Friday, December 21, 2012


FYI: We were stuck at Hong Kong International Airport for over eight hours and we used our time wisely by sampling food throughout the airport.

The Green Market (Hong Kong Airport)

N: This restaurant is located in Terminal 1 of Arrivals across from Starbucks, hidden behind a fountain and elevator.  Hubby and I started our airport food journey here and shared a Crab and Mango Salad, which consist of crab meat, sliced mangos, shredded cucumbers, mayo dressing, and roe. This dish had a tasty combination of refreshing (mangos), crisp (cucumbers), salty (roe) and sweet (dressing). What a perfect balance!!! We noticed they also offered a salad bar that looked very appetizing but hubby and I wanted to pace ourselves. We quickly noticed that a lot of the airport and airline personnel were enjoying lunch there and that is always a good sign.  If an eatery has high traffic and employees are willing to spend their time/money there, chances are that there is something good cooking over there. 
T: The Green Market is truly a hidden gem, tucked away in the corner of Hong Kong International Airport. The Green Market is the one of the healthiest options available in this massive modern marvel of an airport. Serving savory salads and mouthwatering soups/noodle dishes, Green Market offers a moment of serenity and relaxation to the health-conscious traveler. As many airport employees frequent the daily specials, travelers can benefit from the extensive salad bar or chose from a wide array of skillfully prepared dishes accurately arranged to excite your taste buds. This Japanese restaurant spares no expense from the extensive beverage choice to the eclectic ingredients used to create artistic dishes. Every bite is like, “music to the mouth with my tongue continuously dancing.” The wifey and I are sure to make that a “must stop” whenever in Hong Kong International Airport.

“Enjoyed the adventure started… at the Green Market.”




 Peak Lookout (Hong Kong Airport)

N: Located on the second floor, facing the entrance of the airport, this restaurant recently opened its doors roughly three-four weeks ago.  With its white linen tablecloths, wait staff donning black and white attire, and a menu comprising comfort and exotic dishes from every region of the world, this place really transformed our minds into thinking we were dining at a five star bistro on the Magnificent Mile of Chicago. We ordered the BBQ Surf and Turf Skewer, which consist of Wagyu beef medallions and Prawns, our chosen sauce and a side dish: Homemade Tangy BBQ and Creamy Mashed Potatoes, Salad with Balsamic Dressing, and Coleslaw. The prawns were deliciously grilled but the highlight of the meal was the Wagyu beef that was served medium-well, tender and lightly seasoned. The homemade BBQ sauce was a great compliment to the meal but a perfectly grilled/seasoned piece of quality meat never needs any sauce and this was one of those exceptions. The mashed potatoes were creamy and buttery and the salad seemed to be a mesclun mix (spinach, arugula, and etcetera). The coleslaw was sweet and crunchy with celery seeds and raisins… was the best ever!!!  We must mention that this masterpiece was headed up by Chef Christopher Shannon.  Unlike some places where the air is filled with pretentiousness, this place made us feel as if we had been regulars (Hey Norm!) and customer service was never fleeting. We honorably gave our compliments to the chef and enjoyed a fascinating conversation with him that lasted well over five minutes.  These are the components that make a restaurant worth recommending and revisiting. Kudos to you Chef Christopher Shannon and we can’t wait to visit you and the flagship Peak Lookout restaurant that is also located in Hong Kong.  
T: The Peak Lookout restaurant is stellar to say the least. The restaurant offers an incredibly well-rounded menu satisfying the pallet of all walks of life. Innovative and thought-provoking are just a few words used to describe our dining experience. With my wife’s eyes rolling to the back of her head with every bite, offering an intricate layer of taste and texture, I was blown away. Besides, “a happy wife leads to a happy life.” Thanks, Chef Christopher Shannon!!! It’s quite evident that Chef Shannon and the Peak Lookout staff focuses on the totality of your dining experience through well thought-out preparation and graceful presentation. After a brief but enjoyable conversation with Chef Shannon, my wife and I were both thrilled with our dining experience and are enthusiastic to visit the Peak Lookout flagship restaurant in Hong Kong. With Peak Lookout’s immense menu, dynamic staff and innovative chef - Picasso of the pallet, this restaurant is a must visit for a superb dining experience at Hong Kong International. 

“You will enjoy the food, no doubt at Peak Lookout.”




Tsui Wah Restaurant (Hong Kong Airport)

N: Also located on the second floor, right next to the Peak Lookout Restaurant, this restaurant is geared towards regional Asian cuisines: Chinese, Hong Kong, Malaysian, Singaporean, etc. Hubby and I ordered the Spicy American Beef with Vermicelli, Shrimp and Spinach Dumplings in Fish Soup and Sweet Corn Juice.  The beef with vermicelli was served with sliced green onion sprinkled on top and looked more like soup than an entrĂ©e.  It was undeniably spicy but the recognizable flavors of lemongrass and basil were the stars of the dish. The beef was too fatty but it did add to the taste of the broth. Surprisingly, I was more impressed with the texture and taste of the noodles than the flavor of the broth.  The shrimp and spinach dumplings in fish soup were more enjoyable than the spicy beef.  The spinach had a nice crunchy texture as if it was fresh spinach wrapped around the encased shrimp that were humongous.  Similar to the taste of Egg Drop soup, this was a yummy dish.  Unfortunately, my sweet corn juice was horrible.  I love corn! It can be grilled, creamed, boiled, or fried and I will eat it, which is why I decided to venture out to try this drink.  I will not order this ever again.  It tasted like pureed frozen nibblers that were warmed over a hot flame.  It was neither sweet nor appetizing at all L… BOOOO!!!!!!

T: The Tsui Wah restaurant was a unique experience. With more of a westernized pallet, I did not find the cuisine to my liking. This restaurant caters to the essences of authentic Asian food via spicy broths, fatty meats pieces and boiled vegetables. I am sure that I can find something to my liking with more time. The cold, hard seats and vast menu of Asian delicacies may not be pleasing to most foreigners. It reminded me of a smooth-running fast food chain. I admired the efficiency and organization of the staff. The waiter takes your order, punches it into a tablet and before you know it, another staff member from the kitchen is bringing out your order. The checkout of the restaurant was truly inventive by offering the option of paying with your Octopus card (public transportation card). This option proves to be very convenient, especially to travelers with unused money left on their card. The wifey and I may not go back to this restaurant, but encourage those who enjoy the authentic Asian cuisine to give it a try. 





Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Nadirah’s Perspective:

As promised, this second installment is geared towards the delicious restaurants we found on our exploration of China.  Hubby briefly mentioned that what American’s consider to be Chinese food is definitely not what you are exposed to from our neighbors of the Far East.  But fear not because our commonly known fast food restaurants have rapidly made their way oversees; for example, McDonald's  KFC, Popeye’s, Pizza Hut, etc.   Now please understand that when hubby and I are home within the states, we usually do not frequent these places; however, when we are visiting foreign countries these places become our means of survival.  We can recognize the smells, the ingredients (they vary sometimes), the look, and the names of the dish.  Yet, there are times when we find local goldmines that are worth remembering and recommending and we will share our discoveries with you all.

Troy’s Perspective:

            Throughout our adventures in China, we had the pleasure of patronizing several reputable restaurants. The commonly known fast-food chains tend to be our staple of choice; due to our lack of interest in authentic Chinese delicacies. Wifey and I frequent familiar eateries that we can identify with in the Western World. To our discovery, the familiar selections of McDonald's still have a twist catered to the Eastern pallet, such as spicy chicken sandwiches and seaweed seasoning for the fries. I have not eaten fast food in the states in over 5 years, but the familiar sights, smells and tastes tend to lure us in. When our interests are captured we venture out to new and exciting places that we anticipate will please our pallet.

Istanbul – Turkish Kebabs and Grills (Hong Kong Island)

N: Located at 232 Wan Chai Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, this little eatery serves a variety of Turkish dishes. Hubby and I shared a Beef Donor Roll, which consist of sliced beef/lamb meat mixture (think of gyro meat), shredded lettuce, tomato, onions, and cucumber sauce wrapped in Lavas (pronounced Lavash: a soft, thin Turkish flat bread). Anyhoo, believe it or not, this sandwich was actually light, very filling, and delectable. Sauces are offered if you’re looking for additional heat but the flavor of the sandwich can unquestionably stand on its own. The owner of this heavenly place is a friendly, good-natured host named Turgut. He has a television positioned in the middle of the small dining area that rotated movies and the music videos of Neyo, Rihanna, Brittney Spears, and so on. Thank you Turgut for the great conversation and the hypnotic smell/taste of Turkish dishes which has solidified our returning back to this place any time we venture to Hong Kong Island.

T: After a long day at the airport and our flight being cancelled, we checked into the Charterhouse Hotel on Hong Kong Island. We certainly wanted to venture out and discover a new eatery for our pallets. As we exited the entrance of the hotel to our surprise directly across the street is Istanbul, a local restaurant that fascinated our interest. We crossed the street to Istanbul and began to read the outside menu. While considering various mouthwatering choices on the menu, the owner stepped out the entrance way and guaranteed us that we would thoroughly enjoy his food. Wifey and I both agreed to give it a try. After reviewing many options we were interested in several items listed on the menu but he insisted that we try a lamb, beef kabob wrap with spicy/garlic sauce. I myself fell in love with the layering of sensory manipulation. The phenomenal taste of Turkish meat combined with light/soft bread, mixed with fresh/crunchy vegetables was remarkable. I was totally blown away by the flavor as Turgut smiled at us to say, “I told you so.” Istanbul is a must visit whenever you visit Hong Kong Island. The amazing food coupled with fascinating conversation with the owner truly makes this place a hidden Gem.

“It’s a rule - you must visit Istanbul - Turkish Kebabs and Grills (Hong Kong Island).”

Enjoying a Beef Donor Roll!

Menu Options
Meet the lovable Turgut!

Pizza Express (Hong Kong Island)

N: Located at the J Residence, Shop #4 on Ship Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, Hubby and I fell in love with this place on our last trip to Hong Kong Island and I gave a solemnly promise that we would have to come back if ever we were given the chance.  This franchise actually originated in the UK but has found loving homes all over Hong Kong.  This is no ordinary pizza place… this pizza restaurant is awesome. On our last trip here, we ordered the Parma pizza: Prosciutto, ricotta, parmesan, rosemary, and polenta (no mozzarella). This blended tastes were delightful but be warned that it has a distinct salty bite to it due to the cured meat and the cheeses (video will be provided below).  This trip had us trying out a pizza from the Leggera section. Per the menu, Leggera (Italian for “light”) pizzas are made with a hole in the middle and a crisp rocket salad in the hole.  These particular pizzas are 550 calories each and are the perfect light option. We chose a bowl of Spaghetti Bolognese and the Gustosa Leggera Pizza: Prosciutto, light mozzarella, portabella mushrooms, and red peppers. This pizza has a paper thin crust, very light tomato sauce, and once again the prosciutto adds a delectable taste of saltiness. The plentiful salad was that comes in the middle is a mix of arugula leaves and sweet balsamic vinaigrette with a bite. As for the Spaghetti Bolognese, the pasta was served al dente with a spicy, highly peppered, carrot infused tomato sauce. I am saddened to write that I was very disappointed with the flavor and texture of the meatballs. Even if the dish was sans meatballs, I really don’t think that I will order this particular dish again. BTW: they have an excellent selection of music playing throughout the evening.  Think of a blend of Neo-Soul and Smooth Jazz!

T: Pizza Express is a place Wifey and I discovered several years ago while visiting Hong Kong Island. From the first experience, we vowed to come back. Several years later we returned. The pizza at Pizza Express is groundbreaking to the health conscious, innovative to the food connoisseur and simply unbelievable to the average foodie. Because of the high fat content and overabundance of cheese, I simply do not enjoy pizza the same way as once before. Pizza Express transformed my way of thinking about pizza. The Leggera Pizza offers a pizza made with a hole in the center of the crust filled with a crisp/fresh rocket salad, topped with your favorite ingredients for fewer than 500 calories. Wow!!! This is the perfect option for me (member of the health conscious). The quality pizza toppings such as Hungarian pepperoni, smoked salmon, roquito peppers, roasted artichokes, ricotta and prosciutto cheese to name a few will please the pallet of the pizza connoisseur. The delectable dishes prepared with premium quality ingredients created an intricately woven taste engineered to excite taste buds that would bring joy to any foodie (Wifey – yaaaaaah!!!). The menu is well rounded and focuses on the superiority of quality and innovation to provide an astonishing pizza. Pizza Express in Hong Kong is a requisite when in Hong Kong Island.

“Have nothing but the best at Pizza Express.”

Yeah.... Pizza Express!

 Spaghetti Bolognese

 Gustosa Leggera Pizza

Meet Jacqueline (Jackie)... She's a wonderful  hostess!


Wednesday, December 5, 2012


Nadirahs Perspective:

After recent travels, hubby and I thought it would be appropriate to do a three-part blog on our adventures when traveling to one of the worlds largest populated areas China.   Before I get started, let me explain that this first installment will describe what most Americans would not consider common etiquette when traveling to China.   The reason we feel this is most important is because there are times when customs are misunderstood due to cultural differences.  Our hope is to put upcoming travelers at ease by preparing them with some insight on what to expect when traveling to mainland China and/or Hong Kong.  The information that will be provided is not meant as derogatory or demeaning, just the plain truth of what was witnessed or experienced on a daily basis.
The country of China is generally compromised of three parts: Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau (both HK and Macau are compromised of various islands).  Mainland China is under the jurisdiction of the Peoples Republic of China (PRC), which excludes Hong Kong and Macau.  These various governments have different currencies, cultures, languages, and environments.  Its always important to mention that it is very hard for people from Mainland China to leave their home to travel to Hong Kong, while Hong Kong residents can freely come and go as they please to and from Mainland China.

Although its more common to see South Africans in certain regions of mainland China, it is a rare occurrence to see African Americans walking around the different provinces.  With that understanding, blacks are stared at like we are known celebrities or mythical creatures. Please do not take the blatant finger pointing and stares personally. However, Hong Kong is more multi-cultural so you wont stick out like a sore thumb.

Invasion of space:
Please understand that you are visiting a country with a population of over 1.3 billion people.  Space is limited and your frame of mind should consider that.  Its nothing for locals to stand within extreme proximity to one another.  U.S. citizens are on the whole give me five feet rule; however, this does not apply when visiting foreign lands.

Still dont understand why but it is not common practice to cover your mouth when you cough.  Be aware that a person may be standing right next to you and experience a wide-mouth cough.  My only suggestion to you is to turn your head in the opposite direction and/or get out of the way if this is going to be a problem.  Cussing or mean-mugging a person will do you no earthly good.

There is a major problem with counterfeit Chinese RMB dollars in Mainland China, so learn how to identify what to look for in the ink.  For example, the 100 dollar bill has a reflective green 100 printed in the bottom corner of the bill and you should be able to feel ridges on the printed face of the bill.  If the 100 does not reflect or the face of the bill feels too smooth its a fake.  FYI: Interchanging your money at the airport (make sure you grab local maps there) does not negate you from receiving these fake bills, so please take the time before you leave any counter to inspect each and every bill you receive.  Otherwise, you could find yourself stranded with a disgruntle taxi cab driver or business owner and they will consider it to be your fault and accuse you of being a crook.  Photos will be provided below.

Nose picking:
Believe it or not, just like the coughing, it is customary to see the locals picking their noses at an alarming rate.  Forefinger, pinky finger, or pinky nail it does not matter.  Just make sure that you stay out of the way if this is going to hinder your vacation. Side note: keep plenty of travel wet ones available if you are planning on shaking a lot of hands.

Toilet and paper:
Public washrooms for women consist of a toilet bowl situated in the floor (photo below).   Ladies, this means that you have to get ready to squat.  Sorry for getting graphic but the lower you squat, the more you are able to avoid wild sprays getting on your clothes.   Also, carry a travel pack of tissues and/or wet ones with you because toilet paper will not be provided for you.

Get ready to work those thigh muscles!

Troy’s Perspective:

            Depending on where you are located in China, the assistance that you may be looking for in order to get around town or gathering basic knowledge of the area may be challenging if you cannot speak Chinese (Mandarin or Cantonese).  The Chinese dialect differs in Northern and Southern China.  English speakers are very far and few to come-by in Mainland China.  The best way to get around is to have someone who speaks English to write out locations to any of your destinations in Chinese.  Therefore, you can ask someone to read and direct you to a specific location or give the Chinese writing of your location to a taxi driver.  It is always best to be ready to play the ultimate game of charades.  It may be amusing at times, but this is where your creativity and physical gestures come to be veeeery important!  Just imagine how you would ask someone who cannot speak your language the most basic things, such as: Where is the toilet? How much something cost?  Where to get food or what time is it?  These minor things are very challenging at times but entertaining to see because you tend to get very inventive.

            Hong Kong is a place of opulence and quality. This province of Hong Kong is defiantly the upper crust of China. You can see the European influence of cars, food, clothing and hotels. English is the second language, therefore making it easy to get around and enjoy what Hong Kong has to offer. Due to the European influence, quality is mandatory in these parts; along with, the hefty price that goes along with the territory but you definitely get what you pay for. Mainland China is very different when it comes to quality. This is where you may run into many counterfeit goods for example: clothing, electronic accessories, even money as you are handed back change, so be careful.  If the price may be too good to be true, maybe its not true and what you see may not be what you are getting.  It was mentioned by travelers that often frequent China when ordering food, you may not be getting the meat that may be advertised.  Example: The shrimp that you order may be some other seafood that closely resembles shrimp.
Public Service Announcement: Be Careful!!!

            Relationships may be observed as rather odd in the eyes of Westerners, but the way of life for those of China. It is customary to see groups of young men and women walking/talking/ holding hands down the street or conversing with their arm around one another at the local bar or club. As noticed by wifey and I, many Chinese citizens go to local dance clubs with their friends and just spend time with their immediate company. It is unusual for Chinese citizens to go out of their way to mingle with others they may not know. The time of going out is for a small group of acquaintances to enjoy the time among themselves. They seldom go out to pick up potential mates or find new friends. 

Tipping for services:
            I have noticed that the customs of tipping in Mainland China and Hong Kong are very different. I believe that it is traditional for Mainland Chinese not to except tips for services (taxi rides, bell hops, waiters at restaurants, etc.). This may vary depending on where you stay and if they are familiar with Westerner/Europeans customs. Those who provide services in Hong Kong are very familiar with Western/European customs; therefore, expect a tip for services rendered.

            The salty/sweet flavors that excite Western pallets are not the common choice of Mainland Chinese. What Westerners have known as Chinese food is fictitious food created for the American pallet. Authentic Chinese foods consist of white rice, small pieces of meat, some exotic seafood and a wide assortment of vegetables. There is no such thing as shrimp fried rice, egg rolls, egg foo young, sweet and sour chicken/shrimp/pork and other dishes that we are accustom to eating. Just about everything that is served in America as Chinese food is not heard of in Mainland China. What a reality check!!! The very first time that wifey and I ate in the mainland area, we ordered shrimp assuming that it would be delightful and fresh. To our surprise, the shrimp were served completely with shells, legs and heads. Our appetites were instantly lost and off to McDonald's we went!  We have noticed that McDonald's  Starbucks, Pizza Hut and KFC have been becoming more familiar in remote and odd places around the world. Hong Kong on the other hand is totally different. Wifey and I enjoy eating just about everything offered in Hong Kong. The food is suited for a more Westernized/European pallet.

Stay tuned for the second installment: Food reviews of restaurants in Mainland China and Hong Kong