Sunday, 28 February 2016

Visiting Hong Kong & Beijing



I visited Hong Kong and Beijing in September last year and I've been meaning to talk about what I got up to there for a while, especially the food I saw and ate! I went to Hong Kong with my boyfriend to visit some friends of ours. I've actually been to Beijing twice before, a long time ago in 1999 and 2001. So it was really cool to go back there and see what had changed in that time. The Olympics were held in Beijing in 2008 so there has been a lot of regeneration of the city between my visits.


We started our trip in Beijing at The Great Wall of China. We visited the Mutianyu section. I'd previously been to Badaling, which is the more well known and busier section. However I really loved Mutianyu as you take a chair lift up to the wall, and you can ride a luge down - so much fun! There are some breathtaking views from the Wall, but get ready to do some serious walking!



Our guide in Beijing took us to this awesome traditional steamed dumpling place. We really enjoyed the vegetarian dumplings on offer, as well as noodles with signature Beijing sauce. Food is very cheap in Beijing and also the portion sizes are extremely generous! We took the leftovers from this meal back to our hotel and had it for our evening meal too.


Autumn Festival was being celebrated during our visit and we saw moon cakes everywhere. These pastries are filled with a red bean or lotus bean paste and often have an egg yolk in the middle too.


Dates were also very popular and I saw them at markets and street stalls everywhere. Although, they were green or red and looked much harder in texture than the brown sticky dates I am used to seeing in the UK. They are a different kind of date called Jujubes, or Chinese dates.



The bakeries in Beijing showcased such perfect looking cakes, pastries and bread. Everything was so neat and tidy! They love to use very light sponge, fruit to decorate and uniformity is their speciality!


Other places we visited in Beijing included the Temple of Heavens, Tiananmen Square, The Summer Palace, The Forbidden City, The Ming Tombs, Beihai Park and the Lama Temple. I really must recommend our guide service, Catherine Lu Tours, they took us everywhere in Beijing and helped us with everything from getting tickets to ordering food. They were so patient and gracious at every moment.




Back in Hong Kong, we visited the Hello Kitty cafe. It was a very fun place to visit, and Hello Kitty's face was all over the walls, tables, light fittings and windows. The food was definitely style over substance. It looked amazing, but lacked in taste. However, it was certainly a unique place to visit for a one off!


Ok, now these beautiful things were my absolute favourite treats of the entire holiday! They are Portugese custard tarts from Macau. Macau is a similar kind of place to Hong Kong, in that it used to be owned by another country (Portugal), and has now been handed back to the Chinese. A lot of the Portugese influence and culture still remains, such as these divine tarts. Macau is known as the 'Vegas of the East' as it's full of casinos! There are two cafes that compete over who sells the best custard tarts, and these ones were from Margaret's Cafe e Nata. I could've eaten the whole box!


We visited Macau for the day, you can just get on a boat from Hong Kong and it takes about an hour to get there. You do need your passport to enter and leave Macau. We also found it quite tricky to walk around, it's not very pedestrian friendly. The most popular site there is the Ruins of St Paul, but I'd probably only return to get more custard tarts!!


Once we climbed the 431 steps up to the 10,000 Buddhas Monastery we found their vegetarian cafe at the top. It was great to find a veggie only place as we did struggle throughout the holiday to find vegetarian food. We really enjoyed the fish shaped fried potato dish above with sweet and sour sauce and rice.


At Victoria Peak, the most popular viewing spot in Hong Kong, we checked out the Forrest Gump themed restaurant Bubba Gump. They served some brightly coloured cocktails and extremely generous portions of shrimps. The garlic shrimp pictured above is meant to be a starter, but I could barely finish it as a main dish, even though the shrimp was so succulent and tasty.



We went to a food court called Food Republic at the City Gate outlet in Tung Chung. The whole place was busy with people and the food options were vast and varied. Again, we struggled with vegetarian options for my boyfriend. He got some rice with steamed vegetables and I had a won ton soup.


The Pottinger bar at The Mercer hotel was a super swanky place with a roof terrace area. They served such fun and unique cocktails including the True Blood themed 'blood bag' cocktail above. If you watch the show True Blood, you will really appreciate this cocktail!


We also checked out a Thai restaurant called Sala Thai and I really enjoyed the dish above. It was very similar to a chow mein. They also served these delicious fruit iced teas that were far too easy to slurp down!


So that was out trip to China! We had a great time visting our friends, seeing the sights and trying lots of new food. If you are planning a trip to Beijing or Hong Kong please feel free to ask me any questions and I'll be happy to help!

2 comments:

  1. Wow.... sounds like a great trip. I love going places where the food is totally different (although it is much harder now we have the gluten free factor).
    I stayed in Hong Kong and visited China for a few weeks way back in 1985...... loved it, but I suspect it would be unrecognisable to me now! I remember some of the children in China had (literally) never seen a European!

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    1. I think you would struggle with gluten free in China - they are barely aware of vegetarians! But you might fare better in Hong Kong. It is really interesting to return to places you have visited a long time ago, I hope you get the chance to go back one day.

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