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Hong Kong, Day 4: Din Tai Fung and Marco Polo Hotel

Four of us flew from Manila to Hong Kong for a five-day trip, but one had to fly back to Manila before dawn on the fourth day. A family affair. She missed the best damn breakfast buffet ever.

Breakfast Buffet at Crowne Plaza Hotel

I’ve never seen a breakfast buffet with such variety than what greeted me at The Chef’s Table of the Crowne Plaza Hotel. Chinese dumplings on one end; so many cheeses on the other. Too bad I didn’t bring my camera. I just wasn’t expecting a breakfast buffet to be so damn photogenic. I’ve been to so many and none left a lasting impression. But at Crowne Plaza? I wished time would slow down so I could eat more. Alas, I was full. I wanted to dawdle with my coffee but we had places to go to.

Crowne Plaza Hotel has direct access to MTR Tseung Kwan O Station Exit C. We took the train instead of getting a cab. The first stop was a British grocery in a building smack in the business district of Hong Kong. Can’t recall its name but I bought a lot of vegetarian stuff there for my daughter, Sam. It took a while and plenty of walking to locate the building and the store inside it; by the time shopping was over, late lunch was in order. Din Tai Fung.

Din Tai Fung

Din Tai Fung, Hong Kong
Din Tai Fung, Hong Kong

I’ve been a Din Tai Fung fan since I first experienced it in Taipei. And I had already heard how strict Din Tai Fung is with granting franchises. The franchisee has to train meticulously for six months — an assurance that the quality of the food served and service culture match the original Taipei experience.

Din Tai Fung Hong Kong did not disappoint. The xiao long bao was just as perfect. If I had two digestive systems in my body, I would have ordered hot and sour soup too because, in Taipei, it was a standout in our meal.

One dish I ordered in Hong Kong that I didn’t try in Taipai was the duck tongue. I’ve nothing to compare it with because it was my first time to eat the delicacy. Chewy. Not melt-in-your mouth like beef tongue. Not exactly something I’d want to have again.

Sweet Monster soft serve ice cream with caramel popcorn
Sweet Monster soft serve ice cream with caramel popcorn

We needed a while to digest our Din Tai Fung lunch before shopping again. We had coffee at one of the stalls in the same building where Din Tai Fung was. No coffee story as it was just coffee — nothing to rave about. It’s just that I always have to have coffee at the end of each meal. Otherwise, I feel incomplete.

Dessert was the farthest thing from my mind — I was trying to digest lunch, right? — but my friend saw this stall selling ice cream packed with caramel popcorn and she couldn’t resist. She ordered a cup, I tried it and, boy oh boy, if my body didn’t feel like a dead weight after all the dumplings, I’d have ordered one for myself too. So good.

Too bad I had to miss Sweet House Cha Cha

We walked to Canton Road. My friends wanted to shop at Ocean Centre. I wanted to go to Sweet House Cha Cha ‐ that was where I wanted my dessert. I figured that by the time we reached Canton Road, I’d have partially digested my lunch and be ready for dessert. We agreed to meet later at the Lobby Lounge of the Marco Polo Hotel which was just next door to Ocean Centre.

I bravely turned toward the other direction. Sweet House Cha Cha was just five buildings away. But mid-afternoon in Hong Kong — in March — wasn’t exactly the ideal time for walking. My body was craving the comfort of air-conditioning. And the weight of the bag that contained the loot from the British grocery was killing my shoulder and arm. I turned back and went to Ocean Centre. Too crowded. Enough. I wanted to sit in comfort.

Marco Polo Hotel

Cake and alcohol-spiked coffee, Lobby Lounge, Marco Polo Hotel, Hong Kong
Cake and alcohol-spiked coffee, Lobby Lounge, Marco Polo Hotel, Hong Kong

I was at the Marco Polo Hotel more than an hour early for our rendezvous. If I couldn’t have matcha cheesecake at Sweet House Cha Cha, I could have cheesecake at Marco Polo. And it was divine. With chocolate and mandarin oranges. The coffee, spiked with alcohol (the air-conditioning was assurance that I could drink an alcoholic beverage without breaking into a sweat), was even better. Two coffees. One slice of cheesecake. And Instagram. The wifi was good and free.

My friends arrived. They found Superga shoes on sale and they were mighty happy. They had cold drinks and then we were ready to call it a day.

Snooty taxi drivers

With the amount of shopping bags we were carrying, it was more convenient to take a taxi back to Crowne Plaza Hotel. It was 5.30 p.m. Friday. Rush hour. No taxi driver wanted to go all the way to Kowloon East at that hour. Too much traffic. Snooty, they were. And so dismissive. Left with no other choice, we took the train back to Crowne Plaza Hotel.

And what was dinner on our last night in Hong Kong? We were beat. We bought burgers from a stall in a mall between the train station and the hotel. And that was dinner.

Not a memorable last meal? It wasn’t my last meal in Hong Kong. The next day, I had late breakfast at Pak Loh Chiu Chow at the airport while waiting for boarding time.

(I leave for Japan in two days and this post closes the old chapter of my travel stories. Japan will be a new beginning.)

Written By

I travel to eat, drink and learn new cuisines. Between trips, I write travel stories and share travel-inspired recipes. That is my idea of retirement with purpose.

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