The Year of the Monkey Arriveth!

Lunar New Year 2016 from February 8 – 22 2016

Hey Everyone!

Happy Chinese New Year!!

Hope all’s well with you!

I’m just posting a few pictures of Landmark’s awesome public installation to welcome in the Year of the Monkey… To be honest, I was expecting an annual lunar floral arrangements of the new incoming Chinese zodiac, but anyway, the dolly monkey were quite amazing too!

Cheers!

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Window Display: Man-Made Wonders @ Harvey Nichols, Admiralty, Hong Kong

Date:  December 2014

It’s SALE time!  Time to go shopping!  First stop is to the window displays to check out the latest trend for this season… Oh! Hang on, the window stylists have decided to take us around the world!  Am L-O-V-I-N-G the laser-cut foams glued piece-by-piece to create a multi-layered 3-dimensional effect.  Very clever! 👏👏👏

We go to US of A…

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Mount Rushmore

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Mount Rushmore

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Mount Rushmore

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Snow Globe of Famous Landmarks

To United Kingdom…

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London Parliament House

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London Parliament House

To Easter Island…

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Rapa Nui

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Rapa Nui

To Italy…

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Leaning Tower of Pisa

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Leaning Tower of Pisa

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Roman Colosseum

To Greece, maybe?

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Generic temple ruins

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Generic temple ruins

To China…

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The Great Wall of China

 

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The Great Wall of China

 

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The Great Wall of China

 

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The Great Wall of China

 

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The Great Wall of China

Xmas 2014: Landmark

Date of Visit: November 27 2014

I always look forward to festive decorations in the atrium of Landmark, Central. This year is no exception. Giant hot air balloons ascending and descending mechanically in tandem with each other, in the centre a block of Parisian boulevard decorated in the high spirits of Christmas filled with dolls going about their activities. This – is the ultimate dollhouse!

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A Bite + ‘Gromit Unleashed Hong Kong’ @ Elements Mall, Kowloon Station

Date of Visit:  August 13 2014

Weather in Hong Kong is very, very wet.

Still, I went ahead to meet a friend for drinks at Kowloon Station when the Amber Thunderstorm Alert was issued.  I was on the MTR when I suddenly realised that I had forgotten my umbrella, but its OK, I told myself since the walkways are covered all the way from my place to Kowloon Station.  Oops, what I also forgot was that the restaurant that we are meeting in, is at Civic Square on top of Kowloon Station, and the area is quite exposed… uh-oh!!

Madam S’Ate offers Happy Hour until 7pm on Weekdays (HK$50/ glass of wine).  Perhaps I was not hungry, so I was very undecided. A juicy steak looked enticing but I wasn’t in the mood for a heavy meal.  Pizzas, pastas… ‘meh’... so I settled for the bar menu. The salted cod croquettes were alright, in fact, pretty good.

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Salt cod croquettes, harissa and yoghurt

However, service was tardy.  The waitresses were flirting with a bunch of guys on the other table.  My wine order was mixed up (waitress’s mistake), yet she asked if I would mind taking the wrong order.  Normally I’d won’t mind, but seeing her tardiness, I minded!  😜

We had to stay for an extra couple of hours in the restaurant to wait for the thunder and rain to subside… then I’m off to Elements Mall to see Gromit… and there were a lot of Gromits  decorated in sorts.  I wonder whether Gromit minded?!  Then again, why would he?  He’s dressed up by designers, no?

TAH-DAH!!

And here is the “The Greatest Dog Show on Earth in Asia” unveiled in ELEMENTS.

“The only exhibition of decorated Gromit sculptures in Asia, inspired by a public art trail project named “Gromit Unleashed” that generated massive public attention throughout the UK last year.  At the end of the exhibition, the giant Gromit sculptures will be auctioned in support of Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Appeal and children’s art programmes in hospitals across Hong Kong”.  

Phew, with so many public art auctions nowadays… I’m presuming Hong Kong is trying really hard to push to become an art lover’s destination?

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Dreamy Balloon by Veronica Li (vnikali)

I love orchids!

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Orchid Gromit by Philip Treacy

Gromit balancing a ball on his head.

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Gromit’s adventure with his moon by Jimmy Liao

This is fun – Gromit with a fuchsia moustache!

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Beauty Will Save the World by Kim Robinson

And a prickly Godzilla Gromit!  Hey, this reminds me of someone! 😄

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Gromzilla by Kiyoshi Daniel Kohatsu

Or maybe this one?  😜

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😘

There are still time to catch up with the 60-or-so Gromits in town, before they are auctioned off in September!  Hurry! Hurry!

Elephant Parade, Pacific Mall, Admiralty

After the 1,600 Pandas departed, the Elephants stampeded into Hong Kong.   Elephant Parade is the world’s largest art exhibition of decorated elephant statues created by artists and celebrities.  After the exhibition, the statues will be auctioned.  The idea is to use the power of art to bring forth a meanful message of animal conservation and protection.  Individuals can also buy miniature replicas of the elephants whereby 20% of the net profit are donated to The Asian Elephant Foundation.

Since it was Amber Rainstorm today, I was at Pacific Place Mall today to watch a movie.  I was pleasantly surprised to find the elephants dotted around the mall and had a fun time taking pictures.

Hah!  A map of HK, no doubt dedicated to Hiker Dude 😜

Pearl of the Orient by Diana Francis

Pearl of the Orient by Diana Francis

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‘Maclehose Trail’, the gruesome 100km Oxfam Trail Walk where some teams managed to finish in 13 hours!

Money makes the world go round, and so the auspicious lucky coin Elephants to reign in good fortune for the Mall

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Lucky Coins by Santi Takaew

And with the mooncake season or mid-autumn festival coming up, an Elephant Mooncake sounds like a good festive creation

Mooncake by Kitipong Tamnonsri

Mooncake by Kitipong Tamnonsri

A statue designed by my favourite designer.

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DVF, Love is Life by Diane von Furstenberg

Hong Kong is a tourist destinations and of course a couple of Elephants decorated with local flavours are a must!  Themes included food and tourist landmarks.

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Yum-Ephant by Diana Francis

We Love Hong Kong by Carsac Limited

We Love Hong Kong by Carsac Limited

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Commandments of God by Prajjwal Choudhury

One of the crowd’s favourite as judged by the number of people taking pictures.  The cutest of ’em all, I reckon!  This is by celebrated local designer Carrie Chau

The Hiding Men and The Elephant by Carrie Chau

The Hiding Men and The Elephant by Carrie Chau

The Hiding Men and The Elephant by Carrie Chau

The Hiding Men and The Elephant by Carrie Chau

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The Hiding Men and The Elephant by Carrie Chau

The exhibition started on August 1 and will continue to September 9 2014.  Do pay the Elephant Parade a visit – other locations includes CityPlaza in Taikoo Shing and CityGate in Tung Chung.

Tree of Life exclusively designed for Pacific Place by Diana Francis

Tree of Life exclusively designed for Pacific Place by Diana Francis

Drinkies @Vinexpo 2014 Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre

Date of Visit:  May 28 2014

One simply does not pass on a freebie – especially when it is a free trade pass to Asia-Pacific Vinexpo, no?!

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Vinexpo Asia-Pacific

Boy! Am I getting pissed today!! 😜

Spanning the entire 2 floors of the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, Level 1 houses all the New World Wines, whereas Level 3 is reserved exclusively for the French (and the odd Chinese winery or two, e.g. Dynasty, hoping to rub some Old World prestige into their spanking new establishments)

Since Vinexpo is the world’s premier wine and spirits festival, one should expect an impressive list of international exhibitors from over 30 countries.  The line-up of wines are mind-bogglingly overwhelming.  So one must definitely do a bit of homework – research on the vineries, top producers, up-and-coming wines, etc-before attending!

Here are some of the wines sampled (pictures courtesy of Monsieur Wine Nut – my wine tasting buddy).

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Premium French…

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So much wine to sample…

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More wines…

Tasting delicious wines can get a tad boring and tedious, so I started looking for interesting labels.  Now, do tell, how many of you buy wines on the account of the quirkiness of the labels?  Be it the name or graphics?  I’ll be the first to admit that I’m guilty of that ALL the time! 😜

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A regal looking French Bulldog – my future pet! 😄

What about Hello Kitty sparkling wines?  I guess it is never too early to start training your kids to start drinking, right?

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Starter Wines for kiddies

‘No Sex For Butterfly’ is a new line from Chateau de Valcombe, only available in some Scandinavian countries and Belgium at the moment.  A quirky label with an interesting story in that vines are sprayed with electrostatic powder containing female pheromones. Male pests cannot find females because of the scent on their own bodies, and females reject them as mates because they think they are female, too. In this way, the insects are controlled without use of pesticides, thus stopping the male pests  from breeding and spoiling grape crops (read here).

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I like the crisp No Sex For Butterfly’s Chardonnay, but it was the Cabernet Sauvignon that blew me away.  It was unusual as both the nose and palate has hints of petroleum.

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Quaffable Grenache

I was also introduced to a friend of a friend who is the 3rd generation of this estate.  😚  Unfortunately, I cannot appreciate the wines fully given the numbness from all the tastings but I do like the labels designed by an ex-Hermes designer – Pierrre Le Tan.

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20140528-190257-68577802.jpgDoes fast cars and wines mix?  Apparently not, but because the Chinese had over bought the Bordeaux 4 years back – bidding up the prices in the process – they are currently  sitting on top of oversupply to the detriment of the Bordeaux producers.  So, what to do to?  Hence, the marketing gurus came up with the gimmick of beauties and fast cars to make Bordeaux sexy and desirable again!

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I missed out on the conferences, tastings, and master classes hosted by the industry experts, so next year, remind me to register early for the classes!!

My Pictorial Arvo @Art Basel Hong Kong 2014

Date of Visit:  May 14 2014

This is the 2nd Hong Kong edition of Art Basel, the world’s premier show of Modern and Contemporary Art.  I was lucky that I got a free ticket.

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Otherwise, I would have to fork out HK$300 for a day pass like what my friend did…

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Is this Art??  I can do this too!  In fact, there were several mono-coloured canvasses in the exhibition.  Perhaps done by big names.  And we all know, any doodles by big names conjures a hefty price tag (belt our your number Jessie J!)

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This is kooky! So cool and psychedelic!  Reminds me of Austin Powers! Yeah, Baby!

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The bizarre.  A life-sized mannequin of a hairy young girl cradling deformed baby??

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Totally outrageous!  A dog encased inside glass bubbles??  SPCA where art thou?!

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Waste not, want not... the next time you stop by for a Chinese, remember to bring home the scallop shells.

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The comical – the singing Banana Trio!  Inspiration from Casper The Friendly Ghost?

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A wake-up call, don’t eat too much

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But don’t starve yourself to the bones either!

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A bit of reality call – the post 80s generation?  Demonstrations!  Protests!

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A bit of logic!  My favourite 3 Ms: Chocolates, Junk and Post-It Notes!

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Recyclable art…

Buddha sitting on a pile of used clothing.

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Shredded papers as sculptural art?

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What about a mangled smashed-up car?

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Something contemporarily religious…

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Art Basel is basically an art expo with over 245 leading galleries from 39 countries.  Heck!  I even met a sister of a friend who runs a gallery in Kuala Lumpur!!

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I spent  over 2 hours at the expo…and was dead tired…

Check out this man face-planted on the floor! Bet he WAS really tired! Zzzz…

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Any qualms?  Talk to me, better still, email me!

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Peruvian Immersion For A Day @ National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

Date of Visit: March 29 2014

If your much anticipated hiking trip to Peru is cancelled what would you do?  Well, Bestie and I made a road trip to Canberra to gawk at the exotic Inca treasures of the ancient Peruvian civilisation at the National Gallery of Art in Canberra – aptly called ‘Gold and The Incas: Lost World of Peru” (here).

The exhibition is a key component of Canberra’s centenary celebrations in 2013 and also significant in that it marks the 50th anniversary of Australian-Peruvian diplomatic relations, and is organised in co-operation with the Peruvian Ministry of Culture.  As such, the works of art are lent by the Museo Nacional de Arqueología, Antropología e Historia del Perú and its fraternal collections, the Fundacion Museo Amano, the Museo Larco and the Museo Oro del Perú – museums that were on our trip’s agenda –  as well as the collection of the National Gallery of Australia.

Would it  surprise you that the Inca Empire lasted only 100 years?  This is a very short time for such a vast and famous enterprise!

In a nutshell:

“The Incas conquered all of Peru and much of Chile, Bolivia, Argentina and Ecuador.  The state governed from the capital city of Cuzco by a system of duties, taxes and rewards.  20,000km of roads enabled efficient and speedy communication.

The Emperor was The Son of The Sun God and the pinnacle of an extremely hierarchical society.  The Inca state region demanded scarifices, human and animal – even textiles were burnt as offerings to the Gods.  Architecture, e.g. the famous World Heritage Site Machu Picchu, was the glory of the Inca culture (and still is!).  Temples, palaces, terraces and fortifications of huge stone blocks were fitted together, mostly without masonry.

Sadly, our knowledge of Inca society is filtered through the world view of Spanish chroniclers. The Inca state of at least 12 million people fell very rapidly, due to superior European military technology, civil war and new diseases, especially smallpox.  Perhaps 90% of the native population, more than 10 million people, was killed or died of disease and famine after the conquest.

Almost every artefact that survives – what we see at the exhibition today – was buried with their owners.  As the cult of the dead infers, both noble and common people were interred in different ways according to tiers of importance – from ruling lords, priests, military leaders and retainers – as exemplified by their respective accoutrements and placements in their graves.

A rather kooky rite is that adorned mummified Inca elites form part of annual postmortem ceremonies where their corpses were paraded around the city of Cuzco.”

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Poster Child of the Exhibition: Gold Relic of the Sun God

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Children’s’ Discovery Area where photography is permitted

In summary, this is a well-curated exhibition with over 200 objects showcasing  exemplary artefact from each period of the Peruvian civilisation  from gold regalia, intricate jewellery and striking vessels to elaborate embroidered and woven cloths.  So, don’t miss out!

*****

It is only appropriate to round up our excursion by having a Peruvian themed lunch at the Sculptural Garden Restaurant.

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‘Cones’ (Bert Flugelman, 1976/82) in polished stainless steel

Finding it needed a bit of detective work as it is located outside the gallery, tucked away to the side of the garden and in a tent by the Marsh Pond.

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Sculptural Garden Restaurant

In the Marsh Pond (part of the sculpture garden) is a powerful work by Dadang Christanto, an Indonesian artist based in Darwin.  The pond is filled with bronze heads with extra eeriness supported by the mist-maker.  His works speaks of victims of oppression and social injustice.  If I remember correctly, this piece, “Heads from the north’,  is about the genocide in East Timor.

(PS:  Would I want to hold a reception in the restaurant by a pond filled with heads?  Probably not!😰)

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‘Heads from the north’, Dadang Christanto (Photo credit: http://www.pbase.com)

For this special occasion in conjunction with the exhibition, the interior of the restaurant is styled by designer Megan Morton to play up combinations of colour, good times and of course, corn – to accentuate the joy of food and family that the Peruvian culture delights in!

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Interior of Restaurant

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Maize ‘Chandelier’

Only Set Lunch is served in the restaurant.

What we got for our 2-course Set Lunch at $35 per person

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Wholewheat Damper

ENTREE

Presented on a wooden paddle pan as is very fashionable now,  we have Ceviche of Salmon with Lime, Jumbo White Corn and Coriander.

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Ceviche of Salmon with Lime, Jumbo White Corn and Coriander (GF)

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Jumbo White Corn

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Quinoa: Baked quinoa toped with avocado wasabi cream and a rocket leaf. This is bourgeois peasant food!

MAIN COURSE

Sometimes, it is best not to heed recommendation of a fellow diner who you don’t know…

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Twice-cooked Beef Short Rib with Chimichurri and Huancaina Potatoes.

This is a plate of disappointment of sorts:  The beef was dry – yet full of fat!  The most obvious explanation is that it is not a good cut of meat which has been pre-(over)cooked and reheated thus rendering it very beef-jerky-like in texture.  The exotic sounding ‘huancaina’ is basically a spicy cream which is otherwise ‘meh’.

Check out my leftover plate of fat!

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FAT!! Fat-Die-Me! 😱 😱 😱

Not a very satisfying lunch, so a Diet Coke at the Gallery Cafe is in order…

Chocolate Fantasia @ Gallery By the Harbour

“With the artist’s fantasy of chocolate and his crazy imagination, Gallery by the Harbour will be transformed into an amazing illusionary space, leading the audience to enter the artist’s fantasy world.”  

And a fantasia it was!  A dizzying psychedelic world bursting of colours and butterflies to mesmerise the audiences!

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View of Gallery: Wall-to-floor covered in abject art. Crossing the boundary from 2-D to 3-D, leading the audience to enter the artist’s fantasy world.

This is a solo exhibition by renowned Korean contemporary artist Jang Seung Hyo who conjured up a surreal chocolate world in conjunction with the annual Chocolate Trail 2014 in Harbour City.  His  created a chocolate fantasia through collages by juxtaposing  images of chocolates and sweets.   Thus, transforming the 2-D photographic images into 3-D art pieces.

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3-D Butterfly on canvas on-top of the collaged wall, make it a bursting array of psychedelic colours

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Chupa Chups!

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Detail of collage: Random photos from the artist’s archives

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A 3-D sculpture

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A tiger out on a prowl in a Hong Kong

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I see Guylian chocolates Smarties and Jelly Beans, do you?

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Hard to see in the snapshot, but try if you can, this is a 3-D butterfly

Try as I did, it was hard to photograph with my iPhone because it was very colourful and I’m at loss at which angles, details and how to capture the artworks as they were all too beautiful!  If you are in Kowloon, grab your camera and do me a better job!

Where and When?
Chocolate Fantasia @ Gallery By the Harbour
Date: Now – Feb 16, 2014
Shop 202, Level 2, Ocean Centre (Near Jean-Paul Hevin)

Dim Sums With The Sunday Hikers @ Ming Court, Langham Place Hotel, Mongkok, Hong Kong

Date of Visit: August 26 2013

Bro informed us that he had booked Sunday Lunch at Ming Court, a 2 Michelin Stars Cantonese restaurant at the Langham Place Hotel, Mongkok, which is on Level 4 of the hotel we are staying.

“Lunch at 10:30am and there is a dress code”, he reminded us.

“Lunch? At 10:30am, that’s very early”, Mom said, “Are you sure?”.

“Well, there was a choice of 10:30am or 1:30pm, nothing available for 12pm.  I don’t think they serve lunch!”, came Bro’s reply.

So here we, at 10:30am sharp standing in front of Ming Court amid a mini crowd. After registration with the maitre de, we were seated promptly. The restaurant is very classy, with a collection of Ming replicas and ink landscape paintings.  However, there was no baby stool for my bag!  This is not quite the Michelin restaurant that I expect after our experience at Yé Shanghai yesterday.

The restaurant filled up rather quickly and we noticed diners dressed very casually in their ‘Sunday best’ of in hiker shorts, T-shirts and even Crocs, some even arriving with backpacks! Did these people hiked here and where is the required ‘dress code’ we all wondered.  Mom being her observant self, then said to Bro that he must have made a reservation in English through the hotel reception, which he did.

Apparently my Bro has been mistaken for a gweilo or laowai (depending on whether you are speaking Cantonese of Mandarin).   The hotel has to make sure that house guests do not turn up in wife-beaters, T-shirts or flip-flops! Or God forbid bathrobes!  Well, you know how simple some people can be – the resto is in the hotel, it’s a matter of riding the lifts, pressing the buttons down and up, so why not?  That aside, we had experienced in  Japanese fine-dining establishments where guests turned up in hiking gears (totally spoiling the chichi atmosphere), it was hard for the  restaurants to turn them away because that would mean a loss in business – and Japanese economy is ‘no good’ at the moment.  (Know the word ‘RESPECT’ dudes? Duh!)  Moreover in ryokans, they specifically put notices on dress codes in theirrooms – NO YUTAKAS IN RESTAURANTS!

Anyhow, since it was only 10:30am, we were not eager to eat heavily, thinking that we will go somewhere else for a late lunch or tea later. Hence, we only ordered only 5 dim sums to kick-start our day.  Urmmm…the food were…

Condiments on our table consists of XO Chilli Sauce with Baby Shrimps and Black Beans Sauce

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XO Chilli Sauce with Baby Shrimps and Black Beans

1)  Pan-fried Turnip Cakes: Pretty good with bits of Chinese ham in it but nothing outstanding.  (When I was a toddler, I could eat 1 basket of steamed turnip pudding all by myself, so that’s kinda makes me an expert! Hear! Hear!)

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Pan-fried Turnip Cakes

2)  Char-Siu Rice Roll: The rice roll was good, thick chewy skin which did not stick to my teeth. The char-siu was savoury sweet with added parsley for a herby kick.  I like!

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Char-Siu Rice Roll

3)  Pork dumpling with foie gras paste:  Sounded interesting on the menu but very ordinary in reality. The skin was too thick and doughy, sticking to my teeth.  There was no hint of foie gras at all.  Disappointed!

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Pork dumpling with foie gras paste

4)  Beef balls with Bean Curd Sheets:  This is another of my all-time dim sum favourite, Ming Court’s version has all the right ingredients of minced beef, parsley and chestnuts, but lacked a certain finesse.

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Beef balls with Bean Curd Sheets

5)  Glutinous rice wrapped in leaf has a lot of conpoy, the rice was perfect. The whole package was very fragrant.  This is the best dimsum dish.

Every year, during the Tuen Ng Festival or Dragon Boat festival, Ming Court will prepare Rice Dumplings for sale. When I was living in Hong Kong, I never fail to buy a couple – and they were generously stuffed with convoy, mushrooms and meat in steamed rice.

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Glutinous rice wrapped in leaf

So there you have, the brunch was pretty ordinary, not 2 Michelin Stars material, nothing to sing about.  It was better off eating at Club L (the hotel’s in-house lounge), the dimsums are  catered by Ming Court anyway.  In hindsight, after perusing other reviews, we should have done dinner instead, since this is where the gastronomic experience lies.

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Dimsums for breakfast at Club L

After brunch, we went to Times Square Shopping Mall in Causeway Bay.  There were many people, but not as many as I remembered – where are you, people? Disneyland?

In front of the mall, I was awestruck.  There were 2 huge robotic figurines standing imposingly.  Apparently, they are Gundam and Zauku II, making their first appearance outside of Japan, in the event called “Gundam Docks in Hong Kong“.  The 2 models are approximately  7 meter  which are scaled to 1/3 of the original Gundam in Odaiba, Tokyo.  I’m not a fan of them, so left after taking some pictures.  However, if you are interested to see more, I found a You Tube link here – Enjoy!

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Gundam

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Zauku II

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Zauku II