Lee Tung Street 利東街 is finally open

For at least two years developer Hopewell Holdings had Lee Tung Street aka Wedding Card Street sealed off for redevelopment. Most newcomers to Wan Chai would never know what that street used to look like nor which way it ran. 

  
There used to be a road sign indicating the name Lee Tung Street on the corner but that’s long gone now. It is unclear whether Hopewell intends to retain the name or call it simply the Avenue 囍匯 which is the name of the development.   

 Yesterday, the last Sunday of November, the street was finally reopened to public access. Filled with bougainvillea and poinsietta planters, it was a cool quiet relaxing atmosphere filled with people taking photos and having a look around. The shops aren’t open yet but a few had coming soon displayed on the hoardings. 

It’s nice that there is a pedestrian friendly street now in Wan Chai, it would be great if the recently elected district councilwoman would consider pedestrianising the whole of Johnston road on Sunday mornings for residents to enjoy some fume free time.

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reminds me of Monaco

Post note: I’ve figured out why the developer has spent money making the street look and smell great… It’s condo key collection time! 

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Roses and wildflowers

Now an army of estate agents line the entrance facing Queens Road East, some along the street itself and a few facing Johnston Road. You can barely take a photo without editing out an agent.

Well, it would be nice if the flowers stay even when the agents are gone. Instead of ordering wedding cards here, couples may now use this as wedding photo album street.

Here’s a collage to reiterate that Hopewell should contribute to a great playground at Southorn to have aspiring families move into their development. Clearly the theme is children at play (with pets!!), so I’m looking forward to more family friendly amenities in the area.

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statues of children at play

 
  

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Panash Bakery on Hennessey Road

Hennessey road is generally not a nice road to walk on. It’s busy with people hurrying and weaving in and out. Bus fumes are the eau de jour, and there are heaps of buses that literally line up one after the other in a traffic jam.. They almost form a train. The incessant honking of cars and revving of minibus engines ricochet off the buildings forming an asynchronous symphony which could leave you with a headache and feeling rather out of breath.

 My suggestion is that you always try to walk on streets parallel to Hennessey but intersect it when you have to. 

This brings me to my favourite Hennessey traffic intersection. 

Depending on where you’re trying to get to, the intersection that leads from Johnston/ Heard Street over Hennessey to Lockhart and Jaffe is a very popular one. It’s a big junction and the roads are at least three lanes wide in each direction. What I love about this crossing is the timing of the lights. If you wait until all lights are green for pedestrians, you get to do the diagonal crossing and avoid getting stuck in the traffic island in between the directional lanes (1). You won’t have to wait for the other languages get to turn to cross at (2). You’ll see a few locals doing the diagnose all, feel free to follow their lead. 

If you’ve managed to cross over Hennessey  (1), and happen to need a snack, it’s not all that bad. Pop into Panash Bakery to pick up a loaf of bread or pastry. The raisin loaves (HKD 16 each) are light, fluffy and full of raisins. It’s one of my favourites. 

They have a board with baking times for the breads, occasionally you may get there to find that the croissants aren’t out of the oven yet. All the more excuse to try a different type of pastry.

  
Other pastries are equally popular, they have one called “salty bread” which is a special and the profiteroles which come in chocolate or cheese (HKD 3.50 each) are delight in a bite.

  
If you’re with a pram, you’ll need to park it outside as the space is barely enough to fit a person with a tray. The wonderful thing is, you can just stand at the door and yell for a staff member to get you what you want. Then flash your octopus card and be on your way again.

  
Ah yes. They don’t have seating, it’s not a cafe. It’s all for takeaway.

  

Functional Map of Tai Wong Street East 

There are all sorts of maps out there, (Google maps being the best hands down for directions) but what I love the most are functional maps. 

 

Google maps, great directions
 
Functional maps tell you not only where a particular shop is relative to everything else, but what they sell or their specialty. The best maps of this kind were produced by the late Nancy Chandler, whose maps I greatly admire for its detail, imaginative illustration and clarity. It gave me a feel of whether I wanted to visit a particular section of a wet market and a way to plan my route and purchases in advance. 

Nancy must have spent hours painstakingly documenting, sizing, drawing. A single mistake puts you back on the drawing board, literally. 

I am no illustrator and my scientific drawing days are well over but I’ve decided to draw a few of these maps for fun, as a guide for friends new to Hong Kong.

And a tribute to Nancy Chandler, for the inspiration.

Here’s my very first functional map of Tai Wong Street East in Old Wan Chai. 

  

Map of Tai Wong East Street, Wan Chai
 
I realise the font is quite small. The map is high-ish resolution so you can expand it or print it out. 

The thing about these types of maps is that there’s always more to say, so check back for updates.

Tai Tai Pie Pie leaving Wan Chai

This sign just went up. It says that TTPP is leaving their little stall location due to an increase in rent. 

 

Tai Tai Pie Pie closing Nov 30th 2015
 
It’s really too bad. The Avenue is about to open and all the landlords are taking this opportunity to hike rates. I hope that Wan Chai doesn’t lose its little businesses and replaced with boring chain stores. 

 

Farewell little pie shop on QRE
 
I never saw many customers for the pies, which is probably also another reason they couldn’t keep the location. So the closest pies are now found at Great in Admiralty (TTPP retails in the supermarket).

Until the next TTPP announcement..

Quick no MSG Noodle Lunch on Landale Street

Landale street has been having a makeover lately. Gone are many of the little local grimier places, replaced with several spanking new eating joints.

One of them has a particularly fancy name that has a millennial marketing feel to it. Foxtail and Broomcorn declare their philosophy of using no MSG and using slow cooking techniques.

  
I invited a friend to try the noodles there with me today for an early quick lunch before small person had to be shuttled to school.

  

  

What a great day for a bowl of hot noodle soup”, remarked my friend as we settled in our seats. The temperature has dropped around 5 degrees overnight to the relief of all Hong Kongers. Winter, is finally here.

We went at 11.30am and the crowd followed at noon. While no one else was occupying the high tables, the staff permitted my pram in the restaurant. However once the tables filled up, my pram was relegated outside just beyond the glass sliding door. We were sitting right by the door so I didn’t mind.

  
Lunch sets were very reasonable at less than HKD 80 per head. The noodles were a decent portion, the soup was tasty but I wish that these noodle shops would add a tad more green vegetables to their serving. I find this lacking at every noodle shop except at 一碗面. Vegetables are relatively inexpensive but possibly more work to process and clean. Perhaps most diners prefer having more protein. (Hmm an idea would be for them to provide an option for one to order meat and vegetables in broth with less or no noodles.)

  
I had the Amoy fish bee hoon noodles, my friend had the chicken coconut soup bee hoon noodles.

The set comes with a choice of drink and we were recommended the house fruit tea. It was served warm, which was as requested, but a tad in the sweet side. Ice would have solved this by dilution I suppose.

Overall it is was okay, nice presentation for menus and ambience but it would be better if the dishes looked as hearty as the photos in the menu. Perhaps we’ll try the starters next time and see how those work out.

Note for families

  1. No high chairs available
  2. No children utensils or plates but everything is plastic.
  3. Soup spoons (they claim this was the only spoon they have) are too large for comfortable toddler eating
  4. Get the bench seating if going with kids.
  5. Try to sit near the door if you have a pram.
  6. Peak hours 12-2pm, queues build up very quickly during this time.

  

Indoor playground for Toddlers

If there’s one thing worse than being in an outdoor playground when it’s hot, it’s being there when it’s full of people so there’s nowhere to sit, AND full of mosquitoes that leave horrible welts on your calves for weeks (horrible Hong Kong Park).

It was in the height of summer last year that I discovered Spring. How did I hear about it? A minibus went by with an ad for it and I googled the address and went to check it out.

What a fantastic find. A large open indoor play space with natural light in Wan Chai only exists here. Unfortunately Baumhaus, despite a better location (recently opened on Queens Road East) cannot compare. Combine that with great interior design and warm friendly staff who know when to leave you alone.

Toddler exercise zone
Constantly changing toddler exercise zone


Small person has spent an immeasurable amount of time there ever since. She took to it right away, the toddler exercise area changes every week, providing new challenges. The indoor swings were a huge hit with her, I’m always moving furniture out of the way for maximum amplitude.

Spring 3
natural light, thoughtful furniture design

The padded stairs, tree house and slide are superb areas for toddlers to work out their little leg muscles. And it’s all cleverly designed so that a small adult can also fit in it if necessary. The glass windows provide a direct visual of the kids and serves to reduce the racket their making.. Very well thought out.

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Park your kid, your pram and yourself

I love that I can sit for a while and perhaps speed read a magazine, have a drink and luxuriate for a few minutes in a nice loo.

Aside from cooking and mandarin classes, small person spends her time with kitchen play sets, train tracks, Lego and other dexterity building toys in the toy zone. Depending on where you sit, as it is an open concept space, it’s possible to keep an eye or ear on your toddler wherever they are.

Spring 4
Barefoot babies, bring your socks mummies

The play space you’ll get to use for free if you sign up for at least one of their myriad of classes (cooking, language, art, sports, dance….). Though I’m sure that if you’re in the neighbourhood and just need to set your child down for a while, the staff will let you in. 
Spring is on the 3rd floor of a commercial building. There’s lots of parking for cars nearby. You can get the tram to Tonnochy if it’s too far from the MTR (but remember,
no prams on the trams) If you’re coming on foot like me, there are two entrances to the building, via Gloucester Road ( big orange highway) or Jaffe Road. Jaffe road is also known as Food Street in Wan Chai, many delicious restaurants along here, most are mommy-pram friendly if you get there by 11am, before the lunch crowd starts. Otherwise, wait til 2pm and you’ll get your seat and less stressed wait staff.