Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Armoury : Hong Kong

The Armoury
307 Pedder Building (3rd Floor)
12 Pedder St
Hong Kong

Ph : +852 2804 6991

The Armoury. ethandesu and Gaz.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Ivan the Kozak : Hong Kong

Ivan the Kozak 
Lower G/F, 46-48 Cochrane St 
Hong Kong

“The bortsch is really good, I have to take you there”.

And so it was that I ended up at Russian restaurant Ivan the Kozak, a name that would normally give me a moment’s pause for thought. Ah well, another one to add to the Hong Kong food diary I guess.

Situated in a small alley like street part way up the length of the pedestrian escalator in Central, this is not a restaurant in a location with much random passing traffic. As such, the fact that they were fully booked on this Tuesday evening is testament to their popularity. There was a table free only if I agreed to be out within just over an hour.

Popularity is a funny thing. There are plenty of eating establishments that are immensely popular, and it really makes very little sense, and there are some places with good people serving great food which deserve greater patronage than they get. A lot about popularity is obviously down to subjectivities; my preferences are different to yours, what I deem to be good value is probably different to what my unknown neighbours think, but nonetheless…well…you know what I mean.

I muse about this because of the main courses ordered during this meal, but I will get to them later.

Ivan the Kozak’s décor is arguably a bit kitsch (I’m sure that someone out there would call it ‘period authentic’), but it has been decorated in such an obviously homely and heartfelt way that the experience of being there is actually welcoming, and does not slip over into the realm of wanting to escape a particularly bad theme park.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Longines Comet

The Longines Comet, a short-lived mystery dial from the seventies, is an unusual watch from Longines, featuring a broad arrow for hours and an orbiting dot for minutes. Both are on revolving discs, making them appear to move without being connected to the dial, hence the term 'mystery dial'.

The indication 'T Swiss Made T' on the bottom of the dial means that the watch contains a certain quantity of tritium that emits less than 227 MBq (7,5 mCi). This particular watch still has some lume appearing on the tips of the markers when the watch is placed close to the light of a lamp; natural light does not seem to have any effect. The dot and the arrow have a tendency to discolour to a yellow colour over time.

The watch is considered to be uncommon, as the design was deemed too avant-garde for tastes at the time, so comparatively few were sold. Red is the most rare colour, followed by yellow, the most common colour being blue. It was also produced in black and white, and in brown, maroon and green variations.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Luk Yu Tea House : Hong Kong

Luk Yu Tea House
24 Stanley St
Hong Kong
Ph : +852 2523 5464

Luk Yu Tea House gets its name from the Tang dynasty poet Lu Yu, who wrote the legendary 'The Classic of Tea'. An establishment dating back to 1933, its decor hasn't  really changed since.  It has three levels and the first floor is said to be reserved for its loyal customers. This story seems to have been repeated so many times that it has gained currency through sheer decades long repetition to develop an almost myth-like status. Based on my personal experience, regulars have 'their' tables on 'their floors', and that this 'first floor only' story is just that, a story.

Although the basic menu stays the same (there are menus in Chinese, English and Japanese, to my knowledge), there are regular 'specials', so this menu, which you fill in yourself and hand to the waiter, changes weekly. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Kraze Burger : Hong Kong

Kraze Burger
Shop 605, 6/F, iSquare
63 Nathan Road
Tsim Sha Tsui
Hong Kong

Situated in the still relatively new iSquare shopping centre, one of several new temples to commercialism in TST, I came across Kraze by accident.  I didn't realise it at the time, thinking that it was a single business, but it is an outpost of a well known Korean burger chain.  The name is  mashup of 'Korea + Craze + Burger', and this branch is their first overseas one.

Instead of pronouncing it like 'craze', as was intended, Koreans have decided to call it 'Krazy Burger'.

The design and decor is clearly trying to reflect an more 'upmarket' (if generic looking) American burger place. It is definitely a step above a fast food franchise 'look', with a U-shaped large open dining area, dark wooden tables and seats,  banquettes, and a semi-open kitchen. Situated on a floor with a few other eating outlets, it was the most popular amongst them on the day of my visit.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Under the Bridge Spicy Crab

Under the Bridge Spicy Crab
429 Lockhart Rd
Causeway Bay
Hong Kong

Four decades ago, there were almost 40,000 people living on boats in typhoon shelters in Hong Kong, mostly fishermen, who created a thriving, distinct subculture. Today there are only about 30, many of whom also have homes on land. Little remains of their traditional way of life, which is mostly remembered by diners who frequent restaurants serving 'typhoon shelter cuisine'. 

Typhoon shelter crab, which is served in a number of restaurants in Hong Kong, is one of these dishes believed to have originated from the shelters. It is commonly prepared with garlic, scallion, red chili and black beans. 

One of the most frequented exponents of this dish are the Under the Bridge Spicy Crab series of restaurants, which are all situated virtually next to each other in Causeway Bay/ Wanchai area.

String beans with pickled olives (HKD48)

A popular dish and one which can be one of my favourites, but enjoy this solid exemplar as I did, I didn't want to be facing just it, and nothing else, for about half an hour. The restaurant was not full, and yes I understand that "each crab is cooked separately", but perhaps this should have been cooked closer to the crab's cooking time so that they came out together? Just a suggestion, really.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Pre-owned watch shops : Hong Kong

Watches. Hong Kong. The two go hand in hand, much like me and Vacherons (vintage or modern, I’m not fussy. Jump hours would be good, though). It’s hard to go anywhere in this city without bumping into a watch shop of some description, whether it’s one of the many branches of City Chain, the plethora of shops in Central, TST and Causeway Bay, or a brand boutique (kudos to Vacheron, Omega and Franck Muller in Causeway Bay for being open at 11pm on New Years Eve).

The city loves its watches, whether it’s haute or hot pink.

When a watchnerd/ WIS visits Hong Kong, one question seems to always pop up – where are the pre-owned and vintage watch shops? Google searches and going through watch fora and blogs only brings up a dozen or so places, so I thought, on my recent trip there, that I’d try to compile as comprehensive a list as possible, as a resource.

In all cases, I visited each place to verify its existence, but I ran into problems with one or two places which a) had no opening hours; b) were never open when I walked past, even when I made repeated attempts at random times of the day. They did seem to exist in the sense of there being signage, and in one case, an online presence.

There are also a number of places that I have chosen not to include - the businesses which are ADs for a varying number of brands, but which seemed, inevitably, to have the anomaly of a small section of a window with Panerais and often Rolexes as well, but which do not appear to be ADs of either brand.

I have personally only purchased from two of these listed places, over the years, and I will identify them and give my personal experience. You will find certain brands dominating (Rolex, Panerai, Patek, Omega, Cartier), and the vintage/ modern quantity and proportions variable.  For all of these dealers, the usual caveat emptor applies.

There are almost 40 shops listed, so hopefully you can find something of interest in at least one of them.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Hands-on with the Dior Chiffre Rouge T01

Many of the well-known fashion houses have been producing watches for years, most of them without horological distinction, their productions being regarded as just 'fashion' pieces.

This seems to be changing of late with some interesting, not to say innovative, pieces being produced.

One watch with an unusual complication recently released by the French fashion house Dior is a fine example of this new approach.

The Dior Chiffre Rouge T01 was designed for Dior by young movement engineers Franck Orny and Johnny Girardin. Orny is a construction-engineer specialising in horological fabrication who served as chief of production at a manufactory which has attracted attention in recent years for its unusual and elegant horological complications. Girardin is a movement constructor and engineer who specialises in watches and has worked for various renowned manufactories including Greubel Forsey.

The Chiffre Rouge T01, with a self-winding 'Dior 8 Fuseaux Horaires' calibre movement, has a regular minute hand rotating around the wonderfully sparse dial decorated with a 'pique de coton' motif dear to the brand and characteristic of their tuxedo shirts. There is a sweep second hand tipped with red. Nowhere does the name 'Dior' appear on the dial. There is a smaller 'satellite' disc which orbits around the face once every 24 hours and which acts as an hour indicator.

This satellite, within a red border, orbits within itself, rotating once every 24 hours to act as a multiple time-zone indicator, with the time at eight cities from different parts of the globe shown on its dial. It is of course no problem to extrapolate the time for cities not listed. The satellite dial is one half white and the other black to indicate day and night.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Meet Fresh

Meet Fresh Taiwanese Dessert
13 Goulburn St
(corner of Dixon Street mall)
Haymarket, Sydney
Tel: (02) 8339 1031

Open: 7 days 11am until late

Taiwan loves its desserts.  Often eaten as a street food type of snack, beverages like pearl milk tea and sweet treats like shaved ice and tofu pudding are a few of the local specialties Taiwan is known for, and which, in the case of the pearl teas, have become increasingly popular in Australia.

Now it's the time for Taiwanese desserts to make their mark in Sydney, and in the case of Meet Fresh (on the site of the old Daniang Dumpling), for the company to open its first Australian franchise. Having been open since mid September, although the queues are not as lengthy as they were in the first month or so, they are still doing a healthy steady trade, if my random walks past there are any indication.

 Red Bean with milk ice ($6.60)

Good news for the red bean fans - a generous serve, with a lot (perhaps too much) ice, sweetened milk, and the usual suspects, this is almost a meal unto itself, and will satiate. For those of us like myself who are fairly much nonplussed by red beans, it is still an enjoyable and refreshing dessert, as the beans are not too dominant taste wise.