Category Archives: Restaurants

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:


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. 

Teppei Syokudo – Japanese Fast Food to fit a budget

After a Saturday evening swim at Morrison Hill Pool, we were wondering where to eat. I knew that suggesting katsu curry rice would always be a sure bet with SW. 

The SCMP recently featured Teppei Syokudo and I thought it’d be nice to support the Singaporean business and get our tummies filled. 

Finding the place was a little tricky. The SCMP’s map is inaccurate and google maps puts it in the wrong place. So here’s the right location where you’ll find this eatery.

The food is not presented on any fancy dishes- unlike the photo shown in the SCMP’s news article, in fact it comes on disposable plastic ware. I think this was a tad disappointing (after all, look and feel for “restaurants” is such an important part of customer experience), but I’d like to think that whatever they save in washing up goes into quality staff and food. 

As I’m presently on a No-Raw-Fish diet (by the way, this place is famous for its sushi rice bowls topped with salmon, roe and scallops) that look like this,

we decided on the Curry Katsu and the Don Katsu. Both pork. No shellfish and not raw.
The katsu curry came first. 

Then the don katsu.

It looked like small-ish portions but once you start eating, it does fill you up. Although if you’re a big eater or just super hungry, you might need to add on another portion. 

The pork cutlets were well cooked, tender and excellently breadcrumbed. The rice was also tasty and cooked just right. The curry sauce had mushrooms in it and wasn’t too thick with cornstarch (this is a good thing). I wish they could be more generous with the red pickles though. Love those.

The drinks selection in the fridge had much to be desired, I think they could make more of an effort to provide clients with a few more choices. We just had a bottle of water.

There isn’t much seating space, you’re relegated to about a total of ten barstool seats placed on either side of the joint. They definitely want you to eat and get out of there. Or takeaway I guess. 

Overall, not bad for a cheap dinner but our small person didn’t like the environment and barstools. So if you’ve got a kid tagging along, probably best to buy and eat in Wan Chai Park while your kid runs amok in the playground.

Back to the “One Tiger” 一虎拉面 Japanese Ichitora Ramen Shop

It’s been at least a year since I went to Ichitora Ramen. The last time we were there, we suffered some gastrointestinal discomfort and thus haven’t dared to venture back for an extended period of time. 

Today the small person asked to eat noodles and egg. Maureen is shut on Sundays so I had to come up with another restaurant suggestion. Ramen it was.

You’ll know that the restaurant is open if the long red lantern is hanging out by the door. If it isn’t, they are definitely shut. 

At 12 noon the place was full but as turnover is pretty quick, we waited for about five minutes and got our two seats. The friendly waitress with spectacles recognised us and cheerfully directed us in. I noticed that the chefs were different and they had new wait staff too. 

Ichitora Ramen menu

So firstly take a look at the menu and decide what sort of soup base and toppings are preferred. 

Placing your order

Then place your order using the red marker pen provided, circling the options you want.

A bit of self service

Help yourself to chopsticks and condiments when the food arrives… Cups and jugs of ice water is available at the table too.

Enjoy the food when it comes! 

I found the ramen bowls and servings to be smaller than I remembered. The gyoza was a little mushy on the inside although very crispy on the outside. Small one wasn’t into it as she complained they were too spicy for her. She was happy with the egg and noodles though.

Iced water freely available

The restaurant is mostly counter style seats with two tables towards the back. Be prepared to share or just get seated wherever there is a space.

Bill wise, it was usual Wan Chai pricing, but I think it’s better value and service than the other ramen shop Tai Wong East Street.

Find it here.

Come early on weekdays or be prepared to queue. 

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.