Friday, December 18, 2015

Peking duck in Tsim Sha Tsui

Day 1 (Sun, 13 December 2015)

This year, we'd let Lesley-Anne decide what she wanted to do for our family holiday, as it would be her reward after a long, grueling year ('A' levels and everything). She said she wanted a leisurely holiday where there was nothing to do except eat and sleep.

It was quite a no-brainer then - Hong Kong it was! The plan was basically no plan - chill out at the accommodation and go out for food any time we wanted.

We knew the holiday was off to a great start when we turned up at the Cathay Pacific check-in counter and were told: the flight was very full, would we mind going on the flight an hour later? In return, they would fly us Business Class and they would also throw in four meal coupons for breakfast at Changi Airport. Heck, yes!

It was a very comfortable flight and for the first time, we undersood why some people might enjoy flying. Huge seats that recline and so much leg room that you don't feel claustrophobic. The four hours just flew by!

From Hong Kong International Airport, we took a cab to our accommodation in Tsim Sha Tsui. Just a note: if you are a family of four, it makes sense to take a cab to Kowloon rather than the Airport Express. It costs about the same, especially if you intend to take a cab from the Airport Express station to your hotel anyway.

More about our accommodation later but first, the food! Since this holiday was 80% about the food, it's going to be the predominant theme of the blog posts. We wanted to have Peking duck for dinner and reckoned this was one of those iconic dishes where everyone has an opinion as to where the best one is. We decided to try Tai Fung Lau, one of the old-school restaurants with a long-standing tradition of Peking duck. One of the reasons we chose this place is because it's near our accommodation (though it turned out not to be that near cos we got lost and ended up walking in a large circle!)

When we finally arrived at about 6pm, we were told the restaurant was fully booked. Wah! Fortunately, they agreed to seat us in a corner if we could finish our dinner by 7.30pm. No problem, we're survival eaters.

Old-school is the right phrase to describe the restaurant. The furniture is old, the waiters are old and even the patrons are old! It's like a throw-back to the 1970s banquet halls in Singapore. We ordered sweet and sour pork, a stir-fried veg and a whole Peking duck.

The food was delicious. In Hong Kong, Peking duck is wrapped with the meat as well. For this trip, be prepared to see lots of pics of Andre the Gourmand. Lesley-Anne, the photographer, said his joy of eating lights up the camera. A food muse of sorts. I think Andre polished off half the duck on his own!

Last year, when Lesley-Anne and I came to Hong Kong for the Hong Kong International Young Readers Festival, we were severely handicapped by our lack of Cantonese. This time, we had Cantonese-speaking Kenneth with us, which was great. He struck up a conversation with a waiter and must have charmed him somehow because a complimentary serving of dessert appeared on our table.

Remember this? It used to be commonplace in Cantonese restaurants in Singapore - deep-fried egg white with a red bean filling. Excellent!

Back to the accommodation. Hong Kong hotel rooms tend to be small and rooms that sleep four are rare (or very expensive, in the higher end hotels). So instead of booking two hotel rooms, we decided to go with an apartment on airbnb. This one I found is located at the heart of Tsim Sha Tsui, five minutes walk from the MTR station, sleeps four and costs about S$200 a night. It's small like most HK apartments but it's super convenient, very clean and has everything.

A kitchen with washing machine, microwave, kettle, cutlery, etc.

The kitchenette links to a sitting area with a large screen tv. The sofa can be used as an extra bed. More importantly, there's free and fast wifi in the apartment.

Modern bathroom with a very good heater.

Master bedroom with a double bed. Do note though that because the room is so small, the bed takes up almost the entire space so the person sleeping inside would have to climb over the other to reach the door!

A second bedroom with a large single for Andre.

And in a little nook off the living room is another single bed that was perfect for Lesley-Anne. Night light included!

All bedrooms are air-conditioned. The mattresses are firm and comfortable, so are the pillows. The not-so-good parts include the towels which are small and made of some sort of flannel that doesn't dry very well. There's traffic noise as the apartment is right by Granville Road but we slept well so that didn't really bother us. You also have to climb up a narrow flight of stairs to the lift lobby of the building, so it's not ideal if you have elderly with you.

But other than that, the apartment is luxurious by Hong Kong standards and definitely of a better quality than any hotel we could have booked at that price.


Anonymous said...

Hi Monica,

Chanced upon your blog while researching for our family trip to HK in June. Love your food trail write-ups, can't wait to try out the eateries you mentioned! After your good experience thru airbnb, am tempted to try out the same too. Though rather overwhelmed by the number of apartments available, apprehensive that would stumble onto a "bad" one. The one that you stayed in sounds great...location & price are good too, other than the towels :-) Would you be able to share the link to the apartment? Many thanks!



monlim said...

Em: This is the apartment:

I should probably warn you though, that the pictures on the airbnb site were taken when the apartment was new. When I went, some of the furniture was a little worn. But still a good choice if you're not too fussy! The location can't be beat.

Anonymous said...

Thanks v much Monica for sharing the link. Though the dates we wanted were not available, managed to rent from same host at another aptm of his around the same area:) Yes, he has several other aptms!! Thanks again!