Quivo, Pavilion KLCC, Kuala Lumpur

Date of Visits:  Various since April 2015

There are many, many restaurants in Pavilion KLCC – and the thing is, they all serve practically the same stuff!

I have been frequenting Quivo quite often when I’m in town.  I like the interior decor – pretty and swanky, like sitting in a furniture shop 😜 – and with the opened terrace, I can indulge in my favourite activity that is people-watching, while sitting high up in the high chair by the bar area!

Pretty swish interior

The barman is entertaining too when he’s juggling the bottles to mix drinks! 👯👯

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Bar area

Art-deco-mod Menu Cover! (Slightly tired nonetheless…)

To drink…

A fruit juice combo (carrot, berries,etc..?)

Vino blanco💃🏻

There’s also a wide range of alcoholic beverages and cocktails which I shall try and Instagram (check me out here ) next time instead…

Even though I have been there a few times, I only just realised that Quivo is a ‘Mediterranean inspired restaurant’ when I googled it!  😜  Ex..see..Q..see..mee!  Anyway, here are pictures of stuffs I’ve tried!

A piping hot Cheesy Spinach Dip with toasted pita bread.  Nice snack while waiting for the mains to arrive.

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Spinach Dip

The healthy Meze share plate.  There’s hummus made from chickpeas and spicy salsa with roasted peppers.  There’s an inflated pita bread to dip the hummus and salsa and crunchy crudités and olives for munching.

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Mezze Platter

Chicken Caesar with an overly generous coating of shaved parmesan cheese, but only a skewer of chicken.  Although, I like the salad, I didn’t like the rock-hard cold chicken nor the poached egg with a just-thawed yolk!

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Chicken Caesar Salad

We have tried a couple of the burgers on the menu. Here’s a picture of the Spicy Fish Burger that I’ve tried, it was good – and rather healthy with grilled barramundi and extra jalapeños for a kick!

Spicy Fish

The Philly Style Wagyu Steak Sandwich was seared beef stacked with onions, grilled peppers, stir-fried mushrooms, cheese and mustard-mayo in a hoagie roll.  It was very American! So, I don’t think it is Mediterranean at all! Still, it was a nice stomach filler.

Philly Style Wagyu Steak Sandwich

The paddle board pizza selections are highly recommended!  If I recall, you can choose to have either the regular or thin crust pizza base.

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Pizza Margherita

And last but not least, the Fish and Chips

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Fish and Chips

…’til next time!

A Gym-Junkies’ Lunch @ Nha Trang Vietnamese Restaurant, Ocean Terminal, TST, Hong Kong

Date of Visit: December 13 2013

I am in Hong Kong for a week now and in between the shopping and organising furniture deliveries for my new abode, I had also sorted out my gym schedule with my trainer  (yeah!) so it’s high time to meet with my buddies before they leave Hong Kong for their respective home-countries for Christmas.

Because my buds are all gym-junkies – 😄 – we decided on a  late lunch after their exercise sessions.  After checking out a couple of restaurants nearing the end of  lunch service, buffets were out of question.  In the end, we rocked into  Nha Trang, a Vietnamese restaurant on the ground floor of Ocean Terminal at around 2:30pm.

FYI: Nha Trang is a chain of Vietnamese restaurant first established in Sheung Wan, many years ago… and they have just opened a 6th branch in Causeway Bay.

To drink:  Gym-junkies are health fanatics, so we each had a round of fresh coconut.  Mr D, in fact told us that he is eating 3 tablespoons of coconut oil daily for his psoriasis problem.  He is also using almond cream on his body as well as TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) for all round health…see, no harm in having metrosexual guys as friends who always have some healthy/beauty tips up their sleeves!

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Fresh Coconut (HK$38)

Mr D’s Choice:  Cold Vermicelli Bowl with Grilled Pork.  Vietnamese people often serve  rice vermicelli or bun as cold dishes in room temperature with grilled meats, chopped lettuce, herbs, mints, coriander, a lot of bean sprouts and grated carrots and cucumber  all tossed with nuoc nam (fish sauce).  Mr D, a commendable foodie himself, found his choice underwhelming, but promised to take us to Mongkok for more authentic Vietnamese…

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Bun Thit Nuong: Cold Vermicelli Bowl with Grilled Pork (HK$52)

Ms C’s Choice:  Ms C’s middle name is ‘Spin’, she goes to spin classes at least 4 times a week.  In order not to sabotage her well earned figure, she ordered the super-healthy seafood salad – 2 skewers of jumbo chargrilled prawns on a bed of pomelo and sprinkled with toasted cashew nuts, fried shallots and garlic flakes.  Her verdict: Nom nom with a wide grin.

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Goi Buoi: Pomelo and Grilled Prawn Salad (HK$80)

Both Ms Italian and I had the hot spicy rice beef noodle soup.  A huge bowl of spicy fragant stock, filled with rice noodles, sliced beef, sliced pork shanks topped with bean sprout and coriander.  We also received condiments of fresh lime wedge each and freshly chopped red and green chillies to kick the spiciness up a notch.  Ms Italian loved soup, so no surprise that she drank up the entire bowl of soup!  I am a bit picky however finding the rice noodles too hard and the soup too bland – so I asked for more chilli!  Personally, it was an ‘OK’ dish, extremely filling  BUT I wished I had ordered a salad instead.  😩

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Bun Bo Hue: Spicy Hue Beef Noodle Soup (HK$58)

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Bun Bo Hue all messed up!

To Share:

Our protein came in the form of a super fat oven roasted chicken.  Mr D wondered about the authenticity of the chicken – Vietnamese chickens should be skinny right?  We were also given a bowl of garlic and basil oil to dip our chicken into.  All-in-all – meh – a bland chicken, no chicken taste.

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Ga Ro-Ti: Oven Roasted Chicken (HK$120)

The grilled pork meatball rolls was described in the menu as a ‘popular southern dish of chunks of warm seasoned pork meatball and Vietnamese salad in thin rice-flour sheets’.  I did not find any pork meatballs in my portion at all- I only found crispy deep-fried crullers.  The rice noodles and rice-flour sheets were hard and had to be softened by the  nuoc nam on stand-by at the table.  It was made ‘nice’ by the  nuoc nam, but nothing to shout home.

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Nem Nuong Cuon: Grilled Meatball Rolls (HK$50)

The restaurant was very crowded even when we finished our meal at 3:30pm.  We were lucky to get a table by the window which looks into the ferry terminal.  Yes, the sky was hazy (polluted, as usual),  the weather bureau reports that the temperature is going to drop to 10 degrees Celsius this coming Monday.  I am looking forward to wearing my new parka!

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View out to TST Ferry Terminal, Big Ben and Cultural Center

It’s December,  so do expect me to sign off with a pic of Christmas decorations from one of the malls in Hong Kong!  This one is taken by Ms C at Hang Hau Shopping Mall.

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Monchichi Exhibition at Hang Hau Shopping Mall

Hits and Misses @ Bills Woollahra, Sydney

Date of Visit: July 31 2013

Even though I am back in Sydney for a few weeks of R&R, work still travels with me. Yesterday, I had a meeting with an associate who is training for the Blackmores full marathon in September. I had also signed up for the half-marathon, but since I can’t see myself to be back in Sydney for the marathon, I had eased back on training. Moreover, with the cold chilly weather and working on the computer reading up and replying litigation emails to idiots – seriously, dudes if you ever engage lawyers don’t let them make you out to be such morons – had made me too lazy to go outside for a run. So, starting August 1 (tomorrow), I am going on a diet…

Better still, why not start today since Mom suggested a light lunch at Bills? She wanted to have their Tuna Poke, but unfortunately, the tuna poke she fancied was no longer on the menu. So, here is a piece of iPhoto memory – a bowl of red translucent tuna sashimi slices, avocado, tomatoes, parsley, samphire (those tiny salty crunchy green veggies that grow along the coastal line which ones has to forage), sesame seeds which has barley underneath and seasoned with soy sauce.

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Tuna Poke

Bills is a busy cafe, where most of the patrons are ladies (of leisure). The outdoor sitting area with heaters is a fantastic spot to catch some sun. With the wind chills and spot of drizzle, we opted for indoor seating instead, for that, we had to wait for 20 minutes, so we went shopping.

Woollahra is a leafy shopping village with quite a few fashion boutiques (international labels includes Akira, Collete Diningan, et al), organic grocers (e.g Whole Foods, Simon Johnson), home furnishings, antiques dealers and galleries, besides the usual cafes of course.

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Al fresco dining in Queens Court

A quick twenty minutes later, we are back, with our shopping in tow…

Mom ordered Ocean Trout Salad which had rice vermicelli under the salad of sugar snap peas, watercress, mint and coriander. The grapefruit imparts a sweet tanginess that tarted up the perfect ocean trout. The dressing was a simple dash of fish sauce.

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Crisp Ocean Trout, Ruby Grapefruit, Coriander and Chili Salad ($22.00)

As for yours truly who is staying faithful to her ‘diet plans’, I ordered the healthy anti-oxidant superfood of Quinoa Salad. There were a lot of sunflower seeds mixed with the quinoa, the wedge of lime did wonders to furnish sourness to beetroot and carrot shavings on the salad. Overall, a satisfying and appetising salad that hope to replicate at home!

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Quinoa, Sprouting Sunflower, Beetroot, Chilli and Feta Salad($19.50)

My Bro who joined us for lunch had the more hearty Veal and Pork Ragu Pappardelle. No doubt it was hand-made in the house by the look of the thick unevenly cut pappardelle. It looked small, but was absolutely filling.

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Veal and Pork Ragu, Pappardelle, Tarragon, Lemon and Parmesan ($24.50)

I like going to Bills for light salads which are easy to assemble at home and I often learn a thing or 2 from dining there.

More iPhoto memories from past visits…

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Raw Green Salad with Feta – beans, feta, zucchini,mint and parsley

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Vitamix quickie – Chilled tomato and cucumber soup

A busy cafe has its off-days, and here is a pic of my Raw Green Salad looking totally sub-standard, with 1 piece of chopped bean (yes, I counted!), bits of veggies and simply tossed up!  If one is not a regular, I suppose this is the last straw!

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(Sub-par) Raw Green Salad with Feta – beans, feta, zucchini,mint and parsley

An astute businessman, he has his latest cookbook ‘Easy by Bill Granger’ on display. I am at odds whether to get it.

His cookings are quite Asianised, little wonder since he was co-owner/founder to Billy Kwong which chef Kylie Kwong later took over. The kimchi rice is very popular and whenever I have visitors from overseas, I would suggest they order this spicy rice dish (with comes with a bottle of Sriracha chilli sauce – the one with a picture of the rooster – and this is pushing the authentic button). However, it was the corn fritters and truffled eggs that made Bills’ name, and they are available in the all-day breakfast menu.

Bills has 3 cafes in Sydney and expanding overseas. I often wondered at Japanese tourists who trekked to Woollahra for lunch in his cafe. It only clicked when I saw his one of his cafes in Tokyo. He is one heck of an global entrepreneur indeed – who’d think one can launch an empire from cooking eggs?

At the time of review, Bills scored 79% out of 157 votes

Bills on Urbanspoon

Simple Fare, Stylish Environ @ AMCE Bar & Coffee, Troika KLCC, Kuala Lumpur

Date of Visit: July 2 2013

The KL property market had a soft-landing back in late 2000. I was not suprised when Malaysian property developers kicked off their sales launches in Hong Kong since there are many Malaysian expats living in Hong Kong. High-end properties in KL are very much cheaper compared to Hong Kong, and it was envisaged that most Malaysian expats would be looking to retire back home in Malaysia where the cost of living is lower. In a nutshell, that was how Troika came into my radar. I went to its launch at Mandarin Oriental to see the Norman Foster design, unfortunately the wasted spaces and dead corners did not excite. There was no mention of sky-dining at all.

Now what excited me about AMCE was its sharp interior from the same designer who did the clever interior for Melur & Thyme (my lunch experience here). Since my associates and I were in the vicinity with 2 hours to kill before our next appointment, we dropped in for a coffee and a quick bite.

Incidentally, in Greek, ‘Amce’ means ‘the best’. At the moment, AMCE is the best cafe in the prestigious KLCC condominium area, simply because it is the only cafe – unless one wants to trek across the KLCC Park to the Convention Center or to Suria KLCC on the other end.

What drew me to the design was its functionality in using natural lights, circulation and ease of assembly (and dismantling since it is in a residential block). Central to the design is the service booth which functions as reception, drinks and sometimes buffet display area. One’s experience begins from one’s entry through the heavy brass doors, being led by service through the double-volume atrium lined by light weight I-beam structures with over hanging pseudo-street style lamps which gave a feel of instant retro-industrial ‘oomph’.

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Reception

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An otherwise, basic fit-out highlighted by I-beams and overhanging lamps.

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Side-walk Cafe

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Service area

Mirrors are suspended on the ceiling affixed on steel girdles for added drama. Oxidised mirrors also lined the length of the wall. One would certainly enjoy a surreal experience with soft lights bouncing off the ceilings and wall under dim lightings. When dinner service comes around, the tinkling soft background music would perhaps make a romantic experience a well.

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Upper part of the split level bistro

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Private booths

There are little touches of details noted throughout the bistro. I especially liked the details in the light bulbs and custom-made tables with plumbing pipes for legs. The colour palette is muted with dusty pink banquette, grey steel, natural coloured timbers and white/ patterned tiles.

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The cleverness of the designer is further displayed at the end of the bistro, where one can find a Mondrian-esque decorative art on the brick wall using only the chasing of plumbing pipes.

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Plumbing Wall Art

Between participating in chit-chats with my associates and appreciating the bistro fit-outs, I had a cup of tea (Cherry Marzipan which smelt very good and something different to my usual order of Mint tea) whilst my associates enjoyed their hot coffees.

My quick bite was Japanese Scrambled Egg Salad with Miso Mayo (RM29) which sounded interesting but tasted very average. It was slightly overdone with rubbery texture. However, this is an easy DIY if I were to recreate at home.

Recipe for Le Chica’s Japonaise a la Scrambled Egg Salad
Pick up a pre-packed mixed salad (whichever that takes your fancy) from the supermarket
Scramble 2 eggs (my preference is to crack 2 eggs into the pan with a tablespoon of cream and give it a quick whirl)
Mix a tablespoon of mayo with a teaspoon of miso paste for dressing
Assemble

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AMCE’s Japanese Scrambled Egg Salad

Other interesting bites from the menu which I can attempt at home from looking at the ingredients listed on the menu are:
Mango Yoghurt Chilled Gazpacho (RM21)an easy-peasy blizz for my Vitamix using fresh mango, lemon, yoghurt, seasoned with white wine vinegar, decorated with a sprinkling of shallots and a touch of tomato salsa.
Strawberry Pomelo & Rocket Salad (RM21) which one of my associates had. My DIY at home would be a quick assembly of rocket salad, some slices of red radish, strawberries, pomelo, citrus segments with a touch of balsamic vinaigrette.

Service busied themselves with setting up for the lunch but still kept an eye on us in case we needed service.

Personally, a dining experience is never complete without a tour to the restrooms. There are 3 stalls of unisex toilet, each fitted with a timber door with vintagey opaque glass. Overall, it looked retro and perhaps a hand-pulled flush toilet would complete the vintage feel.

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Wash area

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Inside the stall

If you are residing nearby, no doubt you would have been there many times and might had even made AMCE one of your locals. For a visitor to the area, just drop in for a cuppa to soak the ambience.

A Bowl of Salad and Chippies Ahoy! @ Ben’s, Pavilion Kuala Lumpur

Date of Visit: June 10 2013

Following a hearty lunch at Tonkatsu earlier on (my review here), I was still feeling rather full. But it’s dinner time and rather than raiding the fridge in the middle of the night by skipping my dinner, I opted for a lighter salad fare. However, finding a place that serves proper salads in KL is hard – I have tried Pavilion’s TGI Friday where they offer an uninteresting single varietal salad of iceberg lettuces, sweet corns and cherry tomatoes heavily drenched in dressing which  defeats the purpose of a ‘light fare’.

Meanwhile, I have walked passed Ben’s countless times and perused its overly lengthy board menu placed at the entrance. The restaurant aims to please all its diners by offering an array of choices, unfortunately, this was a put-off for the indecisives. But because I remembered that they have salads on offer and since I had already decided on what I am going to order – a salad – hence the mission of ordering should be easy.

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So, here we are, Mom, Bro and I, ending up at Ben’s to be quickly ushered into the restaurant.   I am not sure about the replica of  a living room at the front.  Perhaps, the big blue sofa is for the take-away patrons to rest their tired derrières while waiting for their orders.  A huge lamp for reading the Hello! magazines were very thoughtfully provided.   Nonetheless, the standout is the colour of the bright yellow feature wall which I thought absolutely stunning (I love bright colours).

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The restaurant itself is a long space.  A banquette with throw cushions was set against one wall, making excellent spatial economics for when the restaurant has to accomodate for a large group.  The tables need only be joined together and some chairs borrowed.  The space spills out to an outdoor dining area on the balcony overlooking the Bukit Bintang strip which would be perfect for an idle afternoon tea or to partake in the vibrancy when BB comes alive at night.

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Cleverness in details is one thing that I noted about Ben’s.  Everything from the napkins, to the box of card games for ideas to kick off conversations on the table right down to the details of the waist-coat-aprons on the wait-staffs.

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Despite my simple plan of ordering a salad, the extensive menu of 10 different salads on offer still required a decision from me.  Finally, I went straight for the vegetarian option. Ben’s House Salad ($15.90) came with all my favourite goodies – endame and avocado. I have asked to have the dressing on the side since nothing can be more annoying than a salad drowned in dressing.  I was taken in by the freshness of the roasted pistachios, almonds, walnuts, sun-flower seeds, flaxseeds et al, which were noted as ‘7 seeds’ on the menu.   So stuffed to the brim with vegies, I am rest assured that I would not be raiding the fridge when night falls.

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For my Mom and Bro, the process of eliminating Sandwiches, Pies, Pastas, Asians and Soups narrowed down to the Traditional options for them.  My Mom opted for  the Fish and Chips ($29.90) .  This came with a small side of coleslaw. With such an array of choices to choose from, it would not come a suprise if the fish fingers and chips were from the  frozen prepackaged supermarket origin rather than from the markets.   Nevertheless, how can one resist the seduction of a Machiavellian piece of crispy fried  temptation?  As in trance, I reached out for a piece, then another, and another, and soon half the chips were in my stomach! Oh dear!

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My brother’s normal dinner at home is always a piece of steak.  His Steak Frites ($52.90) was a pretty ordinary chargrilled strip loin with black peper sauce.  Together, the chips and  plateful of green beans ensured that he is taking in his recommended vegetables for the day.

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Although we did not have dessert, the lovey-dovey-gooey  looks exchanged by the couples at the next table while they tucked in their luscious slice of chocolate brownie cake said it all.   With my induction done, I shall be back for more salads and dessert the next time!

Kosher in Hong Kong…Main St Deli @Langham Hotel, TST

Date of Visit: February 10, 2013

Nothing much happening on the 1st day of the Lunar New Year. So mom and I went for the early morning show at The One, TST. (Rumour has it that the building was dedicated to the developer-tycoon’s undying love for an HK actress – tacky…but romantic, don’t you think? I don’t mind having a building dedicated to me!) Goss aside the cinema tickets in Hong Kong are SO darn cheap compared to Sydney, only HK$45 – that’s roughly AUD5.60!! (If you are over 65 and have a senior’s card, you pay only HK$10 for the early morning show – like AUD1.25!)

The movie was ‘A Good Day To Die Hard’ starring Bruce Willis. Gotta say, it takes a pro to work an action-movie, whereas the younger chap playing his son seems to be unsure of his moves. Although it’s an action movie, the crux of the story is the strong bond of family unity which strikes the chord with the spirit of Chinese New Year i.e family unity and respect for the elders. I thoroughly enjoyed the show with all the death-defying actions, a tall-tale with the actors suffering not a single broken bone!

After the show, mom and I thought of going to Tsui Wah, a Chinese fast-food chain some noodles. But man, the queues were so long – like snakes!! Too funny…off we went to Main St Deli at Langham Hotel, TST

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Apparently, Main St Deli is Hong Kong’s first authentic New York style deli. It is located in the basement of Langham Hotel, TST.

As soon as we were seated by the super-fast and efficient waiter, a bowl of fat gherkins and pickled coleslaw quickly appeared.

The pickles were the largest I’ve seen outside the States…very appetising, not salty at all…

Giant gherkins (complimentary)

Giant gherkins (complimentary)

There’s a certain ‘Chineseness’ to the pickled cabbage. Looks like what you get in Chinese restaurants, except there is no chilli and sesame seeds, only cabbage and carrots…

Pickled cabbage (complimentary)

Pickled cabbage (complimentary)

The menu offered a lot of choices for homesick New Yorkers – Reuben sandwiches, bagels, salads, burgers, pizza, and even chicken soup with matzoh balls!  I was suprised to see kosher salami on the menu.  Well, I know where to get Kosher food in HK now!  The desserts were serious stuffs too – shakes, cheesecakes, cookies, pie!

We were thinking of soup and salad/ sandwich combo, but thought against it since we didn’t like the soup choices. I thought of getting the ‘One foot dog’, but having had it before, it’s name was misleading – the bun was long, but the sausage was puny. We ordered salads instead.

American menu

Check out the Combo Deals: Soup with either a half-sandwich or half-salad. HK$288. Auspicious digits-88, all the prices end with a digit-8!

I really like the ‘New York art-deco meeting Hong Kong Cha Chaan Teng (tea food hall) interior’.  Langham Hotels is tasteful in design and pay close attention to detailing unlike other 5/6-star hotels whereby predominantly timber veneer and expensive marbles/ granites in beige, browns, whites and blacks are used!  Langham Hotels also have art installations that changes regularly in their hotel lobbies.

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Especially like the crystal lights. Really jazz up the place. And note the detail on the ceiling using tiles!

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Interior of deli, food available for take-away as well

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Another angle…

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The vinyl booth-seat, padded walls, tiled mosaic floor. The vinyl seats uses 2 different swatches

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Art deco-ish lights

Checking out the place can be exhausting.  Lucky food arrived promptly…

Nova Scotia Salmon ‘Lox’ Platter HK$158 (for half HK$92)
The salmon were very good and fresh.  It was a big serving and came with shaved red onion and cream cheese.  Only complaint was the dry cream cheese.

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Salmon platter

Deli Chef Salad HK$158 (for half HK$92)
This salad rocks.  It has roast prime beef, chicken, tongue, cheddar cheese, boiled egg and avo.  The tongue was especially good.  Serving was big too.

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Chef’s salad

I’m bailing out of Dan Ryan’s, Main St Deli is my new ‘canteen’ from now on.  Did I mention that I get extra 15% for the Langham Supper card?

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Shop front

By the way, Jews take food prep very seriously…meat and diary never mix

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Coffe machine unavailabe for use:
11:30am – 1pm Daily
4:30pm – 6pm Fridays