Stone Basin

Stone Basin
at Ryo An Jin

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Day 6 Hong Kong, and with THE GROUP

The group traveling with me consists of Tano, Sebastian, Frank, Nicki, and Steffan. Not bad, you would think. Travelling with more than one person means a group. Travelling with a group means it takes 30 minutes to leave the curb to cross the street.

Surviving Hong Kong heat means carrying a miniature fan at all times while mopping your face with a handkerchief, ducking into any shop every few paces where there is AC, and, or, eating ice cream constantly. I opted for the ice cream although after THE GROUP laughed at me a few too many times, I am just mopping my face.
Late in the morning, I arrived at the madhouse called the Lotus Teahouse/Dim Sum Parlour, an institution in Hong Kong, run by very old, very grouchy, old timer Cantonese. However, they do serve some of the better restaurant Pu Erh in town with proper gaiwans, and the food is good typical Cantonese fare, which Seb defines as ‘pork or chicken’. Frank has arrived the night before and is intelligently keeping a low profile. I told him I only eat dessert, and he didn’t believe me. The only food options available for me were steamed lotus custard filled buns and chestnut cakes, which was perfect. Poor Seb just took pictures.
The day was unplanned, which means we get to wander around Hong Kong as Frank has never been. We headed out to Shek O, a hidden beach front resort village area for ‘other’ ethnic Chinese or nationals like Vietnamese, or Filipinos, or Ex Pats, or new trendy Americans. One would think this is anywhere in the world but Hong Kong. But many of us forget that HK is in fact, an island, a tropical one at that. The only difference is people are not slow island folks, it usually doesn’t take 3 hours to eat lunch, and palm trees…what palm trees? And who has time to sit at the beach anyways?
Back at Wing Chi’s for tea. This time, we are keen to have him judge the Phoenix teas we brought back. Wing Chi is unique and uniquely what you would expect as a character from another era, but perhaps, only in a movie or a book. He is bubbly, happy, has the best little wispy white Chinese beard, sort of longish hair tied back in a pony tail, practices and teaches calligraphy, master of tea, has two beautiful teahouses (one of which serves vegetarian dim sum made by nuns), and is a dignitary of sorts for the tea world. Frank and I dissected the Phoenix teas with WC one by one. WC deemed the almond flavour a winner and the Song 2nd generation a little under roasted, which was true as they rushed these samples out to me. This year’s green teas though, are all alittle tepid and unremarkable. We mourned a bit and decided at least, we have great oolongs. I am holding out for the Lu Shan Clouds and Mist crop though…
Dinner was chicken, very good chicken, which I didn’t eat. Seb and I had Carlsberg beer, about 5 bottles of it, and some vegetables.
Dessert was mango tapioca. Nicki tried the egg custard Hasmar, which WC explained was frog ovaries. You would think Nicki would be grossed out, but he ordered it immediately, and slurped it down with enjoyment to our chagrin. Second dessert was at a pub back near Central, and it served the most falling down scrumptious hot chocolate fudge cake paired with dark chocolate gelato. Tano talked non stop with Steffan so we decided to order a Sicilian wine to off balance things a bit , but it turned out to be excellent. A couple bottles later, we decided that the next 5 days will be work, so perhaps, third dessert and more booze might be too much…..

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