads.

But the fireworks lighting up to the tune of your favourite Disney songs? Definitely worth it. I actually got teary eyed again. Hahaha. 
 
My arms were practically dead from holding my camera over my head – I wasn’t even looking and it’s a miracle I even got half-decent photos. I am definitely coming back. Maybe this Christmas?:D

HK: Random Shots

I wanted to take lots of photos during this trip, since it’s our first trip abroad as a family. And to that end, I even got myself a decent camera. Hihi. 😀

Goofing around the train station
Super clean! It’s an old coach but look how spotless!

We found a nice little resto (sadly, I forgot the name) a few meters from our hotel which served yummy noodles and dimsum. And most importantly, chicken (the brat would not eat any other dish except if it has chicken)!

Soo cute. I still can’t believe this cute boy is mine. Hahaha. So cute several tourists would approach him and smile at him, and I would overhear some of them commenting how cute he is. I therefore conclude Joey’s cuteness is universal.

Loved this meal! I think it’s one of the best we had during this trip.

I didn’t get to shop (ridiculous, but true) but we did manage to get some trinkets at Disneyland (more out of necessity – had to buy the umbrella and rain coat since it was raining cats and dogs when we arrived, and had to buy the sunglasses for Joey on our last day). Our total purchases entitled us to get the cup and saucer at almost 70% off, so we got those too.

The train stations are very clean and have decent stores (unlike here in Manila, where everything is mucky in the train stations), and we found some really cool cakes:

I would have bought this, if I thought we could eat it. But, we’re not big cake fans.

Yellow love!
On our last day, hubby insisted on going to this obscure Catholic bookstore. I’m glad we did though, coz we found an exorcist book which I am dying to read (hubby’s taking forever!) and look who else we saw on a side street?

Jollibee! Of course, it was full of Pinoys inside (although I spied a couple of Caucasians as well)

Right along the corner from the jolly little bee, is BDO. Too bad, you can’t withdraw from this bank using PH atms (we tried our BPI atms and they didn’t work)

We weren’t planning on going anywhere after that, but figured, why waste our last day in HK? So off we went to the Peak Tram to ride the steep funicular.

 

Here it comes!

Standing room only. Good thing hubby and I were fast enough to grab seats.

Didn’t really want to go to the wax museum, so we just walked around and headed back to our hotel (it was super hot that day, I got sunburns!), but not before a glimpse of this:

View of the city from the peak

Spent three hours waiting for the symphony of lights, which turned out to be a waste – it was way simpler than from our trip in 2010. I was actually disappointed as only a handful of buildings had dancing and laser lights. And it seems the San Miguel Corp sign on top of one of the buildings had been taken down as well.
The view was still marvellous, though:
Pirate ship? We should have just taken a cruise.

Couldn’t resist adding some sunset glow to the photo. Taken using my trusty iphone.

The HK harbour

Til our next trip (the brat and I are already planning on another Disneyland escapade on his birthday)!

Ocean Park

One of our last stops during our family vacation in Hongkong was Ocean Park. The boybie and I had a somewhat funny exchange on our last day at Disneyland hotel, as I was telling him we were transferring to another hotel.
Joey: Mom, why do we have to transfer to another hotel? I like it here, I want to stay here.
Me: You want to stay here forever?
Joey: Not forever. I still want to go home. But maybe a hundred days. 
Me: We have to move to another hotel because this one is too far. We’re going to Ocean Park tomorrow.
Joey: But mom! I didn’t ask to go to Ocean Park! I only want to go to Disneyland! Why did you plan on going to Ocean Park???
Fine. So I forgot to consult the five year old when I was drafting our itinerary. 😀
Anyway, all was forgotten when Joey saw the our ride: a double decker bus! We don’t have this in the Philippines (saying it out loud, Joey-style) and in fact, Joey only rode a bus once for his field trip so this is a new experience for him.
This is not the exact same bus we took (this one’s on display at the Ocean Park) but looks quite about the same.

A little mishap almost prevented us from getting into the park. See, I booked all our park tickets (Disney and Ocean Park) via asiatravel.com and our hotel rooms via agoda.com (for the Luxe Manor) and the Disneyland website (for the Disney Resort Hotel). But it seems that while I got the confirmation voucher for Ocean Park, it didn’t have the barcode that the park needed. And horror of horrors – it was a holiday in HK that day so I couldn’t reach our travel agent. A good thing that I know for a fact that Asiatravel has offices in Manila so after several phone calls, emails, and internet browsing (and yeah, I got the shock of my life when I got home to a Php21,000 Globe cellphone bill – I should have just bought new tickets instead of making those calls), I was finally able to get our precious tickets. Perhaps a tiny mishap but it almost ruined my birthday! Thanks to the Manila office and the park’s very attentive and nice guest relations officers, we managed to salvage half of the day.

Finally!

I had only three goals at the Ocean Park: see the pandas, ride the cable car (had wanted to try Ngong Ping but we didn’t want to move around too much, so had to nix that off the itinerary), and ride the hot air balloon. Well, the last one was a no-go (sadly; guess I’ll have to squeeze in that DHL hot air balloon next time) but I can finally cross off the pandas from my to do list. 😀

This one beats all the other cable cars rides I’ve taken. The view was breath taking.

We only had to wait ten minutes or so for our turn. Wanted the yellow car but had to settle for a red one.

The park’s revolving tower, where guests can get 360 degree views of the area while sitting comfortably in an airconditioned room

Hongkong’s harbours are very beautiful, whichever side you’re on.

View from the cable car

View from the tower

And yet another view

And another…

Going on the park tower was a nice touch as it afforded us a great view of the park, the harbour, the islets, and the endless ocean, all while seated inside this huge revolving room.

We saw this from afar but it looked too scary – look at those legs dangling from midair!

We wanted to ride the boat thing (forgot what it was called) and were prepared to get wet, but the line was too long and our legs weren’t up to it. A good thing we found a spot where passersby can use water guns to drench those in the boats.

Joey had a blast shooting the boats. haha!

Our last stop was the aquarium and the pandas, which were close to the entrance gates.

By far, Joey’s favorite among the bunch. Fish he dubbed the squishies.

Went by several souvenir shops but didn’t find anything I liked (except the panda stuffed toys, but an officemate had already given me one).

A juggler outside the aquarium

Pandas!

There were many rides and attractions at the park, but most of them were for adults (read: nauseating and scary) and well, I am not a big fan of those so we just took pictures, roamed around, and called it a day. 


But not before having our photo taken just a few meters from the gates (and quite coerced into buying snow globes and key chains with our faces on it). Well, might as well get a couple for souvenir right? 😀

The Luxe Manor

To be honest, I had a hard time deciding on our second hotel when we went to HK last week. I wanted to find a big enough room in a good location, with breakfast, free wifi, shuttle service, and most importantly, affordable. I’m not very picky when it comes to rooms but I really need a good bathroom and a nice bed. 
And I also wanted to stay in a unique hotel.
Fine, I am picky. The hubby accuses me of splurging too much on hotels. Hahaha.
So, it took me weeks of googling before I decided on The Luxe Manor. Fickle-minded me booked only one night via agoda.com (which by the way, I recommend – hassle free. I’ve been booking hotels for myself and our family using this site for years) in case I change my mind, but after thinking it over for a couple more weeks, decided to book the remaining nights at this hotel.

A boutique hotel built sometime in the mid 2000’s, The Luxe Manor’s location was idyllic for us – it was in Kowloon, but tucked into Kimberly Avenue, one turn from major thoroughfare Nathan Road (Joey and I counter – it was only 100 steps from the intersection of Nathan and Kimberly). It was close enough to the Tsim Tsa Tsui station, too so you can fairly go anywhere from this point.

We almost missed it because there were no big signs on the building – so thanks to google maps, which said I was standing right in front of it. Hahaha.
The hotel doors – which is kept close most of the time as it serves more as a side entrance; guests would usually take the front door- a nondescript glass door with a small plaque bearing the hotel’s name)

Inside, the hotel looked (and smelled!!!) every bit as promised on their website. It was chic, romantic, and very unique. We were greeted with a lot of black and red furniture, walls, and ghost chairs.
The lobby to the Dada lounge (I heard it’s a bar, but as we were travelling with a kid, we didn’t get to try it)

Pardon the shot, I think I took this using my iphone which was by then, running on its last bits of energy.
The reception – so chic!

All floors were decked in patterned red carpet, and the walls in rich browns, which made it look so opulent.

The room wasn’t as big as Disneyland hotel, but by HK standards, it was pretty big. Mind you, I’ve seen hotel rooms so small, the bed was pushed to the wall with the windows hugging both its sides!

I love what they did with this antique-looking cabinet – open it and voila! You have a refrigerator.

See that gilded mirror? It’s an LCD TV!

Like I said, I wanted to stay in a hotel that already has free breakfast in its rates. Unfortunately, it was only for two adults so Joey had to phoney up HK$150 for his buffet. He didn’t eat much, just the fries and apple juice, so we figured, spending that much wasn’t ideal. So the next day, we opted to just buy him a big breakfast at the nearby which was cheaper at HK$25 and which he actually enjoyed more – he finished off everything!
I want that chair!

On to the food – it was very good. I loved that they offered Continental/American breakfast instead of Chinese (which I dreaded – to those wondering, I actually don’t like Chinese food. It’s my least favourite cuisine) so I heaped lots of smoked salmon, cold cuts, and various cheeses on my plate. Oh, and I got myself two jars of fruity yogurt and glasses of skimmed milk and apple juice. Haha.

I have to commend the hotel staff – so nice! And after a busy day at Ocean Park on my birthday, we were surprised with a very delicious chocolate cake waiting for us in our room! How thoughtful! I have never celebrated my birthday properly before (my birthday is a dreadful time for accountants – it belongs to the “closing” period, so I usually spend it working, haha) so I can’t tell if other hotels to this but really. My opinion of this hotel just went up several notches. 
Very beautiful presentation. It was almost too pretty to eat that we ended up just looking at it for hours.

Best of all? Our flight was at 830am so we had to leave the hotel at 6am – which means we wouldn’t be able to have our breakfast. The staff were so nice to prepare a breakfast box for us at no extra charge! Little stuff like this really made them stand out in our books. We are definitely coming back.

On a side note, this was probably one of my best birthdays ever as I got to fulfill several dreams – go to Disneyland with the family (mababaw ang kaligayahan ko), see pandas (seriously, I wanted to have my picture taken with the panda but it was so darn expensive! Maybe next time), and not spend a single minute of it working.