Saturday, July 30, 2016

An Action Packed Weekend with Our Visitors, the Newlyweds!

Upon landing in Hong Kong after my trip, I was very happy to see Michael, and also my sister in law, Katie... and her husband, Justin!  They had just finished what sounded like an ah-mazing honeymoon in Thailand, staying in Phuket and Bangkok, before they came to Hong Kong to visit us.

I missed the first day of tourist activities, where Michael took them around what seemed to be all of Hong Kong, on a trek hitting all of the tourist highlights, in what could only be described as a super-human feat of endless energy and steps.  They took the escalators, hiked the Peak, took the Peak tram, went to the harbor, took the Star Ferry, saw TST, walked the promenade, rode the ding ding double decker tram... it was pretty incredible.  By the time I arrived, I felt like our visitors were already old hands in our fair city.

A sweet picture of the tour guide with the can-do attitude:
On Saturday, we had amazing weather, and we took full advantage of that by sitting by our pool for a good five hours with books, sunblock and, at one point in the late afternoon, champagne!  We then went to dinner at our favorite Italian restaurant in Soho for a chill evening of red wine and pasta and just generally enjoyed each other's company.

After dinner, we did a walk through LKF - but the scene was only starting to warm up because it was still early.  We took some (capital t Terrible) shots, consisting of sugary sex on the beaches and kamikazes, but we felt that no trip to LKF would be complete without some bad alcohol.

Sunday was an action packed day.  We went to dim sum at Dragon King restaurant in Causeway Bay. This one usually makes my list of dim sum places to go because the food is fresh and arrives hot, the atmosphere is quiet, the view is very good, and they have the crispy suckling pork belly with mustard that Michael loves.
Amazing lunch time view

After lunch, we walked around the area, checking out Sogo and other department stores, before heading back to Central to pick up some souvenirs.  While there, we went into our favorite vintage shop, Mee & Gee, where a brief pit stop turned into an hour long foray because it was decided, in a fit of inspiration, that everyone had to pick an outfit to wear for dinner that night.

All of that shopping really tired us out, so we headed back to the apartment to relax before we went to dinner.  Katie had a bit of a stomachache, and here is a picture of Michael trying to convince her that she really (really!) wants to try the magical "plum powder" elixir that we have from Japan.  Please note in particular the Mee & Gee outfits being modeled by the sibling duo.
 We headed to Together Pot, a local hotpot joint in Sai Ying Pun.  I liked their vegetable basket and also their meat.  The broth was also very good.  My biggest complaint is that they had no red vinegar, so my dipping sauce never achieved the level of crisp acidity that I love.

After finishing dinner at Together Pot, we went to the uber trendy Ping Pong Ginoteria, which was just a few blocks away.  It is a very cool space and specializes in, well, gin.
 We descended into a deep basement from the red door entry.
 The words in neon lighting over the bar read: "Exercise your body"

While there, we put our poor waiter on the spot and made him judge our outfits.  Who wins for best outfit, including versatility and wearability?  Katie won!

Here, Michael concedes defeat... kind of.

On Monday, I went back to work, but took a lunch break to go with everyone to shop for shirts for Justin.  We went to the guy Michael really likes, Jim, located in the Far East Finance Center.

Justin was measured not once, not twice, but thrice, and he ultimately decided on two shirts - one in white and one in checkered blue.  I hope they turn out well!
For their last night in town, we went to China Club for dinner.  We went to the Long March bar and the library and balcony for drinks first, then settled into a booth to eat.

I played tour guide.
The atmosphere for dinner in the China Club is quite nice - with dark wood interiors, red booths, fresh flowers, intricately carved wood and stained glass, it very much channels the feel of an old 1940s Shanghai Art Deco bar.  During dinner, there was a singer, followed by a tea performance, followed by a noodle maker.
We got Peking duck!
All in all, we had an amazing, action packed weekend, and we were so happy that we got to see each other and travel together again.  We are already looking forward to the next trip!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Last Dinner in NY and Return to HK

My family took me out for a delicious dinner on my last night in New York, at a restaurant in Little Neck called "Se De" which means "Worth it" - and it was!  The restaurant focuses mostly on southern cuisine, from the Fujian and Guangdong area.  There were some spicy dishes, like boiled fish in soup, but we didn't opt for those.

This is what's called a "small-fry," where they just mix a bunch of different things together in a hot wok and fry it all up.  It was very tasty.  We identified taro, jicama, chives, fish cake, pork, squid, carrots and onion, and I am sure we missed a few other ingredients!
 The lobster stir fried in scallion and ginger was scrumptious.
 This was probably my favorite - the casserole pot of eggplants and salted fish and chicken.  It was so good, meltingly tender!  Only critique is that it was a little bit salty.
 The soy chicken with scallions and onions and fried shallots was also incredible, notable mainly for the dry, crisp, crackling skin contrasted with the juicy, tender meat.  I usually eschew chicken dishes at Chinese restaurants but this one, lo! definitely caught my interest.
 After dinner we took a few family pictures around the house and the front yard.

After that, it was time for me to go to the airport.  I was flying out of JFK on Eva Air on a late night flight.  They share a lounge with Air France, which (unsurprisingly) has a great wine and cheese selection.  During normal business hours, they also offer complimentary Clarins facials (sweet)!
 Oh yeah, they also offer Mumm champagne.  Not bad, folks, not bad.
The seats in the lounge were pretty comfortable - nothing to complain about.

 Once on the plane, was when I started to really love Eva Air.  The seats were comfortable, the food and beverage menus were glitzy, and it was the familiar herringbone layout that many of these airlines use.  It was a very new plane, judging by the quality of the materials, the big television screen, and the glossy fancy handset.  However, it was the fact that they gave me PJ's, in addition to the standard amenity kit, that got me excited.  When the attendant gave me a medium pair to replace the large, she also insisted that I keep both sets - that I could give a pair to a family member.  When was the last time you heard that on a plane?

Eva also provides a pair of slippers in addition to the socks, which I like a lot.  Beyond anything else, though, it was the service, showcasing the trademark Taiwanese hospitality, that shone through.

 Needless to say, I was very comfortable before takeoff.  Shortly after we were in the air, I was treated to this beautiful sight outside my window.

Eva's food is pretty good - I think they have improved markedly since I last flew them.  Their portions are really big though.

 Full, I promptly went to sleep.  Emerging feeling decidedly fresh 10 hours later, I then watched a surprisingly entertaining movie, The Dressmaker with Kate Winslet, and relaxed with cups of hot oolong and jasmine tea while waiting for the descent into Taipei.

Landing in Taipei at 5 am, I had a two hour layover before hopping on a short flight from Taipei to Hong Kong, landing just before 9 am.  Here, an impressive view of the many Eva planes waiting at the Taipei airport.