Category Archives: Restaurants

The Satisfaction of Samsen

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. 

I’m already craving the next visit. 

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Maureen Noodle Shop leaves Wanchai 

My pregnant friend YK was craving salmon spinach noodles yesterday and headed over to Maureen’s. To her great disappointment, Maureen’s was not only shut but the little eatery was shuttered. 

On the door, a hurried hand written note:

“CLOSED! We are moving to Citic Tower. See you there or at the Foodtruck!

Thank you for your patronage and support over these 5 years!”


And with the interior of the shop in complete disarray, she’s gone. 

April 2017 Appetites: Burger Eating Contest in Wan Chai

First of all, Happy April 1st everyone!! Ok this is not an April fool’s joke…. at least I hope it isn’t…

Maybe you’re a burger fanatic, maybe you’re just a really competitive person or maybe you’re just super hungry… here’s one event that’s right up your alley.


Come over to Wanchai and see if you will win? Find Ted’s Lookout here.

Cong Sao Star Chinese Dessert (Wan Chai branch)

I really thought I’d blogged about this dessert place before… so when HP told me he had a cold and was looking for something ginger-soupy, I wanted to refer him to my blog. But, no I hadn’t! That was an article I wrote for another blog in reference to the Cong Sao Dessert branch in Sharp Street, Causeway Bay.

How could I have missed this important little gem?!

Chinese dessert shops are commonly found in Causeway Bay. They are littered all over (also in Times Square, CitySuper food court) with a particular concentration near the bus stops on Canal Street East and on Sharp Street. The desserts usually consist of either shaved ice (cold) with all possible combinations of fruit, jelly, beans, nuts or soya. Hot desserts tend to be creamy or gingery soup bases with a variety of ingredients like ginkgo nuts or snow fungus. 

I have a soft spot for chinese hot desserts, my mother used to make them at home. We would have Cheng tng (light soup) which was hot, sweet and constituted of dried longans, sago pearls, white fungus and fresh ginkgo nuts. This is hard to find here but at least Cong Sao Desserts has some soupy stuff that I’ll resort to when the craving hits. 

Ok back to the mission. Wan Chai.

Cong Sao Desserts is on Tai Wong Street East, just a few steps away form the Pawn. 

Cong Sao Dessert Wan Chai
It takes up the ground floor shoplot of the Wen Ding restaurant, a standalone building that has benefitted from a gazetted public seating space on one side and an easement for loading to J residences.

Situated on ground floor of Wen Ding restaurant

It’s surprisingly spacious… well I suppose the tables are quite small and they’ve maximised the space with stools, but the point is that it’s designed for the maximum number of people to do a quick dessert “in and out”.


On the pavement, a standee advertises their happy hour promotion. Essentially you get 10% off if you come off peak hours between Monday to Friday between 1-6pm. Good to know.

Here’s their menu, you can plan what you’d like to have in advance.

Hot dessert items
Cold dessert items
More cold dessert items

HP, for a fluesy friendly dessert, I would recommend the ones below ticked in green.

Restaurants closed that never opened 

There are two shop lots which have been empty for the last 3 years, underwent renovation a year ago but never opened. 

One is situated on the corner of Queens Road East and Stone Nullah Lane, which sports some sort of chicken emblem. Presumably something to do with chickens. Maybe the owners thought it auspicious to launch a chicken themed shop in the year of the rooster. Not.

It was full of busy contractors mid-way through last year and underwent significant renovation. There were red notes posted on the shutters indicating that the owners were selecting a date for launch but no actual announcement of the date. The shutters have remained firmly down with no one going in or out.

The other shop lot is located on the corner of Queens Road East and McGregor Street.

In this case, the restaurant was all ready for launch. Named Soul Food Veggies with big signs proclaiming “we are how we eat” it was an interesting concept that failed before it truly started. There were a few meetings and discussions that took place, some photo shoots and what appeared to be a launch event….. then everything went quiet. The lights went off, the table settings cleared and a sign appeared saying that the shop was once again undergoing renovation. 


The signboards have begun rusting and the furniture inside has been replaced with storage boxes.


The kitchen and display area appears to be in complete disarray.


It’s really too bad because it looked like the staff had undergone some training and the kitchen was already in place. The concept of a nice vegetarian restaurant in the vicinity of OVO and Isoya would provide a classy and exciting addition to vegetarian choices in the neighbourhood of Wan Chai


So why did these two places fail to launch? 

Without speaking to anyone who owns these businesses, I can’t say if it’s partner strife or funding issues, or permit issues, perhaps all three. If you believe in chinese feng shui though, you’ll probably attribute much of the inevitability to this.  I’m no feng shui expert but take a look.


Chinese business people generally aren’t into sharp corners for spaces. Sharp edges reflect “cutting” or “wedge” in relationships or business. It’s a big no-no. This shoplot has a sharp wedge right above its entranceway, quite inauspicious.

Check out the next one.


Again, another angled wedge above the shop lot. Take a look at it from the front.


Here you can see that there are three angles above this shop, giving it a jagged overhead appearance.

Not everyone believes in feng shui but many Cantonese people do when selecting a place of business. 

I wonder if the two restaurants are associated somehow and the same owner went bust? All speculation here.

1563 Live Music Scene in Wan Chai, Hopewell Center

I saw this news article in the SCMP covering the latest live music venue in Wan Chai. It refers to a new joint known as 1563

Unfortunately the news article uses google maps to mark the location and this is clearly wrong

The venue is at Hopewell Center, not in Sheung Wan.

On google maps and as listed in the article:

WRONG LOCATION

This is where it really is:


And if you’re wondering (as I did) why it’s called 1563 (because that’s definitely not the address..) here’s the rationale!


The menu looks interesting (all day breakfast!!) and they offer a set lunch. I might just have to check it out.

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.