Friday, January 20, 2012

Sportful Garden Restaurant and The Peak Tower

Our last full day in Hong Kong had arrived. There was one last thing we needed to see. The Peak Tower.


Before we headed out to the ride the Peak Tram up, we had baguettes with smoked salmon and smoked cheese for breakfast – again. What an awesome breakfast!

We also bought a few baked items from a pastry store that was located in a subway station. They were paid for using our prepaid (Octopus) transit cards, too!


This was the chocolate flavoured one. All of the innards were chewy. It reminded me of the deep fried sticky glutinous rice dumplings that can be found on the dim sum carts – the one that’s football shaped. I found all of the flavours underwhelming, but they tasted great with a cup of coffee.

It was a light breakfast that gave us just enough energy to pack our things for Taiwan.

Aunty wanted to take us out to try some expensive dim sum. I though the stuff we ate the previous trips were expensive. Not so.



When we were seated at our table in the Sportful Garden Restaurant, we were given a complimentary nibble of carrots, beans, mushrooms and dried scallops. Our pot of tit koon yam tea arrived as well.


The appetizer plate of cold head cheese and jellyfish.


Aunty said that the restaurant also served the daikon pastries that I adored. This rendition paled in comparison. The pastry was greasy and soft, not flaky and light like the other version. The daikon filling also lacked the bold flavours of Tung Yuen’s version.


These were baked BBQ pork buns with a cookie pineapple bun-like top.


This was the steamed BBQ pork bun with abalone sauce. Uh… okay. The fluffy light bun was protecting a saucy cha siu filling. If I was blind folded, I wouldn’t be able pick out the abalone, but the sauce did have a depth of flavour. The steamed buns Mom makes are much denser.


Siu mai with abalone.


The surprise of the day was the snow pea shoot dumplings. Snow pea shoots were mixed with bits of sweet shrimp. It was an amazing balance. I found the dumpling skin a tad gummy, but the filling made me forget.


For dessert, we tried the steamed buns (corny pun intended). I joked that they looked like rosy bums and got a round of laughs.


The buns, my uncle’s favourite, were filled with lotus paste and salted egg yolk. Again, the steamed buns were fluffy and light. I gave most of my salted egg yolk to Mom. These were perfect with the tea that we had.

After lunch, we took a taxi to ride the Peak Tram. There was a bit of a line to go through though. While lining up, we came across a sign that told us that we had to wait one more hour. And true to the sign, we boarded the tram just under an hour.


We skipped the wax museum and went straight up to the Peak Tower. There were plenty of pushy tourists from China who tried to body check their way onto the tram. Crazy mofos… You’d think that they were giving away free knock off Gucci bags or something.



You don’t need to go to the very top to have a great view of HK.


I had previously read that there was a better spot for photos, but Aunty assured me that she’d bring me to the spot for photography. She knew what I was talking about before I even told her about it.



Nice, huh? A lot of photographers and tourists have taken photos around this particular area. The area is down Lugard Rd (which is also the Hong Kong [hiking] Trail). It’s about 15 minutes from the Peak Tower area.


Since Aunty lives near the end of the hiking trail, we decided we’d take the hike down to her place instead of hopping on a taxi back. The trail took us down two mountains and was quite steep. We took it easy. After a few breaks in some of the new washrooms, we made it to Aunty’s place. We made it.

Being the last dinner in HK and all, it had to be extravagant right? Right. Hey, it wasn’t my idea. We ended up going back to the Sportful Garden Restaurant and were seated in a private room.

While waiting for some relatives trying to find a way through the heavy traffic, a waiter talked to Aunty and tried to recommend some dishes for us. He ended up writing down boring dishes like a plate of BBQ pork and fried rice. Aunty was offended, but didn't show it, and told the guy that she'll do the ordering - politely, of course. As she flipped through the menu to kill time, the waiter ran around the room filling our glasses with hot tea. He filled the glass of the boss Aunty first, of course, but neglected my glass. Gee, thanks for the service.



By the time my relatives got out of the restaurant's elevator, some dishes began arriving. Great timing. These are hairy crabs aka Chinese mitten crabs. We were lucky that it was hairy crab season. They weren’t the famous Yangcheng Lake ones, but they were still expensive – ridiculously expensive! And for what? Chinese people love the crab roe. I tried not to touch the dirty-looking hairy claws, but there was no way around it.

This was a new experience. The crab roe was sticky and almost gummy. I had nothing to compare it to, since I’ve always avoided eating crab and lobster roe. The crab roe was very rich, but other than that, I didn’t find it flavourful at all. I definitely couldn’t appreciate this delicacy. Why was it so sticky?



Aunty ordered some Peking duck. The waitress sliced the duck’s skin right beside our table and then took the skinless duck back to the kitchen.



And some amazing soup made with chicken and pork. The rich pork flavour hit me right away, while the chicken flavour supported it wonderfully until the next sip. The pork and chicken pieces that were boiled to make the soup were presented on a plate with some soy sauce.

Aunty had ordered a few bowls of a fish soup, too, but I didn't try it. From what I heard, the soup was just as good.



I’ve had Peking duck before, but I’ve never had the second dish that I’ve always read about. The kitchen takes the duck meat and creates a stir-fry that you wrap in a lettuce leaf.

There was a slight smokiness from the hot wok, which played well with the cold lettuce leaves. That’s all I can remember from that dish.



I spent most of my time working on the whole steamed sea bass. This was a large fish. Now back in Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal, restaurants usually serve sea bass fillets. I don’t think I’ve ever been served a whole sea bass. The perfectly steamed bass was presented with soy sauce and green onions.


The sea bass was so sweet and so soft. I thought it was a bit under-steamed, but not so. The backbone came clean off the meat. So this was what high quality food tasted like.

Fish cheeks. This was another thing I tried for the first time. It was even tender-er than the rest of the fish meat! Unbelievable. Absolutely amazing...

By the way, we didn’t have rice at all that night. Bbyong~


Ngong Ping, Tian Tan Buddha, Dai Pai Dong Dinner

Last Meal in Hong Kong: Tsui Wah Restaurant

More links from the Tea in Asia 2011 trip:

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