As stores vacate their spaces due to rent or other business decisions, landlords keen to keep the space in use and tenanted seem able to lease them out for short periods of time. It’s almost like an Airbnb for retail.
The tenants rent by days til their goods are sold or by month until the landlord finds a long term tenant. It keeps the neighbourhood lively and interesting… there’s never a shop shuttered for too long.
Ceramic shops seem to do fairly well as pop up stores, fragile but non-perishable. Here’s one that appeared on Wan Chai road last month.
Matching sauce bowls and soup spoons. All in pretty patterns.
Chopstick rests and dipping bowls.
Mugs and other random household items.
Lots of plates and bowls.
Small soup bowls in various colours and prints.
Small dinner plates and heat tolerant dishes for baking.
More plates and bowls with lids for kids.
They also have plain white crockery.
Then I spied more appetiser dishes..
Suggested pairings for your dining set.
It looks pretty fun to mix and match your place settings! And not expensive either:)
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.
On a very hot and quite polluted Monday evening, the sidewalks of Queens Road East were particularly busy near the Indigo Hotel and Wu Chung House. People were hanging around a place they had no business to be hanging around. Those pavements are narrow and at busy road intersections.
I guess the safety aspect was marginally addressed by the peak hour slow moving traffic. The pedestrian traffic was also similarly slowed by the concentration of humans occupying a sidewalk that is lined with recycling bins on one side and trees on another.
Look at this:
I was literally having to wade through a bunch of zombies to get to the bus stop.
If you crossed the road, the situation wasn’t much better.
All these zombies milling around anxiously looking at their phones. No one acknowledged each other, though they all knew why they were there. Perhaps they were fighting to the death online and that makes them enemies in real life too.
I sneaked a look at one of the player’s screens. POKEMON.
There were 3 decent health food/ nutrition shops in Wanchai. Just Green, Food For Life and Redwood Nutrition. (I’m excluding Green Common only because it is more of an organic supermarket rather than a nutrition shop).
Feeling the need to re-start my probiotic routine, I went and had a look at what was available in each shop. Redwood nutrition carried a rather expensive brand, I wasn’t quite convinced about paying almost $500 for a month’s supply of bacteria. Redwood Nutrition down the road has Udo’s probiotics on discount, buy 4 get 1 free, averaging around $290 for a month’s supply. The only thing that irks me is the sales lady. She’s a bit aggressive and I don’t enjoy the ultra aggressive marketing style. My final stop was Just Green where I’m usually able to find a wider selection of brands, and I get a members discount.
Just Green was located down an alley, literally down, as in you have to go down some stairs. They usually have a poster stand outside the door and you can see the light from inside the shop through the windows. I walked up St Francis Street and peered down the alley. Hmm. Did I get the wrong alley? It seemed deserted and bare.
Just Green has left..! Just to be sure, I went down the stairs to check. Recent removal marked the walls and window sills.
That’s really too bad. It was a nice nook and my go to shop for supplements.
The next alley in the direction of Queens Road East has a new tenant. They decorated the entire wall with a mural. Great advertising of you get the permission to do it and a good artist. Well, they are in the art business. In a manner of speaking.
The tattoo parlours were in cooler places like Soho’s Pottinger street but it looks like that cool is gradually spreading East. Hong Kong Underground Tattoo is right at the end of the alley.
Wan Chai is getting a new equilibrium but I hope businesses that set up here are also encouraging for residents and not just occasional visitors. I’m half expecting to see more tattooed people walking around the neighbourhood… and no, it’s not the chinese gang labourers working in construction.
Wan Chai MTR station has been super crowded since last Thursday. It’s the annual Hong Kong Book Fair and Sports & Leisure Fair. It feels like all of Hong Kong’s residents decided to come.
Crazy crowded isn’t it. Literally walking shoulder to shoulder, the bridge must be at almost maximum loading. It was very slow moving, there was no way to overtake people and there were choke points where people were trying to “change lanes” to get to the other side of the foot bridge (separated by steel barricades) or decide which exit to take.
With the typhoon gone, it was a hot, steamy afternoon. I guess the organisers are making up for lost time today.
Most people going to the book fair and Sports Leisure Fair were advised to turn off here and walk through those Greek key mazes to the convention centre.
If you made it to Immigration Tower, police are in full force and everyone has to follow the lines and signs.
No, no I didn’t go. I was just running an errand at Immigration Tower.
Last Thursday and Friday, there were staff (or volunteers) from Save the Children in their red t-shirts handing out brochures for the Peppa Pig Family Carnival in Lee Tung Avenue.
Now, if you’re a mother of any children between the ages of 2-8 years, you will know that this is absolutely irresistible to your kids. They will whine and demand to go, simultaneously declaring their love for the Peppa Pig characters.
The staff were friendly, the colours of the panels vivid and the booths were well spaced out. However, the content lacked substance and there was nothing to take home unless you were coerced into making a purchase of useless and un-environmentally friendly Peppa Pig paraphernalia in the name of charity.
What did the booths have?
There was a Virtual reality booth which had the clunky goggles ($80 per go) you put on to look around. It was empty on the Friday and I didn’t think the goggles were too comfortable. There were only two goggles on display.
Then there is the string art zone, where the lady in charge explained that kids get some string and get to tie it around the metal protrusions to weave family bonds. Hmm. A bit abstract for kids, I struggled with the thought of it myself in a small dark booth.
Then there’s the kite drawing zone. Here for a $20 donation, kids get a small paper kite (not a real kite) each and sit down for a few minutes to decorate and then the kite gets hung on a big kite board with metal pins.
So all that individual effort goes up onto a collective board and it’s an instagrammable moment for the organisers but what does the kid get as a memory?
“Mama they took my kite away. I got nothing.”
Perhaps the organisers would like to reconsider their activities and strategies to have something for the kids to take home. The string bonding thing is also quite worthless even though the concept probably sounded interesting on paper.
The most striking and entertaining activity on display was the pipe telephone. So simple, free and fun. They could’ve made it more like a 3-D maze but it’s a good effort.
There are different coloured pipes linking one side of the board to the other, at different heights to for adult/child play.
Well, there was a stage and some music and dancing going on, on Saturday but baby was asleep in the sling and I gave it a pass.
What made #1 happy was the opportunity for a photo with Peppa’s family.
Here’s how the overhead kite display looked during Typhoon 3, I wish the wind had been strong enough to make them take flight.
I have a fondness for public time keepers. You know, the buildings which have a massive clock at the top of buildings that can be seen for a few kilometres. It’s usually a big digital display reminiscent of old clock towers in British town squares (think Big Ben). It’s an easy reference for everyone in the city and I love it especially because I usually don’t wear a watch and use the “look up” method to figure out what the next appointment should be. (Far East Plaza in Singapore, Maxis building in Kuala Lumpur).
In Hong Kong, the most visible digital time display is on at ICC but unfortunately only at night, and only transiently as it rotates to other pictorial and self advertising displays. During the day, the building stands bold but cold, trying to stare down IFC across the harbour.
In Wan Chai, the big clock is an old school type analogue display. It’s positioned near street level, just above the tree line at AXA Center. This clock is visible to pedestrians walking along the public walkways of Sung Hung Kai buildings and it’s neighbours, the pedestrian bridges that cross busy Gloucester Road connecting Star ferry passengers to the heart of Wan Chai.
Well, when the clock is working that is. I was walking by at 2.45pm and the clock was stuck at the magic Cinderella hour of 12. A blown fuse? A power cut? Faulty mechanism? I was initially puzzled when I saw it was noon as I was quite certain I was late for my 2.30pm appointment.
I hope they fix it soon so that it can serve its purpose.
Have you seen any other public time displays in Hong Kong? Please share their locations 🙂
Digging beneath the dirt… To find the good and the gritty