Travel Notebook – Grand Adventures Off The Radar

Elaine and I are privileged to get lots of travel news before it hits the headlines. But often, many do not get picked up by the press even though the news is exciting—simply because you just can’t cover everything within the constraints of their pages. So that’s where our Travel Notebook comes in, where we highlight travel options that we find enticing. This week, these caught our eye which can go down on the bucket list.

Victoria Falls Experience

If you have always wanted to see magnificent Victoria Falls — and who doesn’t? — one leisurely way is to stay at the The Royal Livingstone Victoria Falls Zambia Hotel by Anantara. Just by the Zambezi River, the hotel resort is a 10-minute walk from the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, which gives guests unlimited complimentary access to Victoria Falls via the hotel’s private entrance. Wake up to zebras grazing on the hotel lawn, cruise down the river to see wildlife and inhale sundowners at dusk. One of the most amazing experiences is a dinner ride on the hotel’s Livingstone Express, a historic Pullman steam train that brings you back to the romantic age of train travel. Board the train in the late afternoon and drink Champagne as it makes it way to the Victoria Falls. It will stop on the Zambia side of the Victoria Falls Bridge, one of the world’s most spectacular border posts and directly above the Zambezi River. Get off, click away, watch the sunset and live the moment. A fine-dining dinner is served on board. More details here and here.

Mongolia Adventure Glamp

If you’re one for the great outdoors, we can’t imagine anything greater than this. The Pavilions Mongolia offers an amazing glamping experience between 15 June and 19 September, out in the wilds of the Orkhon Valley National Park. Only for 20 guests at a time, the Pavilions offers glamping in luxuriously kitted out ‘gers’ with cashmere bedding, wood burning stoves and G&Ts. In the daytime, go horseriding, trekking through the wondrous landscape, kayaking or take a day trip to historic sites of the Silk Road, including Karakorum, the former capital of the Mongol empire. Alternatively, go easy and do some yoga, getting a massage or have a session with the resident shaman. Meals are gourmet standards, and entertainment include unique joining a bodog or Mongolian feast and traditional throat singing. Kids can joing the local Mongolian children’s summer camp with nannies to assist. Rest assured, this is no hardship travel, or we won’t include it here. See a sample itinerary here.

Norwegian Cheese Trail

Had enough of the usual gastro-journeys of Australia and Europe? Then venture off the beaten track to Norway, where the sun never sets…in summer anyway. Norwegian travel company Up Norway has introduced three cheese tasting itineraries ranging from 4-6 days, with unique experiences off the usual tourist radar. They offer curated cheese tastings with producers and chefs, dinner and beer tastings, gastronomic meals, farm stays, visits to producers and hands-on experiences like cheese making and storytelling.

For instance, the Lofoten Cheese Trail brings you to the archipelago in the far northwest known for its dramatic scenery. You meet a family of cheese makers who use biodynamic milk, get hands-on experience making goat’s cheese with the farmer, and in Hattvika, enjoy local storytelling over a plate of stockfish, a local speciality. Up Norway also offers other itineraries with access to sites and experience off the tourist trail that aren’t easy discover otherwise.

Eewaun

New & Noted – Great Food Finds with a Local Spin

A couple of foodie finds caught our eye lately, ranging from new restaurants to tantalising heritage menus which we would happily dive into. Here goes:

Just launched in Pahang Street, No Milk Bistro is a quirky name until you realise its forte is Teochew style fish soup, done traditionally, with no cheating addition of milk. But there’s more to it.

The first level houses The Fish Soup Boutique, where its signature dish is fish soup that’s “deceptively clear and full-bodied, finely balanced with a generous garnish of Japanese Nori in place of seaweed”, made with mackeral and seabass. Other complementary dishes include black char siu and grilled pork belly, and another signature, a spicy fragrant egg noodle dish which offers a local spin on mala, served with grilled fish or pork belly.

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Upstairs, The Rooftop Bistro has a more international spin. Open from 5.30pm, it offers Mexican, Italian and local fusion cuisine like beef rendang pasta. Cocktails are available too between $10 and $20, and good to note, every night is ladies night.

Where: 18 Pahang Street

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If you want a good range of local comfort food at good value, head to Ginger at Parkroyal Beach Road for its buffets. The weekday lunch spread  is priced at an impressive $35 per adult and offers up local faves like kurobuta pork belly kong bak pau, kueh pie tee, curry chicken noodles, Penang style prawn noodles and chicken rice. Things are raised up a notch for dinner ($58) with baby lobster laksa, braise pork trotter mee sua soup, Singapore chilli crab, and salted egg crab. Weekend buffets (from $58-$68) include soft shell crab, white pepper crab, wagyu beef cheek rendang, whole baked nonya salmon and roast wagyu beef. Sometimes we don’t need glamorous. Good value and soul food that resonates hit the spot.

Tel: +65 6505 5710

Weekday Lunch Buffet

Eewaun

Travel Notebook – Two Good Hong Kong Hotel Deals To Check Into

If you are not hung up about big and branded and your idea of a dream holiday is to live local then the next time you visit Hong Kong, you might want a few nights at Hotel Purple or Hotel COZi, two new boutique venues that are off the usual tourists belts but will give you a chance to experience life (albeit still in luxe surrounds) the way the locals see it.

Hotel Purple

Fresh and fun is how Hotel Purple is pitched. Located in Tin Hau, 5 minutes from the Tin Hau MTR (which is only 4 stops from all the action in Central, and near enough for you to walk to the eats and shops in Causeway Bay), the hotel is in the midst of a bustling local neighbourhood loved for its laid-back charm and culinary offerings at every street corner that range from traditional Hong Kong beef brisket noodles, old school dim sum stores, lovely new craft beer joints and artisan burger delis.

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Ok, the 83 rooms in this 24 storey property have a contemporary theme but as the name implies, expect lots of purple accented with yellow and we have been told that guests should look out for the iconic purple bay window seat in each room, a community atmosphere in the public areas where you can expect to meet other guests over local board games. Here’s the tip: the Hotel is offering a Studio Room for weekend getaways or longer term visits at HK$600 to celebrate their recent Spring opening. Free wifi included and find out more here.

Hotel Purple
Address: 19 Wing Hing Street, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Tel: (852) 2251 3000
Email: enquiry.hongkong@the-ascott.com


Hotel COZi

Just opened mid-March, Hotel COZi is near Tuen Mun MTR Station, steps away from the V City and tmtplaza malls, near enough to Hong Kong Disneyland if it’s a trip with kids. With 11 floors and 430 themed rooms and suites, the hotel also offers a range of kid-friendly facilities, an all-day dining restaurant called The Platter, meeting and function facilities, swimming pool, a gym, as well as a spa. In short, it’s vacation-resort enabled without the big inner-city price tag.

 

Just so you have your instagram-worthy moments planned, you might want to note that there is a classic railway-themed reception and that the lobby area that has been decorated with the four-faced clock inspired by the popular attraction of New York’s Grand Central Terminal. The rooms also each have different themes so depending on which exotic destination you want to spend the night in, you could choose an African, Japanese, Thai or Greek styled room. There are also Family Rooms whimsically decked out with illustrations, complete with kids’ amenities. Free wifi, of course!

From now to 11 July 2019, to celebrate its opening, guests can enjoy a room starting at HK$550 a night including a complimentary upgrade from a Thai Superior to a Thai Deluxe room, complimentary mini bar snacks (YUM) a late check out till 2pm and a Hotel souvenir gift to take home with you. What’s not to love? See here.

Hotel COZi ∙ Resort
Address: 4 Kin Fung Circuit, Tuen Mun, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 3899 9288
Email: info.resort@hotelcozi.com

Elaine

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Photo by Jimmy Chan on Pexels.com

My Carbonara Deserves More Than That!

Tasting Tuesday highlights a cosy pasta joint in Singapore this week.

Pasta Bar is one of those places that does what it says on the box. It’s pitch to customers is straightforward and simple—you come here to eat pasta. The simpler the proposal is, the higher the expectations, and on my recent dinner here, it did not disappoint.

Behind its clean simple frontage in Keong Saik Road, this dinner-only restaurant is dim, noisy but rather comfy. A bar dominates the middle of the dining room, and yes…it is literally a pasta bar. The cooking goes on behind it, and those sitting at the bar get an eyeful of the action. The service was generally friendly and prompt, and the food was good and hearty. Given the overall vibe and physical setting, I’d say this is a nice place for a non-threatening first date. As for ourselves, we had a cosy corner table near the entrance, all the better for an all-girl catch-up.

For starters, we had the whipped buffalo milk ricotta with honey served with toasted ciabatta. The cheese was creamy yet light, delightfully lifted with the fresh sweetness of the honey. The toasted bread gave a good crunch for contrast in texture.

The sashimi prawn with endive salad could have been enjoyable if it wasn’t so heavy-handed with the mayo dressing which weighed down and overwhelmed the otherwise light flavours.

Pasta is clearly the main attraction here, all handmade in house. My companions had the fettuccine with truffle butter and shaved truffle ($48)—clearly an indulgence. And the manager who served us was enthused about. He gave a riveting explanation—both hands gesticulating earnestly— about how the pasta was lovingly cooked in the truffle butter and finished off with very generous shavings of the prized mushrooms that literally covered the mound of pasta. Indeed, it was an aromatic dish. Then he turned to my carbonara ($29) and just said something to effect of “…And here is your (apologetic micro-pause)…carbonara.”

Done. That was it by way of introduction.

I admit I was quite miffed. It was not just another common garden pizza hut carbonara. Just because it did not have the sexy stuff like foie gras and truffles does not banish it into the ignominy of just “carbonara”. It does have lots going for it, and I am sure the chef knew it. Pasta Bar’s carbonara ciriole was perhaps the most authentic I have seen in Singapore, made not with bacon but guanciale, or cured pork cheek. Carbonara done this way is not easily found here, and it is, I believe, carbonara at its most authentic.
It was creamy not cloying, the delicate whiskers of percorino gave a salty tang but did not overwhelm, and the guanciale was crisp, light, savoury and quite out of this world. No, nothing remotely like bacon. For carbonara lovers out there, this is the bee’s knees here. The ciriole was nicely al dente and gave hearty mouthfuls. Kudos to the chef. (We totally appreciate that your dish is not just carbonara! Perhaps your manager didn’t get the memo!)

Wines by the glass are quite pricey starting from $18, but its selection is unusual and interesting. If you have room for dessert, the apple strudel with cinnamon and pine nuts is excellent. End with a lovely shot of homemade limoncello ($10).

55 Keong Saik Road #01-05
More details here: Here

Ee Waun

New & Noted – In Singapore, Two Drippingly Fresh Watering Holes for Craft Cocktails

Victoria Bar

The rather dead-beat Victoria Bar that languished in a corner of the Intercontinental Singapore has very thankfully been completely re-done and replaced by Idlewild, one of the latest cocktail bars in Singapore. What a necessary breath of fresh air for the hotel. We popped in for the opening party and from the quick preview we had, Idlewild seems promising.

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Themed after the golden age of air travel starting from the 1940s, Idlewild is a sexy space that exudes a retro-(somewhat)glam feel with a shiny, eye catching bar, sultry live jazz and a most elaborate story of the romance of air travel behind their cocktails.

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Tipples are inspired by 10 cities along the popular Transatlantic Route – Dublin, Rome, Lima, Lisbon, New York, Casablanca, London, Paris, Mexico City and Havana. There were some hits and misses from the 20 signature cocktails (from S$20++) on the menu. But we liked the Shaftesbury Theatre, made with London Dry Gin, dry vermouth, Chartreuse Genepi and black lemon bitters, and a favourite of mine, Passage to Havana, comprising Cuban rum, Amontillado and Pedro Ximénez sherries, Foro Amaro and tobacco tincture for a heady touch of smokiness.

Helming the bar is Andy Griffiths, a newcomer to Singapore. It would be interesting to see what he brings to the drinking scene here in time to come. Oh and just in case you’re wondering (like we did), Idlewild is the original name of the John F. Kennedy International Airport. Now you know.

80 Middle Road, Lobby Level, InterContinental Singapore, Singapore 188966
Closed on Mondays

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Old Man & The Sea

Another craft cocktail bar joins the list of eateries in the Keong Saik Road area, and of a most respectable pedigree to boot. Hong Kong’s award winning watering hole Old Man & The Sea—which is rated #10 on World’s 50 Best Bars list—opens its first overseas iteration in Singapore, paying homage to a literary great who loved his drink—Ernest Hemingway. The bar is helmed by seasoned pros in Hong Kong’s cocktail scene—Agung Prabowo, James Tamang and Roman Ghale with Head Bartender and Managing Partner Andrew Yap.

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Old Man & The Sea promises sophisticated cocktails that “exude an Asian touch”, which incorporates techniques like fat-washing, rotary evaporation or sous-vide cooking. Highlight on the menu are nine cocktails from the original list of drinks when the bar first opened in Hong Kong in 2017, all aptly named after Hemingway’s books. The Sun Also Rises is an Asian spin on the classic Negroni, with coconut oil fat-washed applejack, curry leaf-infused gin, sweet vermouth sous-vide pandan leaves and lime kaffir; The Green Hills of Africa contains rosemary-infused pisco, turmeric & tamarind cordial and citrus, and The Little Wax Puppy, is a mixture of beeswax-infused Michter’s Small Batch Bourbon with eucalyptus honey and bitters. All cocktails are $17++. I can’t wait to go check it out myself.

#01-04, 55 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089158

Ee Waun

Chicken Curry And Sambal Kangkong – Best At KK’s Auckland

I have been exploring and combing through Auckland’s little Malaysian food places and here’s one definitely worth sharing. To date, this is probably the best-rated (in my personal books) in terms of authentic and delicious. I seldom use that word – ‘delicious’ in a review but this was really good.

What I liked:

1. We (party of 3) were not after a big meal as this was lunchtime so we only ordered 3 dishes to share with white rice – the beef rendang, the sambal kang kong and the chicken curry. Each dish was about $24 with $2 for each bowl of white rice.

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2. All three dishes turned out excellent. The rendang (beef) could have been in chunkier pieces rather than slices but overall each dish offered up excellent flavour, good portion sizes so that you could share them with lots to go around and if we were any hungrier that day we would have asked for another few bowls of rice to just absorb all the saucy goodness in each dish. Instead, we faithfully ‘doggy-bagged’  the leftovers and had them for lunch again, the next day — it was that yummy.

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3. The restaurant is not big on ambience – in terms of chic or swanky. There is an outside area which looks nicer at night than it does in the day. Pretty much an eat and go ambience (at least for lunch) but then again, ‘you are there to appreciate the great food and the amazing home-cooked flavours’.

4. Although dessert-wise, it would have been great if the owners dished out local desserts like ice-kachang, tao-suan, pulot hitam and chendol as I would have loved to see and taste the quality which I am sure (judging from the quality of the main courses) been equally noteworthy.

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All said, am definitely coming back for more and a chance to try the other dishes that this trip, my stomach and waistline had no further room for.

Where: 

K K Malaysia Cuisine at 463A Manukau Road, Auckland Central, Auckland 1023, New Zealand. Tel: (64) 9 630 3555. See: Website

Getting Out There Again … In Auckland

I must admit that I have been much more cautious than usual this week, heading out ‘doing life’ and getting busy with the regular things that I do, here in Auckland. A definite post-event reaction to the sad and senseless Christchurch massacre events, from last week.  

I woke up last Saturday to an unusual number of concerned texts and what apps messages from friends and relatives all over the world, checking in on the situation here in Auckland. For the rest of last weekend, a lot of new residents like me must have sensed that in the world’s eyes, New Zealand’s remote ‘safe haven’ reputation was now seriously challenged. 

Yet, this week in New Zealand, amidst the sorrow, there was much to be proud about… at how well and quickly the crisis was communicated, how honest and humble the Police and government were in their responses and their immediate agreement on issues that needed to be instantly reviewed like gun laws. social media monitoring, setting up a counselling hotline and a quick declaration on what they were going to do to help victim’s loved ones.

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More importantly, how beautifully and compassionately NZ PM Jacinda Arden, wasted no time addressing the country, flying down to the scene straight after her press conference, respectfully clad in a hijab … speaking to families and not just officials. She set – in that moment, a new benchmark for world leaders on how to respond to a national crisis by making compassionate classy in a way that only a woman knows how to do. Her “They are Us” declaration admirably saw the rest of the nation echo the sentiment and share collective ownership of the gravity and grief. 

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The world is like a school playground … there will always be a bully … sometimes disgruntled and overt, sometimes disguised and lurking. Admittedly this week, there is a thin layer of uncomfortable  hanging in the air.

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Credit for the photo used: to Singaporean Designer Keith Lee

Fear is something we can choose not to teach our children. Perhaps the greater take away is the truth – that there is no way to stop a bully. Being vigilant, sensitive and respectful of our differences, tolerant, and ultimately united is key and so is standing up bravely as a community – together. Hate should not stop or rob you of the joy of doing life, wherever you may be, or choose to go. 

I am curious as to what fate awaits the gunman who started all this, here in New Zealand as he will face local laws and how this will go down in the next generation’s history books. 

54258211_10156187653551302_5865432193840447488_oThis season, the world’s eyes rest on remote and (once) peaceful Aotearoa, the land of the long white cloud.  We are shaken and perhaps a bit stirred.

My hope is that a new rain will come and wash away the hurt and that it will birth a new season of greater respect, compassion, tolerance, sensitivity and unity amongst the many races, cultures, religions who call it Home.

God Bless New Zealand.

Credit for the photo used: to Singaporean Designer Keith Lee 
Credits for all other photos used in this article to: The New Zealand Herald 

Elaine

 

L’Espresso at Goodwood Park Hotel – A New and Surprising Chocolate Afternoon Tea Spread

In Singapore, afternoon tea at Goodwood Park Hotel’s L’Espresso Lounge has been very popular ever since I have been a food writer—and that’s close to three decades. The appeal of taking tea in L’Espresso’s informal sunlit lounge overlooking its leafy gardens has clearly not waned one bit. When we popped by this weekend to try out its latest chocolate-infused afternoon tea menu, we noted that almost every table was occupied. Those that weren’t had ‘reserved’ tent cards sitting squarely in the centre. It mattered little to diners that the café’s light beige hues and European furniture were looking rather dated, and the tableware and china teapots had seen better days.

The chocolate-themed afternoon tea the café recently rolled out was ostensibly for International Women’s Day, but it would be served until end April. While the dessert spread predictably carried the weight of the theme, the savouries held some interesting surprises. The finger sandwiches featured white and chocolate bread filled with creative fillings which worked nicely. My favourite was the very tasty zucchini piccata with smoky tomato, and there was the beef pastrami with emmental cheese and dried tomato pesto. Then there was duck rillette with chocolate ganache and orange – the chocolate overpowered the duck somewhat, but it was a pleasant combination – and a quirky jamon iberico with chocolate pecan nut roll. I really liked the white chocolate arancini – the chocolate was not pronounced, but lent sweetness and creaminess to the rice ball; and the piquant Mexican beef stew where the addition of chocolate gave it a rounded, smooth texture and a hint of sweetness.

Chocolate cooking aside, the honey stout roast chicken was very good, along with the crabmeat and corn tartlet (very generous with the crab), cucumber sandwiches and maple glazed bacon and egg mayo croissant. And how about the scones, which is crucial to every afternoon tea spread? Well, they were puffy, soft and held the promise of a sublime bite. Unfortunately, while the texture was good, the taste was  doughy—perhaps a tad under-baked.

With it being chocolate focused, I chose the No.1 Tea, a special tea blend infused with chocolates and nuts, and that went perfectly with the spread.

It was overall a good, moderate-sized spread even if it tended to be heavy handed with sandwiches and its bread-based iterations. The tea here offered enough savouries and sweets, including two to three hot dishes to make up a filling lunch if you chose to go at noon, like we did. Priced at $45- $48 per person, the spread also includes two servings of beverage: choose from 13 teas and 20 coffees.

The downside were the chipped teapots and the forlorn, age-worn plates which desperately need to be replaced. Service and the replenishing of dishes at the buffet was rather slow, but the staff were absolutely polite and warm.

As with afternoon teas though, as long as the spread is decent, the occasion can be a success with good company, a few leisurely house and a nice setting. And L’Espresso delivers enough to ensure a regular full house.

Good to note: Afternoon tea starts at 2pm on weekdays, while weekends feature two seatings of 2.5 hours each starting from 12pm.

Goodwood Park Hotel
22 Scotts Road
S228221
Tel:+65 67377411

Ee Waun

NEW and NOTED: Fashionable Afternoon Teas This Season In Hong Kong

Fashion and makeup, both rule the runways and the Hotel Tea Rooms this season in Hong Kong as Spring comes into full swing in the fragrant harbour. Here’s our pick of the few note-worthy afternoon tea tables for you to book a seat at, this season.

The ‘Be Fabulous’ Afternoon Tea At Cucina (Marco Polo Hong Kong)

Almost too pretty to eat, Cucina’s  “Be Fabulous” elegant afternoon tea has you tucking into a tray of sweet and savoury petite treats served up in a cosmetic box.

Be Fabulous Afternoon Tea 艷麗「味」影下午茶

The ‘cosmetics’ that come with the set are all edible and there are 15 delicate delights, including 4 savoury, 6 sweet and 5 edible surprises.

Savoury treats include Marinated Gold Salmon with Oscietra Caviar, Duck Liver Macaron, Black Truffle Eggs Ciabatta and Lobster and Mango Open Sandwich. Sweets include a Raspberry Chocolate Cake, Green Tea Mousse, Pink Tiramisu, Vanilla lce Cream, Grapefruit Chocolate Praline and Lemon Cheese Cake.

Look out for the edible surprises hidden within the cosmetic box, including the Strawberry Chocolate Lipstick, for those essential post-meal touch ups, as well as the Black Truffle Eye Shadow Set, where savoury delicacies are enhanced by black truffle. You can also spray Rose Water Perfume over the tea set, for that extra hint of romance.

HK$508 for two persons with two glasses of Bellini, Italian Sangria or the Marco Polo Earl Grape Iced Tea. Available daily from 3pm to 5:30pm. Book at (852) 2113 0808. See: here

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The “Living Coral” Afternoon Tea At Alibi (Cordis, Hong Kong)

It’s no secret that Cordis, Hong Kong has a thing for the colour orange, it’s unmissable corporate hue.  This March, the Hotel’s modern European restaurant and bar ALIBI – WINE DINE BE SOCIAL partners with VDL, a professional makeup brand in Korea, to present the “Living Coral” Afternoon Tea that draws inspiration from the newly launched VDL + Pantone™ makeup collection and the animating and life-affirming coral hue.

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Shades of living coral, are presented in a makeup box that include succulent treats like Savoury Rose Tea and Beetroot Macaroon, Fresh Crab Meat with Pimiento de piquillo mayonnaise, O.B.E Beef Tartare served on grilled sourdough, Black Truffle and Comté Cheese Croquette.

There are lavish desserts for sweet lovers including a Mixed Berries Lipstick Chocolate, Raspberry Opera Cake, Peach Cottage Cheese Cake, Cherry Chocolate tart and Scones with clotted cream and white peach jam.

Alibi’s resident mixologist  has also crafted a refreshing mocktail ‘Coral Punch’ to complete the experience.

HK$498 for two persons (with only up to 10 sets served daily). available till 31st May – served daily from 3:00 pm to 5:30 pm. Each guest receives a set of VDL goodies including Lumilayer Primer Fresh (12ml), Expert Colour Real Fit Velvet Lip Card, Pantone 2019 Mobile Holder and an exclusive voucher for VDL products (valued at HK$210 per set). The first 100 guests will receive an additional Expert Colour Real Fit Velvet Mini (valued at HK$100). Book at (852) 3552 3028. See: here

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Bursting With Colour At Popinjays  (The Murray, Hong Kong)

Located on the rooftop, Popinjays at The Murray has launched a fun and interactive afternoon tea that is all about flamboyant and playful indulgence. Notable about the venue is the use of  The Aviary, a 20-seat private room with a terrace at Popinjay’s. This is available to book and is a great place to  host an exclusive tea party.

TheMurray_Popinjays Afternoon Tea

Bursting with colour, this tea has savoury items including Organic Egg, Kristal Caviar, Créme Fraîche, Blinis and Blue Lobster, Celeriac and Apple Remoulade as well as a selection of savoury muffins. Sweets include Salted Pistachio Cassis Tartelette, Strawberry Lamington, Thai Basil Cream, Raspberry Macaroon with Violet Mascarpone, Ecuador 56% Dark Chocolate Tart and Coconut and Pineapple Eclaire. Warm scones served with homemade papaya and mango jam accompanied by cream whipped à la minute complete the experience.

Add ons are available at an extra of HK$300 per person to  enjoy a glass of Deutz Blanc de Blanc champagne or Charles-Heidsieck Ros or add HK$90 for Popinjays Signature Scones which come in two favours, Cherry Jubilee or Blood Orange. These are flambéed tableside and will guarantee an instagram-worthy show stopping experience.

Otherwise, Afternoon Tea is HK$688 for two persons (inclusive of coffee and tea). Book at (852) 3141 8888. See: here

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The Repetto Afternoon Tea (At the InterContinental, Hong Kong)

Partnering with chi chi French luxury brand Repetto, this elegant high tea (available till 30 April) at the Intercontinental’s Lobby Lounge will fulfil every ballerina’s girly dream with this ballet themed Afternoon Tea Set.

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Repetto is a French fashion brand that has been producing exquisite ballet-wear for over 70 years. The brand is famous for the delicacy and comfort of it’s dance and footwear and a unique fabrication process, known as the ‘stitch and return’. Paying homage to this form of craftsmanship, special ingredients have been flown in to make the tea including rocamadour cheese, walnuts and truffles, from the area nearby the Repetto Factory located in Saint Medard d’Excideuil in Dordogne, France.

On the savoury menu are Crumbed Snails, Rocamadour Cheese and Light Garlic Dressing, Homemade Gravlax Salmon, Walnut Cream and Kaluga Caviar, Duck Foie Gras Cake and a Chilled French Onion Soup with Truffle Flavoured, Onion Marmalade Baguette.

Pastries include Ispahan Cake, Raspberry and Rose Water Essence, Passion Fruit and Mango Macaron, Blueberry and Cream Cheese Tartlet, Citrus Panna Cotta and Pink Pomelo Syrup.

The tea also comes with plain and raisin scones, served with Devonshire clotted cream, Earl Grey tea jelly and Mandarin jam and a selection of fine Mariage Frères Tea or Coffee.

HK$688 for two persons plus 2 Repetto Gift Pouches.  Available Monday to Friday: 2:30pm – 6:00pm and Saturday, Sunday and Public Holidays: 1:30pm – 6:00pm. Each guest takes home a “Dance with Repetto” perfume (2ml), plus a Gift Card valid through May 31, 2019. Book at (852) 2313 2323. See: here

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Bvlgari Fiorever & The Peninsula Afternoon Tea (The Peninsula, Hong Kong)

Till the end of March, The Pen, as it is affectionately called, presents “BVLGARI FIOREVER & THE PENINSULA” an Afternoon Tea that is the latest chapter in a 20-year-long relationship that stretches back to BVLGARI’s debut at The Peninsula Arcade.

PHK_ BVLGARI FIOREVER & THE PENINSULA Afternoon Tea (vertical)

Playing with the Italian word for flower, ‘FIORE’, and the English word FOREVER – comes a new word “FIOREVER” that immortalizes the eight-petal flower, the emblem of the Roman passion for life that the brand has become known for.

The three-tiered tea set has a 3 tier offering with the top tier including a Tiramisu Tart with espresso jelly, Mini Pan D’oro with clementine, Panna Cotta with mango and Almond biscottini with crema di cioccolato that subtly references the eight-dimensional petals of the collection.

Moreish morsels and savoury treats are found on the second tier in the form of an egg-shaped Polenta custard with butter-fried sweetcorn and egg-yolk mayonnaise, Smoked salmon with lemon pearls and sour cream, Prosciutto Parma ham with butter choux, crispy quinoa and vinegar pearls as well as the classic dill-marinated cucumber with ricotta cheese sandwiches.

Completing the set are a pair of zesty citrus chocolates and The Peninsula’s famous freshly baked, buttery raisin scones served with velvety clotted cream and heavenly organic strawberry jam.

HK$398 for one person or HK$718 for two, served daily from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm now till 31 March 2019. Guests also enjoy a shopping privilege at the BVLGARI Boutique in The Peninsula Arcade with a surprise giveaway. Book at (852) 2696 6772. See: here

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The ‘RELAX • RECHARGE’ Afternoon Tea Relax (Pierside Bar & Restaurant at The Royal Pacific Hotel & Towers)

Good value and price come together in this Afternoon tea set which features a range of savoury treats, such as Tiger Prawn and Mango Sandwich, Grilled Chicken with Caesar Tortilla Wrap, Tuna Mousse stuffed with Cucumber Roll.

There are also a range of handcrafted sweets including Green Tea Panna Cotta, Mini Fruit Tart, Strawberry Cheesecake, Signature Puff with Kumquat Cream with signature warm Butter Scones served with Clotted Cream and Marmalade.  Tea is a choice of fine Illy coffee or a soothing Pukka organic herbal tea amidst the sweeping views of the harbour.

Add ons are available including à-la-minute specialties like Classic Croque Madame (HK$88),Spanish Omelette with Fresh Crab Meat (HK$98), Crispy French Toast with Praline (HK$88), Vanilla Hot Cake with Glazed Berries (HK$88) or Chef’s Selection of Cake ($58).

Available Monday to Friday (except Public Holiday), 3:00pm – 5:30pm. Afternoon Tea is HK $198 for two persons. A minimum charge of HK$85 per person applies. Book here

Elaine

Good Hainanese Chicken Rice and Nonya-Style Malaysian Dishes in Auckland

I have to say that to-date, I have not found a Singaporean restaurant in Auckland. Nor have I found a Nonya or Peranakan restaurant here, the way they have them in Singapore and Malacca.

I have discovered some hidden gems in my search and here is one that locals in Howick, in the eastern bays in Auckland especially the Asian community have been waxing lyrical about.  

Malaysian owned and operated, this restaurant known as Malaysia Nonya Restaurant serves their version of Nonya cuisine which probably is the closest to the real thing that you can find here. You won’t get your Itek Tim or your Sio or Buah Keluak here but there are a few Nonya-inspired and some very good Malaysian dishes on the menu.

We were introduced to it when we were at a party we attended. Finding other Singaporean friends there, we asked where we could find the best chicken rice in Auckland and this was their recommendation. 

Our idea of the best chicken rice is probably a plate of kampong chicken steamed in soya sauce, ginger and garlic so that when ready, the skin is thin, silky smooth, delicately pulling away from the meat. You can taste the sauce infused into the soft succulent meat and the ginger, garlic and pandan-flavoured rice is fragrant and not clumpy and where you can actually see each grain of rice almost separately when its served on your plate. Tall order? Well, this restaurant serves up a pretty good version of this dish. 

What I liked about the experience: 

1. The staff were friendly and yes, I am pretty sure they were mostly Malaysians. They made good recommendations based on what we generally wanted to eat and on portions so that we did not over order, like we Singaporeans always tend to do.

2. We had a variety of dishes – the Chicken rice as described above was a must-have. 

The Deep fried Tofu was delicious – crispy on the outside and silky soft inside with a sauce that went really well with the dish.

I have missed Morning Glory, the English name for Kang Kong fried in sambal and here they did an excellent version of this.

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Ngor Hiang

We also ordered Sweet and Sour Pork that came with mixed capsicum and onions and pineapple and a platter of deep fried Ngor Hiang which was quite meaty as it had chunks of probably pork and water chestnuts inside. 

3. A tip for rice lovers is to order the chicken rice rather than the regular rice, if you want to enjoy extra flavour to your meal. It is fragrant and delicious and you won’t stop at one bowl.

4. I did not really try the Nonya dishes there. A quick glance at the menu and they  seemed more Nonya-style and Straits-inspired with the menu offering Nonya Rendang, Nonya Duck Curry and Nonya Fried Rice rather than the likes of the traditional Babi Pongteh, Itek Tim, Sio and such. What we ordered was pretty much what our party of 3 wanted to eat that day so we will have to come back another day for a proper review of the specific Nonya items on the menu.

5. They also had a full vegetarian menu which is great if you are dining with someone who is vegetarian or wants a gluten-free option. The restaurant does not have a website but the link that I found and have provided in this review, has the full menu listed. 

6. You can BYO here for an additional $2 a bottle which we appreciated very much. 

7. The place is just behind the usual venue for the weekend Howick Village market along Picton Street so there is lots of free parking available. 

The place to go when you get those cravings for something Asian and local.

Where:

Unit D, 87-89 Picton Street, Howick, Auckland. Call (64) 9 5376168. See: https://www.zomato.com/auckland/malaysia-nyonya-restaurant-howick