Just Tried: John and Yoko Cosmopolitan Japanese, Greenbelt 5

I can always count on gyoza to make my day.

My sister is home over the weekend! The two hours I spent waiting for her at the airport was worth it because I missed her so much! The last time I saw her was back in March, when I went to Hong Kong with my friend, Jana. That is why I was so excited to be seeing my sister again.

She arrived a couple of minutes past midnight last Saturday. After getting some sleep, she wanted to have her nails done at Nail Tropics. She estimated that I would have to wait an hour and a half for her to be done. Having very short nails (damn nailbiting habit!), I felt it too expensive to have my nails done there so I just opted to have my eyebrows threaded at Browhaus.

Unfortunately, my eyebrow threading lasted only 15 minutes and I had nowhere to go in Greenbelt while waiting for her. I opted to have coffee or any cold drink somewhere while waiting. My feet led me to John and Yoko, remembering the big poster they had of their milk tea selection (which had like three options only). Learning that it served Japanese food, I decided to order gyoza with my brown sugar milk tea because I was a little bit hungry from not eating enough at breakfast.

I just loved the interior of the restaurant! It was cute and cozy, appealing to my girly side that loved pink and mint green color combo. The place wasn’t packed unlike the restaurants on the same floor, making it an ideal place for me to wait because I dislike very noisy restaurants. Not that I don’t want people talking inside the restaurant, I just get headaches when exposed to too many sounds all at once.

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My milk tea order came first. I did notice that there were huge chunks of ice in my drink to chill it. I was kind of disappointed because I felt like the presence of ice was going to water down my drink when melted. When I took a sip though, the caramel-like taste of the brown sugar tasted so yummy, though a tad bit too sweet for my liking. I then appreciated the ice knowing it will water down my drink a bit if I leave it alone for a couple of minutes, just enough to lessen the sweetness of the milk tea. Still, that drink was yummy and the boba pearls were cooked just right! John and Yoko’s milk tea is now part of my favorite milk teas list.

It took a while to have my gyoza served. It makes me wonder if they did not have pre-made pot stickers just waiting to be steamed because I doubt gyozas took that long to cook. Anyway, I was excited about it when it was finally served to me.

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I am normally not used to being served gyoza with the fried bottom facing up. There was some good browning, with a spot or too a little darker than the rest. Oh well, the gyoza was still gyoza no matter which side was facing up.

I was not prepared at all to love their gyoza so much! I mean, I am no connoisseur and is yet to learn how to describe food other than delicious, yummy, and tasty. I also have not been to a lot of Japanese restaurants to be able to say I have sampled so many gyozas to know what’s good and what’s not. Still, I loved how John and Yoko’s gyoza tasted! The filling was cooked well and the wrapper was not too thick or too chewy. While I did poke some holes due to my struggling with the chopsticks (lack of sleep makes my hands shaky), the wrapper did not tear that easily once you bite into the gyoza. You see, I already experienced having gyoza wrappers fall apart after a small bite, leaving the remainder of the filling between my chopsticks.

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After almost more than two hours, my sister was finally done with her mani-pedi session. I told her to just meet me in John and Yoko. I ordered her another gyoza set and brown sugar milk tea. We also ordered Samurai All-Meat Pizza. My sister ate five pieces of gyoza, one after the other. I knew she was hungry by that time, but hearing no complaints from her meant the gyoza really was good.

The pizza took the longest to be served. I was surprised how small the size was (the picture made me think of larger serving size), yet equally amazed at the amount of meat on that pizza with a super thin crust. They did not skimp on the meat at all! Just take a look at those big pieces of bacon! Doesn’t the pizza look so yummy!

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There were no uncooked chunks of meat and they were not overly salty. I do not know what cheese they used, but it wasn’t the stretchy, stringy kind. However, it was so creamy and it complimented the Pomodoro sauce and the meat toppings really well. The crust was crispy, but not too hard. The only downside though was that the inner slices were a little tricky to eat because of the weight of the cheese and the meat toppings. The outer slices still had some crust to hold on to while eating, but the middle part was not.

We were stuffed at the end of the meal! I really enjoyed what we ate and I am excited to try their other dishes. Overall, I was more than pleased with John and Yoko’s food and service quality. I will surely be back.

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Another Reason to Love OWNDAYS

“The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight but no vision.” ― Helen Keller

I have shared with you my awesome experience buying spectacles at OWNDAYS. Today, I had another reason to love this optical shop.

This is my current eye prescription:

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Without glasses, I can still make out shapes and colors, but I cannot distinguish small features. For example, my laptop is currently an arm’s length away from me. Without glasses, I can just make out the edges of the picture above, the black lines, and some black, blurred stuff that are the letters of what I am typing. I know there’s a pink section in the paragraph above (hyperlink) but I cannot read anything at all. That’s how badly I need eyeglasses.

This morning, my eyeglasses met an accident. I forgot that I put it on the bed so I could put on my makeup while standing up. After doing my makeup, I sat on my bed, a little forcefully that I should have. I sat on my glasses because I wasn’t able to see it. The frame got a little deformed and the lens of the left eye popped out. Thankfully, I had contact lenses at home as a backup.

I called up OWNDAYS at The Landmark Makati to inquire how much they charge for fixing my glasses after what I had done to it. Turns out, I didn’t have to pay anything anymore and I could get my glasses after 20 minutes, just like their service time when you get new specs. It was convenient that I was going to Greenbelt to have lunch with my high school friends and that Landmark was only five minutes away.

After giving them my specs, I immediately saw three, beautifully designed cases for eyeglasses. I was drawn to the one with the panda design. Then, I turned my eyes to the sign that gave information on what these cases were about. Turns out, Owndays Philippines is currently helping raise funds for three organizations in the country: World Vision, PAWS, and WWF. For more information on this collaboration, please check out the video below from OWNDAYS Philippine’s FB page.

When I returned for my glasses, they looked like they were brand new. I guess they also performed cleaning on the lenses and the frame.

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Very much pleased, I decided to buy a new case because I was always conscious of the white case. It was the one that I got for free when I bought my glasses and I always feared that it would eventually be looking dirty and yucky from stains or whatever. I got the Panda design for Php 500 and the purchase helped support WWF. They also gave me a free wiping cloth.

OWNDAYS has not disappointed me yet. I hope the company continues being awesome!

Phantom Quakes and PTSD

“While the building was swaying and the ground was shaking, God remained the steady figure I could hold on to.”

It’s been twelve days since the 6.1 magnitude earthquake that shook Central Luzon. I shared the story in my previous post, Shaken. This time, I will be sharing what I have been experiencing the past couple of days.

I have always had a fear of shaky rides and shaky ground. That is why I am not overly fond of theme parks and their rides. During field trips when I was young, I hated it so much when we had to walk on hanging bridges. Turbulent flights scare the hell out of me and the slightest shake of the plane would cause me to hold on to the armrest of my seat while I try to calm myself. From time to time, I would do something unusual like hopping on a zip line or riding the cable cars like I did in Ngong Ping and in Ocean Park. I thought of them as attempts to get rid of my fear of anything unstable. I never realized how bad the phobia actually was until last month’s earthquake happened.

After having gone home the night of the earthquake, I was in my bed and I was watching videos on my phone when I suddenly felt something push my bed. I almost dropped my phone in the process. It turned out that a 4.4 magnitude earthquake happened in Bataan, a place around 50 km to 60km away from Manila. I didn’t sleep well that night.

I came to work the following day, seemingly okay. In my head though, I was already making plans on what our emergency bag should contain and what else will I need to get in case another earthquake happened. I was working just fine, completing tasks one after the other. Deep inside though, I was still scared. The 6.1 magnitude earthquake had its epicenter at around 67km away from Manila. I told myself it was not at all that bad compared to places near the epicenter. I felt guilty for being too scared and judged myself as overreacting. I could not understand why I was feeling that way.

Was it because for around five years now, we have been warned about the possibility of a major earthquake from the West Valley Fault that can damage the whole capital region and the recent earthquake gave us a tiny taste of a strong earthquake? We’ve felt earthquakes in the past here in Manila, but I don’t think there was anything as bad as the recent one.

In the past few days, it would take six to seven hours for me to finally fall asleep. I had migraine-like headaches and would feel as if the room is shaking every now and then. When I felt any sort of shaking, I would immediately check my phone for alerts sent by Phivolcs, trying to confirm if there was indeed an earthquake that just happened. I would suddenly feel dizzy and a little disoriented for a couple of minutes.

Phantom quake. I was experiencing a feeling like there was an earthquake even if there was not any. From what I have read on the internet, I am not the only one experiencing it. It would come when I am at work, it would come at night when I am in bed. I would feel as if the world was shaking, but it was only me. My mind was playing tricks on me.

I don’t think my productivity at work has been greatly affected, but I haven’t been able to go to my yoga classes anymore. My blood pressure is a little bit elevated, which probably explains the dizzy spells. Thankfully, except for the intermittent feeling of the room shaking, I can say I am fine.

Gradually, my sleep pattern is returning to normal. I still have difficulty falling asleep, but at least when I manage to, I don’t feel half-awake anymore. I still feel tremors from time to time, but knowing that it’s all in my head, I do not reach out anymore for my phone to check for earthquake alerts and posts over Twitter. I manage to calm myself more quickly now. Unless another earthquake happens so soon, I am pretty sure I’m on my way to getting over the whole thing already.

I also just want to say to those experiencing phantom quakes or PTSD that it’s okay to feel that way. We react to situations differently and even if the people around you do not appear as scared or shaken as you, it’s okay to feel that way. What is important is we acknowledge our feelings and we try to go back to feeling normal again at the phase we’re comfortable with. It’s okay to express our fear to our friends and family so they can help us feel that we’re in a safe environment.

Most importantly, pray. While the building was swaying to the shake of the ground, God remained the steady figure that I could hold on to. At the time of the earthquake, I managed to send Mom a message, asking her to pray for us (by that I meant everyone affected by the earthquake, including her). I told my sister the same thing, but she was unfortunately on a plane to Hong Kong from Korea at that time. It’s true that when all else fails, it’s only God that remains. That’s how powerful the Lord is.

I Mixed Lola Remedios With White Tea

I was not prepared for the number of people interested in the Lola Remedios supplement. In fact, my previous post about it surpassed all the combined views of my other posts on my blog since it started in January of 2018. That’s just mindblowing!

Anyway, I woke up with a stuffy nose today. Whether that’s due to the a/c in my room or the summer season (I always get allergic rhinitis during summer), all I know was my nose felt stuffed. So when I noticed that Mom was able to buy another box of Lola Remedios, I had the idea of putting it to another test; mixing it with white tea. I’ve only ever drunk this supplement from the sachet and have never tried mixing it with something else so, I figured that there must be some other ways to enjoy it and while reaping its benefits.

I poured a sachet’s contents to a cup of hot white tea and inhaled the minty freshness from the steam coming from my cup. It was like Vick’s inhaler in steam form. Did my nose feel less stuffy right away? Nope. Yet, the smell was comforting and calming at the same time. God, I love minty stuff so much!

Once the tea has cooled down enough for me to handle the heat while drinking (my temperature receptors are so sensitive to heat), I finally got to taste the concoction I have made. Basically, it tasted like watered down Lola Remedios syrup. Despite that, I was still getting the same feeling of warmth spreading throughout my body. Perhaps it was due to the mint reacting with a warm temperature that was coming from the tea. It’s rather a different feeling than if I downed cold water after drinking Lola Remedios syrup, which would have been more refreshing than comforting.

Unfortunately for me, before drinking the last 30ml or so of my white tea and Lola Remedios concoction, it started tasting like I was drinking toothpaste highly diluted in water. It was not such a fun experience anymore, so I decided not to finish my drink anymore. I guess I should not have diluted the syrup with too much tea.

A few minutes later, my nasal congestion went away. Hours later, I am still fine and writing this post. Too bad it cannot stop my emotions from bursting every time I see MCU actors over IG.

Damn, why did I have to follow a lot of them last night? If you haven’t watched the latest Avengers movie, please go watch it soon! However, be prepared to feel things that Lola Remedios will not be able to handle for you (insert cheeky wink here).

I’ll still try to find ways to drink up the Lola Remedios syrup apart from drinking it from the sachet. I’ll probably try the same with its competitor, Tolak Angin. I will be sharing with you whatever I will discover. See you next time!

Just Baked: Double Chocolate Cookies

“There is nothing better than a friend unless it is a friend with chocolate.” ― Linda Grayson

You know what’s better than a chocolate chip cookie? A chocolatey chocolate chip cookie!!!

I still had leftover chocolate chip morsels that I badly wanted to put to use already. I also had a little bit of dutch-processed cocoa powder left. Initially, wanting to bake brownies, I decided I wanted cookies instead. Searching for recipes that involved the two ingredients led me to the Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies by Kathy.

What I loved about her recipe was that it asks for a cup of butter. That being said, I did not have to bother cutting my bar of butter up anymore because I hate having to do that. I also liked the fact that it’s almost like making a brownie cookie.

Anyway, her recipe was very easy to follow. Except for adding another teaspoon of vanilla, I did not do any more tweakings to the recipe. Oops, I did use macadamia nuts instead of walnuts.

Guys, the house smelled of brownie heaven! The smell of chocolate was simply divine! It was a miracle I was able to wait for the first batch to cool before trying one cookie out. And, just as expected, the cookie tasted like a brownie that’s a little fudgy in the middle. It was so delicious and not overly sweet!

People at work loved the cookies too. I brought them to work together with the coconut oatmeal cookies and these brownie-like cookies disappeared faster than I expected.

Please do try her recipe out. To make it more aesthetically pleasing, don’t put all the chocolate chips in the dough. Save some to put on top after scooping them onto the baking sheets. That way, you get these little melted chocolate chips on top after the cookies bake. They firm up again once cooled.

 

Shaken

“An earthquake achieves what the law promises but does not in practice maintain,” one of the survivors wrote. “The equality of all men”.” ― Sebastian Junger, Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging

Close to seven hours ago, I was minding my business at work when I felt a jolt. I thought I was just dizzy, but some colleagues starting to look at one another. Then there was another jolt. Someone instructed, “duck, cover and hold.” I hid under my desk.

I am no stranger to earthquakes, but that minute or two of shaking was the scariest and closest I’ve been to an actual disaster. The building was swaying, the blinds were repeatedly violently slapping against the windows. I could hear officemates praying out loud for the shaking to stop.

It was the strongest earthquake I’ve felt my entire life and all I could think of for the first few seconds was my Mom. She was a city away and I knew she was feeling it too. I sent her a message telling her to pray for us, just as I was. Then, I texted my sister, who was boarding a flight from Korea to Hong Kong, to pray for us because the earthquake was strong. They were all I could think of at that moment.

After the shaking, we were waiting for the go signal to go down the emergency exits. You see, our company wishes to ensure that before letting us out, where we will pass is safe too. It took a couple of minutes to go down from the 25th floor via stairs. My knees were shaking by the time I reached the ground floor. Then, we headed to the closest open area.

It took a couple more minutes before we heard anything from the news. A magnitude 6.1 earthquake hit a place that was 67kms away from Manila, a city only a few kilometers from us. If that was how strongly the earthquake was felt in Manila, I could not imagine how much worse the experience was for those who lived closer to the epicenter. News reports about shaken buildings, toppled commercial buildings’ water tanks, and ruined airport soon surfaced. What we experienced was milder than most.

I thank God for keeping us safe. I guess it’s really important to be actually present in our lives and not just watch each day go by. We need to tell our loved ones that we treasure them and to let them feel it. We need to be kinder to one another because you never know who will come to your aid at the time of need. We need to take care of ourselves so we can help other people, not only those who are close to us. We also need to learn how to share, whether material stuff or not.

Be safe, everyone. I pray for all of us.

Just Baked: Coconut Oatmeal Cookies

For I am coconut, and the heart of me is sweeter than you know.” — Nikki Grimes

Technically, I baked these cookies weeks ago. I thought all the while that I’ve written about it already. After getting back from Hong Kong though, I have been busy with work that I forgot I only started writing this post.

This is almost an extension too of my Hong Kong adventures post. You see, the inspiration to make coconut cookies were because of the coconut-flavored egg rolls that I got from Kee Wah Bakery at the Hong Kong International Airport. I was only planning to buy penguin cookies, but a lady asked me to try free samples of the egg roll. She did not have to convince me much because I loved it right then and there.

When I got home, I knew I had to have something with a coconut taste. Therefore, I took it upon myself to find a coconut recipe that I can work with. The problem though, was that I only had desiccated coconuts in my pantry and all the recipes I was finding said to use shredded coconuts. To hell with shredded coconuts, I was going to use my desiccated coconut pack instead.

The recipe I decided to follow was from Food Network for coconut oatmeal cookies. It had five stars with 29 reviews and I think all of them only had praises for this recipe.

I did not do much tweaking except for adding 1 tsp of coconut extract and 1/2 tsp of salt. I thought to myself that cookies without salt will not have that added depth in flavor. Salt actually adds a little bit more oomph in baking. So, in salt went into my dough. I also added half a cup more of desiccated coconuts because they are not as bulky as shredded coconuts. I wanted my batch to yield a lot of cookies.

Guys, the whole house smelled so lovely and coconutty! It smelled like a vacation on a tropical beach, with coconut water for refreshment. It was simply amazing!

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Here’s the deal. Because I did not use shredded coconut, the cookies were a tad bit drier than I would have liked. Still, they were chewy because of the oatmeal. Boy, they were yummy though. They were so yummy that I was actually debating whether to still bring some to work and share them with my colleagues or to just keep them all to myself. Of course, sharing is caring. So, I brought them to work.

The thing with coconuts is that not everyone is a fan of them. Even I took some time to warm up to this drupe. So, while some loved them, there were some who weren’t as fond of them. Despite that, I was still told that the cookies were good.

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Perhaps I will try to find shredded coconut next time. Alternatively, perhaps I can just rehydrate desiccated coconut? I still think shredded coconut is different from grated coconut. Grated coconut is not difficult for me to get, but shredded coconuts? I have a higher chance of finding flaked coconut than finding the shredded version.

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That’s it for now, guys! Hope you try the recipe out too.

2019 Trip to Hong Kong: A Harry Potter Fan’s Happy Place

“Always.” – Severus Snape (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows)

Once a Harry Potter fan, forever a fan. I knew it the moment I opened the first book of the series 18 years ago. The moment I read the first chapter, I knew Harry Potter would be a part of my life forever. While I did not mean that I would have rooms with wallpapers of the brick walls of Diagon Alley or have every Harry Potter merchandise a part of my collection, I knew it was going to have a strong influence on me.

So, when my sister, Kristine, told me last December that there was a Harry Potter shop in Causeway Bay where she would buy herself some merch, I knew I had to make it a part of my March 2019 trip itinerary. There was no way I was missing a Harry Potter experience on a vacation.

Founded in 2007, Museum CONTEXT was known for quality retro home decors and gift ideas. From Edinburgh, it was brought to Hong Kong in 2011. By 2018, it opened a store in Causeway Bay, where Kristine went. Museum CONTEXT sells officially licensed Harry Potter merchandise from wands to robes, from quills to notebooks, from time turners to deluminators, and so much more! For more information about Museum CONTEXT, please visit their website.

From Wong Tai Sin to Causeway Bay

After our fortune-telling and temple experience at Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple (read about it here), Jana and I traveled all the way to Causeway Bay to meet up Kristine for her dinner treat. Thankfully, the MTR station at Wong Tai Sin was just beside the temple, so we did not have to walk very far since it started to drizzle after our fortunes were interpreted by a soothsayer.

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This screenshot was obtained from http://www.mtr.com.hk/archive/en/services/routemap.pdf

From Wong Tai Sin MTR, we rode the train back to Mong Kok, where we alighted to transfer to the Tsuen Wan Line. We rode the train heading for Admiralty Station and alighted there to transfer to the Island Line. From Admiralty, Causeway Bay was just two train stops away. We chose to get out via the Hysan Place exit.

At Hysan Place, Jana and I rested first and bought drinks from Pacific Coffee. I was trying to figure out how much time we had left before we had to meet Kristine, trying to see if there was still sufficient time to find where Museum CONTEXT was. According to my sister, it was in one of the inner streets and Google Maps was not helping much with the directions.

I thought of postponing the trip to the store and to just enjoy Hysan Place first. We roamed around the mall and enjoyed the Line Friends displays that they had.

Finding Musem CONTEXT

img_1418Kristine sent a message that it might take a couple more minutes for her to arrive at Hysan Place, so I decided to bring Jana to the nearby SaSa store. In the process of doing so, we accidentally discovered where Musem CONTEXT was.

From Hysan Place, go to the ground floor and take the exit closes to Lululemon. Straight ahead (technically a tiny, tiny bit to the left), there was an Innisfree store. A little more forward were SaSa and Watsons. Where those shops were was Yun Ping Road. Just go straight and head towards the corner of Pak Sha Street. Look up and there you have it! Museum CONTEXT!

We took the stairs to the first floor and saw the posters of Harry and Sirius right away. I could only wish they moved just like in the movies.

The store attendant came back from the washroom and opened the door to a magical place that gave a Diagon Alley vibe. I wasn’t looking into buying anything in particular,  but my eyes feasted on every single merchandise that they had. Check out the slideshow below to see some of them.

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I ended up not buying anything. I just practically just window-shopped with Jana here. I guess, it happens when you want everything and cannot decide which one to get first.

Caught By Surprise at the Airport

I was a little bit regretting that I did not get anything from the store. I wanted to have something as a souvenir of some sort. We were already at the airport when all these thoughts were running through my head.

Imagine my surprise when I saw a Museum CONTEXT pop-up store at the Departure Area, close to our check-in counter! I could not believe my eyes and immediately reported it to my sister. Apparently, it was only newly opened that month, explaining why she was not aware of it. She ordered me to get myself and Jana chocolate frogs. I gladly obeyed.

I got a Helga Hufflepuff card! She’s my idol for making magic happen in the kitchen.

I was so happy about this discovery! I hope you find the time to check out Museum CONTEXT shops in Hong Kong when you visit.

If you’re interested to read about my other adventures in Hong Kong here.

2019 Trip to Hong Kong: Where to Eat

“Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.” ― Mark Twain

Hong Kong can be very expensive. You must save up if you want to enjoy the best accommodation and shopping experience. What is equally undeniable though, is that Hong Kong is also an amazing place to let your tastebuds feast and have fun.

Here are some of the places I enjoyed eating in throughout my travels to Hong Kong since 2016.

Tai Hing

Founded in 1989 by Mr. Chan Wing On and Mr. Yuen Chi Ming, Tai Hing has grown to have several branches across Hong Kong. There’s even a Tai Hing at the Arrival Area of Hong Kong International Airport, Terminal 1. It prides itself with its QSC management policy, which I think stands for quality, service, and cleanliness. For more information on Tai Hing and to where their branches are, visit their website here.

This is the restaurant that’s closest to my heart. It was in 2016 when I first tried eating in Tai Hing in its Grand Tower II branch. That was the year my sister was moving to Hong Kong to start her new job as a regional IT auditor. Without a lot of funds at that time, we made sure not to spend too much on eating out. Tai Hing’s food selections are already reasonably priced compared to other restaurants, in my opinion.

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What I love best here is that one does not have to wait too long for food to be served. Despite the speed by which you get your meal, the quality is great and the food is awesome! I also love how smart it maximizes its space. They have tables with drawers that contain the utensils and sugar packets! Check out my IG post below and don’t forget to swipe left.

What I loved:

1. Roast pork rice and barbecue pork rice.

You definitely have to try their roast pork. It has the crispiest skin and the juiciest meat that will make you want for more! The meat was so good that I don’t remember dipping into any condiment to enhance the flavor. Just Google “Tai Hing roast pork” and you will know why this dish is a must-try in Hong Kong.

The veggie was okay. I mean, it’s a straightforward piece of what I assume is a bok choy. The nice thing about it though was that it was not overly cooked. There was still a crunch to it that was nice.

2.  Milk Tea

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Don’t forget to add sugar if you’re not fond of strong tea taste because their milk tea definitely has tea! It’s so unlike the usual milk tea drinks these days that have more sugar and milk than tea. Tai Hing’s milk tea is the real deal!

I liked it hot, surprisingly, but try to have its chilled version. I heard they dip the glass in a bucket of ice rather than putting ice in the drink. That way, the milk tea does not get diluted by melted ice. I was not able to experience ordering the chilled version, but you may try in order to confirm their manner of serving it.

3. Lemon iced tea

Theirs is not the commercial powdered iced tea that’s flavored with lemon. Their lemon iced tea is so refreshing without being too sweet. It goes really well with their rice pork and rice dishes.

4. Luncheon meat and scrambled eggs instant noodle

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It looks like a simple dish. It is! Yet, it tastes highly of home comfort food. The broth was tasty, yet light at the same time. The noodles weren’t mushy and the luncheon meat remained firm.

What I did not like as much:

1. Mandarin orange with honey (drink)

It tasted like paracetamol in syrup form. Think Biogesic or Tempra. It did not live up to my expectation of refreshing orange drink sweetened with honey. I do not know why it was that way or whether it was an isolated case.

2. Preserved cabbage and shredded pork rice vermicelli (noodle soup)

I could not understand the taste of the preserved cabbage. Best not to order this dish if you do not like preserved cabbages.

I am so glad I was able to bring Jana to the same Grand Tower II branch I’ve been to in 2016. However, their breakfast selections are not too varied and are a little bit pricey in my opinion. I hope to be able to bring her there again when it’s past breakfast time.

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Tsui Wah (Hong Kong International Airport)

It started as an Ice cafe in Mong Kok in 1967. It eventually grew to one of the popular chains of restaurants in Hong Kong. It has branches across Hong Kong, a branch in Singapore, and several branches in China. For more information and for the list of their branches, please visit their website.

The first Tsui Wah (and technically the only) branch I have tried was the one in Hong Kong International Airport’s Departure Area. I was trying to prolong my last few moments with my sister at that before going back to Manila. It was my first time at that restaurant as well, and I was not sure what to expect. All I knew was that their place looked fancy and expensive.

It turns out that more or less, their prices are pretty much okay for an airport restaurant. With the rather large servings, I think we got our money’s worth that afternoon.

What I loved:

img_9110Their food selection is varied, I must say. While I normally do not order curry dishes out of the fear of their spices being too much, my sister convinced me to try their Malaysian curry dishes. Oh dear, I did not regret it at all! The curry sauce? It was so flavorful and yummy, with the spices just enough to give heat, but not too much that I would feel my mouth burning. I was so full at the end of our meal!

I was excited to let Jana try their food, so we tried to visit their Portland Street branch in Mong Kok. Just like Tai Hing, they served breakfast until 11:00 am. Even then, as I was looking at the menu, there wasn’t anything that reminded me of the menu from their HKIA branch. It was like looking at a totally different restaurant’s menu because there was nothing familiar to me. I didn’t see any Malaysian curry dish too. I guess the food they serve vary among branches.

The Dining Room (Hysan Place)

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After, visiting Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple, we traveled all the way to Causeway Bay to meet up with my sister, Kristine. She told me she’d treat me and Jana to our first dinner in Hong Kong this year.  I was excited to see her as I have not seen her since December.

At the 12th floor of the very beautiful Hysan Place, you can find The Dining Room. This restaurant is a member of the Tansh Global Food Group, along with Shanghai Min and Maison de L’Hui. The Dining Room serves Shanghai-style food and has a strong presence in China. For more details on the Tansh Global Food Group, please click here.

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The restaurant has this vintage clock that the restaurant staff looks at to check if your 90 minutes is up.

There was not a lot of people when we got there, but I noticed a sign that said customers can only stay 90 minutes max. I guess this place gets packed and they have to impose the time limit so that other people can get in. Smart!

The staff was made up of attentive and courteous people during our visit. See that blue bag on the chair? They placed a cover on top of it to prevent it from being ruined by accidental food and drink spills. They provided the cover without being asked (and frankly, I didn’t know they had such thing).

We were given the menu and a slip of paper where we had to check the items that we were ordering. For the most part, Kristine chose for us since she has eaten here in the past. She was telling us how this restaurant served Shanghai-style dishes, which I am not sure I have tried in the past.

What I loved:

1. Braised pork belly with eggs

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Argh! My mouth is already watering at the sight of this dish! This was my favorite out of all that we tried.

The braised pork was so tender and oh so juicy! The pork was coated with this sticky, flavorful sauce that was neither too salty nor too sweet. It was just right. There’s a good amount of fat in these pieces of meat that I loved so much. I don’t eat a lot of pork (especially pork belly), but when I do, I love eating the fatty part, making sure to eat them at the end of the meal. Save the best for last!

The serving size seems small, but it was actually enough for the three of us to have tried it. It paired really well with the rice that I’ll be talking about later.

2. Steamed pork & soup dumplings (xiao long bao)

img_1441I have found a rival for Din Tai Fung’s xiao long bao! The buns were neither too thin or too thick. They were sturdy enough to hold the soup inside and not tear easily when you try to lift them with chopsticks. Thankfully, they also did not stick to the paper lining the bamboo steamer basket.

Whatever soup they put inside, I was such a huge fan! If only I could order a bowl of just the soup, I would be very delighted! You see, despite being a clear type of soup, it was not the runny kind that suddenly floods your mouth as soon as you bite into the bun. It flowed gently, coating my tongue and bathing my taste buds with a light, yet flavorful soup. The soup nicely complemented the pork inside, which was cooked just right. The pork was not tough, not mushy, and neither overcooked nor undercooked.

Believe me when I say that one basket with five xiao long bao pieces is not enough for me. I will gladly just eat this dish and be content. That’s how good they were!

3. Fried rice with salted pork and vegetables

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Fried rice and spicy beef brisket pot

Fear not that “salted” part of this dish’s name. The pork was only lightly salted, enough for the rice to make you want to serve yourself some more. The long, thin grains were coated with deliciousness that enhanced the other flavors of the other dishes we tried. That’s because the rice was far from being bland, yet did not compete with the tastes of the other dishes.

That small bowl was enough for the three of us to share. So, if you ordered plenty of meats and dim sum, you do not have to order plenty of rice.

What I loved just a little bit less:

1. The eggs that came with the braised pork belly.

I think they were cooked a little too long. At least that is what I think seeing that gray part between the egg yolk and the egg white. I still liked it, although I wished that the yolks were a little on the softer side. I like my yolks just set and creamy.

2. The spicy beef brisket pot

My sister assured me that it was not as spicy as I was fearing it to be despite its bright red color. I should have known not to trust my sister’s taste buds that have a fondness for spicy foods. Even she admitted later on that the dish was spicier than when she first tried it.

The heat from the spices aside, the beef strips were not too chewy that your jaw will hurt from chewing too much. I truly hate it when the beef is too tough, yet I also do not like beef that’s too rare. I am not sure whether it was due to its being cut into strips, but I liked the texture of the meat.

img_1442The noodles were a little tricky though. I was having a hard time getting them with my chopsticks. I think I need a lot more practice with the ones that tend to slip my chopstick’s grip.

By the way, let me just say that I was so fond of those gold teapots. I mean, I wanted one for myself. The last time I saw golden teapots were in TWG and each pot was priced at Php 25,000 at that time.

Texas Burger (Langham Place)

Move over, stairway to heaven! This is an escalator to heaven!

img_2339When I went to Hong Kong last March, it was my first time to step inside Langham Place. It was so beautiful inside, yet also a little confusing. Despite not being a very wide place, I felt like I was still getting lost inside. I guess I should visit more often to memorize where the stairs and ramps (very useful for those with suitcases) and elevators are.

The highlight, though, was the escalators that transport people from the 8th to the 12th floor without stops in between! Yup, you read that right. You skip three floors to get to either the 8th or the 12th floor, depending on your direction.

Very close to the escalator on the 12th floor was Texas Burger. Having had Asian Food for the last couple of days, it was nice to finally have some American food. Besides, don’t you think those seats look nice? Well, we weren’t able to stay in one of those. Bummer.

Forgot to bring your wipes? No problem! Inside their utensils basket, they provide a pack or two of wipes so you can dig in and eat without worrying about the germs from your hands. I think there’s only one piece per pack though. I need to check the one I brought home as a souvenir.

img_2344Food is a little on the pricier side here. I guess it can be expected seeing how lush Langham Place is. Rent would surely be expensive and therefore, their prices would have to be enough not to drive them out of business. Still, there were affordable items on the menu like the ones we got.1.

They had a lot of items on their menu, but we weren’t looking to eat so much for dinner after our Ocean Park trip anyway. So, we decided to go for the lighter items on the menu, despite how yummy their burgers looked.

What we got:

1. Pulled Pork Soft Taco

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Taco Bell lover Jana did not surprise me when she ordered soft taco for HKD48. She chose the pulled pork variant that had some creamy sauce, tomatoes, and guacamole. Even I, who dislikes guacamole, liked the filling of her soft taco when she placed a teaspoonful on my plate.

Also, look at how cute it looked! I love the wooden taco holder that they used to serve it to the customer. So adorable!

2. Garlic and Parmesan Fries

2807924461460609761_img_2497At HKD 58, I was only expecting fried with garlic and parmesan flavored powder. Boy, I was so wrong. The fries came with real garlic and parmesan cheese!

Although not as photogenic as the soft taco of Jana, I can say that it’s still a good deal. The potatoes weren’t sliced too thinly, yet they did not have a weird texture in the middle. They were cooked perfectly! So, if you love garlic and parmesan together, go for this!

Note: I did not like the dip that came with it though. I would have liked plain ketchup instead.

3. Buffalo Wings Lollipop

-4844908024803562769_img_2504Five chicken lollipops for HKD 68? Yes, please!

The outer layer of the chicken was crispy and the meat was juicy! The chicken pieces were well seasoned were not too salty that you’d be reaching out for your drink a lot to cleanse your palate. And how do I know a chicken is good? If I don’t use the dipping to enhance the flavor. These pieces were so good on their own!

We were already full from the tacos and the fries so we had some leftover chicken that we had to take out and bring to the hotel.

Made in HK (Langham Place)

Before leaving for Manila, we had lunch with Kristine at Made in HK in Langham Place. This restaurant opens at exactly 12nn, so do not be too early like we were. Haha.

Made in HK is a brand under the Cafe Deco Group. Its dishes are mainly Western with a touch of Hong Kong’s style. Aside from Langham Place, it has another branch in Millenium City in Kwun Tong.

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The restaurant staff was really nice, despite our inability to communicate well with one of them because neither Jana and I knew how to speak Cantonese. I guess, next time, I will rent one of those translator devices at the airport.

What we ordered:

We all ordered from their set lunch menu because it came with the starters (soup or salad), main course, sides (rice, pasta, or fries), drinks (coffee/tea with upgrade options) and desserts already. There’s no option for the dessert because what they serve varies daily.

Jana and I got slow-cooked pork ribs. She got the black pepper sauce while I got the red wine sauce. Kristine got a pork chop dish with black pepper sauce too. For drinks, we ordered iced lemon tea. Our meals were indulgent!

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My mushroom soup was on the runny side, unlike the thick and creamy version that I prefer. Seeing how big my meal was though, I was glad we soup was not thick and heavy. I needed all the room for that luscious and sinfully good pork ribs!

The red wine sauce paired really well with the ribs. I was worried it was going to taste weird, but I wanted to be adventurous on my last lunch in Hong Kong that day. Their tastes married well and neither overpowered the other. I also loved that the ribs were not tough to separate from the bones. The slow cooking worked its wonders well because I had juicy meat that I did not have to wrestle with before I could eat.

As for the dessert? Oh, wow! It was a refreshing contrast to the heavy lunch that we had! It was light and creamy, with matcha cutting through and really shining. And when we bit into the blueberry? Woah! There was a burst of tart freshness that I absolutely loved.

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Pacific Coffee

From its inception in 1992, Pacific Coffee has been providing great coffee experience to its customers. Forget Starbucks during your stay in Hong Kong and head over to Pacific Coffee to try their Espresso Chillino.

I personally loved their Rocky Road Rumba Chillino while Jana enjoyed her Iced Cafe Mocha. We could really taste the coffee in our drinks, unlike other coffee brands that serve drinks that tasted more of milk and sugar than the coffee.

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The company is also trying to be more eco-friendly by not offering plastic straws right away. You have to make a special request to get them. I hope they are also moving towards more eco-friendly cups for their drinks.

Whew! What a long post! I hope you try out the places I have listed for you. Make the best out of your HK experience!

For more posts about my adventures in Hong Kong, please click here.

2019 Trip to Hong Kong: Dolphin and Sea Lion Show and Shark Mystique

“The creatures of the sea hold special mystery, and they are among the most exciting, graceful, and beautiful on Earth. Just consider the living riot of a coral reef, the beauty of an albatross, the awesome power of a giant turtle, the grace of a dolphin. Now multiply that by the millions of creatures in the sea. Wow! -Carl Safina”

Still sad from not being able to see the dolphins, Jana and I roamed around to find some stuff to do. We ended up at the area where they had theme park games. Jana went for the one where she just had to topple over cups to get a stuffed toy. I tried one where I had to shoot a ball in a small drum. None of us won.

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All the walking has made us hungry, so we looked for a place to eat. The park was full of people and it took a while for us to find seats. I left Jana at the table to buy our lunch from Boardwalk Cafe.

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The queue wasn’t that long, but it didn’t move quickly enough. I had to wait for over 15 minutes just to place our order. Jana’s was roasted pork while I forgot what mine was BBQ pork. For HKD 120 each order, our food came with rather tall glasses of soda. I guess that’s a deal already.

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The food was delicious! The meats were flavorful, but not overpowering. Jana’s roasted pork came with crunchy pork skin that was simply delectable! The serving of each meal was also big, so I wasn’t able to finish the rice and my soda. I just made sure to eat up all the meat. I was so stuffed and fuelled for our next adventures in the park!

We welcomed three Chinese people (I think they’re family) to sit with us because there wasn’t anywhere else to stay. One of them tried to talk to us, but we couldn’t understand Chinese. I would have liked talking to them if only I knew how to speak their language. It would have been fun to make friends during travels.

After lunch, we headed to the Ocean Theater to watch the dolphins and sea lions. We arrived pretty early, but we got to see the animals practice before the actual show. I was excited because it was my first time to see dolphins and sea lions in real life. I don’t know if Jana has seen dolphins in the past, but I hope she was as excited as I was at that moment.

The theater was packed with visitors a few minutes before the show. Behind us was a cute little boy who was getting bored. We got so many kicks on our backs because the kid was getting impatient. Thankfully, the sea lions arrived before the kid threw a tantrum.

Just look at their entrance!

Weren’t they adorable, waving hello to the audience? Watch them perform a few tricks.

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Soon after, they bade goodbye to the audience. I could tell that the smaller sea lion was very attached to the man in the purple suit. I guess they have formed a strong bond over the years that they have performed together. In a way, it gives me comfort that these animals are cared for well even if they are not in their natural habitat.

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Soon, the dolphins arrived while there was a story being narrated. Early on in the show, they were already giving their best on their tricks. The jumped, they flipped, they somersaulted, and were so coordinated and synchronized! These guys really are smart!

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I really hope more efforts go into protecting these animals so that they can live freely and not have to be protected in facilities. I’d hate for places like Ocean Park to be a safer home for them than their natural habitat just because humans stopped caring and giving a damn.

A very long walk away from the Ocean Theater was Shark Mystique. I have to admit that I got tired from all the slopes we had to climb up just to reach our destination. In my head, I was thinking that the sharks better be worth all the calories I was burning at that time. Plus, they better not make a snack out of me.

-3215540926954733081_img_2402 I am not sure if people were scared of sharks or they just had more exciting activities to participate in. Maybe we were just blessed that day because the queue was not long at all. We’ve been lucky with queues since Disneyland!

Anyway, after going inside, I noticed that the place smelled highly of the ocean. The smell was stronger compared to Aqua City’s huge aquariums. Shark Mystique truly smelled like the ocean, but not too strongly you wouldn’t want to go inside anymore. The place was also much darker, probably to mimic how dark it is deep, deep down in the ocean where sharks normally stay. It was fine because I do not want to get into any angry shark-related accidents.

We did not see sharks right away. In fact, I saw a lot of smaller fishes upon entry. They were colorful and delightful in their own way, which made me worry if they get served to the sharks to eat.

Eventually, we got to the sharks. For so many years, I only ever knew one type of shark; the ones you normally see in shark-related horror and thriller movies. I was already an adult when I tried to know more about sharks. Turns out, there are other different kinds!

It’s astounding how fishes swim with the sharks like those sharks are their friends. I mean, the sharks have to eat. Are they not worried they will be eaten? You see, I didn’t see the fishes swimming away from these bigger fishes that, most of the time, just pop out of nowhere.

I thought I saw enough of rays earlier at Aqua City, but there were a lot of them at Shark Mystique too! I eventually learned that rays (batoids) are close relatives of sharks. What?! I cannot see how that can be, but I’ll leave that to the experts.

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Amidst all the oohs and the aahs in Shark Mystique, a kid suddenly started singing the Baby Shark song. Haha! I knew it was bound to happen. Damn, that song is still a hit with kids like my nephew. He recently learned how to speak clearly enough to shout, “Alexa, play Baby Shark.”

We had another long walk to get to the Ocean Express (train) to go back to The Waterfront section of Ocean Park. After having experienced the cable car, we decided to experience riding the train going back. I loved how the train looked like a submarine.

We tried to see An An again before going home, but he wanted to stay in his room more than he wanted to be seen by visitors. Animals are entitled to their privacy and me-time too, so we just decided to shop before going home.

I ended up not buying anything though. Still, I was able to buy panda and penguin cookies from the airport before going home. Kee Wah sells them at the same price so you do not have to buy from Ocean Express right away if you’re worried about making sure you had funds for the rest of your trip.

img_2320I immensely enjoyed our trip to Ocean Park. My only regret was that we weren’t able to plan it as well as we should have to be able to visit more attractions and see more animals. I cannot wait to visit again to see the koala, the red pandas, and the birds. Hopefully, next time, I will also get to see the two younger pandas that this place takes care of.

I hope you also enjoyed Ocean Park through my stories, pictures, and videos. I wish for you to be able to visit this place or a similar park that’s closer to you. May we all learn to love and protect for the animals that God placed in our care.

To read about my other adventures in Hong Kong, please click here.