I woke up bright and early today (i.e. 10 am) to go to the HK Art Fair 2011 at the HKCEC in Wanchai. Before that, I visited Marks & Spencer for some breakfast first. I decided to get a donut as those usually don’t come out with fresh batches everyday, and I assumed it would be freshest in the morning. I was right! Before when I’ve had donuts from M&S’ fresh food bakery, they’re usually slightly stale. Not this time. They were tender, fluffy, and just sweet enough with the characteristic donut-oil taste (which is a good kind of oily taste IMO). No photo because I was gobbling this up on the way. I got to the HK side kinda earlier than expected, so I got off at Central, headed to MO, and got myself a croissant. Yes, after my donut. And MO’s croissants are huge too….gluttony. Sigh.
When I got to the venue, I realized there was a VERO on site. Damnnn…wasted my quota! Oh well, now that there’s a VERO at Landmark, it’s not so hard to get to anyways. The exhibition was pretty fun, with quite a few interactive pieces. There were exhibits from all over the world. I found this place less wacky than the Centre Georges Pompidou. Here are a few pieces I found interesting:
After going through the fair, I went to the HKTDC shop opposite the HKCEC cafe to check out some products designed by HK designers. Ended up buying a new iPhone case. Since it was still early, I decided to visit Monsieur Chatté in Sheung Wan as I was really craving French food, especially after that croissant! Bought some sweets, biscuits, and a madeline. When I was asking for a madeline, “Can I also have a madeline, s’il vous plaît?” slipped out of my mouth lol. I was thinking in English, but I’m so used to asking for madelines in French instead that my mouth just blurted that out. I found the madeline kind of softer than the ones I’m used to in Paris. It was yummily lemony though. I would’ve preferred a glazed, crisp crust like the ones at Kayser, but these satisfy me in HK. They also have canelés, financiers, baba au rhum which I got to taste, baguettes, and all sorts of French goodies. I SO can’t wait until they open at Elements!!
After that, I walked up to Soho to burn off the calories I just consumed today. That’s because I needed to make room for Yogurtime up on Elgin Street…HAHA. Oh yes I’m a glutton. Yogurtime used to my favourite froyo store in HK, as their froyos are icy, as opposed to the very milky froyo Hongkongers seem to prefer (Crumbs, anyone?). Their froyo is also fresh-tasting, and they have FOUR flavours to choose from daily (including cool flavours like peanut butter and cake batter)! They also had amazing toppings like halvah, Dewberry cookies, and Reese’s pieces. Unfortunately, they seem to be going downhill since they began having branch stores.
Their Eurotart seems to be less tart now. In fact, I would say even Yo Mama’s is tarter. It also seems creamier and meltier the last few times I’ve had it. The owner claims over Twitter that they haven’t changed their recipe, but I suspect some tweaking has been done to suit the tastes of a wider audience since they needed to branch out to the Mongkok market. Also, the salesgirl today didn’t even know what halvah was when I asked her if they had it. The Soho branch is the only branch that ever has it, and I trek all the way up there just for my halvah. I miss who you used to be, Yogurtime.
After all that eating and sugar, I needed to work it off by…………..a shopping spree!! But I’m still kind of broke from Paris, so I settled for a Cotton On spree, which is always so affordable. Then, I ended up splurging on cakes instead. Mandarin Cake Shop…for the 2nd time today.
I have to mention how well packed and sturdy their cakes always are. The cakes are also always fixed FIRMLY onto the cardboard bases, unlike most other patisseries around town. For one, Tony Wong fixes his using chocolate cream…uhhh…cream slides around, hello? So good job to MO for actually making an effort to ensure sturdy pastries and unmarred cakes by the time I get home.
Everytime I go, I HAVE to get their cheesecake. It’s their signature cake, and it’s good. It’s not spectacular, but in HK, the land of gelatinized cheesecake and Japanese fluff cakes, their cheesecake stands out. Called the American cheesecake, it actually differs quite a bit from an NY style cheesecake. For one, the size is diminutive. There is also no digestive crumbs crust, which I kinda miss as I’m a crust whore. When I eat pies, I usually take note of the crust way more than I do the filling. However, the essential part of a cheesecake, which is, well, the CHEESECAKE, is there.
It’s also covered by a layer of pudding-like icing and a square piece of dark chocolate. Like NY cheesecakes, it’s quite heavy and dense. In fact, I’d recommend letting it stand in room temperature for a few minutes before digging in, or else it’s too stick-to-your-throat. It’s not dry in any way though, instead it’s moist and slightly sticky. Much better than the way too dry and crumbly Starbucks Blueberry Cheesecake (btw, what’s with HKers obsession with Blueberry Cheesecake??). It smells like cream cheese. The taste is creamy and slightly sweet, but not sweet like chocolate sweet. This is in contrast to the Berko cheesecake I had. I actually prefer a slightly sweeter cheesecake, or at least accompanied by something sweet and liquidy like strawberry sauce. Or perhaps the pudding-like layer (which didn’t really taste like anything) could be a fondant layer instead to add some sweetness. But the MO cheesecake is one I don’t mind having alone, as it’s just the right size to be satisfying but not over-cloying. I just wish we had more quality cheesecakes in HK other than this one…
The second cake I got was a Guava and Banana mousse. Before heading to the cake shop, I was actually just going to get the cheesecake. But when I saw this, I suddenly craved something banana-y. And this cake sated those cravings! The exterior of the cake looks like a desert, with a sandy airbrushed crisp sugar coating, garnished by a chocolate cactus and 2 nutty tasting sand mounds.
Inside this desert was a surprisingly refreshing oasis! The main part of the cake is a pink guava mousse which was very light in texture and very fruity in taste. Not totally smooth, I could feel the slightly gritty guava pulp, which was not a bad thing. The center is filled with caramelized banana and a sponge. The bananas were firm and not mush, which gave a good textural contrast to the mousse. I would’ve preferred they used something else rather than sponge cake, as I don’t really like sponge cake, but I guess it was just there to give structural support. The base is also a thin sponge layer. This could’ve been made better if it was: 1) bigger 2) joconde rather than sponge. But that’s just the way HK cakes usually are…so this is rather good by HK standards.
Mandarin Oriental’s cake shop is always a safe bet if you want something good, although it may not always be spectacular. Their viennoiseries are often overlooked…but they’re so good I usually end up gobbling them up before I get home. You can be sure I’ll be returning again and again!