Skyline Lashes

Skyline Lashes

There’s a bit of a fashion in Asia right now for things that look British. I have no idea why and hardly like to ask, but there it is…

So, it is common to see people sporting T shirts, bags and even shoes decorated with Union Jacks or famous London landmarks.

These false eyelashes really stopped me in my tracks, however, in a fashionable Hong Kong mall.

Huge, papery, and looking like you’d have a job keeping your eyes open once you had them on, these ‘So London’ skyline lashes enable you to decorate your lids with the London Eye, Big Ben, the Gherkin and even Tower Bridge with a boat passing underneath.

As I’ve never seen anyone actually wearing these, I’m not clear whether you are supposed to use the whole lot at once or snip off one landmark at a time to use as an accent on big nights out.

Other versions, with flowers and swirls, were also available, looking equally large and daunting. But although I found them startlingly artistic, I’ve never had any luck making false eyelashes stay in place, and was not going to shell out HK$135 to try again with these.

Animal Dim Sum

Sometimes there is no reason except the cuteness.

These are some of the amazing dim sum you can get in Hong Kong…

The outside is adorable, the inside occasionally a challenge, but who cares what they taste like when they look like this?

Glass Bottomed Cable Car

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Not for anyone afraid of heights, although not as scary as they look, these special cabins on the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car on Lantau island in Hong Kong are pretty spectacular.

The whole 5.7km cable car ride is exciting enough to begin with, as it lasts 25 minutes and takes you from the town of Tung Chung near the new international airport, turns 60 degrees after crossing the Tung Chung Bay, then sweeps you over the green mountains to the north of Lantau island where the giant Buddha statue sits at Po Lin monastery.

There are amazing views even if you choose to ride the standard cabins, with sweeping panoramas of the sea and mountains, plus (for engineering aficionados) a bird’s eye view of the entire airport and the work on what will eventually be an astonishing bridge connection to Macau.

With the crystal cabin option, the whole floor is glass, so you can watch the water or the mountain slopes roll past beneath your feet. It is more expensive, costing HK$255 return instead of $185, but turned out to be entirely worth it.

I confess I was wavering over this as I queued to get my ticket… I do sometimes get all wobbly-kneed in glass elevators and the like, but in the end I could not let the opportunity pass by. I started out gritting my teeth and hanging on tight to the safety rail, but was swiftly entranced by the view and the crazy brilliance of the whole idea, and surprised myself by not feeling giddy in the least.

The whole day on Lantau was a lot of fun, with the hike up to the Buddha, vegetarian lunch at the monastery and a side trip to a traditional fishing village. I would love to go back one day, and will certainly be choosing the crystal option again.


Hello Kitty Dim Sum

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Sanrio’s multi-billion dollar cat has been around since the 1970s, and from humble origins as a kawaii or ‘cute’ character aimed at Japanese children, has grown to world domination. You can find Hello Kitty pretty much everywhere from fashionable accessories to kitchen appliances and even extremely expensive jewellery. And food.

I have seen plenty of sweets and cookies shaped like Kitty or simply her famous bow, but dim sum came as a bit of a surprise. We happened to inch past this restaurant in a Hong Kong traffic jam, without quite realising what it was, but when I saw it advertised in a food guide later, I knew I had to go back.

For Hello Kitty fans, this restaurant is a must see. Everywhere you look – furniture, crockery, pictures, light fittings – that famous face stares back. I would say smiles, except of course that Hello Kitty does not have a mouth…

Being by myself, I could only sample a small number of the themed offerings on the menu, but, quite apart from looking amazing, everything I tried was very tasty indeed and I enjoyed myself immensely. It probably helped that I was surrounded by giddy Asian girls taking endless photos, and a highly amused, very friendly staff.

So –  flaky char siew (barbeque pork) pastries, translucent rice flour har gau (prawn dumplings), and chicken vegetable pao (steamed buns), all decorated with cute Kitty faces and pretty pink bows. Even the paper underneath the dumplings in their steaming baskets was a Hello Kitty shape.

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It was all a highly entertaining interlude, and (by the time the very nice manager had brought me a chocolate and mango Kitty dessert on the house) so filling I did not manage to eat dinner later. Which, since this cost almost HK$200, was probably just as well. And I promised, should I ever be in Hong Kong again with daughters #1 or #2 in tow, I will be back…

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Hokkaido Cheese Tarts

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Singaporeans are nothing if not wildly enthusiastic for every new thing to hit their shores. Sometimes it seems as though a brand new restaurant, a visiting act or a product launch needs only to have the briefest mention in the local press for lines to form and tickets to sell out.

A case in point is the massive popularity of Bake, a Japanese cake shop which started in Hokkaido five years ago using the dairy products for which that northern island is well known. There are now 9 stores in Japan, and others have popped up in Seoul, Bangkok, Hong Kong and – most recently – Singapore.

Except you would be lucky to get anywhere near this tiny outlet, which is tucked among the other food stalls in the basement of ION Orchard. That is, without an early start, tactical planning and a great deal of patience. The queue there every day runs at 2 hours minimum, and is organised with ropes, security staff and helpful notices, in a nearby open space to avoid completely blocking the mall.

Customers are limited to buying 12 tarts at a time, and the kitchen staff are clearly working at full stretch to keep the counter stocked with this single item that is so much in demand. Rumour has it that the tarts are flown in from Japan once a fortnight, then have to be rationed out on a daily basis. So once they’re gone, they’re gone… please come back tomorrow!

I had a look at the queue late one afternoon, wondering if it might have diminished sufficiently to make it worth giving a try. No such luck. But I was delighted later in the week, on a quick trip to Hong Kong, to stumble upon the branch in Causeway Bay.

As I had forgotten all about it, I walked right past before it hit me that I recognised the logo and the tarts. There was no queue… not a single person anywhere near but me, so obviously I had to seize the opportunity!

It was a nice treat, light and fluffy with a hint of lemon, and a good crunch to the twice baked pastry shell. The tarts are apparently made using three types of cream cheese, mild Hakodate, the fuller flavoured Betsukai, plus some salty French cheese to balance out the sweetness.

I ate mine on the spot, but they can apparently be warmed up again quite successfully at home, or even eaten straight from the freezer a bit like ice cream. S$3.50 per tart, which is quite a lot for such a small item, but I was glad to have tried one and may even buy more once the craze has died down.

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Above left – no queue at all in Hong Kong… above right, line disappearing into the distance in Singapore…

3D Foam Art

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Those neat hearts and swans barristas swirl onto the top of your coffee are all well and good, but look at this instead! 3D foam art is the latest thing, with cute cats and teddies whipped up from your cappuccino and decorated by hand.

It’s a real labour of love to create these offerings, using heaps of super-frothed milk, then painstakingly adding the details with cocoa and a cocktail stick. At the Hong Kong café where I enjoyed mine, customers were paying several times the regular cost and waiting up to 30 minutes for their drink, but everybody had one and the place was full.

How to destroy such a wonderful piece of art by drinking it? Luckily, the foam shape lasts for ages, long enough for you to sip your drink carefully whilst it sinks gracefully to the bottom of the cup. My cappuccino kitten (above left) was adorable, and well worth the HK$50 I paid for it. The cat on the iced latte belonged to the customer ahead of me, and the bear was at the next table. Comparing foam masterpieces is a great way to make new friends!

Beer Ice Cream

Category : Food

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This sounded so bizarre I had to try it. Milk and beer? Not the sort of thing you would immediately consider to be a happy combination, although it is possible someone imagined this might be an interesting variation on the American classic root beer float.

Although it was advertised with a standing banner on Nathan Road in Hong Kong, the Little Corner ice cream shop where this is sold was down a side street and completely empty despite the crowds mere yards away.

I was surprised to see that they don’t just have plain beer ice cream, but a different flavour every day, and luckily I was there on a day when it came with a plain milk base rather than one mixed with green tea. (Beer with milk AND green tea?… I might not have been able to face that!)

At HK$42 it was a bit pricey, but not too expensive for such an unusual item. And to be honest, I quite liked it at first, although that may be because it was made with a slightly sweet ‘rosé’ beer that tasted almost fruity. Pretty soon, however, the harsh under taste of the beer came through and I came nowhere near finishing my cone.

An amusing experience, though.

No Smoking!

Category : Other


loo smoking

Life has to be tough for committed smokers these days – so many public places have a ‘no smoking’ policy that it must be a rare occasion to find somewhere outside your own home to enjoy a cigarette in peace.

For those of us who hate the habit, this is a wonderful thing, but it does lead to some awkward moments. What do you do when you find someone sneaking a quick smoke where they are not supposed to? Complaints and even nasty looks can go down very badly, especially when you are dealing with a stranger who is already on the (guilty) defensive.

Which is why I was tickled by this device in the Ladies at Harbour City in Hong Kong. You don’t need to say a thing, just press the button on the wall and it triggers a recorded announcement to remind the miscreant that smoking is not allowed. Fine – HK$5,000. That’s telling them!