I’ve been meaning to write more about my Hong Kong trip but so many things have gotten in the way. So now, back to the regular programming until something else catches my blog fancy.
In the first few days in HK, we did the absolute tourist stuff but later we found out that there was more to HK than Disneyland (which I never went anyway) and shopping (I am not that crazy about shopping and carting home clothes and anyway, I’ve never been a brand-conscious person so I didn’t even know if the prices of branded items were cheap or not!). Some people were aghast I didn’t go to Disneyland. Maybe next time, I shrugged.
HK Urban Planning Is Marvelous!
The convenience of living in HK cannot be underestimated. SP’s apartment was located above a shopping mall. While her location wasn’t exactly in the heart of the city, HK urban planning is such that you’re really not missing anything even if you don’t enter the fast-paced city.
The mall had everything one wanted. Let’s see… there was a fairly large JUSCO supermarket, fastfood chains like Burger King and KFC, Chinese/dim sum restaurants, hair salons, bakeries, boutiques, PC shops, Mannings (HK version of Guardian pharmacy), Popular bookstore, heck, anything you wanted was inside this mall. I realized even in places we considered the boondocks, their malls were heck of a lot superior than our Penang malls! It was absolutely crazy.
On days when we were too tired to eat (after a day of walking about and jumping on and off MTR), we’d gone to the JUSCO downstairs to check out what’s good. They had all types of sushi which were sold cheaper after 9pm.
(While I am talking about food, let it be known that Milo sold in HK cannot rival the original Malaysian Milo. We found out why SP’s stash of Milo was so precious (just like the cili padi she bought in some rural area of HK). She buys her Milo when she comes back to Malaysia because the HK Milo just does not cut it! I agree. The HK Milo is too milky and sweet. Yeccchhhhh!)
Their Version of Kopi Tiam
Before we set off for a day of wandering, we had to fill our tummies. Luckily, we could pick the HK version of our local kopitiam in the downstairs mall. This was a superfast cafe called Maxim. The concept is like a factory production line. And it helps A LOT if you are fluent in Cantonese. The cashier will give you a blank stare if you speak in English. Pick up some regular Cantonese to bluff your way through, especially when it comes to ordering food.
We ate a lot at Maxim’s during our HK trip partly because Nic marvelled at their efficiency. Their system was quick, quiet and orderly. The variety of food was good and tasty, and most were sets like breakfast sets, lunch sets and dinner sets. If you eat at Kim Gary’s a lot, it’s somewhat like that but in Kim Gary, at least they come and get your order.
In Maxim’s, you first looked at the menu of the day which was on this board at the cafe entrance. Decide what you want. Then order and pay at the cashier. Do not hesitate and dilly-dally or she gets impatient, giving you THE STARE. HK people are always in a rush somehow. Even if they are behind a cashier’s counter. As a Malaysian, I am made to feel a teeny weeny bit slow like a turtle. They zip past you like Dash.
Order in Cantonese. Make it quick as this is breakfast time and people are lining up behind you. When you get your receipt, you go stand at another counter. You pass the receipt to the workers who are quietly assembling your food as you wait. If you order the famous nai-cha (HK milk tea), the tea appears. Your food tray slides to the next counter for your bowl of noodles or bread or whatever. And if the item you order isn’t ready, you are asked to take a seat. They will announce your number when the food’s ready.
All the while, the workers slapping together your order are not talking, not bitching, not stressed. They wear gloves and have mouth covers. It’s clean, bright and fast. Everything flows methodically. They work fast but they are not stressed. I’ve seen them in action during the very hectic lunch hour and still they aren’t a bit fazed. Amazing.
As good as they are, Maxim’s isn’t just the only fastfood cafe for Chinese-style food. I wanted to try Cafe Coral which is similar to Maxim’s but didn’t have the chance. Maybe on my next trip then. Cafe Coral’s concept is similar. It is also all day dining from breakfast onwards till dinner. And Cafe Maxim and Cafe Coral are everywhere in HK, especially in shopping malls. With such a big variety of food, you’ll never get bored even if you eat at these cafes every day! Price-wise, they are very good value for money.
Tea-time is also a good time to drop in as they have fantastic yet filling tea sets. Don’t expect the Queen’s tea with cucumber sandwiches. This is the hearty HK fare of noodles, chicken wings, toasts and soups. Again I like the tea-time sets because tea time is such a major event for HK folks. Everyone converges at 3pm to have something to nibble! (Actually it’s more than a nibble. For me, it was a complete meal!).
Next time: Checking Out The HK Supermarkets…My Other Pastime