Summer Staycation at Disney Explorers Lodge, Hong Kong Disneyland

When we arrived, the first thing that caught my eye was this striking tree in front of the hotel.

The lobby was cavernous! High ceilings and beautiful decor that reminded me of the Polynesian Resort at Walt Disney World.

I have a thing for antique looking world maps with fun details.

I love how immersive it is – something fun to look at everywhere you turn!

Finally, we reached our room, which was really spacious by Hong Kong standards.

The essentials.

No bathtub, unfortunately, but the shower area was quite roomy, with that special shower feature that I can’t remember the name of at the moment… Rainfall shower head?

Two Queen beds! We napped on separate beds in the afternoon, but at night I wasn’t used to having all that space to myself, and crept into Edwin’s bed shortly after. XD

Can you spot the Mickey motif?

Ending with the view from our window.

Friday Night Snapshots

Thought I’d put up some more photos from Natasha and Derek’s trip in Hong Kong, featuring Sohofama, Little Bao, and Quinary. This isn’t strictly a review, mostly pictures with lazy captions. Let’s go!

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Natasha’s cocktail, which goes by the name of something like Imperial Palace.

Smoking Chamomile. I didn’t take a picture of this, only a video. This is a screenshot of the video, hence the poor image quality.

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SOHO Squid (which is really just 椒鹽鮮魷, fried squid with salt and pepper) and 酸辣湯 hot and sour soup. There’s also a glass of San Miguel in the background.

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Chicken soup with wontons, probably the healthiest thing we had that evening.

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New Zealand clams in sake broth.

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Fried rice with Spanish chorizo.

We also had truffle xiaolongbao and beef sliders, but I forgot to take photos of those. 😡

We went to Soho with the intention of having dinner at Little Bao, but we were told that we’d have to wait for more than an hour to be seated. We were famished, so we walked round the corner and discovered Sohofama, which was such a blessing in disguise. Food and service was lovely, and I’d definitely go back for more. It was on the pricier side – the bill came to HK$1309 (~US$168.40/~S$235.30) for four people, but it’s worth considering for special occasions and gatherings.

LITTLE BAO

We headed there after our meal at Sohofama, because nothing says “indulgence” like a second dinner, no?

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Pork belly bao.

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Szechuan fried chicken bao.

Ice-cream bao with green tea ice-cream and condensed milk.

While the food was great (the ice-cream bao was the bomb), I wish I could say the same about the service. The front of house, or whatever the equivalent at Little Bao, was disgustingly rude and condescending. I half-wanted to leave, but I’d heard such good things about the food so we decided to just give it a try.

Now that I’ve ticked it off the list, no meal is good enough to overlook service as bad as this, and I probably won’t be returning. I’d definitely reconsider if there’s confirmation saying that guy isn’t working there anymore.

QUINARY

Otherwise known as the home of my favourite cocktail.

Clockwise from top left: Glenfiddich 18 years (if I remember correctly), Quinary Sour, Aperol Spritz, Lavender Meringue Pie.

I adore Lavender Meringue Pie. It’s the drink I order whenever I’m here. Hahaha it sounds like I frequent Quinary all the time when in truth this was only my third visit. But I love it that much, possibly because it’s essentially a dessert in cocktail form.

The drink on the top left corner is Edwin’s and I know for a fact it’s whiskey because he fancies himself a connoisseur and doesn’t touch anything else when at a bar.

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So Edwin and I have just returned from our Easter getaway in Taipei, and I promise not to procrastinate as long as I usually do with the blog posts. After this one goes up, I’ll be sorting out photos from the trip, and arranging the various souvenirs that we bought (did a lot of damage this time round). Between this and other pending posts, I’ve got quite a bit on my plate. Also, because I’m the overly ambitious type, I’m hoping to get all this done by the end of the month. I’ve got some plans for May, mostly regarding Le French May, and we’ll be travelling again too! Exciting stuff, so watch this space!

Springtime in Disneyland

Finally got to make a trip to Disneyland with my Disney soulmate Natasha! Hopefully it’s the first of many. Can’t wait for us to hit Anaheim or Orlando someday!

Brought along our respective dates for a group DisneyBound. From left: me as Alice, Edwin as the Mad Hatter, Derek as the Caterpillar, and Natasha as the Queen of Hearts.

I’d always thought that Disneyland looks its best during the Christmas season, but the spring decorations are seriously lush!

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Colourful flowers everywhere!

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Seasonal pastries: Donald Duck and Winnie the Pooh doughnuts.

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Can we just take a moment to appreciate the beauty of these flowers?

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Yep.

Gorgeous!

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As you may have noticed from the first picture, there were Disney Easter eggs making an appearance for spring. Literal Easter eggs, strewn all over the park. There were supposedly currently over a hundred of these eggs, but I only managed to find and photograph 54 of them.

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Hiro and Baymax on Main Street.

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Mike and Sully, also on Main Street, I believe.

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Darth Vader and Stormtroopers in Tomorrowland.

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One of these is not like the others.

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Iron Man outside the Stark Expo Shop in Tomorrowland.

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BB-8, C-3PO, and R2-D2. These are the Easter eggs you’re looking for!

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Edwin and I met Chewie and R2 at the Command Post last summer, but this was the first time we met BB-8. It was adorable!

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Mad Hatter meets BB-8.

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In Fantasyland, where I went on the teacups ride for the very first time! I had avoided it as I was afraid that it’d be too dizzying, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought.

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Why so serious?

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How do you get to Wonderland?

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I might have gone a little (or more than a little) overboard with the theme, but I don’t care. This is definitely one of my favourite outfits ever!

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I was in between poses for this picture, but since Natasha and her ensemble look especially fabulous here, you guys should see it.

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Eeyore loved Edwin’s hat! Even the people behind us in the queue were in awe, haha.

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Another picture where I wasn’t ready, but it’s the only one in which all four of us are looking to the camera.

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Rocket and Groot at the entrance of Tomorrowland.

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The cutest displays in front of the castle.

Obligatory castle shot.

2017 is turning out to be a good year so far!

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Olaf chilling out (pun unintended) in front of a store display in Fantasyland.

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Kanga and Roo in Fantasyland.

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Eeyore, Pooh, and Piglet, somewhere in Fantasyland as well.

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Ugh, get it together, Dopey.

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In all my visits to Hong Kong Disneyland, I’d never seen Aurora, who’s by chance Natasha’s favourite Disney princess. What perfect timing that we got to meet her during Nat’s visit!

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Stealing pose ideas from the expert. Also, I had to change out of my heels. After about 8,000 steps on uneven terrain, I was literally feeling the pinch. Luckily I had flats to change into, and a partner willing to carry my miscellaneous stuff.

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Nick and Judy in front of City Hall.

We had a glorious afternoon tea at the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel, and by the time we returned to the park, it was fairly dark and we only managed to catch a couple more rides before watching the fireworks show.

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Woody and Jessie at Toy Story Land. PSA: The attractions at Adventureland, Mystic Point, Grizzly Gulch, and Toy Story Land close earlier than those in Fantasyland and Tomorrowland, so make sure you plan accordingly!

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Lumiere is a ball of light. How apt.

Et c’est tout, mes amis! I’ll blog about our afternoon tea at Walt’s Cafe in the next post, and until then, au revoir!

Restaurant Week Review: SHACK Tapazaka

Japanese tapas, anyone? Personally, I love the concept of tapas-style dining. Sharing dishes means you get to sample from a greater variety, which is always a win.

In any case, Restaurant Week usually means a three course meal, so you don’t have that option. Nevertheless it’s a great way to try out a new place, as I’ve mentioned before.

Anyway, let’s just dive in, shall we?

STARTER

Left: Soft shell crab salad
Right: Chicken karaage

It’s no secret that I adore deep-fried food, and both dishes definitely delivered. The crab was sitting atop the usual suspects: mixed greens and sesame dressing, no surprises there. The chicken karaage was seasoned with some spices that made it slightly more interesting than the average fried chicken.

So far, so good!

MAIN COURSE

Beef short ribs with rice

The beef was juicy and tender – lots of umami goodness!

Iberico pork with rice

It was a bit too charred for my liking, plus it was drowning in terikayi sauce. It wasn’t terrible, just meh.

DESSERT

Left: Matcha ice-cream with red bean mochi
Right: Strawberry 3 ways

Both desserts tasted alright, but they weren’t particularly great or exciting.

VERDICT

The portion sizes were SMALL, for all the courses. There were only three pieces of beef and slightly more than half a bowl of rice for the main course. The strawberry dessert comprised of one frozen strawberry, half a fresh strawberry, and maybe one teaspoonful of puree. I don’t usually have a heavy lunch, so it was okay for me, but I imagine that many people will not find it acceptable.

Also, when we first arrived, we were told that they never received our reservation. After the guy refreshed his app, he then saw it and grudgingly seated us at the bar. I didn’t mind sitting there, but his attitude left much to be desired. It wasn’t our fault that there’s a technical error, and he could’ve been more professional about it. We were later served by another person who was somewhat friendlier. There weren’t that many diners while we were there, so it didn’t seem like they were understaffed and overworked or anything like that.

Just like with Marbling, I left the place with mixed feelings. I really liked the decor and overall vibe of the place. There were some hits and misses for the food, but the service was disappointing.

SHACK Tapazaka
G/F, 1-1A Yiu Wa Street, Causeway Bay
銅鑼灣耀華街1-1A號地下
Tel: 2555 6058

Restaurant Week Review: Marbling

With about 30, 000 restaurants in this city, it’s safe to say that there are plenty of opportunities to try something new when dining out! It’s also possible to get overwhelmed with so many choices available, so I like how Restaurant Week is a platform of sorts to help me pick out someplace to try. Booking’s a breeze too, which is always a bonus. The spring edition may be over, but given that it takes place twice a year, the next one will be coming by before we know it.

Anyway, Edwin and I had a dinner reservation at Marbling, located at Fashion Walk in Causeway Bay. (What an address, I know right?) Prior to our dinner, the restaurant called to confirm our booking and also allowed us to choose from outdoor seating (smoking area) or indoors (non-smoking). They also double-checked the allergy requests. So far it seemed rather promising.

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The complimentary bread had some olive bits in it. Interesting taste and texture, but unfortunately it was a bit cold.

STARTER

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Smoked Salmon, Avocado and Crab Tian

Both of us picked the same starter as the other one wasn’t particularly appealing. Escargots with mushroom cream sauce? No thanks – drown my baked snails in all the garlic and butter in the kitchen, or no deal. But I digress.

It was a refreshing appetiser that had good balance of flavours. The crispy bits on top (fried wonton skin?) were especially nice. I liked the dish, but I would’ve loved it if the avocado were ripe.

MAIN COURSE

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Dingley Dell Pork Loin

Would you look at the size of that thing? It reminds me of a cartoon slab of meat. It pretty much dwarfed everything else except the plate it’s lying on. Taste-wise, the pork loin was seasoned and cooked well. It’s really easy to overcook pork, so I was relieved to find out that this wasn’t one of those times. It was slightly charred on one end, but still acceptable.

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Aged Premium Black Angus Beef Striploin

Like I mentioned in the last post, we had a lot of steak recently, but none of them were outstanding. While the pork loin was cooked to perfection, the steak was overcooked, unfortunately. We requested medium rare, but it turned out to be almost medium well. It was also incredibly tough, some parts could not be chewed. About one third was left on the plate. I hate to waste food, but those parts were the tendon and whatnot. It was a massive disappointment, given that this place specialises in steak.

DESSERT

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Vanilla Crème Brûlée

I’m usually all about chocolate, but in the spirit of trying new things, I ordered the crème brûlée. It was divine. A classic done right, and the portion size was just right too.

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70% Velvet Chocolate & Rum Torte

It’s just a fancy name for a chocolate cake, isn’t it? Well, there really was a velvety texture. I didn’t detect any rum, but the bittersweet chocolate aftertaste was immensely satisfying.

VERDICT

There was a bottle of VOSS water sitting right there on the table when we arrived, so we helped ourselves. I temporarily forgot that there’d be an additional charge for bottled water. (Restaurant trap!) It turned out to be HK$58 (~US$7.50/~S$10.60) before taxes. Oh, the horror… When it hit me, I made a mental note: Savour. Every. Last. Drop.

And then our waitress went to mix it with tap water.

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She was so clueless. She seemed confused with our orders and we had to repeat ourselves more than once. Luckily, the other members of the staff helped to rectify some of the errors. They also offered a complimentary drink or dessert (we could pick anything from the menu) to make up for the bad steak. Also, after the meal, the waitress apologised as we left the restaurant. Ultimately, the service wasn’t bad at all, but of course it can be improved upon.

To be honest, I’ve got mixed feelings about the whole thing right now. I really hope that the steak was just a dud, because if I excluded it from my review, it was actually a pleasant dining experience, and I wouldn’t mind returning. If you’ve dined at Marbling before, let me know how it was, and we can compare notes. 🙂

Marbling
銅鑼灣Fashion Walk食街加寧街5-7號地下C舖
Shop C, G/F, Food Street, 5-7 Cleveland Street, Fashion Walk, Causeway Bay
Tel: 2802 1128

The Iron Man Experience at Hong Kong Disneyland

Disclaimer: I haven’t actually taken the “Iron Man Experience” ride, which had its debut earlier this January. The following are just some photos which were taken when I was in Disneyland over the Chinese New Year holiday.

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You’ll see the Stark Expo first, while the entrance to the ride is round the corner and further inside. The Stark Expo is mostly a souvenir store, but it also houses a mini-attraction: an interactive screen where you get to blast baddies using Stark’s electronic glove. It’s mostly for the kids though. Apparently there’s also a character meet-and-greet in here, though I haven’t had the chance.

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Ever since Disney acquired Marvel, there’s been truckloads of toys and merchandise from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). I thought these pillow/cushion things were hilarious. From the way they were leaning, it looked as though they all had little tummies.

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Themed popcorn and cookie tins.

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Iron Man waffles, anyone? If I’m going to be paying HK$50 (~US$6.40/~S$9.10), only a Mickey waffle will do for me.

That’s it for this post! I thought I had taken more photos, but apparently not. There may or may not be another Disney-themed post coming up, but fret not, I’ve got another trip lined up later this month, and it’s going to be an exceptional one. See you soon!

[Updated on 2nd April 2017] Finally tried the Iron Man burger, but as usual it’s rather underwhelming. Aside from the stamp, there’s nothing special about it, and the fries weren’t golden enough. Hong Kong Disneyland needs to make better burgers!

I’ve also tried the Iron Man ride, which I’ll talk about soon! See you!

The AIA Great European Carnival

The AIA Great European Carnival is currently in Hong Kong (till 12th February) for its third winter. It was the first visit for Edwin and myself when we were there last Thursday night. We had received a couple of discount coupons from Park N Shop, so we decided to just check it out after work.

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Approaching from a distance.

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The Ferris wheel is separate from the carnival, so we didn’t go up.

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Wearing more makeup than usual as I was testing out a new palette that day. So far so good, more on that next time!

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We shared a cheese hotdog before going in. Edwin’s head has been mercilessly cropped out LOL.

Turns out there were more food stalls inside the carnival. The selection included pork knuckle, churros, siewmai, and toasted buns with condensed milk. And of course it wouldn’t be a carnival without popcorn and cotton candy!

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Each adult ticket cost $125 (~US$16.10/~S$22.70) and included 10 tokens. Ours cost $112 (~US$14.40/~S$20.30) each after discount (I know, not much of a difference). Most of the attractions cost 4 or 5 tokens per ride, but some of the bigger ones (like the green one on the right) could go for up to 7 tokens. After you’ve used up your tokens you could purchase more at $10 (~US$1.30/~S$1.80) per token.

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There were barely new queues for the rides, but the games stalls were super popular. 2 tokens would get you 4 darts/balls/rings, depending on the game, so I suppose it’s a better bargain. The stuffed toys didn’t interest me though. There were some Disney plushies, but they were a weird shape. We tried throwing darts to win a toy doughnut but didn’t hit anything, so we decided to cut our losses. >.<

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Aside from the darts game, we also went on the Viking and a roller coaster, and that was all the credits we had. I meant to take more pictures, but it was really windy that night, and we were cold and hungry. So we left after spending about two hours there.

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Cotton candy to round out the carnival experience. :p

That’s all! It was quite fun to walk around and relive the old-fashioned rides of childhood funfairs. That said, Disneyland is still my number one ❤ .