Kisses cupcakes and Sift have been satisfying sweet tooths, sudden red velvet cravings and emergency dinner-dessert gifts for several years in Wanchai. Sift serves the western end of Queens Roads East (aka Admiralty East) while Kisses served the eastern side of Queens Road East at Hopewell Center.
The Kisses cupcakes shop was formerly on a cute corner of QRE building, super convenient for office workers and anyone heading to and from the mtr towards Hopewell and Kennedy Road. It has been replaced with a Beard Papa. (Smells good but it’s just not the same class is it?)
They were obliged to move once Tesla took over rental of the ground floor and presumably changed the profile of tenants in the building. The space they moved to was half way down Queens Road East towards Sift. I’ve found this new location to be neither here nor there, it’s convenient if you’re looking for it but not convenient for an impulse purchase. You wouldn’t be getting much pedestrian traffic except for the lunch crowd and goods delivery or courier guys outside of those hours.
It’s therefore no surprise that Kisses has decided to remove this location and situate the cupcake showroom to Admiralty where there’s more footfall. All the more business for Sift in Wan Chai.
Queens Road East is seeing more and more empty lots up for rent these days..
Nb: if Kisses Cupcakes is reading this, please note that Admiralty is spelt wrongly on your webpage…
Wanchai has recently been experiencing a bit of a battle of the bakeries (we’ll chat soon about the battle of the burger joints).
Not more than 5 years ago, there were only local bakeries selling their sweet breads. Then Passion made its debut and was a great hit with everyone looking for something more upmarket, like an authentic croissant (Not just rough folded in the shape of a croissant aka Swiss bakery… that was just disappointment in a paper bag) or a sourdough loaf. Kayser soon muscled in and now have two bakeries within 300 meters along Queens Road East.
Now, we have a several cafes and bakeries that serve baked goods and pastries… La Station, Le Pain Quotidien, Bakehouse and most recently Big Grains on Tai Wo street (turn left at Hang Seng bank on Johnston Road).
The price of the croissant has steadily risen at each new bakery. Originally $14 at Kayser, it’s now $16 at the new Passion and LPQ. Then $18 at Bakehouse and $23 for the classic at Big Grains.
All the bakeries appear very busy and are doing brisk business with clientele either dining in or taking away. Big Grains is the only bakery with no seating section so it’s like a traditional chinese bakery with a modernised display and selection.
At $27, you’re halfway to a meal deal at a local Hong Kong Cafe. Will one of these croissants be as satisfying?
Then there’s this strange bun called “chocolate soil” charming name.
A selection of creamy sweet treats in the refrigerated section.
A new take on the Swiss roll at traditional bakeries. More cream less sponge it looks like. Check out the price for a whole roll… that’s maybe 4-5x of what the traditional bakeries like ABC, Happy Cake, A1 bakeries charge. Is it really that good? Giving Japanese bakery Yoku Moku some competition..?
Who can forget cookies? These are ovo lacto vegetarian. So if you know of anyone who is on a restricted no-egg no-dairy diet, this would be the first bakery in Wanchai to cater to them 👍. Watch out for the nuts though, and sticker shock when paying the bill.
Why don’t corporate websites publish their opening hours?
This morning rogue #1 requested a clementines. She said: “I like the ones ethat are easy to peel and without seeds. Can you go to uynh Spencer to buy them.”
Geez. Ok so rather thanks ttidisappoint a four year old, I checked that the local fruit shops didn’t have anything similar (ok they had the Japanese Mikan xxrgr fversion at twice the price) and hopped on a bus to the nearest M&S food hall.
I recalled that opening hours were later on Sundays and public holidays than the rest of the week but I couldn’t remember if it was 8am instead of 9am or 10am instead of 9am.
I looked up their website only to find this.
Hmm. Ok address yes but no opening hours. Urgh. Am I going to wait around for an hour or get there just on time?
It was 8.45am on a Sunday morning and I waited 17 minutes. The auto glass doors rolled open for me at 9.02am and two other waiting women (who arrived just after I did).
I picked up 3 packs of easy peelers and 1 pack of Satsumas at 49 HKD each. Three freshly baked croissants at 13 HKD each.
The clementines were a hit with the kids on our hike, I distributed them at the summit and the wonderful perfumed scent of small citrus fruits filled the air.
So now you know when the opening hours are for M&S in Queens Road East..!
Marks and Spencer has now updated their corporate website to include the opening hours of each store around the world. But… it’s not correct..! So please continue to refer to my version 😉
La Station, one of my favourite neighbourhood coffee shops just celebrated their second anniversary.
I met up with a friend, (founder of Ookus) at La Station for breakfast early in the week. As I was leaving, the eternally effervescent blonde manager Kat (a sort of Asian version of Jessica Alba) chased after me and presented me with a card.
“It’s our second anniversary this Thursday” she breathed, “will you come?”
I was in a bit of a hurry but promised that I’d be there. I marked it down in my calendar, it was a party running from 7-10pm on Thursday evening. What fun. I haven’t been out at night in the neighbourhood for quite a while.
We got there around 8pm and as we turned the corner at Eric Kayser onto Tai Yuen Street, a wonderful party scene greeted us.
Very hip-looking friends of the owners had turned up in full force and they were drinking beers and champagne on the pavement, faces lit by the La Station signboard overhead.
The perch counter near the fridge display area was converted into a makeshift bar where Alan bartended ice chilled beers in bottles, champagne and lemonade for the non-alcoholics. The funky lounge tunes made it seem as though everyone was queuing outside a newly opened club.
Inside, people were gathered in chattering groups, taking selfies and photos of the fabulous food.
There were mini sausage rolls, quiche, ham and cheese croissants and Croque Monsieurs.
We sampled each one and it was all consistent of the La Station / Paul Lafayet standard.
After half an hour, the desserts were put on display. This is Julian figuring out how they should sit on the tray.
Each dessert was no bigger than your thumb but packed a huge flavour punch. The chocolate squares of cake and ganache were moist and addictive. I had to restrain myself from devouring a second piece.
These desserts were mini masterpieces… I kid you not. LPQ and Kayser attempts at these sweets are left in the dust.
Small person grabbed a Paul Lafayet creme brûlée and chiselled away at the caramelised topping, gleefully shoving it into her mouth. This is after Pete had gifted her a pink macaroon and she had polished off a ham cheese croissant. Well, it isn’t every day that she gets to indulge.
Somehow the delicious breakfast food went super well with the booze and dessert. I can see how this scene can be replicated successfully elsewhere. Apparently the team has been hired frequently for stylish Lane Crawford events.
La Station is one of those coffee shops that hires people who bother to remember your name and beverage preference. It’s this familiarity and excellent food and beverages that keep the loyal customers returning despite not having much of a seating area. If you do decide to sit at their counters, you’ll see that the tables are small but there’s room for your bags. Just hang them on the hooks underneath by your legs.
I went for another beer which Alan happily obliged.
These guys know how to throw a good party.
Here’s a shout out to their team – Pete, Kat, Binny, Stella, Alan, Vivian, Julian. It was a great party and we look forward to more 🙂
After our lunch at Maureen’s, we decided to walk off a bit of those noodles. SW suggested we walk up towards the Pak Tai temple where he had noticed a new cafe.
Just when you’ve walked up as far as you can go on the tarmac, the road bends to the left (straight ahead is a path that takes you up to Kennedy Road). Here was a promising sign under the street sign. It was a blackboard with a fairly simple menu touting coffees, tea and a few pastries.
Encouraged by the menu, we proceeded down the street. Lung On Street really is a beautiful street. The banyan trees, conserved and cared for by the temple, provide shade and a sense of nature’s calm.
At the end of the street is a cul de sac, and this is where the cafe is located, looking all cool outfitted in black and glass.
It really reminded me of neighbourhood cafes I’ve been to in London, New York or Sydney. Simple, with some alfresco seating areas and a signboard that isn’t screaming full attention. Nicely designed.
There was a kids cooking class that was going on. About ten children were creating a ruckus just talking to each other. All equipment had been laid out, they were definitely doing some baking.
There wasn’t a whole lot of space internally as half of it was devoted to a professional kitchen. There was a proper large stacked oven for breads, pizzas or grilling a whole suckling pig. A nice looking fridge and some pots and pans. Importantly there was a deep wide sink and a work top. Bite Unite offers chefs a licensed kitchen for hire.
Khun Tanarak, the owner, is there as the site also serves as his office (he’s a photographer specialising in weddings).
I asked him about his choice of location.
“Wong Chuk Hang where most kitchens are, is too far away. Most chefs just need a convenient space to pop in, prepare and get back to whatever else they need to do..”
Since he lives up on Kennedy Road, it is also convenient for him to site his office within walking distance.
He apologised as the coffee machine was under maintenance. Well, that’s a perfect excuse to come back to try the cafe another day.
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.
Apart from the texture and consistency of J CO’sdoughnuts, 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.
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.
Find them at 55 Hennessy Road.
It’s on the side of the street heading down towards Causeway Bay, or check out their Fb page here.
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.
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.
It’s worth a visit if you’re in the neighbourhood. The store is right across from Hopewell Center.
The Chinese lunar new year brings a shopping bonanza to Wan chai market. Everyday no matter the weather, people turn up in droves to look at home decorations and the latest lunar new year fashion. It is tradition to wear new clothes during the new year period, and this extends to underwear and home furnishings. Yup, you can get almost anything in the “Chinese new year red”.
Here are some photos to show you what it’s like.
First up, underwear. If you fancy a bit of gold “fuk“( pronounced foook meaning wealth and luck), well, you’re in luck. Go superman.
Next up, red socks, stockings and slippers. It’s a bit chilly and these red footwear and accessories might get you a few compliments.
The stalls selling kids traditional clothing get a lot of attention. Lots of mommies just have to stop and browse. You’ll see lots of kids in traditional garb walking around, schools are asking kids to come in festive attire.
Brighten up your interior and sofa with red cushions? Lots of cushions getting lots of attention.
Red ribbons for your own designs.
All sorts of hanging items.
If you’re looking for lanterns for your doorway, hit Tai Yuen street.
This stall selling cute roosters can be found along Cross street.
This is the seasonal stall. Usually a hat shop, they convert fully to CNY decorative items for the 3 week season.
If you’re looking for festive snack trays, you’ll find them at the household shops along Wan Chai road.
I was wondering why this bakery had developed a mass following, people were hogging the pavement. Everyone was waiting for 5pm when discounts apply to all the baked goods.
These baked puff snacks in particular seemed to be getting a lot of attention.
All this lasts until Chinese New Year which is on the 28th of January. Many stall owners will be on vacation for two weeks after that, visiting relatives in China or just taking a break. Everything gets a little pricier during this time, but as chinese people say, it’s only once a year!
Let’s not forget the goodies for the table, red melon nuts and gold chocolates.
I did my old route of Johnston road and Queens Road East today and noticed that some hoardings were coming down while others had gone up.
First, the Tang Tang Tang Tangshop owned by David Tang.
Purveying posh home accessories, silk pyjamas, leather printed bags and funky umbrellas, it was the only shop of its kind. It was a shop you could go to for expensive gifts luxuriously wrapped and the receiver would immediately know how much you decided to spend on them. The shop seems to have vacated overnight and large “For Lease” signs have been erected around the pillars.
Next, the hoardings have come off the Under Armour shop, situated prominently by the Swatow Street Tram Stop.
Johnston Suites gave up their double height lobby reception area for Under Armour to move in. The shop now has a huge double storied space.
The most disappointing space is the two storied shop house that Hopewell retained as a front, the remnant facing Hopewell Center. A great locale with lots of footfall has been leased to Kee wah bakery. How uninspiring.
I had high hopes for a nice bar or cafe, perhaps some shop with style with at least unique or interesting items to draw the crowd in. Kee Wah already exists in many locations and it’s quite a boring tenant to have.
Oh well. Due to increasing rent and the changing residents and neighbourhood, small shops don’t stand much of a chance against the big chain stores with negotiating muscle.
Thanks to the Sassy magazine of which I’m a regular reader, I now know that there’s a salsa party happening this Saturday. The forecast is for rain so I have no idea whether there’s a wet weather plan or if it will continue regardless.
Update: it’s being held at Hej House, more or less directly opposite Le Pain Quotidien.
Outside Le Pain Quotidien, there’s a big music set up going on. A bit unclear if this will be leading up to it or if it’s their own launch party.
I’ve been waiting for LPQ to open for a while…. Teething problems must have delayed them from the planned launch in February (website recently changed opening date to March). Many disappointed customers have stood outside, shaken their heads and headed elsewhere.
How can you possibly advertise breakfast yet open for business at only 11am? Quite unacceptable.
Digging beneath the dirt… To find the good and the gritty