City Guide – 4 Tips On How to 7 Sydney Sights In 8 Hours

On the way to Auckland recently, I had an 8 hour stopover in Sydney with my pre-teen in tow. For once, the usually organised me – did not have a plan.

My last visit to Sydney was probably over twenty years ago. My daughter has never been to Sydney so since a stopover was a must, to get into Auckland as all the other flights were full – I decided – heck, why not!

So we landed at 6am in Sydney with no idea what to do except advice from a friend that I could take a train to Circular Quay from the airport terminal and work out the rest from there so that is exactly what I did.

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We ended up seeing 7 places in the short span of 8 hours, having a great meal by the Darling harbour and getting back to the airport in time and here are 4 useful tips on how to do that.

1. Foodstuff – Pack It With A List    

We arrived with two hand carries. One filled with computers, charges and iPads and the other filled with foodstuff so that we did not have to open our heavier main luggage when declaring it going into Auckland.  Not the wisest move to bring food out of transit in Australia, as Oz is the home of “Border Patrol” and they have strict, if not the strictest restrictions on what you can and can’t move out of customs. So if you are ever on transit here and in the same predicament do yourself a favour (like we did) and write a comprehensive list of what’s in your food bag. Eg. 1 packet dried shrimp. The general rule – no raw eggs, meat or honey and no seeds. Also do not take any foodstuff off the plane as that is also not allowed. Yes, leave the bottled water and the packet of nuts behind. If you have no food on you and don’t want a hassle queueing – that should be a point you want to note.

2. Find a Storage Locker

We found one in Sydney airport, right next to the Flower Shop after we happily cleared customs. For something like $12 for 8 hours per hand carry – it was the perfect drop off.

3. Look for the Train

The local train into the city runs right into the airport – a very good thing about Sydney’s airport.  Go to the end of arrivals and board the train into Central Sydney. We bought a day pass for under AUD50 each and off we went. It may seem high – but leaving the airport is already AUD15 and back is another AUD15, individual stops if you get off and on are AUD3 to AUD4 per one way.

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We got off at Circular Quay by 8am, home to the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Opera House and within walking distance to the Rocks and the Darling Harbour so that was four attractions covered off in one stop.

4. Look for a Sydney Attractions Pass Booth

We headed to the Rocks for breakfast and coffee and around the area, ask any of the Tourism Info Centres where you can buy an attractions pass.

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Sydney is built for tourism and the good thing about Sydney is that the attractions are all nearby to each other – at least the main ones for kids are.

We found this place where you can buy it at one of their booths or online and we bought tickets (about AUD$65 each) to 3 attractions (the Aquarium, the Wildlife Centre and Madame Trussard’s Wax Museum) which we discovered were all located side by side along the Darling Harbour waterfront (our 7th and final stop) where we afterwards had a lovely late lunch before getting back to the airport by 3pm to catch our 5pm to Auckland.

City Stopover Summary  

  • 6am Landed in Sydney
  • 7am Cleared customs stored luggage
  • 745am Train to Circular Quay
  • 830am Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge
  • 10am Breakfast and Coffee at The Rocks
  • 11am Buy Attraction Pass and walk to Darling Harbour Waterfront
  • 11.15am Aquarium Visit (its small with a travelator that goes under the fish dome that does not move so you can walk through. So expect to be done in 45 minutes)
  • 12pm The Wildlife Adventure (liked this best out of all the attractions as it was more unusual)
  • 1pm Madame Trussard’s Wax Museum – after all the goofy pics that we took and the realisation that some of the stars were actually shorter than I thought that they would be in real life, we got hungry!
  • 145pm Grabbed a quick Italian lunch at one of the lovely waterfront restaurants
  • 230pm Took the half hour ride back to the airport in time for our 530pm flight to Auckland

Other top Sydney Attractions HERE

Best and most productive and efficient 8 hours ever spent in one city!

 

 

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6 Hipster Lunar New Year Feasts in Hong Kong

If you are swinging over to Hong Kong to avoid the ‘hong bao’ handouts, over inquisitive relatives then you might like to pop into these interesting relatively new hipster spots to savour some of the trendy eats that have emerged from Hong Kong’s ever creative dining scene.

Fang Fang

If you are fan of Modern Chinese, head to Fang Fang at LKF Towers, Central. They have an Ikebana cocktail menu that celebrates the Japanese art of floral decoration, available from 30 January – 6 February 2018.

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Award winning Bar Manager Gagan Gurung (ex Zuma) uses a floral theme to create cocktails with names like ‘Garden Old Fashioned’ featuring kavalan whiskey; ‘Fangroni’ which brings an enchanting Asian twist to the classic Negroni and the ‘Champaca Margarita’ which carries refreshing notes of magnolia flower infused Cointreau and citrus mix.

For the Lunar New Year, book a seat for 17 February 2018 for the Prosperity Brunch (HKD398) which includes a free flow moët (HKD 150) and features Chef Kent Lee’s new dim sum dishes as well as a modern take on the traditional Lo Hei, prepared with Norwegian Salmon. Brunch .  A festive dinner menu (HKD 888) will also be available for a limited amount of time and will feature rainbow Lo Hei with Norwegian Salmon as well as a Fang Fang’s a premium Dim Sum platter which will include a new interpretation of hargau, siumai and king crab dumpling.

If you want a bit of live entertainment, singer Wendy Robin, will be performing soulful jazz and blues from Tuesday through Saturday each week and throughout the Lunar New Year.

Yum Cha 

Chic, trendy and fast expanding dim sum dining destination restaurant YUM CHA has restaurants in TST, Mongkok, Central and a new one just opened in Causeway Bay (Emperor Watch & Jewellry Centre, 8 Russell Street) that resembles a New York loft concept. The chain which also owns Social Place, promises an eye-catching ‘instaworthy’ dim sum menu for Chinese New Year.

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Created by Executive Chef Winson Yip, red bean paste buns are designed to resemble the ‘God of Wealth’, bringing good fortune and prosperity; ‘Fried Dumplings with Pork Filling’ are styled after a traditional Chinese gold ingot; ‘Mandarin Buns’ are bite-sized lookalikes of a prosperous mandarin; and ‘Lo Hei’, a mini-version of the colourful, fun and tasty Prosperous Toss salad, traditionally shared to symbolise abundance and prosperity. The team have made it their mission to promote Hong Kong’s food culture, with expert dim sum and wok chefs bringing a modern twist to the fragrant harbour’s traditional ‘yum cha’ ritual of tea and dim sum delicacies.

Zen

Head to the heart of vibrant Wanchai to ZEN, a newly relaunched Cantonese restaurant.  The restaurant hails from London, now in Hong Kong with restaurants around the world including Beijing, Shanghai, Gold Coast, Tianjin, Sanya, Shanxi Taiyuan, Hainan Island, Chengdu, Mexico City, Macao, Dubai and Amman. There are 3 menus available from now till 2 March 2018 that are ideal for group gatherings. Each is a 10-course set priced at HKD5500, HKD6688 and HKD7788 respectively for 10-12 people.

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All about lucky connotations, the ‘Lucky Menu’ (HKD5,500) starts with Deep-fried Scallops stuffed with dishes like Shrimp Paste and Golden Roast Crispy Sesame Chicken. The ‘Joyful’ menu (HKD6,688) has a Whole Suckling Pig barbecued to perfection, Grilled King Prawns in a Honey Tomato Sauce and Poached Yin Yan Cabbage with Tofu Skin and Wood Fungi served in a rich fish stock. The ‘Prosperous’ menu (HKD7788) includes both supreme dried seafood and fresh catches of the day including the signature Fried Baby Lobster coated with Golden Duck Yolk and the Double-Boiled Yin Yan Chicken Soup with Ginseng.

Duddel’s

With restaurants in Hong Kong and London, Duddell’s fashionable take on Chinese food is not just about the food but also the location, the interior is said to be fashioned after the eclectic home of a seasoned art collector. The restaurant in Hong Kong is situated on the historic Duddell Street, in the heart of Hong Kong’s Central district.

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For the Lunar New Year,  Dim Sum and Suckling Pig are on their lavish menu. If you are going for the dim sum nibbles, they start at HKD68 per dish. If it’s a proper sit down reunion meal, that you are after then there are 2 set menus that start for minimum 4 people from HKD8388 with items like Baked Crab Shell with Onion, Braised Conpoy with dried Oysters and Sea moss, Sauteed Garoupa with termite mushroom, Crispy Salted Chicken. Available both lunch and dinner from 18th to 25th February

Mott 32

With restaurants in Vancouver, Hong Kong and soon Bangkok, Mott 32 is equally fashionable and well-located at the Standard Chartered Bank Building in Des Voeux Road, Central.

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Highly regarded, Executive Chef Lee Man Sing (ex-Mandarin Oriental) runs the kitchens and he has elaborate ala carte items like Whole Atlantic Lobster Salad (HKD688) with a homemade sauce, wok fried Razor clams with spring onion and ginger (HKD388), king Prawns in Chinese Rice wine, vinegar, chilli with a pan-fried sticky rice cake (HKD338), baked fresh Crab with egg, tangerine peel and onion (HKD488) and Apple-wood roasted Iberico Pork rib (HKD198) on the new year menu.

San Xi Lou 

If you have a thing for spicy Sichuan, this is the place to go to.  The name ‘San Xi Lou’ was is inspired by the Emperor Qianlong’s Imperial Studyroom – San Xi Tang (Hall of Three Rarities), in which he housed his favourite calligraphy treasures.

It’s two restaurants at Coda Plaza on Garden Road and its newly opened Times Square outlet in Causeway Bay are serving festive fare from 1 February – 2 March, with three banquet menu options featuring a range of symbolic dishes and two takeaway ‘Poon Choi’ options ideal for eight at HKD2,480.

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Their traditional ‘Poon Choi’ (Big Bowl) communal pot options come in both Sichuan and Cantonese style with premium ingredients including abalone, conpoy, goose web and dried oyster, meticulously layered , with a non-spicy ‘Nam Yue’ version, and San Xi Lou’s signature spicy Sichuan ‘Mala’ option. There are 3 Set Meals – Fiery Set (HK$8,880 for 12 persons), a milder ‘Golden Set’ (HK$16,800 or 12 persons) and a Prosperous Set’ (HK$6,880 or 12 persons). Each features eight appetisers, a variety of meat and seafood specialties, noodles, ending with dessert and a fruit platter.

 

Elaine

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red Box Chinese New Year Takeaways From Hong Kong

Singapore is so accustomed to the Lunar New Year cookie scene – plastic boxes with red lids packed with the most delightful goodies. The scene shifts slightly in Hong Kong as the eats come in pretty red boxes with a different flavour and premium packaging, Feast your eyes on what we got in our IN box this week from the fragrant harbour

The BonBonist

Newly opened at Pacific Place, The BonBonist combines playful, fun and decadent into delectable little treats. Founded by French confectionery expert Olivia Niddam, the shop is the latest sweet-tooth craze to hit Hong Kong with over 70 delicious selections of sweets and chocolates.

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Their Lunar Year gift set is a classy  “Auspicious Treasure Trove” highlighting four new enticing bonbons, a trendy tote bag and laisee packets. ((priced HKD628),  a perfect manifesto of Eastern tradition married with Francophone chic.  Each bonbon is  also available for purchase individually, priced from HKD48 to HKD68. Customers can opt to create their own special bonbon box with colour stickers and ribbons to add a simply sweet personal touch to gifts.  Order placed between 18 to 25 January 2018  will be treated a delightful discount of 10% off the first box purchased, 15% off when two boxes are purchased; and 20% off when five boxes are purchased.

Moreish 

Moreish is a contemporary Hong Kong brand driven by a passion to celebrate classic favourites  transforming them into fresh and exciting gourmet treats. Their treats are Malaysian inspired and based on ‘Mum’s secret recipe’, beautifully repackaged. The unusual name stems from the informal British word used as an adjective to describe a food that is so pleasant to eat, that one wants more.

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Their reinvented pineapple shortcake is made with pineapple sourced from small farms in Thailand and they use native Patavia pineapples that are selected by hand just before they fully ripen to ensure that the filling has the right balance – not too sweet with a tropical tang. Their pineapple treats are wrapped like square shortcakes at HK138 a box and are pina colada flavoured.

 

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Long standing veteran French chocolatier, La Maison du Chocolat has an exclusive Flourish Gift Box (HKD680) and a number of refined hatbox gift sets – all prettily packaged in French hatboxes. Alongside the main box, the Propitious Hatbox, Blossoming Hatbox, and Fruitful Hatbox – are tailored to fit every celebration during this festive time.

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The Flourish Gift Box offers a scintillating variety of sweet and crunchy La Maison du Chocolat treats presented in a beautifully designed box embellished with a sophisticated dog graphic.

Green Common

Launched four years ago, Green Common has really upped its game from health-conscious all-green organic-led supermarket to a restaurant and now a retail store offering lunar New Year vegan pastries that they have termed “food 2.0”.

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Filled with red quinoa and a variety of super food options like nourishing Cordycep flowers and peach gum, as well as purple sweet potato, each ingredient is nutrient-rich with no artificial colouring or flavouring agents. Everything is also manufactured fresh, locally-packed and vacuum sealed. There are four Chinese New Year puddings in-store to take away with names like “Purple east”, “Continuing success”, “Ma spirit” and “Well known household names” each named after the main ingredient – purple sweet potato, carrot, water chestnut, taro.

The Peninsula Hotel

Hong Kong’s Grand Dame hotel, The Peninsula (known fondly as ‘The Pen’) honours the season at their Spring Moon Chinese restaurant with their celebrated Lunar New Year puddings (HKD298) each available in Taro, Water Chestnut, Turnip and Spring Moon New Year Pudding flavours.

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Each pudding arrives in elegant packaging, making them ideal gifts for relatives and business associates – or simply for your own enjoyment. Order between 16 January 2018 and 15 February 2018 and collect from Spring Moon the following day. Guests purchasing 20 or more puddings are entitled to a 10% discount, while a 20% discount is applied to orders of 50 or more.

Cordis, Hong Kong

Cordis at Langham Place in Mongkok has also pulled out all the stops at Ming Court, their Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant, with an array of suspicious festive pudding takeaways with an innovative range of flavours including Aged Pu’er, Dark Brown Sugar and Coconut Chinese New Year Pudding (HKD238); Pumpkin and Coconut Chinese New Year Pudding (HKD268) and the all-time favourite Abalone, Conpoy, Air-Dried Preserved Meat and Turnip Pudding (HK288).

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All puddings are elegantly packaged in Ming Court’s unique New Year prosperity box. Available to order from now. For orders of 30 boxes or more before 5th February 2018, guests enjoy a 20% discount.

 

The Intercontinental Hong Kong

With a prime view of the Victoria Harbour, The Intercontinental has gift boxes and puddings galore. The Hotel goes a step further. Here, you can actually learn to make your own Chinese New Year Savoury Kagoshima Thick Cut Daikon Pudding and Peanut & Sesame Dumplings under the expert guidance of Yan Toh Heen Executive Chef Lau Yiu Fai and his team. Chef Lau will demonstrate how to make this savoury seasonal treat, along with Peanut & Sesame Dumplings.

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Date/Time: Saturday, February 10, 2018 (12:15pm – 2:00pm)

Venue: Yan Toh Heen Private Room

Price:  HK$1,488 per person + 10% service charge                   

Takeaway gifts: A box of Savoury Kagoshima Thick Cut Daikon Pudding, a package of traditional Peanut & Sesame Dumplings, a bottle of Yan Toh Heen Homemade X.O. Chili Sauce and a Yan Toh Heen apron.

Participants:     10 persons maximum

For Restaurant and Chinese New Year Pudding Class Reservations call +852 2313 2323 or E-mail: fb.hongkong@ihg.com

Elaine

Uniqlo Launches Mums And Babes Collection

Forget fat and frumpy! The preggars amongst us battling the office air-con, the hospital chill or just taking off on a winter holiday need not despair. Winter is not going to be about hiding the layers but accentuating them.

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Uniqlo, our favourite Japanese basics retailer has just launched a Mums and Babes collection which includes comfy leggings and ultra-stretch jeans for mums at good price points that start at only S$19.90 for maternity leggings. Soft, comfy and easy to fold – they look great for just folding into your travel bag or keeping handy.

 

If you are picking up a gift, there are sleepers, bodysuits and onesies for baby which effectively wrap babies in warmth and softness. Pieces are designed to be durable enough to withstand daily washing without losing shape while remaining delicate enough for newborn skin.

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Available this month at UNIQLO Suntec City and online in Singapore here, while all other items are available in selected UNIQLO stores including UNIQLO’s Global Flagship Store at Orchard Central and online. Prices range from $9.90 for Babies & Newborns’ Bib (2pc) to $59.90 for a pair of Maternity Ultra Stretch Jeans.

The baby range is also available now in Hong Kong stores and online here. 

 

Road Trip To Rotorua, New Zealand

The next time you are in Auckland, New Zealand put a 2 day road trip to Rotorua into the itinerary. It’s a rare opportunity to get out of the city, a fairly leisurely drive and just enough activities to get you busy, immersed in both nature and a bit of Maori culture for two plus days.

I love how the Kiwis just get to the point with their quick deals.

This was evident pre-trip, when we headed to JUCY rentals and emerged having rented a car from their El Cheapo range of budget cars.

Our trusty rental was a great deal – a 1.6 litre sedan at about NZ$50 a day. We added on a rental GPS (although you could use your phone if you have data) and we were off out onto the open road with a rough itinerary in mind.

Can you see the rainbow in the distance on our front windscreen?

Day 1

From Auckland to the Waitomo Glow Worm Caves 

The drive to Rotorua is about 3 hours long. Leave in the morning and stop for lunch,  coffee and cake along the way. New Zealand coffees are just the best – perhaps its the weather or the fact that you have enough time to savour your cup of joe instead of hastily gulping it down before rushing to your next meeting.

 

Our first stop was Waitomo Glow Worm Caves. I would rate this a must-go, something you do before it gets dark (closes at 5pm) and a max 1.5 hour stop. Don’t expect a glitzy theme park experience from this nicely set up, modern looking ticketed attraction with a gift shop ensuite. This is definitely all-nature and all about your experience taking a peek into it. You are literally brought into the experience, rather than having it present itself to you so it takes a bit of an open mind to appreciate the visit. First up, you are ushered by a guide into the cave where there is a request for silence or minimal noise. Leave the bawling babies and noisy kids at home. You listen to stories told in first person by an experienced host about the history of the cave and how it was discovered. After a short walk in, you get on to a boat and ride the rest of the way into cave – all mobile devices on silent, in complete darkness – right into the heart of the cave where you see glow worms nesting in the recesses of the cave ceiling above you, their tiny bodies giving off an eerie faint blue light. You look up and it seems that the night has come and all you see above are a million stars. Surreal!

Check into Hotel and have dinner at Food Street

Staying along the Lakeside – would be my advice as the main city of Rotorua is built along the lake. You know that you have arrived when you wind down the car windows and the pungent smell of sulphur greets you head on. The closest description of the smell is rotten eggs. We stayed at the Novotel, Rotorua Lakeside. Very comfortable, has its own mineral spa (think onsen) inside the Hotel which is free for guests and is right next to the pubs and eateries along the next door main dining thoroughfare known as Food Street in Rotorua.

Day 2  

Tepuia Hot Spring Geysers

Tepuia, is the closest hot spring geysers to visit in Rotorua, This is a ticketed attraction with a walking guided tour, a visit to the Maori cultural centre in side and gift shop.

The pools are hot enough to cook food in and most definitely not safe for a swim or leisurely dip of any kind.

After the walkabout, wander into the Maori craftsmanship areas where weaving and boat building techniques are explained and demonstrated.

Expect to spend about 1.5 to 2 hours here. In perfect time for you to drive back down to the Lakeside area and check into the Polynesian Spa which we did not visit this trip as we were already too spa-ed out at the Hotel spa.

Tamaki Maori Village 

Our dinner highlight on Day 2 was boarding the bus arranged by the Tamaki Maori Village which took us to the village, about half an hour away.

The Maori villages are actually run and owned by existing Maori families here in New Zealand.

Here, we were given the works – a Maori traditional welcome ceremony, an explanation of the significance of each tradition. This was followed by an engaging evening of Maori folk songs, dancing and performances which ended in a traditional Hangi meal.

The Hangi is a meal much like the Hawaiin Luau where the food served has been buried in a pit below ground and using the natural volcanic heat and a combination of steam heating, meats and veggies are cooked and served in a large communal buffet style spread.

Day 3 

To Hobbiton and then back to Auckland 

We wanted to get our trip time’s worth so with some Trip Advisor Forum advice, we managed to craft a detour from our original trip to Hobbiton and the Shire, before heading back to Auckland.

Make sure that the day you head to this ticketed attraction is dry as there is a fair bit of walking to conquer around Peter Jackson’s set which apparently was torn down after the movie and recreated again on premises.

A stop by the village pub – The Green Dragon is mandatory.

Definitely a must-visit for all LOTR fan’s.  With that under our belts, we drove back to Auckland back to the safe haven of The Langham Hotel and the comforts of its marvellous Club Lounge.

Below – the round-trip route for anyone who wants to brave the journey.

6 Sumptuous Afternoon Teas To Tuck Into In Hong Kong

If the tai tai life is what you are after in Hong Kong or if it just means that you have the perfect excuse to sit down and refuel after that fast and furious shopping trip with your girlfriends at one of Hong Kong’s many seasonal sales then Afternoon Tea is just the meal that you don’t want to miss out on … here are 6 lovely locations where you can book your table now …

The Langham’s Honey Afternoon Tea

… is a collaboration between The Langham Hotel in TST and beauty brand Guerlain who have launched a few new products that incorporate royal jelly and honey as part of their Abeille Royale Collection.

The Hotel’s Honey Afternoon Tea is served on a unique honeycomb stand and features honey from an organic bee farm in Hong Kong. Sweet morsels include The Bee, a golden macaron filled with dark chocolate and honey nectar, Chocolate, a mini tartlet made with salty caramel, honey ganache and milk chocolate and Honeycomb, an Earl Grey crémeux, honey and orange jelly, topped with chunks of homemade honeycomb and sprinkles of gold dusted white chocolate pearls. The spread also features Mango and honey mousse, a French Mille-feuille with honey cream infused with vanilla and yuzu. Not just sweet, but also savoury, there is a delicious Lavender-infused Honey Glazed Duck Breast, Cucumber and Cheddar Cheese Sandwiches and a Norwegian Smoked Salmon Dome Stuffed with Crab Salad on Corn Bread. On top of everything, there is a selection of exquisite afternoon tea blends to go with the food, the comfort of the lovely ambience of one of Hong Kong’s classiest tea lounges where you can just sink into the forever of their plush and lovely sofas and just spend all having a chi chi afternoon catch up.

Available at The Palm Court Lobby Lounge from NOW till end 30 September 2017 at HK$348 for one person and HK$598 for two persons, subject to a 10 per cent service charge

Served: Weekdays from 3:00 to 5:30 pm and on weekends and public holidays in two sittings, from 2:15 – 4:15 p.m., and 4:30 – 6:30 p.m
Call: (852) 2132 7898

 

The Cakery’s Guilt Free Afternoon Tea

Is there such a thing as a guilt free afternoon tea? Well, for those with a conscience, step into The Cakery. Owner, Shirley Kwok serves up a 100% gluten free tea that uses natural, nutrient- rich ingredients like brown rice flour, tapioca flour, millet flour, almond flour, buckwheat flour, oat flour and Arrowroot flour to create the pastries on her special menu. All her sweets are also made with low-sugar or refined-sugar free, and there are vegetarian and vegan items featured.

Presented beautifully on a fan-shaped three-tiered sleek white tray, find Truffle Chouquettes which is an Italian truffle cream cheese mousse with gluten-free choux pastry, Mini Pizzas made with sweet potato, baby corn, red onion, mushroom, parmesan cheese, tomato sauce, Lobster Crepes featuring US lobster galette, cream cheese, gluten-free crepe, Salmon and Cream Cheese Sandwiches made with gluten-free vegan chia bread. The sweets include Bite-size Cupcakes except that these are gluten-free and/or dairy- free, egg-free, low-sugar and low-fat. There are also Lemon Tarts made with gluten-free pastry and White Chocolate Goji Berry Mousse Pots and Mini Chia Puddings, Gluten-free Scones served with homemade strawberry raspberry basil jam, clotted cream. Enjoy all that with homemade Red Date & Goji Berry Tea or a Ginger Spice Tea or The Cakery’s Tea and Organic Coffee selection and go home guilt-free (well, almost!)

Available at The Cakery Lee Gardens Two, from NOW at HK$388 (per set for two persons)

Extras: Make a booking a day in advance and get a 10% discount.

Served: Daily from 2.30pm to 6.00pm daily, subject to 10% service charge.

Call: (852) 2816 1838

 

Yeh! Shanghai Afternoon Tea at The W Hotel’s Woo Bar

Here’s a promising mini food tour around Shanghai whilst you are in Hong Kong at the W Hotel’s WOOBAR! Their Afternoon High Tea has a Shanghainese theme and the Yeh! Shanghai tea set starts with delicious morsels of crispy suckling pig, fermented bean curd paste and caviar, transferring you to a traditional Chinese BBQ restaurant, however only for a second before you move onto succulent seafood treats such as the prawn cocktail with light spicy sesame soya sauce and sago.  Not just savouries but also sweets, the set includes black sesame dumpling with white sesame tuile and chocolate and cinnamon croissant twist.  The favourite item being their signature “Xiao long BAO” – a cake consisting of vanilla-pistachio mousse, raspberry jam on feuilletine.  On weekends, expect an Afternoon Tea Buffet spread.

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Drink’s wise, the Hotel is not just stopping at a simple cup of Chinese tea but has used the Chinese inspiration of four flowers, each representing four different seasons with the Chrysanthemum representing Autumn in its beverages and alcoholic drinks. There are concoctions like The Qipao, a fresh blend of Belvedere Vodka, Lemon juice, Chrysanthemum tea and a unique blend of Osmanthus syrup, The Shanghai Pour, served in an oriental teapot and cup with a mixture of Chinese white wine, The Wild Flower, a fresh combination of egg white, lemon juice, gin with a Yuzu paste flavour or The Pearl, perfect for the whisky and date lovers.

AvailableNOW to 31 October 2017 at The Woobar at The W Hotel

Served: An Afternoon Tea Set is served on Monday – Friday (except public holidays) from 2:30pm at $418 + 10% for two whilst an Afternoon Tea buffet is served on Saturday and Sunday including public holidays from 2:30pm – 5:30pm at $330 + 10% per person. Cocktails are priced at $140+10%

Call: (852) 37172889

 

‘The history of Whoo’ Afternoon Tea at The Intercontinental

If you are into Korean culture, cosmetics and food, the Lobby Lounge at the Intercontinental has also partnered with premium Korean skincare brand, ‘The history of Whoo’, to launch an Afternoon Tea Set that is all about consuming ingredients that preserve one’s beauty and prevent ageing, all inspired by Korean royal court beauty secrets which kind of reminds me of a throw back to that immensely popular K-drama, ‘Jewel In The Palace’ some years back.

Their Afternoon tea is both savoury and sweet so there are items like Ginseng chicken rolls, an Angelica slow cooked Pork belly on brioche bread and a Comfit Foie Gras and goji berry chutney on crispy bread, served alongside pastry items like the Whoo Macaroon, a Calvados Jelly Apple Pie, Almond Cream, Tea Cakes, Panna Cottas and Scones.

Available at The Intercontinental Hotel’s Lobby Lounge 18 Sep to 30 November 2017

Served: There is a Weekday Afternoon Tea set at $608 for 2 persons (Monday to Friday) and a Weekend Afternoon Tea Set at $628 for 2 persons (Saturday, Sunday & Public Holidays)

Extras: The Tea Set is inclusive of two special ‘The history of Whoo’ Bichup Royal Anti-aging Kits (valued at $500 each) plus two gift cards with special offers for products at “The history of Whoo” shop in Harbour City. Beauty afficianados who bought items at ‘The history of Whoo’ with a receipt can also enjoy 20% off of the Afternoon Tea Set for 2 persons.

Alongside this, the Hotel has arranged a series of Korean Handicraft Workshops on how to make simple Korean style accessories like Dried Flower Bracelets on Friday, Sept 22, October 27 and November 24  and a Korean Knots Workshop on Friday, Oct 13 and Nov 10. Details here.

Call: (852) 2721 1211

 

A Van Cleef & Arpels Nature-Inspired Tea at The Peninsula

With a new boutique just opened at the iconic Peninsula Hotel’s Arcade, jewelry brand Van Cleef & Arpels have gone the extra mile to commemorate the occasion by launching a high tea that aims to serve up a range of treats that is almost as exquisite as the jewelry they sell.

Presented on a silver platter, there are fruit tarts like the Lemon and Basil, Chocolate Tarts with Milk Chocolate Chantilly, apricot macarons, a mango and passionfruit choux that reflects the brand’s 3D heart shaped petals in their collection and savouries like the nicoise salad, croquet monsieur, smoked salmon rolls with lemon cress and carrot bread and the Pen’s all time favourites, the dill-marinated cucumber sandwiches and their freshly baked scones with organic strawberry jam and clotted cream.

AvailableNOW till 30 September 2017 at The Peninsula’s Lobby Lounge

Served:  Daily from 2pm to 6pm at $388 per person or $688 for 2 persons. Champagne is at an extra $220 per glass. Each table gets a Van Cleef & Arpels notebook from their iconic Frivole jewelry collection, evoked by enchanting blooms (whilst stocks last)

Call: (852) 2920 2888

 

Afternoon Tea with Cody The Red Panda at The Cordis

If your kids are coming to tea with you over the weekend, then tea with Cody, The Red Panda at The Cordis Hotel, is an absolute MUST! Cody is the Cordis Hotel’s red panda mascot and he is a hit with the youngsters and will be hanging out at The Place every weekend and on public holidays during the Hotel’s Afternoon Tea Buffet.

He is endangered as red pandas are, so make sure that the time with Cody is well spent and make it an educational experience for your young ones by visiting the booth at the buffet that explains what is being done to protect the red panda. Each child at the buffet will receive a red panda backpack with different Cody themed goodies. There are activities for the kids including handicraft sessions for kids to turn some of the hotel’s recyclables into toys and a colouring contest with attractive prizes. Kids can take pictures with Cody or pick up a plush toy where proceeds go towards the Ocean Park Conservation Foundation to support wildlife conservation including the preservation of red pandas and their habitats.

Cody is a particularly generous guy so kids aged 6 years or below are invited to enjoy the buffet for free. The buffet is tailor made and filled with kids’ favourite tea time items, including Cheese Spring Rolls, BBQ Chicken Drumsticks, and Pan-seared Japanese Pork Sausages, delicious desserts including assorted Cody-shaped Cookies, Blood Orange Cody Mousse Cake, and Cody Cupcakes. Kids are also invited to make their own crepes and puffs. One of the most comprehensive tea buffets available, find Pineapple Chicken Salad, Melon Salad with Shrimp, Salmon Sashimi, Snapper Sashimi, California Maki Roll, Deep Fried Shrimp Toast, Scrambled Egg with Black Truffle Paste, Wok Fried Korean Fish Cake, Korean Dumplings with Vegetable Broth, Japanese Soup Noodles, Indian Vegetarian Curry, Hong Kong Dim Sums, Coffee Opera Cake, American Cheesecake, Strawberry Panna Cotta, Mövenpick Ice Cream and more on the menu.

Available16 September till 15 October 2017 at The Place, The Cordis Hotel at Langham Place, Mongkok at $248 for Adults and $198 for Kids and Seniors.

Served on weekends and public holidays from 16 September to 15 October 2017

Extras: Each Cordis Kid will receive a red panda backpack with different Cody themed goodies. They can also join the complimentary handicraft session to turn some of the hotel’s recyclable into toys. Each adult can bring up to 2 children, 6 years and under for free.

Call: (852) 3552 3028

 

A New Concept For Dan Ryan’s In Hong Kong’s City Plaza!

For me, the 90s marked the era of the American diner, grill and steakhouse. I remember the excitement when Dan Ryan’s first opened in Singapore next to the Regent Hotel.

Famous for its free kid’s balloons held down by a free collectible logo key chain, paper table clothes where you could doodle endlessly on and innovative kid’s menus – no one would have guessed that this restaurant chain was actually born and bred in Hong Kong with its first outlet opened at Pacific Place in 1989.

Dan Ryan, it seems, was a Chicago politician who lived in the 1940’s.  He was renowned for his ability to get things done through his close contacts in Washington D.C, mainly local political and social leaders. Why this particular American diner chain was actually named after him remains a mystery to me – but his name has undoubtedly lent authenticity to the Chicago grill concept that has since stood the test of time.

Today, there are solo outlets in Singapore and Taiwan with three restaurants in Hong Kong at Harbour City, Festival Walk and a new outlet at City Plaza in Tai Koo Shing which opened in May this year. We popped in to check out the new concept at the latter and to try the newly minted signatures off their menu which has been tweaked with healthier ingredient and superfood options.

How different was it from its parent concept that featured a good vibe, upbeat background jazz music, a drinks bar with a choo choo train track, paraphernalia up on the walls and huge portions of American style fare – to be truthful, all of that was still there – the only change being a longer track train and the more colourful paintings on the wall by American artists Leroy Neiman and Steve Penley. Instead of having a closed entrance where you walk into the bar, the new concept feels more ‘open’ where you can easily check your reservation at the entrance and walk into the thick of the action.

The kitchen also has gone from a back of the house feel to a lighter more open show-kitchen feel.  We popped by just before the recent Fathers’ Day weekend and what greeted us was a restaurant packed to the brim – a convivial atmosphere with families, balloons at each table, crayon canisters amidst a blurr of efficient waiters moving platters of steak and generous mountains of American salads, sides and sandwiches efficiently around the room whilst the queue outside kept growing longer. The place was buzzing!

The biggest change is noticeably its menu. No longer a grill room style listing that steak houses normally favour but a menu that features photos of its signatures which have also notably changed – keeping the hearty but introducing the healthy.

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My favourite item – the Dan Ryan’s muffin arrived before the rest of the meal. If I could sneak one or two into my bag, I would – as in my humble opinion, Dan Ryan’s makes the best muffins I have ever eaten. The taste is made complete when complemented by one slice of slightly melted salted butter or whipped butter.

 

 

We picked a few items to share starting with the Super Green Salad (HK$188) which is a very large salad that you can order to share between 3 to 4 people. It  has a base of fresh baby spinach, quinoa and rocket leaves, complete with avocado, broccoli, pears, fresh blueberries and toasted pine-nuts for added crunch and sweetness.  I really liked this and made a mental note that I would pop into their Harbour City outlet again soon to grab this one for a quick and satisfying takeaway.  The salad comes with a homemade wild blueberry dressing is drizzled on top for maximum flavour.

This was followed by the Chi Town Combo (HK$298), a signature big sized combo platter of Baked Potato Skins, hand breaded Onion Rings and Buffalo Chicken Wings. Great with a glass of wine except for the Onion Rings which I prefer to be crisp rather than soft and mushy like these tended to be.

The choices on the Hand Cut Steaks and Chops were outstanding. I was tempted to order the US Tomahawk 32 oz Steak to share (HK$998 – pictured above) but it was sold out for the day.  So instead, we ordered the US Prime Flatiron Steak (HK$328) which turned out to be an excellent choice and featured a melt-in-your mouth ‘butchers cut’ of hormone free beef, char-grilled to perfection served with Tomato Vinaigrette salad and mashed Chipotle Lime Buttered Corn and Sweet Potato Fries.

We ended the meal sharing a Salted Caramel Double Fudge Brownie (HK$78) which maxed out my calorie count but made a perfect ending.

Things I would have ordered if my stomach had the capacity : the Deluxe Chili Burger,  the Seared Hokkaido Scallops and the Dan’s Dessert Sampler (pictured above). Definitely reason to return!

Dan Ryan’s Chicago Grill at Cityplaza is at:
Shop 311, 3F, Phase 1, Cityplaza, 18 Taiko o Shing Road, Hong Kong
Tel: (852) 2845 4600

Click HERE for a list of the other Dan Ryan outlets in Hong Kong, Taipei and Singapore.