This Thai casual style eatery is NOT kid friendly. Do not bring your toddlers or babies, there are no high chairs (bar chairs), no kiddy utensils and no kids menu. So you gotta go alone or on a date!
Note: it’s open Mon-Sat lunch 12 noon to about 2.30pm then dinner 6-10pm. Shut on Sundays.
We have done takeaway from Samsen several times, all delightful eating even out of cardboard boxes. The only dishes Samsen doesn’t allow takeout for are their noodle soups or “boat noodles”.
One day last week, I found myself liberated and alone for lunch. I gleefully took myself to Samsen at 12 noon and promptly got seated at the bar counter. Perfect.
There are hooks thoughtfully placed beneath the counter to hang your bag (love restaurants that do this) and I had a great view of the working kitchen which always helps to manage time and expectations.
It was a boiling hot day. The Thai iced tea was perfectly shaved and sweetened with just the right kick of lime acidity. It was a pleasure I sought to extend by drinking it very slowly.
My Wagyu beef boat noodles arrived. Oooh first….inhale the aromas. Then follow up with a taste of the soup. Be careful not to slurp it all down. The Wagyu beef was super tender and the beef balls chewy. The noodles were done just right, smooth texture with a good touch of elasticity.
The bowl looked small but by the time I got to the end of the broth I felt strangely satiated.
No dessert for me today but definitely next time.
Samsen requires no introduction given its high profile chef and nightly queues for dinner. It’s a thumbs up from me, a welcome addition to the Wanchai dining scene.
Last Thursday and Friday, there were staff (or volunteers) from Save the Children in their red t-shirts handing out brochures for the Peppa Pig Family Carnival in Lee Tung Avenue.
Now, if you’re a mother of any children between the ages of 2-8 years, you will know that this is absolutely irresistible to your kids. They will whine and demand to go, simultaneously declaring their love for the Peppa Pig characters.
The staff were friendly, the colours of the panels vivid and the booths were well spaced out. However, the content lacked substance and there was nothing to take home unless you were coerced into making a purchase of useless and un-environmentally friendly Peppa Pig paraphernalia in the name of charity.
What did the booths have?
There was a Virtual reality booth which had the clunky goggles ($80 per go) you put on to look around. It was empty on the Friday and I didn’t think the goggles were too comfortable. There were only two goggles on display.
Then there is the string art zone, where the lady in charge explained that kids get some string and get to tie it around the metal protrusions to weave family bonds. Hmm. A bit abstract for kids, I struggled with the thought of it myself in a small dark booth.
Then there’s the kite drawing zone. Here for a $20 donation, kids get a small paper kite (not a real kite) each and sit down for a few minutes to decorate and then the kite gets hung on a big kite board with metal pins.
So all that individual effort goes up onto a collective board and it’s an instagrammable moment for the organisers but what does the kid get as a memory?
“Mama they took my kite away. I got nothing.”
Perhaps the organisers would like to reconsider their activities and strategies to have something for the kids to take home. The string bonding thing is also quite worthless even though the concept probably sounded interesting on paper.
The most striking and entertaining activity on display was the pipe telephone. So simple, free and fun. They could’ve made it more like a 3-D maze but it’s a good effort.
There are different coloured pipes linking one side of the board to the other, at different heights to for adult/child play.
Well, there was a stage and some music and dancing going on, on Saturday but baby was asleep in the sling and I gave it a pass.
What made #1 happy was the opportunity for a photo with Peppa’s family.
Here’s how the overhead kite display looked during Typhoon 3, I wish the wind had been strong enough to make them take flight.
At the Comics Home Base 動漫基地 on Mallory Street, Urban Canvas has put up a booth along side an exhibition of artworks by children and teenagers from different school districts. The resulting art is very interesting and provides an insight into what local kids are into and how they view their city.
The opening installation is a large wall of graffiti with a quote from world famous graffiti artist Banksy.
“Graffiti is an honest way to express yourself as an artist. It doesn’t cost much to create, you don’t need special knowledge to appreciate and you don’t have to pay to see it!”
There’s one gallery space dedicated to Cantonese opera rod puppets. I’ve personally always found these to be somewhat freakish to look at but suppose they are essential to storytelling. Move over Jim Henson.
In another gallery, students used cardboard to shape life sized portraits using a lettering technique. I thought it showed the textures and reliefs beautifully. So simple yet it required careful measurements and cutting skills to get the shapes right. A great statement of versatility in an everyday packing material.
The next gallery featured clay work. Students were given head models on which to depict a theme or storyline. None of these had titles so I’m making up my own.
There are many more of these busts, some more twisted than these. I highly recommend you check them out.
The final student artwork is of lampshades. Each red lampshade (typically used in the markets), has a painted interior reflecting some aspect of Hong Kong. I really liked this one showcasing the typical constituents of a meal at a cha chaan teng (茶餐厅，local coffee shop).
If you’re planning to be in Wanchai and would like to check it out, here are the exhibits and opening hours.
The Urban Canvas exhibit is a small panelled display with photos of the collaborators. There’s a short clip with the artists talking and explaining their conceptualisation of the project. There’s also a booth up with two staff to promote their app. I had already downloaded it earlier in the week but they can guide you if you need some help with that. If you show them that you’ve got the app, you get a free roll of tape. There are three to choose from, each with a unique design of an old Hong Kong profession or image. If you “like” their FB page, you get a set of 4 postcards to decorate your own stall shutters. Very thoughtful and creative.
The Urban Canvas project promoted collaboration between the city’s young artists with old shops plying their trade around Wan Chai or Central. The artist gets to decorate the shutters of the shop with a graffiti style spray. The image reflects the shop’s trade, at least stylistically. It’s fun and it helps shop’s stand out when they are shut. Of course this means that you’ll need to go after office hours if you want to see it for yourself. After hours could be the best time of day to be on the streets anyway.
A new signboard went up outside Hopewell Center advertising the events for World Music Day.
If you’re free on Saturday the 17th of June, you might want to catch Barcella performing Puzzle -a French singer- live on stage at 3.30pm for free. He’s subsequently performing at 8pm at 1563 for a cover charge of HKD 280.
You can have a look at some of his colourful and dramatic, satirical videos online but this video Ma Douce featuring a sexy stripper is particularly entertaining.
If you don’t understand French (I don’t), the lyrics would be completely lost on you. It’s part of Le French May so a French artist is not at all surprising. Here are the lyrics to the song Puzzle translated into English (courtesy of google translate). Maybe the lyrics might still be lost on you 🙂
If you live in Wan Chai and looking for a flea market today, you’ll find it at the Blue House（藍屋）. It’s a lively scene. A small courtyard with music and packed with lots of traders each occupying a mat no larger than a meter square. I’m not sure who is buying… perhaps it may have been busier earlier in the day. It shuts at 6pm and with only an hour to go, I can still see lots of items on display.
My point is this. It’s poorly publicised. I wouldn’t have known about it except that I happened to walk right by it on Queens road east. Not a brochure, poster or banner anywhere in the neighbourhood until today. Why?
I’m keen to find out if the traders thought it was a worthwhile economic activity… perhaps just to get their branding and name featured on the launch of the Blue House.
I headed back there at 6pm to catch everyone tidying up. I wasn’t terribly impressed with what was for sale, it looked like bric-a-brac and some handicraft, a couple of purse stalls that looked like they were bought from Sham Shui Po (no offence meant, it’s just that they didn’t look special).
A lady was singing “moon represents my heart” by Teresa Teng accompanied by a guitarist. It was a bit karaoke and folksy.
There was a sign indicating where the snack booths were so I went in for a look. It was disappointing. The two booths had packed up and the room was small and cramped. Can’t have been much fun being stuffed into a corner.
On the bright side, there was a lady there who was selling twisty balloons. She was giving a few away free to the kids. One girl got an Elsa (from the Disney movie Frozen) and I was handed a Spider-Man for the baby. Well, why not. I asked her how business was today and if the event was well attended… “ma ma teh ler” (so-so in Cantonese) was her reply.
At the intersection of Stone Nullah Lane and Queens Road East, there was an interview taking place. It looked like a PR stunt for a company making “cargo bikes”, essentially stalls hitched onto a bicycle (think ice cream man, 1950’s style). A model of one was parked just outside Stone Nullah Tavern and another by the fruit farm chicken shop. I couldn’t quite figure whether the company plans to sell or rent them to small enterprises for use at flea markets and art fairs. Or perhaps it might be legal in Hong Kong to hawk wares on sidewalks and pavements again?
I’m really hoping that the St. James settlement (who managed the renovation of the Blue House and decides its fate) is going to hold nice events and not turn it into a dumpy, junky kind of event venue. I’m certainly less impressed with what they’ve done with the renovation (quality wise) vis-a-vis the Comix Home Base in Mallory Street where there is a theme, distinct sense of purpose, a nice library where kids hang out to read and updated Cha Chan Teng (茶餐厅）where you can have a decent milk tea in air conditioned comfort.
It’s getting quite warm now in Hong Kong so hikes need to be done early in the morning or on a cloudy day. On Sunday morning we got bounced out of bed for a hike up to Violet Hill at 7.30am.
We got the taxi to drop us off at Wong Nai Chung reservoir, which is on the left of the road towards Parkview. From there, walk around the reservoir’ path (stop to look at the terrapins in the water if you wish) and follow it to the steps just beyond. This is the trailhead.
It starts off nice and green. You will see the steps amidst all the foliage.
After a few minutes uphill, we came across a rest hut. Stop here if you need to catch your breath. But there isn’t much to see so the girls decided it was best to carry on.
Up and up the steps, very quickly we were up looking over the buildings.
And the foliage gradually changes.
There’s a mild uphill for a bit on a meandering path. Walk slowly here to admire some flora.
This walk has some unpaved bits, but it’s not hard for children. We had an 8 year-old, a 6 year-old, a 4 year-old and an 8 month-old with us (in a sling).
Spot the flowers and bush fruits on the walk, keep your eyes open as there really aren’t many of them. The flowers are often found low to the ground, easier for pollination by crawling insects.
There were also a few fungal fruiting bodies among the dead leaves. Not sure if any of these are edible so please leave them where they are.
Then up a long stairway into the mist.
On the way, look out for bamboo sprouting their new shoots, beautiful stars on a trajectory. I think each little star can become a bamboo plant.
After another bit of foliage, you get to the trigonometry point.
Well, trigonometry points usually have views but it was a very misty day and we couldn’t see anything beyond 20 feet. So after a brief hangout, a bit of orange eating, water drinking and sitting on the trig base, it was time to continue.
Then it was downhill on a dirt path, a little rocky but nothing a four year old in a dress couldn’t handle.
You can see the wonderful view I had. White mist..! The bright side of it is that there was a fantastic breeze and so so cool. For anyone with acrophobia, it’s the perfect day to go hiking. Couldn’t make out the ravines at all.
Subsequently, it was a bit flat then a slightly rocky uphill again.
Along this path, there were some interesting objects and flowers.
Then the uphill ended at an intersection, whereupon we went towards Parkview.
After a short flat open path, it was downhill again, we met our first big group of hikers coming the other way. We stopped briefly to let them pass.
The slope became flat and open again. We saw a mango tree in bloom, a small centipede and a tree that was devoid of leaves and possibly dead.
About 5 minutes after that we went past some huge rocks and got to some stairs leading down.
We descended down into a paved path and a long stairway which put us on the main road just outside Parkview.
You might like to use this ordinance map to get a feel for the terrain. I’d highly recommend it for kids 3 and above. It takes about 1.5 hours to complete the circuit (maybe 2 if your kids keep stopping to check out the views or dig for quartz).
Digging beneath the dirt… To find the good and the gritty