My very first trip to Hong Kong and I eat ALL the egg tarts
My first trip to Hong Kong, where do I begin! Do I start with how much I think it’s like a hybrid of Malaysia with the humidity and the slightly dodgy looking coffee shops with tables laden with food? Mixed with the neon signs and frantic-ness of Japan and the incredible efficiency and cleanliness of their transport system, I just had such an incredible time that I was already wishing we didn’t have to leave on Day 1!
This is purely for my failing memory to remember in a few years time but we stayed at Travelodge Express in Central which was the cheapest of the hotels in the area and super close to Sheung Wan MTR (which is 1 stop away from Central station) because I didn’t want to risk not finding our Airbnb on our very first visit to the city and yes it’s kinda small but we would leave early each day and return late at night so it’s not like we needed that much space anyways.
I thought it was great- clean, good air con, powerful enough shower and they provided a smartphone that we could use for the duration of our stay which was so helpful when we needed to use google maps! We had purchased a sim that we originally were going to hotspot on our spare phone and tether but having the second phone was so helpful and saved our data and battery.
With so much food to try and so little time and stomach space, I was determined to hit all the original must eats followed by what the internet said was better. I’m gonna split up my posts into bite sized food group posts starting with egg tarts! I tried 2 each of the 3 types available- shortcrust, puff and Portuguese style.
I’ve never been a fan of shortcrust pastry egg tarts, always finding the pastry shell to be too dry, doughy or conveyor belt cardboard tasting but Hong Kong’s tarts have changed me! Tai Cheong Bakery is well known for their shortcrust tarts and they have a few locations, one which was conveniently a few blocks from our hotel so we managed to stop by a fair few times for snacks. Here, the shells were buttery and so very crisp, in danger of shattering and tumbling to the ground. The filling was incredibly silky and perfectly set with a delightful glean.
Queen Sophie (26號 Hau Wong Rd, Kowloon City, Hong Kong) had been hyped up on Instagram and we happened to stumble upon the small store while wandering the streets. I loved the tiny store and the presentation of the tart on the monogrammed plate, the tart was perfectly buttery and flakey however I did find the filling a touch too sweet for my liking.
Onto the puff pastry egg tarts! Honolulu Coffee Shop (176-178 Hennessy Rd, Wan Chai) was conveniently situated outside a bus stop so commuters could easily pick up a treat or two from the takeaway kiosk in front of the cafe. We stood huddled in a doorway while I scarfed down the warm, fresh from the oven tart, not caring about the flaky pastry crumbs showering down my top. The pastry was oh so buttery and light and the custard jiggly and barely set, it was perfection.
I ended up buying a whole bunch of egg tarts to eat on the way to Yik Cheong Building in Quarry Bay. I initially hadn’t wanted to visit knowing there’d be so many tourists but I’m glad we went just to ogle at the sheer number of apartments packed in this area.
I’ll be doing a separate post on Hong Kong’s cha chaan teng’s, a type of restaurants that smooshes Hong Kong cuisine with Western cuisine but I wanted to mention how amazing the egg tarts at Kam Fung Cafe (41 Spring Garden Ln, Wan Chai) are! Especially as they get freshly baked every hour and are displayed in the front windows, still piping hot in the metal trolleys. The custard has a barely set wobble and is so incredibly smooth, the pastry is buttery and flakey and it’s only HKD6/AUD$1.10!
We did a day trip to Macao, taking the Turbojet ferry from Hong Kong. The trip takes around an hour and make sure you arrive at the terminal door early because you’ll be given a teensy tiny sticker which claims your seat. Surprisingly the ferry was incredibly clean, quiet and had free wifi! The trip back however we hit massive turbulence and Noods almost hurled lol
Margaret’s (Edif. Kam Loi, Nam Van Area) is considered the gold standard for Portuguese tarts in Macao and it’s super close to the ferry depot. I’d originally only bought one to share but one bite and I immediately queued up again to buy more. It was incredible, the layers of pastry were crisp but light and the burnished custard was firm, smooth and just the perfect balance of sweetness with a touch of cinnamon. I must say these Portuguese tarts blew my mind, I was in such a grumpy mood that day, it was stinking hot and the people in Macao are generally more brusque and pushy andddd I just didn’t want to be there haha but luckily these brought a smile to my dial!
We walked back to the ferry depot to catch a free bus shuttle to the main strip of casinos. Lord Stowe’s had several locations in Macao but we visited the one inside The Venetian casino to escape the oppressive heat. We’re not really gamblers, I mean we like the occasional scratchie or bets on a footy game or race but the tables were too crowded with tourists screaming and there’s no point giving any money to the one armed bandits but it was nice to walk around and marvel at the calming ‘sky’ and the gondolas floating down the canals.
For some reason there is a tiny Lord Stowe’s kiosk literally 10m away from a bigger Lord Stowe’s complete with proper seating. A tart was procured and I have to say that I favoured the incredibly smooth custardy filling at Lord Stowe’s more but the pastry at Margaret’s. Both were great specimens and I would happily eat them again.
Eating all of Bali’s babi guling roast suckling pig
So last year I went to Bali for my cousin’s wedding and can you believe it was my first time in Bali? I’ve avoided travelling there solely because I thought why leave Australia to travel to another country filled with Aussies haha but I’m glad I went! We stayed in Seminyak for a few nights and Uluwatu another few and had hired a local driver so we were able to travel around quite easily to visit all the babi guling warungs (family owned restaurant/streetside cafe).
Babi guling is basically suckling pig that’s stuffed with a bunch of spices like tumeric and lemongrass and then spit roasted. Most places roast their pigs overnight so the best time to go is as soon as the restaurant opens so the skin is still nice and crispy. I’d never tried babi guling before so was keen to fit in as many as possible, I actually went to 5 different places but the 5th one was terrible so I’m not even gonna write about it haha ready? Here we go!
Warung Nasi Babi Guling Men Agus
Men Agus was our first babi guling of the trip, it’s about a 30mins drive north from Seminyak and we arrived bright and early at 9am for breakfast. I’d read that Men Agus was a simple no frills, roadside type of warung and is very much a locals only joint which was fine with me because I wanted to try what the locals eat! The place was pretty empty so early in the morning but people started streaming in by the time we were finishing up. There’s no menu because they only serve babi guling! We ordered 3 plates and 3 teh botol (ice tea) for IDR165k/AUD$17.
The soup arrived first, a clear, light porky broth with shreds of pork meat, jackfruit and weirdly enough banana in it. And then babi guling time! The plate holds a a mound of tender shredded pork, nubbins of deep fried pork sausage, lawar (vegetables, coconut and minced meat mixed with rich herbs and spices), a deep fried pork skin puff, a tile of glorious roasted pork skin, one stick of chicken satay fragrant with lemongrass, with rice served separately on the side. They also sold bags of deep fried chicken skin at the counter but because we were headed to another babi guling straight after I resisted the temptation.
Warung Nasi Babi Guling Men Agus
Jl. Bay Pass Munggu, Canggu
7 days: 8am – 8.30pm
Babi Guling Ibu Oka 3
From Men Agus we drove an hour east to Ubud’s tourist district to Ibu Oka of Anthony Bourdain fame, arriving at 11am on the dot to guarantee we wouldn’t miss out on the babi guling (warning they do sell out so don’t go late!). The entrance is a little weird, if you’re getting dropped off you find yourself on the end of a cul-de-sac and you walk down a smallish alleyway but don’t worry there’s heaps of signs to let you know you’re on the right track. The pigs are spit roasted for 5 hours and continuously basted with coconut water giving the skin a distinct glaze and flavour. Apparently you can book in to tour the kitchen and view the pigs roasting buuuut I didn’t think that far ahead.
We couldn’t tell the difference between the Babi Guling Pisah (IDR70k/AUD$7.25) and the Babi Guling Spesial (IDR55k/AUD$5.70) so we ordered both but basically the more exxy one has more meat and veggies and has their special grilled pork sausage that they make in house. Both plates had a pile of incredibly tender and flavourful pork meat, roasted pork skin, lawar and my favourite gorengan which is deep fried pork meat and was spectacularly crispy and so damn moreish. Oh and the accompanying pork soup was filled with pork meat, potatoes, carrots and beans. We also ordered a plate of Kulit (IDR60kAUD$6.20), roasted pork skin and IT WAS PERFECTION! The single tile of pork skin on all plates just made us yearn for a whole plate of it haha also a longneck of Bintang beer was IDR35k/AUD$3.60 😀 This was our favourite babi guling of the trip!
Babi Guling Ibu Oka 3
Jl. Tegal Sari No.2, Tengah, Kecamatan Ubud
7 days: 11am – 6pm
Warung Babi Guling Pak Malen
Pak Malen is the closest babi guling warung in Seminyak-Legian area and more importantly, the most highly recommended with the locals with motorbikes and Gojek delivery drivers streaming in at all times of the day which is always a sure thing.
On our first visit they asked how spicy we wanted our food and being the wimp that I am I asked for not spicy and my plate of babi guling was missing half the things that our driver had gotten who had asked for normal and Noods who had asked for a little bit spicy missed out on two of the veg. To be fair we did get extra of the other stuff but we learnt our lesson and returned a second time with the fam and asked for normal chilli level 😀 A paper lined wicker bowl holds a mound of fluffy white rice, lawar, tender strips of pork, a tile of incredibly crisp roasted pork skin, slices of pork sausage, a skewer of pork satay and a generous portion of spicy sambal. We paid IDR150k/AUD$15.50 for 3 plates and 3 teas and I reckon this would be a very close second to my favourite babi guling in Bali.
Warung Babi Guling Pak Malen
Jl. Sunset Road No.554, Seminyak
7 days: 8.30am – 7pm
Warung Babi Guling Sari Dewi Bp. Dobiel
Dobiel is a bit further out of the way, located south of the airport and over in Nusa Dua but we were staying in Uluwatu so it was about a 30min drive. It was by far the spiciest babi guling of the trip, but to be fair it also happened to be the hottest day in Bali that trip and we were feeling a little worse for wear after an epic wedding the day before.
We paid IDR155k/AUD$16 for 3plates, bottled water and a fresh coconut. The servings here have less sides than the others but it was all so damn tasty so I didn’t mind too much but also we were starting to get babi guling fatigue haha but the plates came with steamed rice, juicy pork, lawar, roasted pork skin, pork satay and a pile of gorengan and deep fried pork lard nubbins. There’s also a spoonful of sambal and my god be warned! And the soup was also SUPER peppery haha I’m so weak lolol but I spooned out the pork ribs to eat with the rice.
Warung Babi Guling Sari Dewi Bp. Dobiel
Jl. Srikandi No. 9, Nusa Dua
Weds – Mon: 10am – 4pm
It’s that time of year again – the end of year wrap up! Yet again […]
It’s that time of year again – the end of year wrap up! Yet again I’ve started a new job, decided to keep the green hair and I travelled to Bali for the first time and ate my weight in babi guling, satay and drank all the Bintang’s by the beach.
There was less bubble tea consumed but more cheese purchased and I started making cheese platters over on @helloisitbrie (hit me up for all your cheesy needs!)
Scarlet prawns were again a big highlight of the year, so much so that I went and got a tattoo of this precious prawn on my arm, though I suspect I may be developing a prawn allergy.
Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all have a safe and awesome NYE! Thank you for following me and here’s to a delicious 2020!
Eating all the scarlet prawns in Sydney, from Ester’s handmade pasta, to Mr Wong’s steamed with white soy and brown butter sauce and Hojiak’s luxe har mee
It’s been an incredible year for scarlet prawns (also known as Carabineros in Portugal), the super sweet, lobster like prawn. Previously the scarlet prawn was a random bycatch of the royal red prawns but a new fishery was developed in consultation with the Queensland Government and Fisheries Research which has brought Cape Moreton scarlet prawns into the limelight.
If you follow me on Instagram you’ll have noticed for the first time ever that I’ve curated my feed so that every 3rd photo is a scarlet prawn haha I’ve eaten so many this year that I might just turn into one! To celebrate my love of the scarlet prawn I recently got it tattooed, the design was actually drawn by Ester chef Nathan Brindle and tattooed by Jay Craig at Rising Tide Studio in Chippendale. In alphabetical order here’s a roundup of all the scarlet prawn dishes I ate in Sydney:
Ester (46-52 Meagher St, Chippendale)
Ester’s scarlet prawn ($45) offering was by far my most favourite in Sydney, I managed to visit a grand total of 5 times in the space of a month! The prawns are massive, much larger than last year! The giant prawn is very lightly grilled and sits in a puddle of intense prawn & marie rose sauce (which wiki says is made of tomatoes, mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice and black pepper). The prawn legs and bottom of the prawn shell have been carefully removed, dusted in semolina and deep fried to crispy, moreish perfection. The fresh hand cut egg noodles has a drizzle of prawn oil and we’re instructed to squeeze the prawn head juices into the pasta and mix it all up. It is, in short of a better word, SUBLIME.
Hojiak (92 Hay St, Haymarket)
Hojiak has a super luxe version of har mee, a Malaysian hawker classic of prawn noodle soup. Lightly poached then blowtorched scarlet prawns are served on top of a broth made with the shells and heads of scarlet prawns to create umami central. Do not wear white as you’ll want to slurp up every strand of egg noodle and the last drop of the soup! Warning I found this pretty spicy but my chilli tolerance is kinda average haha also I think we got double the amount of prawns lol thanks Junda!
Icebergs (1 Notts Ave, Bondi Beach)
Dining at Icebergs is always a treat, the amazing view of Bondi Beach and the Icebergs pool from the restaurant is almost as incredible as the pastas and seafood on the menu. My eyes had immediately locked in on the Randall Family organic kosher rice risotto with marinated QLD scarlet prawn crudo ($55). The risotto was amazing, fragrant from the prawn stock and had the perfect bite to each grain. The raw prawn was the icing on the cake, I savoured each prawn which were so delicate and wonderfully sweet!
Kittyhawk (16 Phillip Ln, Sydney)
I’ve missed Alex Lynn’s food from Casoni! Luckily he’s now over at Kittyhawk and he’s brought back his Scarlet prawn tagliatelle ($38) with chilli and parsley and prawn bisque. The massive prawn is sweet and tender and the pasta so silky and perfect for mopping up the heady prawn sauce. Fun fact, Alex sent us out some scarlet prawns on the house last year for us to try and it blew my tiny mind and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about that first taste which has led to this obsession.
Lotus (22 Challis Ave, Potts Point)
I’d originally visited Lotus 2.0 for the return of Dan Hong’s cheeseburger and I couldn’t help but order the special of Scarlet prawns w handmade noodles, xo and coriander ($39). The prawns were a bit more cooked than I like but that’s because I usually prefer them raw but they were still tasty and super meaty. What I absolutely loved were the noodles though, perfect bounce and chew and man I loooove coriander!
Lumi (56 Pirrama Rd, Pyrmont)
Lumi has recently opened a bar area with a bar menu perfect for walkins and for those who don’t want the degustation menu. The scarlet prawn gunkan ($15 each) are great, the combination of the natural sweetness of the prawn against the slightly salty straciatella hiding in the middle and the crisp seaweed meant this morsel disappeared much too fast.
Mr Wong (3 Bridge Ln, Sydney)
The fam were keen to return to Mr Wong’s for the massive scarlet prawns ($38) steamed with the most incredible white soy and brown butter sauce. The prawns were huuuuge, definitely more lobster-like and just so sweet! The sauce was the bomb too, we ended up ordering a serve of lo mein egg noodles just to mop up every last bit.
Pino’s Vino e Cucina (199 Lawrence St, Alexandria)
Pino’s offering is a beauty, raw scarlet prawns w scarlet prawn oil and powder and handmade fettuccine infused with scarlet prawn stock ($45). The idea is to mix it all together so that the raw prawns are slightly cooked from the heat of the pasta buuut I separated half to the side to savour on its own haha
Poly (74-76 Commonwealth St, Surry Hills)
So we actually ate at Poly just for the scarlet prawns with harissa and lardo on toast ($16 each) and oh boyyyyy I reckon this is my second favourite scarlet prawn dish after Ester! The fat slice of sourdough was lightly charred with a schmear of harissa paste and 2 delicately sweet prawns snuggled under a blanket of creamy rich lardo. I chose to pull out a slice of lardo and a prawn to savour separately and squeezed half of the prawn head juices onto the toast to soak up the prawny goodness aaaand sucked out the rest for the prawn flavour explosion.
Sushi E (4/252 George St, Sydney)
I’ve actually not eaten at Sushi E before but I was in the area for a few beverages and was feeling snackish and had seen their scarlet prawn on their degustation menu. Fuelled with liquid confidence I rocked up and asked if I was able to order the prawn to eat by itself and luckily scored the last seat at the sushi counter. The scarlet prawn roasted on binchotan with seafood butter sauce ($38)
Mat Lindsay (Ester, Poly) and Russell Beard (Paramount Coffee Project, Reuben Hills) have joined forces to create Shwarmama, a hole in the wall kebab joint
I’m a big fan of Ester, as you guys would know if you’d seen on IG the amount of times I’ve been this year. So when I found out Mat Lindsay (Ester, Poly) and Russell Beard (Paramount Coffee Project, Reuben Hills) had joined forces for Shwarmama, I dragged Eric out for a quick bite to eat.
Order inside and head back out to the pickup window to get your food. It’s standing room only inside of Shwarmama with a few counters to huddle against but there’s Harmony Park nearby which would make for a nice picnic with this weather warming up.
The Falafel Pita ($13.50) is a delight, the fluffy pita bread comes stuffed with crunchy, brilliantly green orbs of chickpea falafel, lashings of tahini, hummus and harissa, and the fresh crunch of cucumber, onion, cabbage and pickles.
So bright, so vivid! The pita normally comes with pickled chillis but we opted for without as there’s bottles of chilli sauce on the counter to control your spice amount.
Is the Shawarma ($15) just a fancy kebab? Who cares when it’s this delicious!
The laffa (Middle Eastern flatbread) holds juicy strips of spiced rotisserie chicken (shaved to order from the rotating spit roast), tahini, hummus, garlic sauce, harissa, onions, cabbage, pickles and chips for some carb on carb action.
The Salted chocolate chip sesame cookie ($6) is pretty epic, it’s about the size of my face and just so damn tasty! It’s a soft style of cookie which I prefer, incredibly buttery with a generous amount of dark chocolate rippled throughout and smothered in sesame seeds.
Shop 2/106-112 Commonwealth St,
Mon – Fri: 8am – 3.30pm, 5pm – 10pm
Sat – Sun: 10am – 10pm