September 25, 2023 | 12:00am
A few weeks ago, five of my girlfriends and I went to Hong Kong for a weekend of food tripping. The last time I was in Hong Kong was February 2020, mere days before the start of the global COVID pandemic lockdown.
In the three years since my last HK visit, I noticed so many changes. For one, everything is now so darn expensive, with the exchange rate being roughly one HK dollar to seven Philippine pesos. Also, I was expecting August to be sale month, then learned that most of the stores now go on sale in July! Not that I had plans to go shopping, but if there were good buys, why resist if the price is right?
The main reason for the trip was a mutual craving for Peking duck and roast goose, so we already decided on the restaurants we wanted to visit beforehand. We arrived in Hong Kong on a Friday afternoon at around 4 p.m.
We opted to have an early dinner and chose Duck Victoria (located in Gateway arcade) for our first HK meal. Since the restaurant opens at 6 p.m. for dinner, we were at the restaurant by 5:45 p.m., and already there was a line of early patrons. After we were seated, we ordered the famous Peking duck served with the finest and the lightest pancakes. To go with this, we also had crispy crab claws, deep-fried silver cod, greenhouse pea sprouts with tea tree mushroom in broth, deep-fried prawns with sweet and chili sauce, and yang chow fried rice.
It was at this restaurant where I noticed a robot server that mechanically delivers food to the tables. After the pandemic, I guess Hong Kong adopted the “no contact” policy wherever possible. Ordering food here is done via QR code download. Though I personally found this to be a hassle, my companions were adept at it and have learned to embrace this aspect of the new normal.
After dinner, we decided to stop by City Super to buy some drinks and snacks for our room and to digest all the food we ate. I love this store because it is delightful to see all the specialty foods and taste all the free samples they give out.
The following day, I just had a cup of coffee in my hotel room for breakfast since I wanted to save my appetite for our dimsum lunch at Crystal Jade, which is located in the Star house building. We had siomai, hakaw, steamed chicken feet with black bean sauce, deep-fried prawn dumpling, one-half roast goose, crispy pork belly, seasonal vegetable with assorted egg in superior broth, and yang zhou fried rice. For dessert, it was black mochi ball. Everything from dimsum to dessert was absolutely delicious and satisfying!
Having overeaten (which is an understatement), we decided to walk around Ocean Terminal and window shop. Since we were a party of six girls, we naturally gravitated towards the makeup section and found ourselves buying Charlotte Tilbury and RMK makeup before heading back to our rooms to rest a bit before dinner.
Around 6:30 p.m., we explored the Canton Road area until we reached Nathan Road. It was still quite humid early in the evening, but all the lit-up neon signs were quite a sight to behold. I also enjoyed the window displays of high-end fashion houses like Prada, D&G, Louie Vuitton, Gucci, etc. I noticed, though, the absence of long lines of customers waiting to get inside these fashion houses, unlike before the pandemic when tourists from mainland China would form long queues and wait to get in.
After two Cantonese meals, we wanted continental food for a change. And so, by 8 p.m., we were seated in Cheesecake Factory for their world-famous cheesecakes for dessert. For starters, we had nachos, avocado eggrolls, calamares, quesadilla and Caesar salad. Because the servings are humongous, I was stuffed even before our main course (pasta pomodoro and rib-eye steak) arrived. And surprise, surprise, following the steak and pasta, none of us had room in our tummies for the cheesecake!
After dinner, we walked a bit. But since it was nearly 10 p.m., the mall was about to close. We went to our rooms and my friends burned off the calories they took on by working out while watching videos on the laptop. I could only watch them in amusement because I don’t have the patience to work out. After 40 minutes of their cardio exercises, we called it a night.
On our last day, which was a Sunday, we attended the English mass in Rosary church at 8:45 a.m. Afterwards, we went back to our hotel to check out then went across the street to have lunch at Din Tai Fung in Silvercord building. Following a nice, leisurely lunch, we went back to the hotel to collect our luggage, after which our airport pick-up came promptly at 2 p.m.
Because it took under an hour for check-in, baggage inspection, and to clear immigration, there was plenty of time to kill for a “last meal” in HK. Four of us opted to have roast goose with rice while the two others wanted to try the burgers at Gordon Ramsay. Yes, he now has a food stall located in the departure area of the airport food court. To cap our meal, we bought two slices of the mille crepe cake at Lady M Café, which is 20-plus layers of paper-thin handmade crepes layered with a pastry crème that’s light, delicate and divine!
When we were done eating, we headed to our gate for boarding. To our surprise, even though our gate was number 21, it was located in the new wing and took us around 10 minutes to get there. The next time you travel to Hong Kong, allot at least 10-15 minutes to reach the gate, and even more time if you’re traveling with a person in a wheelchair.
All in all, this was a fun, filling, and fulfilling weekend of sightseeing, food tripping and shopping. Thank you for the recharging respite, Hong Kong!