Hong Kong – Wan Chai Restaurants

For the past 5 months, I’ve been dividing my time equally between Manila and Hong Kong.

In Hong Kong, my office is in Wan Chai, our flat is in Wan Chai, and I very rarely drag my butt out of Wan Chai. My wife works in Wan Chai as well. She gets a dinner break at 9 PM each night that’s just 45 minutes, so we have to eat in places close to her work.

What’s great about Wan Chai is there is such a wide range of restaurants and cuisines. You can go old school Hong Kong for relatively little money or you can drop a month’s salary on fine dining (no, I still haven’t been to Fook Lam Moon), and plenty of choices in between.

I thought people might find it useful to get my guide to places I’ve eaten in the area. I did a similar piece once but that’s more than 4 years old so hope you don’t mind an update.

After living in Sai Kung for 5 years and Lam Tsuen for 2 years, being back on Hong Kong island and having hundreds of places within a 15 minute radius is spoiling me like crazy. When we were living in the New Territories we had to get in the car for just a can of coke or a pack of smokes. The convenience of having so much within walking distance almost makes up for the tiny apartment.

This is not meant to be a comprehensive listing. Open Rice lists well over 1,000 restaurants in Wan Chai district. In this post I’ve mentioned roughly 70 places.

Spoiler alert: My #1 favorite spot at the moment is a relatively new tapas place called El Cerdo.

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Catching Up – Some Music Pix from Hong Kong

Believe it or don’t, I didn’t go out at night (aside from dinner) that much during my recent two weeks in Hong Kong. But I did get out a few nights and usually had my camera with me. I can’t begin to tell you how much I’m enjoying shooting with the Fujifilm X-T2. I just love it. Aside from everything else, some of the below photos were shot at ISO 12,800, something I wouldn’t have even attempted with my old Nikon D800.

The photos are all after the jump:

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Back to Hong Kong Today!

Just a quick note in case you haven’t seen it elsewhere yet … Flying to Hong Kong today and I will be there for approximately two weeks. Hoping to see a lot of friends, meet a lot of recruiters, attend some great networking events, see some live music (and take a lot of photos).

If you’re in town, hit me up, let’s get together!

Riot at Rio

Riot being the name of the band playing at the Rio Club in Wanchai, Hong Kong. Here’s some shots of them in action – getting used to shooting with my Fujifilm X-T2, taken with the Fuji 23mm and 56mm lenses.

(This is one of those places where the stage lighting changes color every second, washing out photos with deep reds, greens, blues, purples, oranges. I wonder if one day they’d let me shoot the band with just “normal” lights in the club.)

Playing With the Fujifilm X-T2 (And Some Random Photos)

I’ve had the Fujifilm X-T2 for almost two weeks and the more I use it, the more I get used to using it, the more I’m convinced that I made the right decision in selling off my Nikon.

My initial fear was that this camera was going to be too small for me to comfortably hold but that didn’t turn out to be the case at all. It’s a great fit, almost as if they had my hands in mind when designing the camera.

My next realization was that with easily accessible and clearly marked dials for ISO and shutter speed, and aperture rings on the lenses I purchased, plus the “assist” I can get from the two command dials, I’m possibly thinking about settings more than I did in the past, and manually bracketing a lot of my shots as I continue to try to find out what works and what doesn’t work with the camera.

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New Photo Gallery – Jeff Beck in Hong Kong 2010

I’ve added a photo gallery of my pictures of Jeff Beck, who appeared in Hong Kong at Asiaworld on March 22, 2010. The shot above is my current favorite from the batch.

As I mentioned earlier, as I’m allowing Spike’s Photos to wind down, I’m going to be adding photo galleries here. Rather than just copying over the photos from seven years ago, I’ve gone back into Lightroom and “remastered” them. Lightroom is a much better program and I’m much better with it than seven years ago.

The band included the great Narada Michael Walden on drums, Rhonda Smith on bass and Jason Rebello on keyboards.

While I’ve seen Beck live many times, stretching back to 1974 or 1975, this was his first time playing a concert in Hong Kong. And it was my first time having a “3 songs, no flash” pass for a major concert in Hong Kong. I’m really thrilled with how well these shots turned out (although when I go back to them now and see the settings I used, I’m amazed that they came out as well as they did).

I did get a little bit punch drunk while re-processing the photos, pushing things a bit to see just what I could do with them. They’re not in the gallery but I’ll show a few of them to you here.

 

I’m undecided about the results – they’re either artistic and unique or they’re goofy as fuck. You tell me.

A Week In Hong Kong

I’ve just returned home after a week in Hong Kong.

The end of this month marks two years since I made the move to Manila. People always ask me if I miss Hong Kong and I do, to some extent, but in the past two years I’ve gotten back there at least once every 2 or 3 months, usually just for 3 or 4 days at a time, so it always feels a bit hectic, trying to fit in all the things I want to do.

This trip ended up being 8 days and spanning a weekend. I was there alone as my wife had several important things to take care of back home and, perhaps surprising to most of you, I did my best to stay out of trouble during the trip.

My company puts me into a small hotel on Lockhart Road smack in the middle of the bar area but also just a 2 minute walk to the office. The hotel is relatively new and the rooms are crazy small. How small? There’s a closet with four hangers but no other place to put your clothes other than living out of a suitcase or stacking them on the floor of the closet. There is one chair, an uncomfortable and unpadded wooden chair by the desk, though in some rooms the desk is so close to the bed that there’s no way to pull the chair out.

The entire hotel is non-smoking, which means every hour I’m standing in front of the hotel having a cigarette and watching what’s happening along Lockhart Road. Standing there I seem to be a magnet for all of the ladyboys and mainland Chinese streetwalkers – it’s not difficult to say no.

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Short Trip to Hong Kong

Allow me to digress from my current If I’m So Smart series.

I went to Hong Kong this past weekend, just Saturday through Tuesday, a quick break. Here’s what I did.

Saturday night, a party with a group of good friends, 4 or 5 hours hanging out in Joe Bananas drinking, eating, talking, followed by a 3 AM late night supper with my wife at Hay Hay.

Sunday, brunch at the Wanchai branch of Le Pain Quotidien. My wife was disappointed that there wasn’t more smoked salmon on her herbed farmer cheese and smoked salmon tartine but I was 100% happy with my “Tuscan platter” (4 different kinds of salumi and ham, ricotta cheese, sundried tomatoes and an amazing black olive tapenade). The price was reasonable – for Hong Kong. I could go to Paul’s or Passion or Dean & DeLuca (or probably half a dozen other places in Manila that I don’t know about yet) and eat a similar range for half the cost, but without the aggravation known as “traffic.”

Then some shopping, mostly picking up some items at the Wanchai Computer Centre (much bigger selection than “cyber malls” in Manila and generally lower prices).

Sunday dinner, nothing remarkable.

Monday, I picked up a new backpack that I’d ordered from Amazon, the Everki Versa. (Odd. I paid around US$170 for it, plus shipping. Now it’s out of stock and once back in stock, it’s US$123 but only available for sale to Amazon Prime members.) I had it shipped to a Hong Kong address because getting it shipped to Manila would have meant an additional US$50 in customs and taxes.

Also on Monday I had to get from Causeway Bay to the ICC tower, and that took me 20 minutes. Traveling that kind of distance in Manila would have taken me at least an hour, maybe two.

Monday night, dinner at the oddly named Spanish restaurant The Optimist. We had zero complaints about our Jamon Iberico, Gambas a la plancha or the flat iron steak with chimichurri sauce, though I wasn’t impressed with the sauce for their Clams Almejas in salsa verde. A very comfortable place to sit for a couple of hours, great staff, we really enjoyed it. The price, again, “good for Hong Kong.”

Tuesday, Airport Express, 23 minutes Central to the Airport. Coincidentally my (second) ex-wife was transiting the airport at the same time so we had a brief reunion while waiting for our flights.

It’s kind of funny. I lived in Hong Kong for almost 20 years. I still work in Hong Kong. But these three days were stress free and totally felt like a vacation.

Then back to Manila. I came out of the terminal and traffic was backed up for miles. It was not moving at all. I got an Uber within one minute – because the guy had just dropped someone else off and was waiting there, stuck in traffic. It took an hour and a half for us to go 12 miles.

Now that I’m back home, I’m faced with a new traffic scheme, starting tomorrow, in which I will not be able to enter or exit through the main gate of my village because the idiot TPMO in Pasig is trying some new experimental traffic “scheme” that bans cars from the surrounding streets – Monday, Wednesday and Friday if your license plate ends in an even number, the other 4 days if an odd number. Instead of going out through Pasig, I have to exit through Taytay, where the traffic is already at a standstill every day due to construction work on a bridge and incompetent traffic enforcers and too many people who don’t know how to drive. On those three days a week, it would now take me one hour to get to the supermarket that is normally 15 minutes away, 2-1/2 miles from my house. To say I am unhappy about this is an understatement.

My friends in Hong Kong think that Manila is starting to get to me. I’m having an increasingly difficult time debating that point with them.