Food in HK – Tsui Hang Village

With the exception of Agnès b. le pain grillé, our eating so far had been pretty low-key and casual even while the food was very good.  One evening we met my university friend Tehlin, her husband Chris, and their two children for dinner at a nice Cantonese restaurant in Central called Tsui Hang Village.

Tsui Hang Village Map

Tehlin and Chris recently returned to Hong Kong from Melbourne and while we’re sorry we didn’t get to see them in Melbourne, we’ll have many more opportunities to see them in Hong Kong.  They are one of these 21st Century couples – he an Australian who is fluent in Mandarin and works with emerging Chinese companies, she with Chinese roots in the Philippines, Taiwan, and the SF Bay Area.  They are really nice people and have two cute kids with a third on the way.

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One of the cute kids, Isabel, wasn’t in the best mood as dinner started, so she pouted a little while working on her coloring book!

Tsui Hang Village is named for the hometown of Dr. Sun Yat-sen and specializes both in traditional Cantonese cooking as well as some original Cantonese creations.  There is also a location in the Miramar Shopping Centre on Nathan Road in Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon.  The interior looks pretty much like every other high end Chinese restaurant – clean, bright, and a little like a hotel banquet room.  Service is prompt and attentive, though, and the real focus is the food.  Cantonese food, which sometimes has a reputation for being a little oily, is well done here with clean, bright, and fresh flavors with little use of heavy seasoning, herbs or spices – the very best of what Cantonese food is supposed to be about.

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Braised pork spare ribs baked in a clay pot casserole “Zhengjiang” style.

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Stewed “fungus” (mushrooms) in tofu wrapper in pumpkin, with pumpkin seed garnish.

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Wok-seared seabass with light soy sauce with green beans.

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Crispy roast chicken with green onions.

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Chinese broccoli – Hai Shean

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Shrimp wontons in broth.

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Pan fried egg noodles with shredded pork and bean sprouts.

We really enjoyed the meal, which was a nice complement to our visit with Tehlin, Chris, and their children.  What more of a reason do we need for a return trip to Hong Kong than good friends and good food?

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Uncle Tawn with an enthusiastic Samuel and a still somewhat undecided Isabel.  Sam’s a big transportation buff, so he and I always have plenty to talk about!

 

Food in HK – Lan Fong Yuen

Continuing the Curry Puffy Cuisine Crawl, Tawn and I headed out to Central one morning to retrace Gary’s secondary school breakfast steps, on the hunt for Hong Kong milk tea.  Our destination this morning was Lan Fong Yuen, ostensibly (but unverifiably) the place where milk tea was first created.

Located on the north side of Hong Kong Island, Central is the business district.  Immediately to the south of it is the 1800-foot Victoria Peak.  The rapid elevation gain combined with the population density creates an interesting warren of narrow streets that are great for exploring.  The Central Escalator, a public conveyance system that combines moving sidewalks and escalators, makes it easier for pedestrians to go from Central to the Mid-Levels, a popular residential and, increasingly, commercial area part way up the mountain.

The Central Escalator bisects Gage Street right where it meets Wellington and right below it sits Lan Fong Yuen.  The original shop (there’s a second one a few doors down) still has a pair of wooden stools out front on which you can sit and enjoy your milk tea and a light meal.  The picture above shows the Central Escalator in the top left of the picture.  The red taxi is on Wellington Street.

Looking down Gage Street from Wellington, you can hardly resist the urge to go explore.  It is a lively street with vibrant sights, well worth a post-tea stroll.  But before strolling, it is time for tea.

The interior is clean but dingy, looking just like a hundred other similar restaurants that have been around for ages.  The staff is friendly and a picture menu makes it easy for those who don’t speak Chinese to order.  Tawn, being part Chinese, gets spoken to in Cantonese everywhere we go in Hong Kong.  He’s much too polite, of course, to tell them that he doesn’t understand, so just smiles and nods, occasionally responding in Thai or English.

This is the milk tea.  Not much to look at, right?  This is the essence of simplicity.  It is a very strong black tea cut with evaporated milk.  The flavor of it is almost coffee-like, in terms of the richness of the tea.  It isn’t your grandmother’s Lipton.

The tea is made using pantyhose – the leaves steep inside a pantyhose strainer set in a metal pot.  The pantyhose is attached to a wire handle and it is lifted up and the tea is allowed to drain into the cup.  Worth noting, this is the exact same technique used by street vendors in Thailand for making Thai coffee and Thai tea.  (Note to self – that’s a future entry needing to be written.)

Lan Fong Yuen is an all-day operations offering the tea along with a dozen snacky type dishes to satisfy your hunger.

The fried pork sandwich, a single piece of fried pork loin put on a hamburger bun with a slice of tomato and a slather of sauce.  Incredibly simple, but very tasty.  While at first glance you might think it is tremendously unhealthy, consider that the alternatives offered at fast food restaurants have been heavily processed with added fillers, salts, etc.  This is just a slab of pork with some salt and pepper, fried up and placed on the bun.  Relatively speaking, better for you than a filet-o-fish.

Probably a little less healthy for you is the French toast.

Two pieces of white bread stuffed with jam inside, battered with egg and then fried in lots of oil.  I couldn’t identify whether it was butter or margarine on top and was tempted to think it was the latter.  This was tasty but after two bites was a bit overwhelming.  Probably best when trying to mop up a hangover.

Tawn ordered one of his childhood favorites – this is what qualifies as Chinese comfort food, it seems.  A plate of noodles with some veggies and fried chicken on top.  I looked at the noodles and remarked how much they looked like instant ramen.  Which was the point at which I learned that they are instant ramen.

So what’s the verdict?  Pretty tasty tea and the chicken and pork were both good.  There were several other menu items we wanted to try but we had lunch plans just two hours later and needed some room for that.  The French toast was fine but was pretty oily, all things considered.  For a quick breakfast or a spot of afternoon tea, though, Lan Fong Yuen is definitely on the list!

I Think I Hurt My Camera’s Feelings

I’ve been really faithful to my camera, a Panasonic Lumix TZ3, which I have had for about two years.  It has been an excellent camera for me and has stood up to the abuse of being carried around everywhere, every single day.  Recently, though, I think I’ve hurt my camera’s feelings.

It shouldn’t surprise me, of course.  Since my trip to Tokyo last April, I started thinking seriously about another camera, this Panasonic Lumix LX3 shown here.

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Two friends have the same camera, both of whom were in Tokyo shooting with it while I was there.  The LX3 has superb optics from Leica, a very wide 24mm equivalent lens, and ultra-good low-light performance.  It also has full manual focus, one of the few models of digital camera that bridge the gap between amateur and serious shutterbug without getting into the SLR models, which are just too clunky for me to carry around for everyday use.

But even once the attraction between me and the LX3 started, I remained faithful to my TZ3.  It had served me well, was still taking good pictures, and I hate to throw something away just because something newer has caught my fancy.

With this trip back to the US, though, I decided to go ahead and buy an LX3.  I wasn’t going to get rid of my TZ3 – there are plenty of cultures where men have multiple cameras, right?  That’s nothing to frown on.

But I’m afraid my TZ3 must have become suspicious or caught wind of my planned expansion of our photography family, because no sooner had I placed the order for the new camera, then the TZ3 started to throw a fit.

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At first it was just minor interference and static, like the subtle horizontal lines running through this otherwise cute picture of a father walking his daughters down a residential soi, or alley, from the kindergarten that sits at the back of the soi.

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My camera’s fury increased, though, along with its unpredictability.  Some moments it would take clear shots such as this one of the Singha Beer Fun Fair on the grounds that were previously part of the British Embassy, along Ploenchit Road.

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A moment later, though, the tempest would be unleashed and my camera would give me nothing but static, causing misery and not allowing me to get a clear picture of things.  It was terrible.  At this point, every time I turn it on, the TZ3 is just in a blur.

So I’ve made up my mind.  Unless my TZ3 gets a new attitude, sharpens up and snaps right, I may have no choice but to leave it and move on with my life, happily snapping away with my new LX3.

 

Postlogue

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For those of you familiar with Krungthep, here is a reverse shot (obviously taken before my camera started having a fit) showing you where I was shooting from – the top level of the Central Chidlom car park – the area with trees in the white building, just above and to the right of the blue banner.  This is looking down Ploenchit Road towards Chidlom BTS Skytrain Station from the pedestrian walkway linking to Wave Place (Home Pro).