Sunday, January 8, 2017

Gastronomic trip to Causeway Bay

Happy New Year! 2017 started on an anomaly for us. While everyone else was preparing for the start of the school/work year, we went on a holiday!

It kinda wasn't planned. We were just so busy last year that we didn't managed to plan for a break. By the time we got down to it, most air tickets out of Singapore in December 2016 were ridiculously overpriced. That's when we realised that we had the unusual opportunity of travelling in January, since Lesley-Anne's university break extends to the first week of January, and Andre is still waiting for his 'O' level results.

So we decided that the easiest thing to do was just go to a place to eat and sleep and recharge, and the no-brainer was back to HK. Travelling off-peak is so much better value and hopefully, fewer crowds!

We're creatures of habit and tend to stick to our favourite food places in Hong Kong. What was new this trip was our venture out to Causeway Bay. Our hotel was in Central, so we decided to take the tram (or affectionately known as "ding ding" to the locals).

I loved the experience. Unlike with the MTR, taking the tram lets you see the heart of the city since the tram pathway is right in the middle of the road.

Sitting on the upper deck, with the cool breeze on our faces, it's really a throwback to more traditional forms of transport. Dirt cheap too! Just HK$2.30 (about S$0.45) per adult, regardless how far you go.

We went to Causeway Bay with a specific food mission, mostly to try this much-raved about ramen place - Ichiran. Ichiran is an award-winning ramen restaurant from Japan, where the noodles and tonkatsu soup are supposedly so exquisite that diners eat in individual booths so they can fully concentrate on and appreciate their meal.

At the Causeway Bay outlet, we were seated in individual booths as such:

Each booth has an order chit and an individual tap serving drinking water. You tick your order on a chit. We love that you can customise your order, from the richness and spiciness of the soup to how soft you want your noodles done and how much garlic you want in your soup. You can also add extras. Take it from me, adding the egg is a MUST.

When you're done, you place the chit at the end of your table and ring a bell. A server (whose face you never see) will take your chit and a while later, return with your very own customised bowl of ramen. He/she will then lower the blinds so you can enjoy your ramen in peace.

A friend of mine highly recommended Ichiran so we were already expecting a lot. Even then, we were WOWED. This was honestly the best ramen I've ever had. The broth was tasty beyond belief, I could slurp a gallon of it. The noodles were done just right and the egg was chilled with a natural sweetness. Andre cleaned out his bowl (and saw a bonus message). Cost of one bowl of ramen + egg is HK$103 (about S$20).

That wasn't the end of our food trip. There were a few dessert shops around Causeway Bay that we wanted to try, so we decided to buy a bit of everything. Bake Cheese Tart (basement of Sogo), the original cheese tarts from Hokkaido...

Steamed milk pudding from Yee Shun Dairy Company (Lockhart Road)...

And cream puffs from Choux Creme (Causeway Bay MTR station).

We lugged our haul back to the hotel where we pigged out had a dessert party.  

Here's my verdict: I didn't like the milk puddings, sorry Hong Kongers! The plain milk one had such a strong powdered milk taste it made me queasy. The chocolate one was better but still, I'll rather have tao huay any time. I guess it's something of an acquired taste.

The cream puffs (both cream and chocolate) were deliciously light and fluffy, but we've had them before so it wasn't a surprise. The eye-opener was the cheese tarts. I know they're all the rage in Singapore but I never bought into the trend, having tasted one from a local chain and was underwhelmed. These bake cheese tarts are exceptional. The cheese custard is so flavourful and oozy, it's addictive. Andre says it best when he described the tarts as "savoury cheesecakes".

That marked a sweet end to our Causeway Bay trip. More Hong Kong food posts coming up!

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