Category Archives: Pram & Stroller friendly

Urban Canvas and School Art Exhibit at Comics Home Base 動漫基地

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!”


Nice one. Take a look at the more elegant graffiti around Wanchai. (It’s my personal collection, let me know if there are any nice ones I’ve missed).

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. 

Is this a demon? Evil monkey? Sinister robot?
A Buddhist kung fu master with the Goddess of Mercy
Taoist priest

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.

Harlequin or Alice in Wonderland?
Global warming. The last island for the next generation.
Chinese opera & Canteen food frustration

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). 

Lampshade – HK 茶餐厅 food theme
Various lampshades

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.  

Alternatively download the Urban Canvas app and see them all on your screen. 

Urban Canvas app
Urban Canvas Wan Chai Tours

Doughnut cravings? Where to get your fix in Wanchai

Every once in a while, I get a doughnut (donut if you’re American 😀) craving. Oh where to go for a simple doughnut that will hit the spot? Most local style doughnuts are a bit chewy and leave a lot of sugar crystals all over the place. 

I’ve had ones from the ABC Bakery, the takeaway section at Taste, and the one from Happy Cake Shop on Queens Road East. Personally, I quite enjoy the JCo ones for the airy texture (not chewy or doughy) and it’s “not so sweet” on the palate.

Here are some photos for you to decide where to go for your doughnut fix in Wanchai.

Ground floor deli at Hopewell Center
Very popular choice at the ABC Bakery
Doughnuts are cheap but vary batch to batch
Hit the J Co doughnuts on Hennessy Road

Apart from the texture and consistency of J CO’s doughnuts, they also have a nice cafe setting for you to enjoy your doughnut, elevating it from a grab and go snack in a bag to a pastry status.

Nice warm, spacious setting

It’s warmly decorated, spacious and well lit. There’s also a ramp entrance, a huge plus for strollers and prams.

So here’s the one I had. Non glazed basic doughnut which was an absolute delight.

Enjoying my simple doughnut
Find them at 55 Hennessy Road.

J Co Cafe in Wanchai

It’s on the side of the street heading down towards Causeway Bay, or check out their Fb page here.

J Co Doughnuts on Hennessy Road

The Techtonics perform at Lee Tung Avenue

I just happened to be at Lee Tung Avenue at lunchtime on Tuesday and saw some tech guys setting up amplifiers and microphones. A young lady approached me and offered me a booklet about the a Capella festival that’s on this week. She gestured to a page towards the center of the booklet and showed me the write up on The Techtonics. “They’ll perform at 1pm” she said. It was 12.28 so I figured that I’d hang around and see what it’s all about.

I’ve always enjoyed a Capella and didn’t need any convincing.

The all male Techtonics group did their vocal warm ups at a corner and tested the microphones with some beatbox rhythms and a short song to get the crowd to stick around. It was effective. Many people gathered around the center courtyard area, occupying the benches and leaning against the walls near the Seoul bistro and Omotesando cafe entrances.


It was thoroughly enjoyable. They sang six songs animatedly and got the crowd excited. I felt like dancing along but was too busy recording it on video like everyone else! Well, I did do a little bit of dancing.

Here’s a short clip.


They are performing in various spots in Hong Kong, check out the HK a capella Facebook page if you want to see them live.


Ok ok. I am a fan :). Here’s another short clip of Edric, their leader singing Adele’s Hello. 


It was just fantastic guys. Really enjoyed it. Looking forward to your final performance on Sunday.

The Launch of Kee Wah Bakery Flagship Store in Wan Chai, Lee Tung Avenue

On the penultimate day of Chinese New Year celebrations, Kee Wah Bakery decided to hold its official launch.

I happened to walk in the day before and saw them fixing up the models and generally sprucing up the shop.


The launch party in the store caused a huge pedestrian jam on the sidewalk. 

Welcome! Welcome!

And I swiftly realised that it was because the staff were out on the pavement and there were a few celebrities within the shop, hence massive crowding by its windows for everyone trying to catch a glimpse.

 
When I asked the girls outside who the celebrity was, they answered “which one? There are several…” ok, I’ll admit my celebrity knowledge is pretty thin. But I did recognise this guys stature, he’s in a lot of ads.

This Kee Wah flagship store in Wanchai is quite nicely designed. It’s reminiscent of the original store they had in Kowloon. The owners commissioned a model layout of the exterior and interior of the original shop. Nice touch.


With the little lights on, it isn’t difficult to imagine what it used to look like.


Wonderful detailing, right down to the minibus.


The interiors are just as spectacular. No details were spared, right down to the individual cakes and bottled sweets.

The store managed to incorporate a small real time bakery for freshly baked goods. I’m not sure if that’s permanent or just to impress the visitors for the first couple of weeks.



The store has all the treats in every possible combination. They have the traditional wife cakes in single and multiple packages, the more modern recipes, the cutesy stuff and the special box gift sets. They also have the Taiwanese style pineapple tarts. 


There are two feature walls, one with a black and white tonal mural of a Hong Kong stairway (reminds me of Pottinger Street), the other with black and white photographs on their operating history.


What I appreciated about this store, is how they factored in disabled access. There’s a nice ramp on one side of the shop. Perfect for mommies with strollers.


You can see that business is brisk. It was launched with total professionalism and timing to coincide with Chinese New Year, a time of gifting and when loved ones would be visiting from other parts of the world.

Business is brisk
Loading area out back with replenishments

It’s worth a visit if you’re in the neighbourhood. The store is right across from Hopewell Center.
Kee Wah Flagship, the old and the new. Still retains the same look, down to the lightbulbs hanging above the shop

Elephant Grounds Cafe, Wing Fung Street

My neighbour E moved to Hong Kong six months ago. We went on a nice tour of the market together and decided to catch up for coffee again a few days later. She wanted to know where she could purchase a knife sharpener and I said I would take her. 

We went to King Tak Hong for the knife sharpener (they have a fancy new knife cabinet on the second floor) and I bought 4 stainless steel ladles for my mother. 

It was a beautiful day and I suggested we head over to Star Street and have a drink at Elephant Grounds Cafe. I had been meaning to go try it for the longest time. It was supposed to be open by the time Art Basel came round earlier in the year but was delayed.

I’ve been there” E said endorsing my choice, “the coffee is excellent.”


We took our seats at the bar counter and I parked my pram on the ledge. I noticed that there was a bowl of water for people who bring their pooches, but there weren’t any dogs around so I assumed it’d be ok.

The menu is whimsically designed both in terms of looks and the actual items for consumption. 

Here’s the first menu I saw.


Well, it’s the first time I’ve seen any cafe do a list of hot chocolates. Usually it’s just one type of hot chocolate, take it or leave it.

The breakfast menu is reasonably varied, something for every tastebud.


And here’s the drinks list.


Not bad eh. 

I had to see the breakfast selection at the front counter. 


Mmm… yum. A few sweet choices and croissants. I decided to have a hot chocolate and a simple butter croissant.


I have to say it was delicious. The croissant was light and fluffy with just the right amount of crisp. The hot chocolate was the right temperature and not too sweet. 

E had a coffee and a hot chocolate. From where we were sitting, we had a great view of how the coffee is lovingly and patiently brewed.

E told me that her coffee was delicious. It must’ve been because she finished it off well before I was done with my hot chocolate. Unless it was just me talking too much 😉

Find them here:

Map to Elephant Grounds Cafe

Restaurant to avoid: Yuan Yang Cafe at the Avenue

We had high hopes for this upscale swanky looking Cha chaan Teng that opened brazenly just down the street from Wanchai stalwart Kam Fung. The menu looked appetising and extensive, the prices double that of Kam Fung, but the premium could be justified by similar food in a less squishy and more comfortable environment.

We chose to try it on an off peak hour one Saturday afternoon. 

Yuan Yang Cafe is a place you won’t regret missing. A fusion menu that is confused, quantities of food that do not live up to the menu description and pricing expectation. 

We ordered a few basic items to share and none of it was good. 


The vol-au-vents were small and unfulfilling, it was an expensive starter. 


The chicken curry rice was mediocre… Appearance wise it looked ok but the flavour was flat.. They could have garnished it better. 


The instant noodles were just flat out rubbish. We should’ve gone to Kam Fung for that. The only thing going for this place is the service, which was polite and attentive and the fact that it’s wheelchair friendly with ramp access for a pram. 

Too bad the kitchen was such a let down. They’d be better off streamlining the menu and focus on delivering a few good dishes instead.

We didn’t finish our food. And it wasn’t because the portions were too big. I recall that bill almost came up to almost HKD 400. 

Summer activities for children and adults at Lee Tung Avenue

I enjoy living in Wan Chai very much. Not only is it one of the most convenient neighbourhoods in Hong Kong (it’s flat!) but it’s got a lot going on in all the hustle bustle. Add to it the latest transformative development, Lee Tung Avenue with good marketeers and the place on this side of Wan Chai is an attraction for families and young (or slightly older) hipsters.

This summer has been scorching hot, now with the holidays on, families have been scratching heads as to what to do with restless children. 

Lee Tung Avenue has a Saturday evening activity for kids which could be fun to check out.

According to the poster, it’s based on the Shakespearean Midsummer night’s dream in honour of Shakespeare’s 400th death anniversary.


On until the 27th of August 2016, the activities of kiddy face painting, fairy dancing workshop and the fairy flash mob dancing take place conveniently around dinner time… Great for parents who want to grab a meal and let the kids roam on a pedestrianised street mall for a bit out of the air conditioned environment.

A friend who lives in Wan Chai also told me about her recent visit to Ophelia, the latest “it” place for younger hipsters. She described it as very opulent and glamorously decorated. For that corporate event, there were dancers and lots of drinks going around, undoubtedly making the place even cooler. My friend said that it’s a place you can only get into if you have a reservation, the bouncers are very strict at the street entry level. If your name isn’t on the list, you can’t even get up there.

Then while waiting for a medical appointment, I read about it in a magazine called Crave.


And decided to see where it is located.

A temporary signboard marks the lift lobby location (more or less near the Elephant hairdressers, nearer Le Pain Quotidien).
When I checked again later on, the signboard had been removed, so I guess the staff only place it out when they are expecting guests. 

Here’s a write up on Ophelia’s in the SCMP. Unfortunately I doubt they’d let me in with a toddler in tow… Although Mr Sutton should allow this during the day as part of his fairy story legacy for the younger generation. Is it all linked to the fairy promo going on in the central piazza? Maybe.