Tag Archives: Hong Kong

Heading out to the bookstore? Know this…

The two largest bookstores in Wan Chai are JP books (right by exit A3 on Johnston road) and Cosmos books which is on Lun Fat and Johnston, more or less opposite Fook Lam Moon restaurant.

The JP bookshop has only one entrance and is a multilevel shop with 3 floors. The ground floor is where the entrance is and you’re required to head up to the first floor and upwards (ie if you want to get to the kids section be prepared to walk up 4 flights of stairs).Cosmos books has a similar layout, it’s a massive sprawl of books set out on two floors, in the basement and on the first floor. The ground floor serves as the main entrance.

So going to the bookstore, you’re faced with these two entrances.

If you’re heading out to the bookshop to pick up a few travel or summer reading books for yourself or the kids, remember to leave the stroller at home. These bookshops have comprehensive collections but are definitely not stroller nor disabled friendly.

Without resorting to couch purchasing on Amazon, what would your stroller options be then?

Kelly and Walsh opened recently in Pacific Place. It’s tucked into a corner sort of opposite and one level up from the cinema. That bookstore has aisles that would make mothers smile…. and an excellent selection of English books.

Alternatively if you’re in Wan Chai this weekend, you can brave the crowds and head to the book fair at the Exhibition center.

Advertisements

The never ending queue of Kam’s Roast Goose

Have you heard about Kam’s Roast goose in Wanchai?

There’s a story of a family feud, arguments over intellectual property and a legal battle. Kam’s Roast Goose is the result of a split off.

This little restaurant in Wanchai that has seats that pack people in like sardines in a tin sees a never ending queue on weekends. Thinking of going at 2 or 3pm to skip the lunch crowd? Forget it, you’ll still be in the line for at least 30 minutes. Perhaps on a day of thunderstorms, that’ll be the time to go.

The location was expertly chosen. Facing the large, busy trunk of Hennessy road where traffic flow is a constant, The restaurant benefits from the wide sidewalk which allows people to queue 2-3 abreast and still provide space for pedestrians. The school occupying the adjacent plot completes the perfection of this lot as no other shops or restaurants complain about people blocking their frontage. The school entrance is on the other side and there isn’t any impedance to either party.

What about the food? I like everything but the goose. Somehow goose doesn’t really appeal to me… the meat is dark, on the dry side and in very small portions. I go for the siu yok, char siew and yao gai. Those dishes are excellent and you can takeaway at a very decent price.

When I went a few weekends ago to buy takeaway, I waited about 15 minutes (there were 3/4 people in the takeaway queue in front of me). A couple came along and asked the reception lady how long they would have to wait. “2 or 3 hours” she said without missing a beat. “Could be faster if people do drop out of the queue“.

If you can bear the wait and queue at the restaurant, bring a face mask because the fumes from the passing buses get really bad. It’s one of the worst stretches of bus fumes in Wan Chai.

Find your way to Kam’s Roast Goose.

The John Denver Tree gets a new plaque

I happened to be walking by the John Denver Tree (technically it’s a Banyan) the other day when a shiny plaque caught my eye.

It looks new and much bigger than the previous one. The LCSD must have replaced it.

Does this generation know who John Denver is? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they included a QR code on the plaque to link to his most famous song… or a visit by all the artists who planted the other 622 trees in the Greening Wanchai scheme? That would be a concert not to be missed.

If you don’t know who John Denver is, this is one of his most famous songs... and it happens to be my dad’s favorite.

This is another of his famous songs which I really like, unfortunately and ironically, he died in a plane crash.

It would be really cool if all the trees had plaques in them or were dedicated to specific entertainment legends.. perhaps the public and LCSD could use them as landmarks and everyone would take better care of them.

Check out my trees of Wan Chai page (yeah I’ll be adding to it gradually, it’s really not easy to take nice photos of trees…) and go see this tree at the intersection of Wan Chai road, Johnston Road and Fleming Road. It’s along the Tram tracks.

The fat Japanese ramen chef is back on Tai Wong East Street

The ramen shop that we used to frequent on Amoy Street changed hands about a year and a half ago. The fat japanese chef with the cheerful smile was replaced by three not so fat local chefs who barely acknowledged any of the customers behind those thick vapour clouds of steaming broth. We went back once after a long while, the food was decent but the service unremarkable.

On my walk along Tai Wong East Street last week, I was noting all the new coffee shops that have sprouted up.. the hipster lifestyle choices are now increasing after the launch of BakeHouse (fantastic breads but the pretzel is best in HK). I suddenly see a new lantern hanging and saw that it was a ramen shop. Curious, I stopped to check out the menu.

Hello, long time no see” (said in Cantonese), it was the waitress I knew in the previous ramen shop. She still wore her glasses but not as heavily rimmed.

She said that their previous shop had been sold and now they opened this one on their own. I told her I’d come back to try it and that’s exactly what we did last Sunday.

We ordered two of the kamitora ramen and one black garlic oil ramen. SW commented that the black garlic oil ramen used to come with black coloured noodles as well… I suppose some things have changed.

Now, there’s no longer the order chit where you get to customise your noodle thickness or toppings. But you still help yourself to iced lemon water and the condiments like chilli powder at the table. The chilli beansprouts are now a side serving that you’ll have to order.

The bowls are tall and narrow based, I thought that the portions were a bit smaller than before but this didn’t really bother us. The slice of pork was decent sized and tender. Two pork meatballs replace the other slice of pork. I wasn’t a huge fan of the meatballs… a little small and gristly for me. Just help yourself to ice lemon water in jugs on the table (how very japanese) or order a soda from the fridge.

The wordings on the wet wipes are the most hilarious… see what I mean.

There’s ample space in the restaurant (open kitchen), but it’s mostly 2 person or bar seating. There’s only one area where they can 6 people as a group so this isn’t really a big group out sorta place. We brought our stroller and it was fine. Plenty of space for it during non-rush hour.

Overall it’s not bad and as I quite dislike having to queue for anything, this place is worth checking out. Look out for the red lantern as you cruise down Tai Wong East Street.

This blackboard with opening hours was placed indoors (yes, facing IN) when I went to eat there. I suggested to the chef that he place it outside so that clients could see when they are open or shut.

Old Wan Chai police station wall collapses on impact

I just happened to be walking by the old Wan Chai police station today and saw that the damaged brick wall was still not repaired since the accident that happened in February. You can see it he extent of the damage in the photo in the article.

Here’s how it looks now. It’s May, 3 months post incident.

There’s a bit of progress with some brick laying going on which comes up to just about waist height. But if this was any other housing development in the neighbourhood, the contractors would be faulted for lagging behind. It’s the rainy season soon so hopefully they’ll be able to finish it before the typhoons roll in and blow all those barriers away.

Bye bye Mr Simms, Hello Dr Wong

The olde Mr Simms sweet shop sat on an unassuming corner on Spring Garden Lane. It’s a good location, just next to QRE and Hopewell Center, across the road from the jockey club gambling ticket office (not sure if this is the right description for it). The sign didn’t really stand out though, and when I went in once looking for a particular item, the shop girls in there were unnecessarily terse with me. So despite it’s appealing window displays and witty blackboard signs left on the pavement, I never went back in.

The irony of its replacement was not lost on me. From a candy shop that stocked almost every coloured additive to a great deal of sugar and possibly a similar amount of starch and flavouring, the space has now become a GP clinic.

It’s too bad that Wan Chai is losing diversity in shop choices… perhaps Okashi land is drawing most of the crowd. Will the Mr Simms sweet shop move elsewhere in Wan Chai? I’m guessing that the GP will make more money in the long run.

Kamachi Pro Sport Shop- Wetsuits and rash guards all year round

If you’re looking for a simple non-fancy wetsuit in an easy to find location, Kamachi Pro Sport is a great place to pick one up.

Prices are relatively inexpensive and quality is decent, they have several of the usual designs (with or without zip, front or back zip, long or short, black or patterned etc).

The two lady staff are helpful and friendly, mostly Cantonese speaking but with the simple selection, it isn’t difficult to point out what you need in simple hand gestures. There’s a small area at the back of the shop where you can try on the suits behind a curtain.

The swimsuits and rash guards occupy the top hanging shelf and the wetsuits for kids and adults are below. The selection looked fuller in the summer, it that’s probably because it was summertime swimming season and more stock and sizes were out on display.

Here’s a kids wetsuit. Same one we got for my kid except that it’s now on 20% discount.

Here’s a sleeveless neoprene vest for adults. Ah….., it reminds me of the days when I used to go diving off Malaysia.

These are the adult rashguards (kid sizes also available).

And these are some exercise mats for yoga or just general stretching. Very cheap, less than 100 HKD per mat.

The shop sells other swim related stuff like goggles, swim hats, and dive related stuff like wet shoes. They also have a small selection of exercise training equipment.

This is what it looks like from the front, it’s between two tea shops on Johnston Road opposite Tai Yau Plaza, right on the intersection of Johnston and Wanchai Road.

More locations are listed on their card ☝️if you’re not in Wan Chai.