Monday, March 31, 2014

Hong Kong: Street Eats

We started our first day in Hong Kong with very limited sleep.  We weren't, however, about to let that stop us from eating as much as possible. T was leaving the next day, so we had to fit in as much as we could in the time that she had.

AF was waiting for us at our homestay.  We dropped off our luggage and then we hit the streets.  Our homestay, which we found through CL's relatives in Hong Kong, was conveniently located right by the Jordan metro station.  We started off by exploring the vicinity.

When we walked past this window, we were caught by the delicious aroma wafting from the window:























AF was the only one of us who spoke Cantonese, so we let her handle all the ordering.  CL helped out by pointing out things she liked.  We ended up with this tray of assorted goodies:


Large intestine, small intestine, fish balls, octopus tentacles, and lobster balls came stewed, curried, barbecued, or roasted.  Grab a stick and skewer away!

That served as our introduction to street food in Hong Kong.  We quickly discovered that while there aren't a lot of food carts like in other parts of Asia, Hong Kong boasts of an abundance of shops that sell food to go.

Later that night, we randomly found Chun Mei Mei after leaving the Ladies' Market:
















Same kind of stuff that we found at the window earlier in the day:























We bought a bunch of stuff and then happened across a community soccer field with bleachers to sit in to enjoy our bounty.  While families cheered on their soccer player fathers/brothers/sons, we were engrossed in stuffing our faces.

T wanted to try stinky tofu for the first time:
















Fried and pillowy and very mild for stinky tofu.  It was missing some soy sauce and pickled veggies.

Our curried fish balls came in a bowl:
















As did the cutest little shu mai I've ever seen:
















We were curious about the eggplant, but ended up less than impressed:























Deep fried without batter, the eggplant was flavorless and oily.

We managed to catch the lights show at Victoria Harbor and afterwards, stopped at a Hui Lau Shan on a whim (my whim, to be exact):























So I could order an H4:























Which consists of sago, mango juice, coconut milk, and diced mango.  The coconut was a bit lost amid all the mango.

The next day, we set out for even more food.  We managed to fit in dim sum and some more street eats before T had to catch her flight home.

I'm a sucker for coconut milk, so I could help but be attracted to this juice shop:























Coconut milk combinations as far as the eye can see.  I went with the simple coconut milk and grass jelly:























Right next door was this little shop:























I spotted a pan fried bun in the display counter and I had to have it:
















We all agreed that it was delish:
















All too soon, T had to leave and then we were three.

We met up with CL's friend and waited two hours for a tram up to The Peak.  The Peak turned out to be a tourist trap with so-so views and lots of shops.  I bought a shot glass in one shop and found the same one the next over for 20 HKD (about $2.50) less.  Argh!

AF needed to earn 7-11 points to get her mom the prize she wanted.  To help her reach her goal, we each chose a Vitasoy:
















I was really excited because I'd never seen these flavors before in the States.  The Super Sour didn't turn out to be very sour at all.  The Cookies 'n Cream was like sweetened milk and the Tiramisu was just sweet.  Oh well, it was fun all the same.

CL had to spend the next day with her relatives, but even though it was just AF and I left, we did plenty of damage between the two of us.  As usual, we made lots of bad decisions, ate way more than we should have, and ended the day in pain.

In-between meals, we also managed to walk all the way down to the harbor from Jordan and back.  We also found Indonesia Restaurant, which CL's family claimed to offer good lemper:























There was no way I was going to miss out on an opportunity to have more lemper in my belly.  The restaurant was closed the first time AF and I swung by, but persistence pays off:
















It was a total letdown.  It didn't taste nearly as heavenly as what we had in Jakarta:
















To offset my disappointment, we got some eggettes:























There were different flavors to choose from like taro and chocolate, but we opted for the original:
















AF requested that our bag of eggettes be blown by a hairdryer-like contraption.  I didn't understand why until AF explained that this made the outside additionally crispy.  One bit into the chewy center of the crispy eggette made me a believer:
















I'm blow drying all my eggettes from here on out.

CL told us about this elusive napoleon cake from Maxim's Cakes that she's always struggling to find.  AF and I stopped by a Maxim's in a metro station to see if we could find one and rub it in CL's face:
















AF asked the lady behind the counter and she told us that napoleon cakes are only available after 1:00 pm.  So we went back after 1:00 and lo and behold, we got one:

Layers of flaky puff pastry sandwiching subtly sweet cream and a soft cake layer.  Very delicious, but not quite as mind-blowing as CL made it seem.

We told CL about how the cake is only available after 1:00 pm and apparently that answered a lot of her cake-locating issues.  Just shows how it never hurts to ask.

Anyway, more Hong Kong shenanigans to come.  This is merely the tip of the iceberg.

Thailand: Grand Night Market

We had an entire day to kill in Hua Hin.  Our flight to Hong Kong wasn't until 6:00 am the next morning and our taxi wasn't to pick us up from our hotel until 2:00 am.

So of course our plan was to fit as much food in as possible.  We started out in front of the school we discovered our first day visiting Hua Hin and making our way through all the food vendors on that street.  We slowly ate our way to Grand Night Market, just a couple blocks down:
















When we got there, people were just setting up their stalls.  Clothing stalls, goldfish stalls, phone accessory stalls, just about every kind of stall you can imagine at a night market.  Our focus, of course, was on the food stalls.

Earlier, we'd attempted to buy out the fatty pork lady in front of the school, only to be foiled by an elementary student who beat us to it.  When we found the same fatty pork skewers at Grand Night Market, we were elated:  























It didn't taste quite as good as the one from the fatty pork lady, but still delicious all the same:
















We couldn't help but be drawn to this squid skewer stall:
















We especially loved the skewers consisting purely of squid jelly guts:
















Melt in your mouth good.

We figured we couldn't leave Thailand without having some pad thai, so we sat down at one of the tables for this food stand:
















The pad thai with seafood was alright, but nowhere near as good as what I had from Thip Samai the last time I was in Bangkok:
















After Grand Night Market, we met up with T's friend from Vietnam, who was in Hua Hin for vacation, at the Hua Hin night market.  We were full by then, so we mostly just watched T's friend and his travel companion stuff themselves as we did on our first visit.

We took the last shuttle back to our hotel.  We'd already checked out earlier in the day and had stored all our luggage at the front desk.  The plan was to sit around and wait for our taxi, sleep on the two-hour ride to Bangkok, and then check in at the airport.  Of course, things never go as planned.  Our taxi arrived two hours early, closer to midnight, which meant that we arrived at the airport way before any of the counters were scheduled to open.  We managed to find some empty seats and bunkered down for the next few uncomfortable hours.

When we finally boarded our flight to Hong Kong, all three of us conked out almost immediately.


Grand Night Market
Petchakasem Road (in-between Grand Hotel and San Paulo Hospital)
Hua Hin, Thailand

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Thailand: On the Beach in Cha Am

CK's wedding was beautiful.  She looked equally gorgeous in her traditional Thai dress and her white wedding gown.  Both the wedding ceremony and the reception took place on the beach by Veranda Resort.  After the reception, we had a dance party late into the night.

Okay, so maybe not that late.  It was about 10:30 when we got back to our hotel, the Springfield Beach Resort, just down the beach.

Instead of heading to Bangkok the next day as was our original plan, we decided to wander some more around Hua Hin and catch a late night taxi directly to the airport.  Before we could head into Hua Hin though, I had to pick up something that I'd forgotten in CK's wedding suite.

While we were waiting for CK to wake up, we stopped by a little restaurant (if you could even call it that) on the beach between our two hotels for breakfast:
















Right next door were canopies and beds set up for massages.  On the beds were a lot of half-naked old people...and T.  Heh.

One of the first things I noticed about Cha Am was the prevalence of tourists over 50.  Apparently, Cha Am is the prime vacation spot for those too old for other popular "party" beach destinations  in Thailand.

While T enjoyed her massage, CL and I started eating.  As if we were going to wait for T to finish her hour long massage to eat.  Ain't nobody got time for that.

We did, however, set aside a plate for her.  We're nice like that.

We ordered a Thai tea (40 baht):























And a Thai coffee (50 baht):























The pretty extensive menu covered both Western and Thai cuisines.  Forgoing the omelettes and french fries, we elected to order the larb or spicy minced pork salad (80 baht):
















Not exactly your typical breakfast food, but trust me, it's delicious any time of day.  Kinda sour and only a bit spicy (probably toned down for tourists), larb is the perfect complement for rice.

We "splurged" a little with the grilled squid (150 baht):
















The best part of the squid is the gel-like squid guts inside.  So.  Good.

Eventually T finished her massage and came back to eat.  We spent the remainder of the meal recapping and cracking up over the highlights from CK's wedding.

Thanks for inviting us, CK, and for giving us an excuse to take a vacation.  (And thanks SO much for making me a bridesmaid.  Sigh.)  Congratulations once again to you and AG!  I guess I should be calling you CG now, but that just sounds funny...

Friday, March 28, 2014

Thailand: Hua Hin Night Market

We arrived in Thailand the day before CK's wedding.  After finally finalizing my return flight home, we proceeded to leisurely explore Hua Hin.  We ended our day at the Hua Hin night market:
















It was still pretty quiet when we first arrived, but soon it was packed with people.

We stopped first at this stall:
















We sat at the small table and ordered the fried mussels with seafood:
















We followed the example of the girl sitting across from us and doctored it with fish sauce.  Fish sauce is key.

CL has a love of meat jerky that she just can't ignore:





















She tried to only get a little bit, but the old lady who manned the stall was very brusque and impatient and because CL is so nice and wanted to avoid trouble, she ended up with a bag of this:
















I think it was pork.  I know it didn't taste very good.  CL was disappointed.

We moved on to this skewer stand:
















We pigged out on grilled squid:
















And dried squid:























Tucked between two stalls was this elderly lady with nothing more than a grill and a small table:























Only one thing on the menu:
















Scallops.  Scallops.  Scallops.  It doesn't get much better than this.

Though sausages are pretty damn awesome"
















Just take a look at how fatty and juicy it is:
















I think I mentioned in my last post how big a sucker I am for chives.  Which is why I couldn't resist this stall:























Thai chive dumplings are da bomb (wow, that brought me back to high school):
















We finished off the night with some dessert.  First at this stall:
















For roti with condensed milk:























And then this stall:























For some khanom krok (essentially grilled coconut pudding):
















T wasn't happy because they didn't have green onion on them, but I love them just fine without.  Be careful though.  They're hot enough to burn your tongue.  And the roof of your mouth.  Take my word for it.

The Hua Hin night market is very touristy.  Not much room for bargaining, much to T's dismay.  Vendors know they can easily get someone else to pay without having to haggle.  Lots of street food though, which makes it worth a visit if you're in the area.

Funnily enough, on our way out of the night market, we ran into CK's family.  I actually spotted her mother first.  It was only after I called out to her that I noticed that she was with CK's sister, CK's brother-in-law, and CK's cousin.  Shows how small Hua Hin is.  We found out that CK and the rest of the group had elected to take a car instead of walking from the restaurant where they had dinner.

Since I knew I was going to see CK the next day at her wedding, I didn't stick around to wait for her.  After all, I needed my beauty sleep if I didn't want to scare people as her bridesmaid.
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