Archive for June, 2013

Day 4 Guangzhong and Jiangmen

On to our second day in Guangzhou and first day in Jiangmen, Gerry’s hometown :).

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Gerry put us up at Holiday Inn which was conveniently located right on Shangxiajiu pedestrian street so we had a really good sleep after the exhausting day before.

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View of the pedestrian street from the hotel.

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Compared to the crowded and busy Shangxiajiu pedestrian street at night, day time Shangxiajiu was positively sleepy in comparison.

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Passed by the famous 莲香楼 Lian xiang lou. This highly reputable traditional chinese bakery is also known as ‘ 蓮蓉第一家’ as in the No.1 Lotus Seed Paste, I’m assuming their mooncakes must be very yummy with smooth lotus seed paste. Not a huge fan of mooncakes so we didn’t step in to try their pastries.

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Gerry brought us to yumcha, my first yumcha session in Guangzhou haha. Our restaurant was  泮溪酒家, meaning lakeside restaurant, probably named that because it’s surrounded by five little lakes. This restaurant started back in 1947  which explains its gorgeous traditional settings.

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R and Gerry at dimsum. Sigh, I miss Gerry.

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Cute rabbit shaped dumplings.

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We spent a long time yumcha-ing, mostly chatting away and trying a lot of different dimsum. Besides the more common carrot cake, we also had 马蹄糕Water chestnut jelly which tasted like the Chinese New Year nian gao in a jelly form.

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After our heavy brunch, we walked around the garden restaurant and admired it’s beautiful surroundings such as this koi pond.

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Felt like we were somewhere in the forbidden palace.

Panxi Restaurant 泮溪酒家
地址: 荔湾区龙津西路151号(近荔枝湾)
Address: 151 Longjin Xi Lu, Liwan District

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Another famous shopping street in Guangzhou being the Beijing Road. A bit more high end than ShangXiaJiu but not that much of a difference to us since we weren’t in the mood for shopping.

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China history was my favourite subject in high school so I thought it was pretty cool that along Beijing Road we could see cultural relics of the ancient city gates from the Song, Ming and Qing dynasties. The story goes that back in 2002 when Beijing Road was undergoing road excavation, they unearthed the ancient city wall and found five to 11 layers of pavement dating back to the ancient dynasties.

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Our very hospitable tour guide Gerry next brought us to the place where we could best get a 360 degrees view of Guangzhou.

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Where else but the Guangzhou/Canton Tower? The Guangzhou Tower is the tallest structure in China  but only the fourth tallest in the world. This tower has a nickname ‘young girl with tight waist’ can you tell why? It’s even prettier at night with all it’s lights on.

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Not sure whether it was a foggy day (Gerry tells me this is just normal for Guangzhou) but the views weren’t very clear.

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The highest post office in the world!

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Since our tickets were also post cards, we wrote a few out and posted them straightaway. I posted mine to Gerry’s (girl)friend while R wrote a thank you postcard to Gerry’s parents. I wonder whether they’ve received them yet?

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Gerry and the Guangzhou tower.

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It was getting late so after a bit more sightseeing, we hopped into the car for a two hour drive into Jiangmen city, Gerry’s hometown. We stopped by Gerry’s home to pick up his parents for dinner. But instead of rushing to dinner, the parents pressed us to have a bowl of soup that they had cooked specially for us. This bowl of soup was very  special and a first for R and I. 老龟老鸡蛇汤, meaning turtle, chicken and snake soup! Apparently very nourishing and good for health so R and I gulped it down.

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Dinner that was arranged by Gerry’s uncle! If you remember my blog post back in 2010, I blogged about Gerry’s uncle when he visited Perth back then. Gerry’s uncle or Kao Fu (uncle in cantonese) as we call him left me with a lasting and memorable impression as a lovely, fun and knowledgeable uncle. R and I were really excited to meet up with him again.

We were a bit taken aback when we were ushered into this grand and luxurious private dining room with it’s own sitting area and private attendants. Gerry’s uncle was already there and as welcoming and friendly as ever. It was even better because this time we got to meet his equally affable wife and Gerry’s female cousin.

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The dining table was so huge that I felt like we were sitting on a giant conference table with it’s rotating lazy susan.

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The food was amazing and already I knew we would probably never get to try something like this again.

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When we were in Perth Gerry had already promised us that we would be drinking copious amounts of Chinese rice wine and he was right! Gerry’s uncle and aunt took out their ‘special’ wine which was fragrant (scarily high alcohol content) and very drinkable. They spent the remaining of the night toasting to us, luckily those cups were tiny and the wine was of a very high quality so we didn’t end up getting drunk at all.

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Gerry’s wondeful family, from left to right, his cousin, Gerry’s father, Gerry, Gerry’s mum and Kao Fu. Kao Fu’s wife was too shy to be in the photo.

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After dinner, we went over to Kao Fu’s house for some tea drinking. Kao Fu gave R a special tea session and taught him the intricacy of making chinese tea. Kao Fu introduced us to tea drinking back in 2010 and is the only reason why we have fragrant tea leaves in Perth now. In fact, they gave us more tea again this time!

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There was a surprise birthday cake for R specially arranged by Gerry, so sweet :). R’s birthday was the next day so Gerry had arranged for his cousin to bring a cake and we had the birthday cake session at Kao Fu’s house. I think this was possibly one of the more memorable birthday celebrations R has ever had.

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Birthday cake wasn’t the only thing we ate that night *gulp*. Cicadas (yep,the bugs that make all that racket at night) are a delicacy in China and we were offered these rare delicacies (apparently it’s very hard to catch or find them nowadays) by Kao Fu and his family. R, btw, has an insect phobia, it took him a good 20 minutes trying to convince himself to even touch those things let alone eat them. In the end we summoned our courage and had a cicada each! What was the taste like? It wasn’t too bad, not slimy, salty garlicky juices, but we didn’t go for seconds.

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I was really pleased that I got to meet Kao Fu’s daughter whom I’d talked to on the phone back in 2010. She’s a talented and sweet little girl who sang and danced for us and also brought me into her bedroom to show me all her treasures.

It was a fantastic night, probably the best night of the entire trip.

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Day 3: Guangzhou, 江南大道 Wedding dress shopping & 上下九步行街 Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street

We were excited on the third day because it meant that our Guangzhou leg of the trip was starting! We woke up early because we wanted to catch the early trains from Hongkong to Guangzhou to make it to Guangzhou by noon.

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Breakfast at another congee stall near Soy Street Mongkok. I wasn’t very hungry so ordered a plate of zha leong, which is fried youtiaw wrapped in cheong fun and soaked in a sweetish soy sauce.

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Richard had a big bowl of ‘zhu hong jook’ as in pork blood cube congee. He preferred the first congee stall we had the day earlier but said the bloodcubes were good.

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Don’t forget if you’re travelling from Hongkong to China, you need to apply for a visa in advance. There are various methods of getting to Guangzhou from Hongkong, but one of the easiest ways is via train. All you have to do is get to the Hung Hum station in Kowloon where you’re able to buy your train tickets (HKD$190) to the Guangzhou East station. 12 trains run daily and the train journey takes a comfortable two hours. The train itself is very spacious and clean so we had a relaxing journey.

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Once we walked out of the train station we were greeted by Gerry, Gerry’s mum and his friend CK ! It was all very exciting and cheerful, Gerry’s mum was delighted that we were finally going to visit their hometown and was chattering to us non-stop. Straightaway Gerry brought us to fill our tummies and introduced us to his hospitable and friendly god mother who started ordering a vast  array of dishes.

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This was one of the first dishes being red roasted pigeons, a specialty in Guangzhou and Hongkong.

Day 3

And then the dishes went on and on from a variety of dimsum to roast goose, a beautifully steamed fish and pearl chicken.

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But we were really in Guangzhou for a mission: to buy a wedding dress. They had purposely picked a restaurant along the famous Guangzhou Wedding Street being Jiangnan Da Dao so we could go wedding dress hunting straight away. The aunties left us to shop and the young ones started trekking along the never ending shops of wedding everything. There weren’t just wedding dress shops, there were shops specialising in tailored suits for men, shoe shops, wedding accessory shops selling everything and anything you would need for a chinese wedding.

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Big sparkly gown or traditional red and gown kua? Choices, choices.

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Just in this building along there were three or four stories of wedding stores. Along both sides of this busy street were bridal boutiques and tailors not to mention street vendors selling wedding stickers, red umbrellas, lucky packets with your family name …..

Did we manage to get a wedding dress? Yes! I also bought a cheongsam and Richard ordered a suit as well, so in all, a very successful shopping outing. Poor Gerry and CK couldn’t have been enjoying themselves trooping in and out of the stores in the muggy heat but they never complained and were great companions.

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It was late afternoon by the time we were done shopping, time to check in our hotel which was conveniently located on the busy Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street. We were pretty tired by then so didn’t explore the street much.

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After checking in, CK brought us to this popular dessert house 南信 Nanxin located on the pedestrian street. We knew straight away that it was going to be a good foodie place because it was teaming with locals.

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Richard and Gerry in Guangzhou, June 2013.

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My first 双皮奶 Double Skin Milk and apparently Nanxin’s双皮奶 happens to be one of the best in Guangzhou too :). This mixture of milk, egg white and sugar was fantastically smooth, creamy and rich. I was very impressed.

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Gerry’s favourite chinese dessert is the black sesame paste 芝麻糊 which when you look at it, looks like a uurgh black mess. But Nanxin’s black sesame paste wowed us with its fragrance and richness. It was really lovely and possibly the best jimawu we’ve ever had.

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They have other things besides dessert! This was their Sampan Congee which was slightly burnt but still pretty tasty nevertheless.

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Their cheongfuns which come in huge portions. Again, I was surprised at how different the texture of cheongfun was in Guangzhou, chewier and stickier and smooth.

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CK introduced me to another signature dessert of Nanxin, this mixture of mango, red bean and herbal jelly dessert. It was nice but I was still partial towards the double skin milk.

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Another nice dessert, this one had crunchy bits of water chestnuts in it and tasted a bit like a light horlicks or ovaltine. Very refreshing and great texture. And with that, our wonderful first day in Guangzhou ended with a sweet note. Already this Guangzhou leg was promising to be an exciting foodie experience and memorable trip.

Nanxin Shuang Pi Nai 南信双皮奶
47号 Dishifu Road, Liwan
Guangzhou, Guangdong, China

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Wanted to end this blog post with this picture that we snapped along the Guangzhou busy roads, can you guess what this building is? It’s a kindergarten! I think Tristan and Kaka would have liked going to a kindergarten that resembles a Hogwarts castle. More Guangzhou posts next time.

Day 1 and 2 : Mongkok, Hongkong

Our Hongkong trip is over and it’s back to the daily grind (T____T). But let’s relieve the good ol’ holiday here.

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The view from our hotel room, classic Hongkong with it’s tall narrow buildings. A big part of our first day was taken up by going to the bridal store located in Kowloon Tong (choosing dresses) where we were to take our wedding photos the next day.

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Our first meal in Hongkong amazingly enough wasn’t congee, curry fishballs or even char siew bao. It was Yoshinoya’s beef bowl.

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My beef bowl came with a runny onsen egg, nothing extraordinary but a  satisfying first meal in Hongkong.

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Fruit stalls on Fa Yuen Street. Lychee and longan were in season, I had too many lychees during this trip and am now paying for them :(.

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Famous Ladies Market which was conveniently located near our hotel. We visited the market many many times during our trip.

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I still love Ladies Market. I dislike bargaining with the stall owners, but there are lots of nice things to buy here :).

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Kam Yu Gai, Goldfish street.

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Kam Wah cafe which is famous for it’s polo buns was bustling with business with a line queuing up to buy their buns and eggtarts.

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Buns fresh and hot from the oven.

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When my sister Jan first tried Kam Wah’s polo yao, she msged us raving about the bun and said that it was the best polo yao ever and she was right! This warm polo yao had a lovely soft interior yet slighly cripsy exterior, and the indulgent slice of butter which melted as we were eating the bun gave the sweet bun just the right amount of salty buttery flavour. It was so good!
金華冰廳 Kam Wah Polo Bun
G/F, 47 Bute Street (Prince Edward)

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Mongkok’s busy streets at night.

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It was hot and humid and the streets were packed with people.

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R’s first taste of smelly tofu (chou doufu). ‘How was it’ I asked him? ‘Like tofu’ was his answer hahaha. So lame.

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We had a rest from all the walking and stopped by Hui Lau Shan, Hongkong’s popular dessert chain store for some dessert. You know that American saying ‘there’s a Mcdonald’s on every corner’, well in Hongkong, there’s a Hui Lau Shan in every corner!

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R’s dessert was the mango pudding with mango juice with glutinous rice balls and extra mango.

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My dessert was the yong ji gum lo, pomelo mango sago dessert. R wasn’t impressed with his first Hui Lao Shan dessert, we both felt that Hui Lao Shan is overrated and overpriced.  Our desserts weren’t cold enough and bordering on lukewarm (not great if you’re actually looking for a refreshing dessert) and while the mango was sweet, the pomelo segments in my dessert had a bitter aftertaste. We had much better desserts elsewhere in Guang Zhou and from Honeymoon dessert later in the holiday.

楊枝甘露
楊枝甘yong ji gum lo (pomelo mango sago)

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Our takeaway dinner of tender char siew and roast goose rice takeway. It was really yummy.

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Curry fishballs! My favourite snack in Hongkong, surprisingly R found them tasty too.

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Day 2 in Hongkong. We were determined to have congee for breakfast so chose this comfortable little congee shop near our hotel.

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I had Teng Chai Jook (Sampan congee) which was pretty good with crunchy squid bits, nuts and thin fish slices. R had the Pei Dan Sou Yuk Jook (century egg and lean pork congee) which he enjoyed.

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Cheong fun goes best with congee. The cheong fun in Hongkong is different from Perth ones which are slippery and silky, Hongkong cheong fun is stickier and chewy, I think I prefer Hongkong’s texture.

Then we were off to Kowloon Tong for a half day of wedding photo taking. It was actually pretty fun and we had a nice makeup artiste and photographers who made the whole experience fun and not too painful.

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The end of our wedding photo taking. Our bouquet didn’t go to waste because we brought it over to Guangzhou for Gerry’s (girl)friend.

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Nightime shopping at Langham place. Going down the escalators while admiring the beautiful interior of Langham Place.

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Colorful stairs at Langham.

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Right opposite Langham Place is the Mongkok Cooked Food Market which has a hidden food court with many food stalls and was our designated dinner location for the night.
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My dinner was from Stall 2, 澳門翠苑茶餐廳 Tsui Yuen and included a beef brisket curry bread bowl (the bowl is made out of bread) which came with a side serve of minestrone soup. It was pretty good, I enjoyed breaking off bits of bread from the ‘bowl’ and dipping it in the minestrone which went well with the curry laden bread and was lovely.
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R’s dinner was a Sei Bou Fan (Four treasures rice) from a barbequed meat stall which came with chinese sausage, char siew, chicken, salted duck’s egg and vegetables. It was very tasty.
旺角上海街557號旺角熟食中心2樓
2/F, Cooked Food Market, Mong Kok Complex, 557 Shanghai Street, Mong Kok

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Late night street food snack of siew mai (made out of fish paste, quite different from our usual meaty versions) with curry fishballs hidden underneath.

End of Day 2. Day 3 we travel to Guangzhou where we meet up with Gerry and his family 🙂 :). also the most memorable part of our holiday.


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