Hello Hong Kong! Star Street Precinct, Monocle Shop, King-Tak Hong Porcelain Co., Wanchai (星街小區)

Information: Star Street Precinct, MTR Admiralty Station Exit F, follow the subway signs to the Three Pacific Place Link, which leads directly to the Star Street Precinct.

After my professional development workshop,I had just a little bit of time in Hong Kong for a short holiday.  Unlike previous visits, where I had detailed lists of places to go, sites to see, and desserts to try, this time, I decided to take it easy, and just schedule a short trip to see the “Star Street” area in Wanchai. Hong Kong Electric’s power plant used to be located nearby, but now it is home to a selection of eclectic shops, chic restaurants, and the Monocle shop.

The Star Street precinct is easily accessible by MTR.  Take the blue line and get off at Admiralty Station, and find Exit F.

It’s a pleasant walk in the Three Pacific Link. ( PS- If you need to stock up on snacks, the Admiralty MTR stop has a Marks and Spencer’s shop, a 7-11 convenience store and a Pret a Manger.  It’s definitely one of the better equipped MTR stations)

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Field Trip:Second visit to classic Taipei tea house: Cha Cha Thé 采采食茶下午茶時光 (第二訪)

Information: Address: No.23, Lane 219, Sec. 1, Fusing S. Rd., Da-an District, Taipei City 10685, Taiwan | Phone: 02-2781-8289 | Directions: MRT Fuxing Station, Exit 3, Turn right at the first alleyway, walk 6 blocks, turn left before you see 7-11. |台北市復興南路一段219巷23號

Cha Cha Thé in my opinion, is one of the classic tea houses in Taipei.  Whenever I have visitors visiting from overseas, I want to take them here to enjoy some of the most serene and delightful afternoon tea experiences in Taipei. The service is always friendly and accommodating, and the food and tea are flawless.  During this visit, they were preparing for a private dinner event, but they were kind enough to accommodate us anyway.

 

The afternoon tea menu changes seasonally, but it’s always lovely to be surprised with different desserts. (you can see the desserts from my first visit here if you like!) 

 

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Field Trip: Cafe and Meal Muji (Taipei) 無印良品餐廳 ( 阪急店)

Information: Cafe & Meal Muji is located in the B2 Level of Hankyu Department Store, Taipei. | PH:02-2345-8551 |Hours of Operation: M-Thu: 11:00-21:30,Last order 21:00, Fri-Sun & National Holidays: 11:00-22:00,Last order 21:30 | More photos can be found here.

Cafe & Meal Muji opened in Taipei sometime in early 2015.  I kind of imagined to be an idyllic place~ where we could eat slowly and really enjoy the food.  That, was only a figment of my imagination. In reality, is that Cafe & Muji is a crowded, hectic little piece of square footage in the basement of one of Taipei’s busiest malls. Ever since it’s opening, there is always lots of people waiting in line. I happened to pass by one rainy afternoon, and decided to try my luck.  The front of the cafe now has a kiosk, where you can enter in your mobile phone number, and they send you a text message when there is a table available.  You can also specify if you are willing to share a table with other people, which may speed up your wait.  Then you can wander off and browse in the store and wait to be notified via text message.

Once your spot is available, you have to wait for the staff to lead you to a table, then you have to wait in line again, to select your food.  The basic formula is you can choose set menus consisting of three items (one hot food item, and two salad items, or two hot items and one salad)  for $220 NTD, or four items for $270 NTD (two hot, two cold items)  There is invariably a hold up because there is always someone ahead of you that cannot make up their mind, and/or changes their mind about 5-6 times.

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Luckily, they have a semi-open kitchen where you can watch the food being created.  Dozens of staff are bustling about, churning out the food that is served in the cafe. They seem to use the same kitchen tools that are sold in the store (some appear a bit larger, and are probably designed for restaurant use)  Continue reading

Field Trip: Finding kitchen treasures at Woolloomooloo’s WXY Yakka~ 讓我找到回憶跟創意的小店

Many of you know that Woolloomooloo is a hip urban gastropub in Taipei that serves Australian-style lattes and a wonderful variety of Western style entrees and appetisers.

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But, to me, the best part about Woolloomooloo is the desserts.  My most heartfelt love goes to their strawberry tart.  It is perfection on a plate. The organic strawberries are ripe, sweet and juicy, and the creamy smooth tart base has just the right hint of tanginess.

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學生時代的時候, 我在澳洲住了將近四年。 那時候, 最enjoy的是澳洲的咖啡。 那裡的咖啡就是小小的一杯, 但非常濃郁。 喝完了那一杯真的會讓你精神百倍。 回想一下, 我那幾年加起來大概喝了上百杯的小小杯咖啡吧! 後來時透過好朋友 Janet 才知道 Wolloomoolo 也能喝到澳洲 style 的咖啡。

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Field Trip: VVG Thinking

My first experience at the  VVG (which stands for Very, Very, Good)  group of restaurants was brunch at VVG Bistro.  I remember being charmed by the eclectic flea-market finds atmosphere, and I was inspired by the creative presentation of the food.  I recently found out that they had added quite a few new restaurants, including one called VVG Thinking.  I decided to visit on a Friday afternoon, after suffering from a particularly severe case of writers block (and job fatigue).   My usual cure for such malaises is to use coffee and dessert as treatment options.

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VVG Thinking is tucked into a quiet corner of Hua-Shan Creative Park, away from the general hustle and bustle.  I got a little lost trying to find the “brick building” area of the park, and in between being jostled by excited elementary school children wearing matching T-shirts, (also on a field trip) and the suffocating humidity, my nerves were more than a bit frazzled by the time I happened upon the brick building that housed VVG Thinking.

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The cavernous brick interior is adorned with wacky chandeliers, and mismatched wooden furniture, and fronds of greenery.  I was led to a window  table in a quiet corner. The generously sized tables at VVG Thinking are spaced just the right distance apart:  close enough for unobtrusive  people watching and far enough so you can hear just murmurs of their conversation. Based on my previous experience at VVG Bistro, I was tempted to order a few different desserts just to see the presentation.  My rationality returned after a few minutes away, and I settled on just one dessert, a the mixed berry compote cheesecake, accompanied by a berry flavored tea. The tea arrived first, served in a mason jar mug, atop a brown leather coaster.  The tea’s flavor was just the right balance of sweet and sour.

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The cheesecake arrived a few minutes later, and I was surprised to find that it came in a glass, instead of a plate. I was expecting the usual triangle of cheese + crust+ berry compote topping combination.

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Instead, the cheesecake arrived in short, squat oval glass container, accompanied by a cute silver shovel-shaped spoon.                                                                           

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Mixed Berry Cheesecake Anatomy

After digging into the dessert, I discovered that it was sort of like an inverted cheesecake.  Instead of the usually buttery crust on the bottom, this crust was reinterpreted into a crunchy topping, slightly tinged with the flavor of cinnamon and perhaps a touch of ginger.  The mascarpone filling had a light lemon flavor, and went well with both the berry compote and topping. In addition to being a  visually cute shape, it turns out the spoon was the perfect implement for eating this dessert. The spoon neck is the perfect length to dig through all three layers of the cake, and the bowl of the spoon fits just the right size mouthful of crunchy, velvety, sweet and sour filling.

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After finishing my dessert, I wandered to the shop upstairs, where I was excited to find an entire floor of  books, kitchenware, clothing and stationery supplies.

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All the merchandise is interspersed with fun knickknacks, like hippos, polar bears, felt animals and vintage typewriters.

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There were so many items that I never knew that I wanted until seeing them there. Suddenly,  it seemed like I really needed some gorgeous white enamel flatware and matching canisters…

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Or just a few pieces of Japanese ceramics and a shiny green teapot.

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In the end, after about an hour of undisturbed browsing, I couldn’t resist buying  two miniature cake tins.

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The sales assistant was lively and engaging, and she was well-informed about all the origins and details of the products on the floor. She even asked me about  what kind of cakes I was planning on baking (vanilla bean bundt cake!) while she was carefully wrapping up my purchases into a dark brown paper bag, sealed with a matching piece of Washi Tape. Overall,  VVG Thinking was a delightful place for a field trip.  First and foremost, it’s a place that’s visually interesting.  The high ceilings and pleasant lighting make it one of the more serene places to be on a Friday afternoon in Taipei.  The staff were friendly and attentive, but mostly left me alone to eat and daydream and browse in peace.  So if your brain is feeling tired and overworked, allow it to wander over to VVG table for some inspiration.

Information: VVG Thinking   Address: Huashan 1914 Cultural & Creative Park |MRT: Zhongxiao Xingsheng Station|Phone:  (02) 2322-5573 | 華山文創產業區   紅磚六合院 C 棟 (杭州北路 X 北平東路口)

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