Really Fun Hong Kong Trip 10-13May2013

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this final instalment concludes my travelogue on our really fun Hong Kong trip. 🙂

thanks to the characteristic eagerness of our trip leader, who booked this 2-room serviced apartment at Ovolo Hotel 256 Tung Chau Street West Kowloon at Sham Shui Po >2 months before our 10-13May2013 Hong Kong trip, we checked into the 25th floor “penthouse” (top floor) on 10.5.2013. 🙂

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there were 2 tiny bedrooms with queen beds but a huge living area. the only complaint was that the toilet & bathroom facility were kind of small & not well designed.

& we had a free refillable mini-bar (like a hotel Club Floor) – a waste as we were all teetotallers & the Singha beers stayed put in the fridge in our 3 nights stay. 🙂

this trip had come about as someone wanted to redeem his expiring krisflyer points (though he could not make it in the end for important reasons), and with a trip leader perpetually nosing for good travel deals, and a couple other eager recruits, things kind of came together easily. 🙂

as there were 4 of us and my – everyone is a lighter traveller than the other! – we took a cab (which cost in total HK$272, the maths gymnastic had somehow baffled our national schools gymnast champion) from the airport to Ovolo doorstep instead of the usual Airport Express.

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busy street at Sham Shui Po

though I usually stayed at Tsimshatsui for convenience, Ovolo was about 10mins walk from Sham Shui Po MTR station, and I found it quite ok. besides there were other untold advantages to sharing a 2-room apartment (such as juicy gossips even for a lazy me..haha). 🙂

Sham Shui Po area was also a flea market heaven for apparel and pc/electronic products, though my interest was limited to snapping a few pictures to capture the vibrant street scene. 🙂

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Hong Kong’s beef noodles 牛腩牛杂面.

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I am an unabashed sucker for HK’s 牛腩面. 🙂 unlike Singapore 牛腩 which are brisket with connective tissues, HK’s 牛腩面 uses the belly or parts nearest the belly.

I felt bad this time though as JK wanted to have wanton noodles, and for some reason the street leading from Ovolo to Sham Shui Po MTR stations though dotted with 牛腩面 stalls which also sold wanton noodles but somehow did not have the type of 牛腩 I was looking for. & my friends had to patiently walk up & down the streets with me in order to locate a stall that did. I got what I wanted but JK’s wanton noodle was below the standard of Jordan stall which she craved.

we had completed both the 5.7km Dragon’s Back hike (and another 5.3km hike of the Pak Fu Lam park & reservoir route at The Peak which was more than what we planned for) all in 1 day on 11.5.2013. On Sunday 12.5.2013, we decided to go for the mid-level escalator walk. 🙂

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1/2 Roast Goose 烧鹅

we did not want to go Yung Kee 庸记, and having earlier read Robyn Lee’s recent visit to Yat Lok 一乐, we decided to start at Central MTR and walked to Stanley Street (rather than IFC Mall at the start of the escalator at Hong Kong MTR station side).

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we were not disappointed. we ordered 1/2 roast goose for HK$200 and I think HK$80 for a plate of char siew & siew yoke to share among the 4 of us.  they were very good – goose was crispy & fragrant (tasty), so was the pork. 🙂

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mid-levels escalator (from IFC Mall to Conduit Street)

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parts of the escalator were under maintenance..

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Tai Cheung egg tarts

we came down from the escalator at Lyndhurst Terrace & found the famous Tai Cheung egg tart shop, apparently a Chris Patten favourite. 🙂 we each took a HK$3.50 egg tart each. it was good. egg tart not something I particularly fancied or craved for but I enjoyed it all the same. 🙂 and we had a bean curd drink each as well, I think it was like HK$5 for each bottle if you also bought the egg tart. 🙂

we walked a bit along Hollywood Road. none of us was like really must see temple type so we gave Man Mo Temple  文武庙 a miss. 🙂 JK was looking for bicycle shops & found one for accessories. 🙂

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good street map that shows the mid-levels escalator route

we walked further up the escalator & passed SOHO (South of Hollywood) & the mosque & ended at the Conduit Road mid-levels residential area which was 135m above the start point. here we took the bus & got back to Central MTR 🙂

c.h.e.f andy

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Dragon Back’s Hike @ Shek O Country Park on 11May2013

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view of Shek O from dragon’s back trail

we came Hong Kong ostensibly to eat & hike, so I better put up something to show we did la..hahaha. 🙂

one thing the Hong Kong weather forecast was utterly unreliable. this day (11.5.2013) was supposed to be a mostly wet day & since we had a bit of showers on 10.5.2013 – the day we arrived – we were expecting maybe we had to do this on Sunday. anyhow we woke up to glorious sunshine, so no excuse! 🙂

we had the free continental breakfast of croissant, bread, fruit, coffee etc at Ovolo where we stayed and set off for our morning hike at Dragon’s Back @ Shek O Country Park, voted the Best Urban Hike in Asia (Times Magazine 22 Nov 2004 Asia Issue). Sam Shui Po MTR was a 10mins walk from our hotel. we took the Tseun Wan line to Admiralty and changed to Island line to Shau Kei Wan and took the A3 exit to the Bus Terminus. Here we were queueing up for the No9 bus to Shek O when a private bus tout got into the good books of our adventurous trip leader who thrives on unknowns, and we got shepherded to a private bus waiting nearby. fortunately we were the last passengers they were waiting & the bus took off rightaway. The price was kind of irrelevant (like HK$7 vs HK$7.90 on the public bus) but I guess it was another experience. why not? – except this bus truly “took off” and was like hurtling through the winding country roads at >70kmh! phew – fortunately this time it got us faster to where we wanted & not some place else..heng ah! (means lucky) 🙂

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we started the hike at 9.11am from the point further down Shek O road (you could also start the hike mid-way at To Tei Wan).

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the ground was a bit wet from the rain the night before. as we got onto higher grounds we captured the first views of Stanley.

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we came to the first fork – the one facing outwards which we took was the dragon’s back trail (4.9km ending at Tai Long Wan).

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and we got a great view of Shek O (top photo & above). 🙂 panning back we also had a better birds eye view of Stanley.

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more views of Shek O! we took quite a few group photos here for memories. 🙂

looking back at the dragon's back trail

looking back at the dragon’s back trail

& the view of the dragon’s back trail looking back. 🙂

view of Tai Long Wan

view of Tai Long Wan

more walking, and Tai Long Wan unfolded just ahead! 🙂

Shek O peak 284m

Shek O peak 284m

and then we were at Shek O peak at 284m. 🙂

mid-way exit to Shek O road at To Tei Wan

mid-way exit to Shek O road at To Tei Wan

we were not planning to go to Tai Long Wan as the return journey would take 5 hrs, so we made a mid-way exit to Shek O road at To Tei Wan Village and that was just a nice 2hrs 5.7km hike. 🙂

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we had some time to kill, so we walked around the wet market at Shau Kei Wan. there were live seafood of all description – the rarer ones like conch 海螺, abalones, razor clams (we only see in restaurants in Singapore), mantis prawns, braised goose (we hardly could find in restaurants here).

as we were still in good time and having already made prior reservations, we decided to make our way back to Tsimshatsui & had a very pleasant dimsum lunch at 迎Joyous One.

we did not do the Peak Circle walk the day before because of the rain. so after lunch & a short walk around Tsimshatsui, our trip leader herded us to Central bus terminus where we took No15 to the Peak. I had taken the Peak Tram the last few times when I went to the Peak. The bus offered a very good alternative really -cheap & excellent views during the journey up. 🙂

small fall along Peak Circle route

small falls along Peak Circle route

we were surprised with this mini falls along Peak Circle Walk as usually there was no water flow but maybe the overnight rain brought enough water. 🙂

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we were planning to do a casually 1hr walk on paved roads with round-island views of Hong Kong skyline (and would have if we had stuck to Lugard Road) . however we got distracted and decided to take Harlech Road & pursue the Pak Fu Lam park & reservoir route. that became another 2hr+ hike over terrain with quite steep slopes & another 5.3km. 🙂

another excuse for big eats! 🙂

c.h.e.f andy

5pax Dinner @ Tao Heung 稻香超级渔港 Mongkok on 12May2013

steamed garoupa - this was very good everyone liked it

steamed garoupa – this was very good everyone liked it

Taohueng 稻香group operates a number of mid-range restaurants catering to different cuisine like cantonese, teochew, shanghai & hakka etc. In my previous visits, I found the individual sets at 迎Joyous One at Tsimshatsui (which was the newest & more up-market within the group) and at Chung Cuisine at Times Square quite ok and good value.

I had a very enjoyable dinner at 稻香超级渔港 at Mongkok with my sis when we visited in Jan2013. However there was always the concern about consistency in these type of restaurants – that one could not really tell the quality of the dish just by looking at the online menu. indeed we had a “not so great” dinner at 潮楼 (another Taohueng restaurant) just the night before (though the set menu had looked very impressive), and we had wanted to change to a late dinner at beef hotpot @ budaoweng 不倒翁 instead. 🙂 however KCP, who was joining us for dinner this evening, could not make the change, so we went ahead with  稻香超级渔港.

酱蹄 sliced sauce trotters

酱蹄 sliced sauce trotters

蒜泥白肉 garlic sliced pork

蒜泥白肉 garlic sliced pork

still shy of the set menu the evening before, we decided to go for ala carte instead.  the 2 cold dishes we ordered – 酱蹄 sliced sauce trotters & 蒜泥白肉 garlic sliced pork (JK thought this was very good) – were both good & not pricy, so that gave us some confidence. 🙂

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scallop seafood soup in wintermelon

the scallop seafood soup in wintermelon, which the restaurant was promoting was kind of disappointing c/w the usual very good cantonese 例汤…so it looked like we were in for some hits & misses.

thankfully we had a really wonderful steamed garoupa next. this was very good & everyone liked it. 🙂

roast goose 烧鹅

roast goose 烧鹅

romaine lettuce 油麦菜

romaine lettuce 油麦菜

the roast goose was quite good really but we just had a really good one that morning at Yat Lok 一乐@ Stanley Street which was more crispy & tasty. 🙂 JK complained that the garlic 油麦菜 romaine lettuce did not look like romaine lettuce, and it was just so-so – lacking in “wok hae”.

lobster noodle

lobster noodle

we ordered a lobster noodle. the lobster was good but the yi min noodle 伊面 was quite lacking in flavours. it used to be that Mandarin Kitchen in London was the “go-to” place for lobster noodles in London like for 30 yrs. these days any restaurant in Singapore could do a good lobster noodle. it was surprising that the noodles here should be so below par!

稻香超级渔港 at Mongkok

稻香超级渔港 at Mongkok

we had 7 dishes including steamed garoupa & lobster for 5pax for HK$930. that’s about S$30nett. price was not high for just above average food but we were really expecting better. the tricky thing about ala carte was ordering the right dishes which were good for their price. in this case we did just ok but probably still safer than going with the set. 🙂

c.h.e.f andy

Cheap & Good 大牌档 Dinner @ Keung Kee 强记鸡粥 at Tai Wai Hong Kong on 10May2013

chicken porridge-强记鸡粥

chicken porridge-强记鸡粥

<had another fun dinner at keung kee 强记鸡粥 on 28.9.2013>.

JK had been talking about this 强记鸡粥 in Shatin (which was located at Tai Wai 2 MTR stops from Shatin). 🙂

so we went there on our first night in Hong Kong on 10.5.2013.  JK ordered the popular dishes.

the chicken porridge – their 招牌鸡粥 (top photo) was the best dish for me..the chicken was so sweet juicy & tender like a very good chicken rice chicken & the porridge was so smooth & tasty. 🙂

红烧乳鸽 roast pigeon HK$58

红烧乳鸽 roast pigeon HK$58

椒盐濑尿虾 mantis shrimp HK$80

椒盐濑尿虾 mantis shrimp HK$80

the 红烧乳鸽 roast pigeon was to me just average.  we also had the 椒盐濑尿虾 mantis shrimp.  the 椒盐 deep-fry was actually very well done & tasty..however the shrimp were really “shrimp”, quite small so not fleshy & juicy..so the dish was passable just ok for me.

soy sauce beehoon 豆油米粉 HK$48

soy sauce beehoon 豆油米粉 HK$48

the simple soy sauce beehoon 豆油米粉 was really nice, & we duly polished off the pile of carbo with the porridge. 🙂

romaine lettuce 油麦菜

romaine lettuce 油麦菜

炸大肠 deep-fried big intestine HK$60

炸大肠 deep-fried big intestine HK$60

the romaine lettuce 油麦菜 in bean curd sauce was nice though JK felt it had not enough “wok hae”..I thought it was because of wet beancurd sauce whereas usual garlic fry would be “high heat dry wok” & good “wok hae”.

the only 败笔 (point of failure) in an otherwise quite wonderful dinner was, oddly, the 炸大肠 deep-fried big intestine – thought that was like the common standard food?? but looked like even the street stalls did better ones than these.

the whole dinner was HK$396 (S$64nett) for 4pax! 🙂 to me it was a really enjoyable meal & experience, and I would want to do more of these tai pai tong 大牌档 dinners when in Hong Kong. 🙂

c.h.e.f andy

Dimsum Lunch @ 迎 Joyous One on 11May2013

HK$38 BB pigeon

HK$38 BB pigeon

we completed our morning’s 5.7km 2hr hike at Dragon’s Back (Shek O Country Park) on 11.5.2013 a bit early & decided to make our way back to Tsimshatsui where we had made prior lunch reservation at 迎 Joyous One at Nathan Road. 🙂

we had wanted to take the HK$238pax 6-course set inclusive of a glass of wine, but that was not available so we settled down to a good dimsum instead, which could not go too far wrong in Hong Kong. 🙂

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we made the usual dimsum orders. the 潮州粉果. this was ok but i thought Timhowan was better. the steamed fu pei quin was quite good too.

steamed chicken feet

steamed chicken feet

steamed pork rib

steamed pork rib

the steamed chicken feet was good & much better than Timhowan (we later found the one at Lei Gardens was better than both). the steamed pork rib was also a lot better than Timhowan-the sauce was tasty but the pork rib pieces were just average but at least they were not mostly fat like at Timhowan.

mustard veg pig stomach soup

mustard veg pig stomach soup

mustard veg pig stomach soup was just HK$38! this was good we all liked it.:-)

the BB pigeon (top photo) was HK$38 & smaller than the one at 强记 which was HK$58..the skin was more crispy but overall i think 强记’s tasted better.

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the 香煎萝卜糕 was again below average.  it was really surprising that both Timhowan & here could not do this well. the steamed fishmaw was quite tasty, above average…I thought 糖朝 sweet dynasty was better. the 珍珠糯米鸡 was also below average, Timhowan’s much better though that had lots of glutinous rice & not enough ingredients.

char siew cheung 叉烧肠粉 -

char siew cheung 叉烧肠粉 –

the char siew cheung 叉烧肠粉 was good better than the liver cheung fun at Timhowan but i think many HK restaurants did this better.

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the 奶黄流沙包 custard egg bun was just average not as good as Imperial Treasure & Royal China. the 水晶包, a teochew dessert more commonly available in Hong Kong than Singapore was good, except they really should serve this & the custard bun last as a sweet but instead they served both first.

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we had 12 dimsum item + tea + 10% = HK$388 (about S$62 for 4pax). though I made many comparisons here, the lunch was really quite good overall with some pluses & minuses :-), very relax and very enjoyable, and of course it’s still much cheaper dimsum lunch c/w Singapore. 🙂

c.h.e.f andy

Enjoyable Lunch @ Lei Gardens(利苑) Mongkok on 13May2013

lobsters steamed with superior sauce (上汤局)

lobsters steamed with superior sauce (上汤局)

on the final day of our Hong Kong trip, we did not plan a restaurant to go to.

we first wanted to lunch at the seafood place Rainbow Restaurant at Lamma Island (南丫岛) after the excellent food pictures of mantis prawns, lobsters & what else in my friend’s Facebook set off our “tam chiak” (means greedy for food) cravings…alas we should have done that earlier as Rainbow was only open for dinner & we were taking the 8pm flight.

next we thought to go to Caprice @ Four Seasons, a 2 michelin star restaurant after looking at the online menu for Joel Robuchon, Pierre, Ember & Caprice set lunch. unfortunately Caprice was full for the Monday lunch.

we finally got Lei Gardens(利苑), which I always thought was among the best Hong Kong traditional chinese restaurants, especially their soup (例汤). the one nearest was at Tsai Yee Street洗衣街 ‎Mongkok outlet (as we were staying at Sam Shui Po) and that also happened to be the only 2 michelin star outlet (the other outlets were 1 michelin star). 🙂

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鲍汁凤爪 braised chicken feet in abalone sauce

CJ ordered 3 dimsum items. the first – 鲍汁凤爪 braised chicken feet in abalone sauce – was the best we had thus far c/w Timhowan添好运 & 迎.  the abalone sauce was similar to that for abalone & goose webs so it was very tasty. 🙂 I guess the preparation was different from the usual deep-fried then steamed with black beans chicken feet so may not be fair to compare.

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the soup (例汤) was good as expected,much better than Tao Heung 稻香 restaurants (which was also to be expected). however for this particular soup  it was no better than, & indeed not as good as, the many 例汤 I had at Imperial Treasure Nanbei (from green papaya to 鸡脚草). 🙂

小笼包

小笼包

the 小笼包 didn’t look that great, skin looked thick but actually it was very good, the sauce/soup was very sweet & the skin was normal thin. 🙂

2 small lobsters halved with golden mushrooms

2 small lobsters halved 上汤局 with golden mushrooms

JK was pining for lobsters so we ordered a HK$598 twin dishes combination (common in Hong Kong). the star dish was 2 small lobsters halved 上汤局 steamed in superior sauce with golden mushrooms – this was very good. 🙂

1/2 roast chicken - very crispy skin & tasty chicken

1/2 roast chicken – very crispy skin & tasty chicken

the 1/2 roast chicken had very crispy skin & was tasty so no need the usual 5-spice salt dip. in Hong Kong they called this the 龙凤 dragon phoenix pairing. 🙂

海斑 (garoupa) in claypot

海斑 (garoupa) in claypot

we had another HK$298 2-eats combination.   the 海斑 (garoupa) in claypot was also good tasting very flavourful. it was different preparation, not better than a steamed whole live garoupa but very good the way it was done. 🙂

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the other dish was a thick beehoon in seafood soup – no fish or seafood but very tasty like our good fish beehoon.

garlic heng chai

garlic heng chai

and in Hong Kong, always order vegetables. the garlic heng chai was very good & flavourful too. 🙂

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both JK & I were fan of 奶黄流沙包 custard egg bun. this was good, but I guess no better than Royal China or Imperial Treasure in Singapore.

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we had 3 dimsums & 6 dishes for HK$1320 for 4pax (about S$55nett per person). it was a premium to Tao Heung but for a great deal more satisfaction & “shiokness”.

c.h.e.f andy

Great Value Dimsum @ 1 Michelin Star Timhowan Fuk Wing Street Hong Kong on 10May2013

脆皮叉烧包 crispy char siew bun

脆皮叉烧包 crispy char siew bun

1 michelin star Timhowan 添好运 recently started a Singapore branch at Plaza Singapura queue reputed to be 1.5hrs long. I am not one to queue for dimsum. fortunately there was no queue when we arrived at the Fook Weng shop @福荣街 in Hong Kong just before 12pm on 10.5.2013. 🙂  there was some 5-6pax waiting though when we left the restaurant.

1 of my good friends, who was the chief instigator for this HK Eat & Hike (or maybe Eat & Eat) trip, was much fixated with Timhowan, so it was wise that the first thing we did was to satisfy her cravings. 🙂

Timhowan 四大天王 - crispy char siew pao, pig liver siew mai, waxed meat pan-fried carrot cake, & a mala cake

Timhowan 四大天王 – crispy char siew pao, pig liver siew mai, waxed meat pan-fried carrot cake, & a mala cake

Timhowan has 4 famous dishes 四大天王 – crispy char siew pao 脆皮叉烧包, pig liver siew mai, waxed meat pan-fried carrot cake腊味香煎萝卜糕, & a mala cake马拉糕, as in their paper placemats above. 🙂

I liked the 脆皮叉烧包 crispy char siew bun best! – fillings were that of a great charsiew pao & the crispy skin was unique. I also liked the pig liver siew mai (unfortunately I did not take a picture). It was good, but I guess somewhat less unique as many dimsum places like Star of Canton had abalone siew mai & the 1 michelin star Bo Innovation (& I am sure many others) had foie gras or caviar siew mai. 🙂

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pan-fried carrot cake 腊味香煎萝卜糕

I was much less enthusiastic with the pan-fried carrot cake 腊味香煎萝卜糕. It was really quite average, too average. we have very good ones in Singapore like Imperial Treasure & Crystal Jade etc.

mala cake 马拉糕 (left)

mala cake 马拉糕 (left)

mala cake 马拉糕 was an enigma to me???…my very enthused friend obviously liked this,  said it had very nice flavour (I wonder why haha?) 🙂 the steamed chicken feet – again this was ordinary & below par c/w many Singapore & HK dimsum place

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the steamed fu pei quin -苻皮倦 was good, quite ok. 🙂 the steamed pork ribs were much below par, more fat than meat.

糯米鸡

糯米鸡

the 糯米鸡 was good & flavourful though the small amount of filling were overwhelmed by the very large helping of glutinous rice. still taste-wise it was better than the 珍珠糯米鸡 we had at 迎 later.

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the 潮州粉果 was very good, both skin & fillings, again much better than we had at 迎 later. the har gao was good but usual I guess

桂花糕 osmanthus jelly

桂花糕 osmanthus jelly

the 桂花糕 osmanthus jelly was very good, very fragrant. 🙂

1 michelin star 添好运 Timhowan at 福荣街 in Hong Kong

1 michelin star 添好运 Timhowan at 福荣街 in Hong Kong

we had 12 dimsum items & total bill included tea & service=HK$208 nett (like S$33 for 4pax). well I guess that’s why we came to Hong Kong to eat! 🙂

c.h.e.f andy