My idea of a perfect Sunday

The sun was finally out for Sunday after days of gloom. gloom and more weather gloom.

What better way to kick off a Sunday than with a nice hearty bowl of ramen? We ventured to Yukitei, a small independent Ramen shop in Wanchai.
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Green tea was served.
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Traditional Tonkotsu Ramen – I didn’t get to try the broth, but apparently it was quite concentrated in pork flavour
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Black Garlic Ramen- the broth had a strong flavour of garlic accentuated by the drizzle of black garlic oil
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I ordered my go to order at any Japanese noodle shop…. the Tsukemen or any form of noodles requiring dipping. The tsukemen was quite good- the pork belly had a very good barbecue flavour and I loved the touch of salmon roe which adds extra texture to the dish! All three of us also LOVED the onsen egg. It was cooked perfectly (mine here is cut in half) and you could really taste the marination down to the level of the yolk as the entire egg had a subtle sweetness. GAHH. I could just eat these eggs every day. My only complaint was the amount of oil drizzled on top of the noodles. By the time I got to the end of the bowl a good amount of oil had accumulated slightly ruining the rest of the noodles left over.
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The tangy dipping sauce to go with my Tsukemen
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Like many traditional ramen shops, you can customize your ramen order- noodles can be hard, normal or soft; soup base can be adjusted based on concentration etc. I chose my noodles to be hard and it was done perfectly! However there was little difference between my dad and my mom’s noodle texture despite the former requesting ‘hard’ and the latter for ‘normal’.
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Bellies full, we drove up to Sai Kung and decided to venture out onto surrounding islands for their unique architecture created from years of sedimentary rock formation and volcanic activity.
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Prior to boarding the boat, we just couldn’t resist buying a pineapple bun from the Sai Kung Cafe and Bakery as it was fresh and piping hot from the oven! (in keeping with my pineapple bun obsession)
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So we eagerly joined the line
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and saw that there were also piping hot portuguese tarts!
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You can tell they are fresh as the egg custard is nice and plump – having an egg tart straight out of the oven along with a piping hot pineapple bun is one of my most favourite eating moments if I had to name a few.
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Unfortunately as we were going to spend 2+ hours on a boat, we sadly just opted for the fresh pineapple bun for safety measures.
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With all the hype around this pineapple bun, we were extremely disappointed upon the first bite. Although it ticked all the boxes in the aesthetic department, the bun was as light as a feather unlike my favourite ones from Kam Wah, making it difficult for the crust to complement well with the bread. Sigh.
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Despite the pineapple bun let down, we still had our voyage around the surrounding islands near Sai Kung to look forward to!
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Our first stop was at an island famous for the ‘pineapple bun rock’ due to volcanic activity thousands of years ago.
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Doesn’t it look like a pineapple bun?
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We passed by many caves – including one that apparently resembles an elephants trunk (although there was quite a debate whether it does)
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small islands – this island is supposed to look like a fish tail from an aerial view
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We also stopped off at a local fishing village- back in the day before Hong Kong became a metropolitan city you can really see its humble roots from these few remaining traditional villages.
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Just as we were heading back to Sai Kung we heard bad news that one of the boat’s gears had broken off and that there was a slight possibility the boat may give out leaving us stranded in the middle of the sea! Luckily the boat sluggishly propelled itself back to the harbour and with the aid of an another boat, we were guided safely back to shore. *phew
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The entire boat trip lasted more than 2 hours and only costed 80 HKD! (which is a real bargain)- however note that its not exactly a guided tour so you are mainly paying for the transportation service. But the boat drivers are extremely friendly so if you strike up a conversation with them they end up becoming your own personal guides so my advice is to sit near the front of the boat on these trips!

To finaaalllly top it off, we took a quick walk into the town centre since we heard about a small shop selling imported authentic french goods called D’Oli. After a long chat with the friendly owners and bonding over the frustration of a lack of good European bread in Hong Kong (like here and here in London) we found ourselves bringing home a sample of complimentary baguettes and viennoiserie!

These are my favourite kind of days- good weather, good food, good company with family , good laughs, all with a little adventure thrown in the mix!

Yukitei Ramen- Shop C2, G/F, Lun Fat Street ,118 Queen ‘s Road East , Wan Chai 灣仔皇后大道東118號聯發街C2舖
Sai Kung Bakery and Cafe – G/F, 6-7 Kam Po Court, 2 Hoi Pong Square, Sai Kung 西貢海傍廣場2號金寶閣6-7號舖地下
D’Oli French Gourmet and Wine Cellar – 21 Sai Kung Tai Street, Sai Kung

April showers… remedied by food at Vegi Dining Kitchen

April showers is certainly not holding back on its spell over Hong Kong.  Apart from the lovely past Friday from Easter weekend, each day has been dominated by smog.   This is the lovely view I’ve been receiving the past few days.
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Spring gloom aside, I decided to venture to Causeway Bay for some comforting home-styled Japanese food.  Remember my previous post about the amazing sashimi rice I had?  Again, the best place to look for amazing Japanese food in Causeway Bay is up!

Vegi Dining Kitchen is located in a small building on the third floor.  Don’t let the name deceive you though (as it did for me)!  Their menu mainly consists of dishes containing meat, although they are known for their fresh vegetable produce featured in each of their dishes.

Lunch sets are quite a deal ranging from 90 -140 HKD with quite hearty (but healthy) portions bound to keep you well fuelled till dinner!  My mom opted for a Japanese Curry set whilst I chose their assorted bento box set.

Here comes the salad to start.
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The curry set
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Fresh vegetables piled on top with the curry set aside for one’s own choosing of the amount they wish to ladle on.
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The  bento set.
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Grilled Mackerel
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Oden with lotus root, yam, bamboo shoot and porkbelly
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Tempura
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Fresh Sashimi – Tuna, sashimi and… the surprise dish to the palate: aloe vera.  The aloe vera is the translucent piece on the plate and had a strange, flavourless texture which I was not a fan of.
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Dipping sauces
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I enjoyed my meal at Vegi Dining Kitchen- the dishes were simple but delicious and the environment was a nice escape from the shopping crowds of Causeway Bay as it was small but cozy.    I would highly recommend this restaurant for anyone looking for a lighter meal in an authentic Japanese setting.

Vegi Dining Kitchen- 3/F, L’Hart, 487-489 Lockhart Road, Causeway Bay銅鑼灣駱克道487-489號駱克駅3/F

 

 

Easter Sunday

Growing up Easter treats in Canada consisted being showered with giant chocolate Kinder surprise eggs, Lindt chocolates, peep marshmallows and my favourite pillsbury easter cookies which I had the superability to demolish over a dozen cookies in one single sitting.

Fast forward to 2014.  Although the same Easter treats are no longer an annual tradition, my treat this Sunday was spending time with family for a sit down dim sum.   We decided to escape the hectic ‘Island side’ of Hong Kong and ventured over to Kowloon in Lai Chi Kok.  The initial plan was to eat at a small independent restaurant followed by shopping at several Korean boutique stores that had opened in the area’s industrial buildings.  Unfortunately, we had to resort to another option since both were closed for Easter holiday and hence stumbled upon a Chiu Chow dimsum restaurant.

I cannot say the food was amazing.  However, it did have some dishes not typically served for dimsum which I hadn’t had since my childhood years.

Here are some of the standard dishes we had:

Cheung fun – my mom’s dim sum staple.
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Claypot rice
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with salted fish and pork cakes
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Cow tripe
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Chiu Chow Fun Guo (my staple which I think has been featured on every single dim sum blog post)
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Some greens needed to be in the picture- stewed melon with fungi
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Ok. now all the ‘regulars’ are out of the way, here are some of the more unique Chiu Chow styled dishes that we sampled with some that were available at their pick and choose station
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Boiled peanuts – peanuts are boiled in a soy based broth so that it is no longer crunchy but rather extremely flavourful if steeped in quality soup.
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Cow innards- this dish is one of Hong Kong’s signature street foods.  The process to prepare this dish is extremely meticulous requiring the patience not only to carefully wash the innards, cooking the meat is an extremely lengthy process as well.  The top slices are spleen- which weren’t my favourite as its taste reminded me of liver.  There were also an assortment of  tripe, large intestine and lung hidden under the pile.  For those of you are a bit more curious, lung actually tastes quite good!  It has a springy texture with each bite and soaks up the flavour of the sauce quite generously.  I do prefer the street food version of this cow innards dish though as the sauce is more flavourful (although probably more laden with chemical additives…)
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Big Chicken Bun- this bun was just bursting at the seams with the abundance of ingredients! Back in the day if people wanted to save money dining out for dimsum, ordering this dish ultimately kills your appetite with all the starch and carbs!
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Pan fried Egg noodle pancake – this is a signature Chiu Chow dish often eaten for dessert.  The noodles are dipped in either vinegar or sugar or both.
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Any Chiu Chow meal always concludes with kung fu cha served in shot sized cups to aid digestion.  I recommend not drinking more than one, since not only is it strong in flavour but the caffeine content will keep you up for the entire night!
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I wouldn’t highly recommend this restaurant, however if you are curious, it will give you a good introduction to some Chiu Chow eats if you are in the area. After lunch, we resorted to venturing towards Tai O – but I ended up succumbing to a food coma and fell asleep in the car (and could not be roused) when we arrived at Tai O…. (oops)

Hover City Chiu Chow Retaurant- 1/F, Cheung Sha Wan Plaza, 833 Cheung Sha Wan Road, Lai Chi Kok. 

Toronto- St. Lawrence Market

So… to continue my little love affair with markets…

I will tell you about one that I absolutely must visit every time I go to Toronto.

St. Lawrence Market.

St. Lawrence Market not only has a variety of excellent vendors, its a market that holds dear to my heart since it brings back many nostalgic memories. I used to come here after my morning volunteering sessions with a fellow foodie friend, who, during those days was known as ‘the bottomless pit’. She seemed to have an endless capability to gorge down food (and still remain trim). Eating with her is a serious food marathon, reminding me of the one time we had two dinners one evening with a dessert each afterwards. I got home that night and immediately succumbed to the longest food coma I had ever experienced.
But, back to St. Lawrence market. It was also the market my family would come to for buying goods if we had a special celebratory meal in mind.

So, let me take you through a tour of this wonderful market :)
The walk of anticipation leading up to the goodies awaiting ahead.
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I usually sprint right towards one of my favourite booths…. the St Lawrence Pizza and Pasta stall.
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Pasta is freshly churned out in front of your very own eyes with free tastings. Obviously one, two, three or even… four pasta pieces to sample weren’t enough.
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Maybe a carb feast isn’t enticing for you. Then you must must try the bbq ham. It tastes like the Canadian version of a Char Siu. I also usually buy a couple of slices to bring home to enjoy.
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Hmmmm
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Carousel Bakery apparently serves the best peameal bacon bun in the city. Unfortunately I have not tried it yet despite all my visits!
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Or maybe if you don’t fancy any of the above, Buster Seacove serves up fresh seafood ranging from traditional good old fish n chips (with their famous shoe string fries) to a swordfish sandwich grilled to perfection (unfortunately devoured before the photos were taken… oops)
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All prepped for service
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If you are one that likes a little taste of everything, Kozlik’s mustard (aka Mustard Emporium) is definitely worth a browse. With over 20 different types of mustard – and unlimited self-serve pretzel samples, you know your tummy and taste buds will be happy.
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More feast for the eyes:
Future Bakery
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The StoneMill Bakehouse
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the lovely St. Urbain Bagels which I had blogged about earlier
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my favourite thick, chewy, North American chocolate chip cookies from Eve’s Temptations and
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Rube’s Rice
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Schefflers for antipasta
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With over 120 vendors, I’ve only scratched the surface in this post with what St. Lawrence Market has to offer. So if in Toronto, this gem is a must visit. Although, there is a catch to the wonderful food haven. The best time is to go on Saturday where all the stalls are open.

St. Lawrence Market- 95 Front St E, Toronto, ON M5E 1C3, Canada

St Lawrence Pasta on Urbanspoon

Future Bakery & Cafe on Urbanspoon

Buster's Sea Cove on Urbanspoon

Eve's Temptations on Urbanspoon

Island East Markets in Hong Kong

Hello!

Apologies for the slightly more serious post ‘Change’ that I had left off from in March. Yet April has been a month of change and I’m planning to stick to it, to rebuild myself and become a better person in the process. This means… alot reflecting, replanning, coffee shop time, and hopefully a bit more blogging!

As the ‘April showers’ weather finally took a day off over the weekend, we utilized the sunny day to explore Island East Markets in Hong Kong located near Quarry Bay MTR station. From all my previous posts, you may or may not have noticed that I have a slight love affair for… markets. Why? I find at markets you find people who are truly passionate about their craft.
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Island East is a good spot to buy unique one of a kind items and produce that you may not necessarily find anywhere else in Hong Kong. Here’s a glimpse of what they have to offer:

Beautiful organic produce
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Sweets to snack on during the stroll
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Artisanal bread
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Unique gift ideas
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This canvas shoe shop was a standout stall for me – the montage seen on the shoe is hand painted!
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Island East Markets provides a fresh take on markets that are still unfamiliar to the Hong Kong scene which is a good alternative option other than walking through crowded shopping malls on a Sunday. I would definitely like to return, especially for their fresh produce and the relaxing ambience it offers!

Change.

As you may have noticed, February was a month of blogging explosion. I had the privilege to go home but now I am back in the UK again and lets just say life has not been as… exciting. Apologies for the ambiguity, but April onwards will be a month of change. Not only is it going to be a change in season- I ‘m taking a huge step in life in general, making changes I should have done a long time ago and undoing all the bad habits that have accumulated the past year since I’ve started my job.  I know this is intended as a food blog but as I was writing my posts in February, I realized it was so much more than just that!  It was a way to document experiences- a virtual diary- in which I hope in a couple of years time I can look back, read, and laugh (also at my stupidity and awful writing skills)

So this is why this post comes in.  I’m ready to really smile again for the long haul :) – I want to stop binging on junk food after a stressful on-call day as a means to be ‘happy’ to save quota for stuff like this which I can share with those I love
mouth watering roasts at Joy Hing in Hong Kong Wan Chai
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My mom’s delicious honeycomb sponge
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I want to set new challenges for myself which I want to conquer.
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Such as… climbing a mountain- the Lantau Peak
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Immersing myself again in things I love doing: Travel
Bruges station
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Santorini
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culture – An abandoned amphitheatre in Greece
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running and exercising
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All in all I guess this is a much more personalized post than all the ones I had in the past but I am taking that big leap of faith…
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and I am quitting my job. I realized I lost myself in the midst of stress, breakdowns and despite my best attempts to cope, I just cannot not do it for now. I am ready to wish, to dream…
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and replan from the mistakes I’ve learned to be happy and to be me again.
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A four month delayed new years resolution, however…. I am ready for the change!

Dim sum on top of the world (in Hong Kong)

On this trip to Hong Kong, I found myself much more interested in rustic Chinese eateries rather than visiting the more modern and hyped up restaurants.

Looking for a unique dining experience, we travelled to Hong Kong’s tallest mountain: Tai mo Shan – not for hiking, but for dim sum.
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Choi Lung Restaurant is located at the mountain’s mid-levels providing a resting sanctuary and fuel-up for hikers before they continue their ascent up the steep slopes.  The restaurant is very old-school.
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You go up to a counter and essentially serve everything yourself.
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Down to the pots of tea. Selection of tea leaves
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Rinsing the tea pot And the cutlery
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Selection of goods to choose from- you pick and point
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Hmm rows and stacks of fresh dim sum waiting to be devoured!
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Freshly made Cheung Fun on the spot!
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Excited by the novelty and experience at the restaurant, we definitely over ordered. Cheung Fun with soya sauce – fresh but the cheung fun lacked elasticity and a firm texture
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My staple Chiu Chow dumpling- not very good since the skin was not chewy and skin not as transluscent
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Siu Mai
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Beef Ball
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Pan Fried Aubergine with Fish paste
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Steamed rice with chicken feet and ribs.
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Cow tripe – as I said everything was fresh.  See all that steam coming out!
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Ma Lai Gao – this was really yummy- the brown sugar used really made the cake flavours stand out.
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Sesame roll- As a child, I always used to call these film- rolls.   The most fun way to have them is unravelling the roll and eating them like a fruit roll up.
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Since you are dining in the mountains, FAR from any supermarkets, the vegetables are literally picked straight from a neighbours garden that day.  Hence a plate of veges was a must order. Fresh vegetables are much sweeter in taste and have a crisper texture.  I couldn’t stop munching away on this!
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After the extremely filling dim sum meal we took a stroll around the area. Since we were up near the peak, the air was extremely refreshing in contrast to the city polluted air I consume day to day living in Hong Kong, and London. To our surprise, we encountered a small group of goats snuggling up beside a black car! (making us laugh at the thought whether goats have mistaken the car for a big mama goat…)
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I recommend for anyone visiting Hong Kong to try this novel dim sum experience. Although Choi Lung isn’t the easiest place to reach (apparently you have to take a bus from Tsuen Wan or the other option is to hike) its definitely worth the trek for the amazing views,