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Sunday, November 22, 2015

Review on Hong Kong & Macau Souvenirs- Almond Cookies杏仁饼

While it's great to be home, a part of myself starts missing the hectic walk at Hong Kong and of course the foods there. The souvenirs that bought back from Hong Kong and Macau could have my family and I enjoyed for few months.

Partial Hong Kong and Macau souvenirs
(Jenny Bakery's Butter Cookies, Kee Wah's almond cookies and walnut cookies, Koi Kei Bakery's almond biscuits, peanut sweet, wife cake.)

After the blog entry about wife cake that I bought back from Hong Kong and Macau, here's another review about the almond cookies 杏仁饼. 

1. Koi Kei Bakery (鉅記手信)

The most favorite almond cookies that I have tasted is from Koi Kei Bakery 鉅記手信; Macau.As featured in the famous TVB Drama named 巨輪, the owner of Koi Kei Bakery (鉅記餅家) is very particular about the quality of cookies/ pastries. The resulting quiche is mouthwatering with lovely crumbly pastries.

The taste:Each of the cookie has crunchy toasted almond bits, perhaps it's the reason of the almond cookies of Koi Kei Bakery 鉅記手信 having strong aroma of almond. As I bought the handmade and vegetarian type, the cookies were free of pork lard ingredient.

The packaging: While the pastries from Koi Kei Bakery 鉅記手信 are great, the service is great and the staffs are generously providing the samples for tasting. The staffs help to wrap the plastic handles with bubble wrap which enables me to hold the heavy bags easier and more convenient. The thick packaging itself is great and nice.

2. Kee Wah Bakery (奇華餅家)

Kee Wah has an extensive number of franchises in Hong Kong, including at Hong Kong International Airport. We dropped by one of the franchises at Central MRT station. Anyone still remembers the popular Hong Kong TVB Drama 家好月圆 (Moonlight Resonance)? The show was produced especially for Kee Wah Bakery’s 70th Anniversary. 

Kee Wah almond cookie and Koi Kei Bakery 's ginger candy 姜糖
The ginger candy was given by my colleague. Strong ginger aftertaste!

The logo of Kee Wah on the almond cookie were merely seen.
The soft, flaky cookie with some almond bits.

The taste:Kee Wah's almond cookie does not have the coarse amount of almond bits of the almond cookies from Koi Kei Bakery. It's similar to the Koi Kei's which has nice crunchy texture, except that it's more tender, smoother due to less crunchy toasted almond bits.

The packaging: As shown in the 1st photo, I would say that the packaging is quite nice, but I prefer Koi Kei's.Well, the price of pastries bought at Macau are more expensive than those bought from Hong Kong. 

 3. Hang Heung Cake Shop (恒香老餅家)

 As stated in previous blog post, Hang Heung Cake Shop is famed for its wife cake.

The taste:I'm unsure if it's due to machine-made, Hang Heung's almond cookies are harder to bite compared to Koi Kei's and Kee Wah's. The pork lard aftertaste covers the almond taste. I don't really like this version, and after trying all, I would vote the signature almond cookies from Koi Kei Bakery as the champion.

The packaging: A classic packaging with red color and pink flowers as decoration.

Stay tuned for my next blog entries about the cookies that I bought from Hong Kong and Macau

Review on Hong Kong & Macau Souvenirs- Wife Cake (Lao Po Bing) 老婆饼

Here are the 1st blog entry about Hong Kong and Macau pastry that I had tried before continuing to blog about my Hong Kong and Macau Tour. Wife cake or Sweetheart cake are more commonly known as Lao Po Bing/ Lou Po Beng; a common snack at Hong Kong. They are found everywhere in Hong Kong, almost every bakery bakes it. Wife cake is a Chinese traditional pastry with winter melon paste.

Quoted from Asiansupper.com, the most popular version of the story behind the wife cake is:

During imperial China, a husband and wife are very rich in the amount of love for each other, but very poor in material wealth.  The wife’s father-in law falls ill and requires medical attention.  Unfortunately, the couple does not have enough money.  The wife gives the ultimate gift of love - by selling herself as a slave to fund the medical care for her father in law.  When the husband finds out, he creates a pastry with sweetened winter melon and almond – dedicating the pastry to the memory to his wife.  The wife cake (lao po bing) gains such popularity that the husband is able to buy his wife back and cure his father of his ailment.

 1. Hang Heung Cake Shop (恒香老餅家)

One of the souvenirs I bought back from Hong Kong and Macau trip was few boxes of wife cakes from Hang Heung Cake Shop 恆香老餅家 and Koi Kei Bakery (鉅記餅家).Hang Heung Cake Shop 恆香老餅家 is famed for its freshly baked wife cakes, thus I had brought back few boxes as well. I have also bought the almond cookies from Hang Heung Cake Shop (恒香老餅家).

The taste:The texture of the pastry is very soft, flaky skin. The winter melon paste is well balanced of sweetness. However, it has a strong taste of pork lard which is deemed disturbing to my mom. She would prefer Koi Kei Bakery which is not overwhelmed with pork lard taste. Despite of the pork lard taste, you may try to warm it up by microwaves in which the crumbs are tasted nicer when it's served warmed and the winter melon paste is like melting inside the mouth. Notably, Hang Heung wife cakes could only last for 5-7 days due to no preservatives are used.

The packaging: Unlike the rest of bakeries such as Wing Wah, Kae Wah and even Koi Kei Bakery, Hang Heung Cake Shop uses a simple,red color paper box with a pink raffia string tie to secure the 6 pieces of wife cakes. As the pastries are flaky, hence hand carry of these wife cakes would be necessary. 

2. Koi Kei Bakery (鉅記手信)

During this Hong Kong and Macau tour, most of my HK dollars were spent on purchasing pastries as souvenirs for family from Koi Kei Bakery 鉅記餅家老婆餅 . The signature pastry from Koi Kei Bakery is the egg rolls and almond cookies-which I had included in the next review, Click here for more details.

The taste:The flaky skin (less flaky than Hang Heung's) and topped with some white sesames. The winter melon filling of the wife cakes have just the right amount of sweetness. and it has lesser pork lard smell. Well, it's my mom's favorite wife cake. Hopefully I could re-visit Macau to bring back the Lao Gong Bing with salty type of filling.

The packaging: Koi Kei Bakery Shop places a lot of efforts on the packaging. Each of its pastries (egg rolls, almond cookies, wife cakes, pineapple tart and etc. ) has different kind of good quality packaging. I have already kept few empty boxes to place my earrings. 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Unleash the Passion for Travel & Food in Hong Kong & Macau (Day 3)- DimDimSum Dim Sum Specialty Store 點點心點心專門店

Talking about dim sum, it's like an exquisite specialty of Chinese food that shall not be missed out when came to Hong Kong. Most of the Hong Kong TVB drama had featured the dim sum breakfast session where baskets of delicate dumplings were seen accompanied with a teapot of hot tea.The diversity and sheer number of Hong Kong dim sum restaurants is stunning, such as One Dim Sum, DimDim Sum,Duddell’s, Tim Ho Wan, Lei Garden, Luk Yu Tea House and etcetera.

DimDimSum was named one of the top 101 places to eat by the 2012 Newsweek Foodie Awards, Time Out Hong Kong named it best dim sum in 2011, and it’s part of the book “Where Chefs Eat — The Ultimate Insiders’ Guide” in year 2013. While Tim Ho Wan is considered as the cheapest One-Michelin Starred Dim Sum Restaurant, we had opted for dining at DimDim Sum since we could try Tim Ho Wan's dim sum at Malaysia or Singapore.

After purchasing Ocean Park Ticket at the nearby 7-11 outlet, we waited outside of DimDimSum Dim Sum Specialty Store; Wan Chai on the hunt for the plumpest dumplings (siew mai, har gao), tastiest buns (char siew bao,polo bun, egg custard buns) and Hong Kong styled Chee Cheung Fun. We were the 1st batch of eaters on that morning and we were provided aplenty of time to decide our orders after being seated. We decided to order most of the foods which had recommended by the foodies' blogs and websites.A bill was given right after the ordering process.

The large display of the dim sum

Some of the promotion notice and newly created dim sum

Unexpectedly, there's no waiter pushing steaming carts piled with baskets of dim sum here. I wasn't sure if this was due to lesser customers at that moment. The dim sum were served within few minutes after the tea were served. 

Polo Bun (Pineapple bun) baked with a layer of sweet crumble atop its buttery bread dough.
3 polo bun per serving and all were bites-sized version which were so adorable.
I wished the polo bun were in bigger size.
I grabbed a great heap of the crunchy polo bun and I was amazed by the rich taste of egg custard and pineapple slices as fillings. The best polo bun I ever ate at the moment! 

A closer look for the filling of polo bun! Yummy!
So, that's the highly recommended 真係菠蘿包!

 Pan-Fried Radish Cakes 香煎蘿蔔糕

Pan-Fried Radish Cakes 香煎蘿蔔糕 with the chili sauces
The pan-fried radish cakes (also named as turnip cakes) were one of the excellently executed staples. Each bite of the pan-fried radish cakes had shredded Chinese turnips mixed with balanced rice-flour batter. Dipping the piece of pan-fried radish cakes added some kick onto it. Crispy on the outside and soft and delicious for each bite of the radish cakes.

Cheung Fun 脆皮鲜虾肠 or literally called as ‘intestine noodles’ as translation.
Usually it's filled with prawns, barbecue pork or meats and served with a splash of fried dried shrimp chilies, shallots, onion oil and soy sauce. Surprisingly, there's no soy sauce being served together with this cheung fun here.
The deep-fried crispy prawns were wrapped with the soft, translucent rice rolls.
It came to our surprise that it tasted so delicious!

Photogenic egg custard bun in cute piggy shape 金沙肥豬仔
I had a small bite on the egg custard bun and enjoyed the yellowish egg custard oozing like lava from the bun. Creamy, salty-sweet and it tasted best when it's served hot. 

BBQ Pork Buns (Cha Siu Bao)  巧製叉燒包

The filling was sweet barbecue sauce together with the light sauce rendered from the fat of the pork ribs accompanied with some hints of yam sweetness. 

Pork Dumplings with Crab Roe (Siu Mai) 蟹子燒賣皇

The iconic dim sum staple which was the 1st recommended dim sum on the menu. Steamed pork dumpling with prawns, wrapped in a yellow, dough-based wrapper and topped with orange crab roe. The freshly-made siew mai were often tasty and I enjoyed each bite of chunky pieces of prawns. 

Steamed Shrimp Dumplings (Har Gow) 晶瑩鮮蝦餃

Similar with the siew mai, nothing sums up the simple perfection of dim sum more than fresh steamed shrimp dumplings. Big, fresh prawns wrapped with the soft, translucent skin which it did not tear apart when we picked it up by using chopsticks. 

Braised chicken feet

 I wasn't a fans of steamed chicken feet but had given a try when I was in Hong Kong.
The tender chicken feet were well marinated and I loved the assortments of peanuts.

Mushroom buns 牛肝菌花菇包 ; the new dim sum of the shop.

Fluffy, soft bun with mushroom slices as fillings.
Despite of the cute, creative outlook, I personally didn't find it special. However, my friends were delighted of the mushroom buns.

The mushroom gill of the shiitake mushroom-looked bun.

牛肝菌 - 因色澤如牛肝而得名,出產 自意大利、法國、瑞士等國家;含豐富蛋白質、維生素、鈣、磷、鐵等礦物質;具有清熱、除煩、追風散寒、養血活血、抗流感、預防感冒等功效;適量食用可治療腰腿疼痛及手足麻木。

Verdict: Eating in DimDimSum Dim Sum Specialty Store; Hong Kong is definitely a gastronomic pleasure with the satisfying and good quality of dim sum. All of the dim sum were very tasty especially the polo bun and pan-fried radish cakes which would had me considering for a re-visit. That's the only dining experience of dim sum during my visit to Hong Kong even thought we did include Sun Hing Restaurant (Kennedy Town) in our itinerary.Thankfully, DimDimSum Dim Sum Specialty Store provided a pleasant dining experience with good food, service and atmosphere. As the 1st batch of guests, we enjoyed no lining up was needed after the scariest experience of queuing up for Ngong Ping Cable Car and The Peak.

The dim sum we had ordered:

DimDimSum Dim Sum Specialty Store (Wan Chai Store)
7 Tin Lok Lane, Wan Chai, HK

Stay tuned for the next blog entries for my Hong Kong trip

Unleash the Passion for Travel & Food in Hong Kong & Macau (Day 2)-Mak Man Kee's Wonton Noodles,Australian Dairy Company, Ladies Market and Temple Street

The growling stomachs had led us to hunting for foods in Jordan. Mak's Noodles and Mak Man Kee Noodles are both wanton noodles stores located along Parkes Street, near the Jordan MTR Station. Considering both are the top notch shops which sell wanton noodles, we decided to try Mak Man Kee's which was more crowded. From the Internet, Mak Man Kee originated as an on-street noodle stall by an uncle of the family Mak Man King and his wife during 1958.

The large menu display on the wall

Similar to most of the char chan teng in Hong Kong. we were led to the typical booth seats. A small shop with the tables and booth seats were placed in close proximity. We had ordered their predominantly prawn wanton noodles (soup) and dry type as well as braised beef tenderloin noodles.

Wonton Noodles in Soup
My friend said that it's great to taste a mouthful of the strands of egg noodles accompanied with the flavorful soup broth. Comparing to my dry wonton noodles, I would prefer hers as the broth 

Traditional Dry Wonton Noodles

When the noodles were served together with a small bowl of soup, the only thing you could see were strands of yellow egg noodles. The treasures were hidden beneath the noodles.I was actually counting each one of the wonton before starting the meal. A number of 6 huge wonton (shrimp dumplings) were found!We could see most of the locals here placing orders by mentioning 细蓉

It came to my surprise where each of the wonton pertaining fresh, succulent prawn with no traces of pork meat wrapped with a delicate skin. The bigger dumpling was the 鲜虾水饺 which had the mixture of pork and prawn meat. The springy duck egg noodles had some lye water taste.

 Braised Beef Tenderloin Noodles
It might not be a good meal for health-conscious eater as the most of the beef meats were fatty and oily despite the taste of the broth was good. 
The late dinner

The egg noodles/wonton noodles in Hong Kong are very different from those in Malaysia which has dark sauce accompanied with pickled green chilies.The egg noodles of Mak Man Kee's  are noticeably in thinner and firmer strands. Despite the springiness of the noodles, the drawback was the lye water taste and smaller portion compared to Malaysia's. The tender and fresh prawns inside the wonton/ dumpling had definitely being the main highlights of the wonton noodles. In Hong Kong, egg noodles are first washed in red vinegar to rid its alkaline taste,while egg noodles in Malaysia shall not have the lye water taste. Furthermore, the wanton in Malaysia are significantly smaller and with more pork as ingredients. Nevertheless, it's still a great dining experience of the local famous and authentic wanton noodles in Hong Kong.

Mak Man Kee Noodle Shop
51 Parkes Street
Jordan, Kowloon
Hong Kong
We decided to go for Australian Dairy Company; famous for its scrambled eggs and steamed milk pudding. Trying the next famous food in Hong Kong by having few steps towards Australian Dairy Company which is located next to Mak Man Kee Noodle Shop, why not?

The exterior of Australia Dairy Company

The menu with no English characters

To be honest, the menu had nothing special. However, the shop has non-stop flow of locals and tourists after we were seated. We glanced through the rest of the tables and found that most ordered scrambled eggs, toasts and steamed milk custard. We were regretted for not ordering the set meal after ordering the dish as ala carte.
Steamed egg white and milk custard which had balanced sweetness and smooth texture accompanied with strong aroma of fresh milk and egg white. A worth-to-try dish when you're visiting Hong Kong. I hadn't tried any of the steamed egg white and milk custard which had such a good taste at hometown yet.

Toasts with scrambled eggs and cheese

At the 1st glance, we thought the filling was thick butter and cheese. My friend took the 1st bite and highly recommended us to try as well. A simple dish yet it's difficult to intimidate the taste.The scrambled eggs were just a tad from being runny,remaining moist and creamy.

The ordering process and service were at brisk, yet the rudeness of the waiters had been giving a bad experience. The waiters seemed to be expecting the eater to leave immediately right after the food were finished. Kindly call for the bill before proceeding to the cashier counter to avoid being shouted by those nasty waiters. On the contrary of the bad service (making you to feel un-welcomed), I was amazed by the operation of Australian Dairy Company for its efficiency of managing the long queues, ordering process and ensuring the quality of food.

Australian Dairy Company
47-49 Parkes Street

The 2nd day ended with a visit to Ladies Market and Temple Street , bargaining for some cheap souvenirs to bring back home. Nothing much different compared to Petaling Street in Malaysia, hence I don't recommend to include in itinerary. Most of the stalls were selling the similar items and you just had to bargain for good price. The best bargain was HKD 100 for 5 small fridge magnets, 5 key-chains and 5 nail-clippers.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Unleash the Passion for Travel & Food in Hong Kong & Macau (Day 2)- Ngong Ping 360, Tian Tan Buddha & Ngong Ping Village

Causeway bay is a place where you could easily get lost upon blocks of commercial buildings and shopping outlets. Shopping malls aplenty here such as Hysan Place, Sogo, Times Square, Forever 21 and etctera. Unfortunately, we had no time for shopping as we had to rush to Lantau Island.

The energetic faces of us in the morning :)

Lantau Island is located west of Hong Kong island. On the contrast to the busy metropolitan of Hong Kong Island, Lantau Island is considered as a good place to escape from the reality of life. Alighting from the Tung Chung MTR Station via Exit B, we were greeted with the Citygate Outlets which we went after our visit to Ngong Ping.

The hustling and bustling of the people had really blown our minds off. I strongly recommend that visiting to Lantau Island Ngo Ping on weekday instead of weekend. We took 1 hour queuing from the escalator leading up to the cable car station till we saw the ticketing counter. We opted for the ride with crystal cabin equipping with a transparent glass floor.

Captured the tickets while we queued up for the cable ride
The cable ride began. We could observed the road.
Next, the ships beneath us.

The high rise buildings, bridges connecting the lands, the cable cars and ocean.

And yes, I enjoyed the cable ride as I could rest my feet while enjoying the breathtaking view.
The 360 degree views around me was stunning.

Let's take photos!
Several mountain trails were seen from the cable and I was impressed by those trekkers who made their way up to the peak. 
As we got nearer to Ngong Ping Station, the Tian Tan Buddha (also named as Big Buddha) statue appeared larger.

The cable ride took about 25 minutes and we reached Ngong Ping Village. There are a few tourist attractions at Ngong Ping Village such as Walking With Buddha, Monkey's Tale Theater, Motion 360, Wisdom Path, Po Lin Monetary and etc.

The 天坛大佛 Tian Tan Buddha bronze statue could be seen from distance.

Some of the 3D paintings for photo-taking session.

There's a legend saying that wishes made at the “Bodhi Wishing Shrine” under the Bodhi Tree will come true. From the Ngong Ping 360 website, a wishing card could be redeemed with any purchase of HK$150 or more at Ngong Ping 360 Souvenir Shops.

“Bodhi Wishing Shrine”

May my wishes come true...

It was about 3pm and we decided to drop by for soy bean curd and black sesame dessert before we proceed to view the big Buddha.


The black sesame dessert, soy bean curd, glutinous rice chicken and fried sausages

Smooth, silky bean curd!
The black sesame dessert was served hot with smooth texture and it's not over sweet.
The chicken glutinous rice and fried sausages had reminded us how hungry we were as we filled our stomachs with the food within 10 minutes.

 In front of Po Lin Monastery
A268-steps staircase leading up to the big Buddha statue at the top.
Comparing to the steep staircase of Batu Caves in Malaysia and Tiger Cave in Thailand, walking towards the giant Buddha statue at the top was much easier.

The 天坛大佛 Tian Tan Buddha bronze statue sits solemnly on a giant lotus flower on top of a three-platform altaratop the peak of Mount Muk Yue.

The 天坛大佛 Tian Tan Buddha bronze statue is surrounded with few statues known as "The Offering Of The Six Devas".

We spent some time strolling around the Tian Tan Buddha statue apart from enjoying the strong breeze and nice view of Tung Chung area and South China sea. 
 The entrance (exit) with 20-character couplet i.e. :
如來座中華藏莊嚴世界海    菩提樹下寧靜光天解脫門

After we safely reached downhill, we spent an hour shopping in 东荟城名店仓 Citygate Outlets. It was a pleasure seeing many branded stuffs ranging from clothing, jewelry, watches, sport shoes and etcetera.  One-hour of shopping was not sufficient for me hence I just merely had window shopping. The sport shoes here seemed to be cheaper compared to Malaysia's outlets. It was about 7.30pm when we came out from Tung Chung Station and we decided to go to Mongkok region by skipping off Tsim Sha Tsui's Symphony of Lights.