Working in the travel industry, I have an opportunity and obligation to see the world. Though most of my travels last only a day or two at a time, I manage to swig an espresso (or three) and get on with the party. Follow me as I shamelessly devour the foods of the land, (over)indulge in the local beer and wine, and discover new cities with old friends.
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Authentic. Traditional. Locals only. The only round-eye in the building was me!
into this bustling family-style restaurant and things get interesting right off
the bat. We are joined by relatives who are Hong Kong natives, and they begin
to bathe our chopsticks, cups, bowls, and spoons in boiling water and tea. I
learn quickly that this is common practice in mid-range restaurants to
sterilize utensils, just in case. At
first sight, I think the wait staff might find this insulting, but I have come
to realize it really is a normal thing to do, and maybe I shouldn’t think too
hard about why.
fast forward. A few Tsing Tao’s down and the chickpea and chestnut stuffed duck
arrives with Chinese vegetable. That is by far the most amazing dish of the
night. The duck literally falls apart in shreds, no knife needed!
dishes included squid and celery, spare ribs, fish stomach soup, fish and
eggplant, chicken, and jellyfish. None of it was bad. The fish stomach soup was
a new one for me but the broth was tasty with chunks of shrimp and tofu.
main event for me in Hong Kong was the Tian Tan Buddha on Lantau Island. After
a 20 minute subway ride from Hong Kong Station to Lantau, we lined up for the
cable car ride up to see the Tian Tan Buddha. I was silly to think it would be
a quick ride up. After a half hour of dangling over water, bridges, and steep
mountains, we got there. We climbed through thick masses of fog at a glacial
pace before making it up. At first, no Buddha was to be found thanks to the fog.
But it cleared up partially to allow us some eerie photos of the massive
statue. The closer I got to the Buddha, the more clearly I could make out the
silhouette and features. It was the world’s tallest outdoor bronze seated
Buddha (until 2007) so it was an impressive photo-op I found myself in front
of. Walking up the 240 steps to get a closer look of the Buddha would have been
a lot easier if I didn’t stop working out for the past few months prior to this
trip. I’ll go back I swear. Soon.
exploring the Buddha up close, I strolled around the Po Lin Monastery. I
witnessed the largest incense in the world (my own assumption) burning a
fragrant scent into the air. To end the tour, I spent $1 on a coconut peanut
bun, and a vegetarian BBQ bun. It was a sweet ending to my trip to the Buddha.
was all so spiritual until exiting the area through a strip of gift shops with
a Cold Stone and a Subway. Because nothing says “sacred” like a nice 6-inch
first glimpse of the “Western” area of Hong Kong was not at all like what I
remember Hong Kong being. It's more residential and less polished than the
"Central" business district which has clean sidewalk platforms and skyscrapers blasting with
We came across a small open-air restaurant serving pork buns out front. The sign was neon lit and flashing like a scummy NYC adult video
store. We decided this would be our first meal of the trip. Thanks to pictures
of food on the wall and Cantonese-speaking travel companions, we were able to
order a few plates without a problem. I can’t tell if they are arguing or
exchanging pleasantries at first.
The food comes and I know it’s not going
to be a disappointment. Steamed pork buns, fried dumplings, vegetable with
oyster sauce, and dumpling soup. The soup had noodles, clear broth, and cooked
lettuce. Cooked lettuce was unusual to me, but tasty. The broth was very bland,
so there are several vinegars and sauces at the table for flavoring.
in soupy, fried, and saucy things, I needed some serious clean up. Especially
with my chopstick skills (or lack thereof). Thankfully, there’s a roll of toilet paper on the
table for us! All is well again!
spending the week prior to my Chicago trip researching the best brunch spots, I
stumbled upon The Publican. The online menu jumped out to me when I saw red
wine poached eggs, pork schnitzel, and bibimbap as some of the entrée
options. The interior was simple, with a pig theme. Therefore, it was surely my
calling. High ceilings, pig portraits on the walls, wooden communal tables, and
pig-pen booths closed in with sliding doors. Making a pig-theme look elegant is
not easy I’m sure, but The Publican made us feel like a couple of classy swine
on this brunch date!
start, we had a Bloody Mary garnished with a pickle, radish, and a lemon wedge. It came with a
beer accompaniment. We chose a beer called Zombie Dust. It was a great start to
shared the pumpkin bread with ricotta cheese, honey, apples and hazelnuts to
start. For our entrees, we had the sirloin steak with sweet potatoes, red
onions, mustard greens, and cider crème fraiche. Also, pork belly bibimbap. It
was our favorite meal of the whole weekend in Chicago.