Wineweek 137: Hong Kong Highlights

June in Hong Kong is hot and humid: +35 degrees Celsius and a continuous pressure of rain in the air. It was not unbearable. Actually, if you are from Sweden (or Finland) you should not complain about warm weather. Its not allowed. However,  regardless of warm weather being welcome, we sought refuge in air conditioned malls, underground tube tunnels and in restaurants and bars of course. That is what we came for: food and beverages. Hong Kong is truly a great place for eating. Continue reading “Wineweek 137: Hong Kong Highlights”

Wineweek 136: A Postcard from Hong Kong

Greetings from Hong Kong! Its day no 3, and we are soon half way through our trip. Felt appropriate to give an update. The purpose of our trip was to relax, get some sun and to eat our way through the famous culinary scene of the “New York” of Asia. The quality has been varying. We have been positively surprised as well as somewhat disappointed during the same day. So here are my first thoughts about whats good and whats not.

Pro’s. Its warm. Really warm. And humid. Summer has arrived to HK. I keep reminding myself that this is what I wanted, so I will not call it a con at any time. Second, its easy to get around. We took the bus from the airport straight to our hotel, the tube is fast and efficient, and walking around is made fairly easy. And last but not least, we have found fabulous restaurants here. We had perhaps the best steaks ever at Beefbar as well as great Iberico Bellotta and nature wines at La Cabane. Specialty coffee scene is vibrant. Even Starbucks has opened an upscale branch, Starbucks Reserve, that serves single origin coffees as pour overs and awesome cold brew coffee. That is kind of disturbing, but fantastic as I have previously associated Starbucks with very low quality. The disturbing part is that it might be that I have to stop mocking them…

Cons then? The first and most visible con for a Swede is the price level and currency. The Swedish crown is weak, and the Hong Kong dollar relatively strong. The price level in the city seems to be high: a hand brew coffee costs between 50-80$ (6-9€), and a glass of wine from 90$ (10€) and up.  I didn’t come all the way to Hong Kong to cheap out, so will not start obsessing over my bank account now, but perhaps I am in need of another shopping ban after I come back. Another clear con is that local food seems to be very bland in taste. If you look at the street food we have been peeing at, nothing has been very tempting. Luckily this is a hub for all kinds of cuisines, so no need to stick to just local recipes.

Here were the first thoughts from the city. Three full days left, and lots of nice areas to visit. My camera has been in constant use, but there are persistent clouds above the city disturbing the quality of my shots. It seems that they are not moving before it rains. I am keeping my fingers crossed for that, or otherwise the panoramic city pics from Victoria Peak will just remain a dream.

xx Soile

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Mong Kok street buz
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At Causeway Bay
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Din Tai Fung dim sum overdose
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Pork dumplings at Din Tai Fung
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The weather was not misty, my camera lens was

Wineweek 131: Grand Champagne Coming

This weekend has given me hope that there will be summer. Its been sunny all weekend and warm, well at least in the sun. You can suck in some of the Stockholm May madness in the pictures below. I have caught some kind of hay fever though, so no wine for me. At least not on Saturday. Its a waste to drink with a blocked nose. But on Friday I was still healthy and enjoyed a night out with a friend at Woodstockholm, one of the best wine haunts in the city.  Continue reading “Wineweek 131: Grand Champagne Coming”

Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants

Yeah! The list is out again – Asia’s 50 best restaurants is an annual snapshot of the opinions and experiences of almost 1,000 international restaurant industry experts. This is our bible when we plan which restaurants to visit on our trips to Asia. It has seldom let us down, except once in Singapore (Jaan), and it covers restaurants in cities that are not included in Guide Michelin. Next stop for us will be Hong Kong, so let the browsing begin. But fist, a quick look o who is the the top 10 this time. Continue reading “Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants”

Wineweek 118: The Countdown to Spring

The countdown to spring is on. February has started with mild weather. I know it is a bit grey, but I prefer that to minus degrees. Every morning, the sun rises a bit earlier, and I can already leave the office with some daylight left. The darkest time of the year is behind us, and it can only get better from here.  Continue reading “Wineweek 118: The Countdown to Spring”

Coffee Bar Review: Old Hen Coffee Bar, Singapore

The whole area around Rangoon Road feels as if it is very up and coming and Old Hen Coffee Bar is one of the places really worth a visit. In the same building there are several cafes that all look fairly good but this is the place to go to. The place itself is not huge but there are seats for around 20 people inside and a few people outside. The seats may not be the most comfortable but the place looks very nice so perhaps makes up for it. As there is also no free wifi available it may not be the place to lounge for hours but it was still a nice place to hang out and chat at.

The place is run by three siblings (twins Ivan and Terry and younger brother Mason) and they keep the service both friendly and fast. They are knowledgeable when it comes to coffee and no problem to chat a bit about it either. They offer espresso based beverages, filter coffee (hand-brewed) as well as cold brew (bottled, both black and white). The selection of filter coffee varies depending on what they have in at the moment. I sampled a few different things when I was there: had a nice Rwandan coffee (believe it was from Papa Palheta but not 100% sure) and also sampled an excellent Colombian Geisha from the Cupping Room HK as well as some Ethiopian from Bangkok’s Roast. They have also recently had other nice roasters like London’s Square Mile Coffee, Melbourne’s Small Batch Roasting Co, Coffee Libre from Seoul and several other Bangkok roasters (Brave and Phil’s). I personally would be ecstatic to have such a nice place in my neighborhood. They do also know how to make the coffee so really good at that as well.

The cold-brew was also sampled and it was excellent as well. Nice balance to it and I would easily select the black one as there is no bitterness at all in it so no need for milk. The espresso based beverages also pulled nicely so the guys know their things.They also offer nice teas and some other beverages for the non-coffee drinkers.

The food menu is fairly short but a lot of things sound very nice.The grilled sandwich was very nice, fresh ingredients and nice flavor to it. The pastries were also well worth to stuff down. One of my real favorites in Singapore.

So how does it rate:
Coffee quality: 4.5
Ambiance and Service: 4
Food: 4
Vs Local Average Competition: 5

Coffee bar review: Ink & Lion (Bangkok)

This superbly cute and well designed cafe (also a mini art gallery) is on a small side street (off Sukhumvit 63) next to a Danish design store and variety of different restaurants. It does stand out in its splendid design and they have somehow created a very nice spot mixing a distinct Asian feel with a clean Scandinavian like design. The same care that has gone in to the design also comes through in everything here. They sell a variety of cute post cards, mini prints, paintings, nice coffee gear (some of it at least a bit different), some bags and of course coffee beans.

The service was very friendly, the staff were happy to explain more about the coffee and the concept. They try to vary the beans every week and when I was in first time it was a focus on Hong Kong so some interesting stuff from there. After chatting for a while with them opted for the Colombian Geisha from the Cupping Room and the Colombian Finca Vera Cruz from 18 grams both from HK. The staff also made sure I knew the price of the geisha coffee and I sort of like that even when it is clearly displayed on the menu (as it is a bit pricey it does not hurt to make sure one understands what it is). The coffee was really well prepared, I could follow the procedure and they came out and let me sniff the grinds as well. They also made sure to heat the cup before brewing into it. The geisha was excellent, and the other Colombian coffee was good but could not compare to the geisha but they really proved they can make great coffee here.

Food wise it is not a great selection, only some mini pastries from Size S (at 55 THB a piece) and some mini scones but they are really adorable and very tasty. It is not the place to come for a full meal but the coffee is really in focus here.

So how does it rate:
Coffee quality: 4.5
Ambiance and Service: 5
Food: 3
Vs Local Average Competition: 5