Sanxitang Teahouse (三希堂) is a contemporary tea house located on the 4th floor of a prominent Taipei tourist attraction, the National Palace Museum, or its local Chinese abbreviation, Gugong (故宮). While quite far from inner Taipei, it’s at least half a day’s worth of your time–there are 3 sprawling stories filled of carefully curated Chinese art collections.
Penang is one of a handful of Malaysian restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley. It’s located off Glendora Ave, in Hong Kong Plaza, an ostentatious strip mall anchored by a big supermarket. Word has it that Penang was first opened and run by a Burmese film actress, Soe Myat Thuzar. Upon divorcing her American husband, she sold the business. Since then, the restaurant has changed hands several times.
Hoover Cake Shop is Alvin’s favorite egg tart bakery in Hong Kong. While we were in Kowloon City to visit his grandma, we seized the opportunity to explore the surrounding area and give Hoover’s egg tarts a shot. And yes, I concur that its egg tarts, made with duck eggs, are world class.
Joy Hing is famous, so famous, in fact, that it passes the Wikipedia benchmark of notability– behold its Wikipedia article [link]. Joy Hing has been around in some shape or form since the tail end of the Qing dynasty. It is an old school food joint, very low-key and unpretentious, serving up Cantonese-style rotisserie meats called siu mei (燒味). And Joy Hing does a wonderful job at living up to its Chinese name, “happy again.”
Litz is an old haunt, a Hong Kong style cafe that primarily serves Chinese-adapted Southeast Asian fare. And by Chinese, I mean less intense and pungent than the original, but still just as tasty. Hey, subtlety has its own charms, no?
Nha Trang is a Vietnamese restaurant embedded deep inside a narrow strip mall on Valley Blvd., a stone’s throw away from my childhood home in San Gabriel. Nha Trang gets name from a seaside city in South Vietnam, but it’s really just known for 2 kinds of noodle soup: bun bo Hue (originates in central Vietnam) and bun rieu. The place itself is small and cramped. Parking can be difficult. Nonetheless, people are always willing to wait because their noodles are good.
Mongkok Dim Sum (旺閣點心) is really just for quick pick dim sum. San Francisco has quite a lot of them, more so than LA, places whose sole business model is to serving large-scale to-go dim sum. In LA, dim sum is typically only found at Cantonese or Teochew seafood restaurants. I give Mongkok a lukewarm recommendation, only because it fulfilled its duty: getting us full.
Australia Dairy Company does not serve Australian fare, let’s get that clear. But over the years, it’s evolved into a venerated Hong Kong institution by staying true to its roots, as a classic cha chaan teng serving fusion Chinese-Western breakfast fare, everything from eggs and toast to macaroni and roast pork slices in soup, the clearest sign of Western culinary influence. As the name implies, it’s also known for its milk products, namely the steamed milk and egg white custards.
Our final day in San Francisco, we scoured the Yelp apps on our phones to find a solid breakfast/brunch spot. And I came across La Boulange, a French cafe and bakery chain with branches found throughout San Francisco and the greater Bay area. The closest one to Sunset was at Cole Valley, so we sped of, crossing our fingers that we’d find a parking spot.
On our first day back in Hong Kong, we paid a visit to Mak Man Kee Noodle Shop, a long venerated establishment in Hong Kong, known for its wonton noodles (雲吞麵, wan tan min). Alvin wasn’t so fond of this place (“overpriced” as he put it) but decided that I, as a first timer to HK, I needed to pay a visit. And so we did.
The main reason for our venture to Mongkok was to dine at Lei Garden (利苑酒家), a one Michelin-star Cantonese style restaurant, well known for its dim sum. Cantonese fare is characterized by its use of fresh unadulterated ingredients (especially seafood), and a preference for steaming or stir-frying. Like most well-known Hong Kong restaurants, Lei Garden is a chain with several restaurants throughout the city (and even outlets in Shanghai and Beijing). Reservations came in handy because this place got packed during yum cha (飲茶).
Our first full day in HK, we ventured out to Yau Ma Tei to get some congee. The congee shop in question was none other than Ocean Empire Congee Shop [link] (海皇粥店, Hoi Wong Juk Dim), smack dab in the middle of Nathan Road. After a brief 15 minute wait, we were seated. This once relatively obscure congee shop is now a veritable restaurant chain and a tourist destination for Mainlanders and other Asians alike (the menu also features Japanese translations). In fact, after being seated, I realized most of the customers were speaking Mandarin, not the local vernacular, Cantonese.
Last summer, Alvin and I, on the spur, booked tickets to Hong Kong and Taipei. Mind you, the high season tickets being offered by our local Chinese agency were remarkably cheap ($1230 for 4 flights). And Mid-December swung around quickly enough. We packed our bags and boarded a Cathay Pacific flight to travel halfway around the world. Why pay $500 to fly to New York City when a couple hundred more takes you to another continent altogether?
Our first whole day in Hong Kong, we had a repertoire of quintessentially Hong Kong meals: congee for breakfast, dim sum for brunch and a homemade seafood dinner, alongside street snacks, of course, in the form of egg tarts and the famed egg waffle.
Spring break just happened for me recently, along with my 25th birthday! (Gosh, I’m feeling old now). I took a trip up with the boyfriend to San Jose to visit Nicole and do touristy things in San Francisco. It’s funny to be posting about NorCal stuff when Justin’s been recapping a trip of his from the previous year up north.