Woke early on the plane, did manage to get a few hours rest, although the lady next to me kept passing wind. Not really the smell that bothered me more the sound, oh well. She also snored; probably due to the fact she had sunk 5 glasses of red wine.
Breakfast was okay, tried chicken congee as sort of rice gruel/porridge with large mushrooms. Quite nice once you added the chopped ginger and the spring onions. I asked my flight attendant Samantha if many people tried it. Her reply made me laugh; she said westerners thought it was horrible and bland. I can see why, but for me that was part of its appeal, especially for breakfast. In no time at all we were getting ready to land and as we did the captain tells us it’s a balmy 22C and its only 6 in the morning.
My car speeds me from Lang To Island right into the centre of town. HK is gently waking and the roads are empty. We pass Kowloon and its huge container port; I have never seen so many cranes and containers. The sun is peeping through the mist/smog and just over the huge skyscrapers. My driver informs me that the smog comes from China, ‘I thought we were in China??’ I reply, no he says, this is Hong Kong. I didn’t have the wherewithal to argue.
We arrive at the very tall Langham Hotel in Kowloon and I check in with charming staff. I try to check in but my room is not ready. Fair enough, it's only 7am, and at that very moment Lynsey (my director) taps me on the shoulder on her way to the gym. Nigel (our soundman who came on Norwegian trip) turns up a few minutes later, but Will (cameraman) oversleeps. We have second breakfast and coffee and go through the day's filming. I’m desperate for a shower, shave and to unpack. Fred the fixer turns up and the crew go off filming a local wet fish market. My room is ready, a lovely suite on the 38th floor with spectacular views, even in the morning mist, sorry ‘China smog’. The room is spacious and very comfortable. I unpack and write a few notes, then have 40 winks lying on a wonderfully soft bed with crisp linen.
In no time at all I have to be in the hotels 2 Michelin Star Dim Sum restaurant Ming Court for lunch. I meet up with the crew plus our HK fixer Fred and the hotels communications manager Titannia Shum. Its all a bit surreal, still trying to wake up, not much sleep straight into a 2 star lunch. Everyone is very polite here; I have found nothing is too much trouble.
We start with fragrant Jasmine tea then quickly followed by silken bean curd black truffle and gold leaf. Its soft and packed full of flavour, really on the edge of being too strong with truffle oil, being careful to avoid the gold leaf on my fillings!!!!! Next a trio (I hate that expression) of Ming Court Dim Sum a steamed mushroom bun, drunken shrimp dumpling that decided to squirt its juices all over me when bitten into (how embarrassing) but tasted very nice and an Alaskan King crab and pork, all beautifully presented. To follow a fragrant chicken consommé served in a clear glass teapot infused with Matsutake mushrooms and bamboo pith. I kid you not; the pith is to add substance to the broth, nice and refreshing. Fourth course had more black truffle, this time coating fingers of chicken meat and freshwater prawns that had been made into a paste, fried and topped with skin. This was served with pumpkin two ways, steamed and a sort of croquette. I have to say was probably my favourite dish. Still the food came, a deep bowl lined with thin set egg custard, topped with a slightly thickened duck consommé, ravioli and the thinnest strips of preserved duck ham. By now I’m stuffed and I have a further 20 days of this!!!! Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly not complaining.
Dessert was a selection of 4, ranging form some pretty tasteless over set jellies to a Wolfberry curd plus black sesame curd set custard. The whole thing served on the now ubiquitous liquid nitrogen box, all a bit old hat, but still fun.
After coffee’s we go straight into kitchen to get a lesson on Dim Sum making. The chef is already to go and we quickly film a couple of easy ones. First a mushroom, ginger and foie gras version that are fried in incredibly hot woks. Next, a pork and freshwater prawn open wonton style, which is steamed for 10 minutes. The kitchen crew take the piss out of my handy work, but its light-hearted. We finish filming then taste a mango custard version that is wrapped in rice paper, coated in egg white and rolled in flaked almonds and deep-fried again. The filling melting when bitten into, it’s really delicious.
Our filming is interrupted by a chef dispatching two huge, live grouper on the floor, Nigel looks a bit shaken, but that’s the way it is here, all fresh as a daisy. The chefs just shrug their shoulders and carry on, its part of life here. We say our thanks to the chefs then retire to the restaurant to interview the executive chef, Mango, real name, Tsang Chiu Lit Mango. He looks about 30 but is in fact 57; make your own minds up and see the picture gallery. He explains that Dim Sum is about 30% of his menu and they make up to 500 a day fresh, weekends more and from up to 30 variations. My research found the best part of 2,500 variations; he’s a nice chap. We pack up and go for a shower and relax before going out for yes…some more food.
We hop into a bus and head off to downtown Kowloon to the restaurant Hutong, which overlooks the main Hong Kong Island. It’s a spectacular view as we are about 20 floors up. The food is okay, a set menu consisting of simple fare. Asparagus dipped in sesame seeds; scallops with grapefruit and small stuffed razor clams are nice starters. Mains are okay, beef with chilli, cod in what looks like a chilli crumble and the house specialty crispy rib strips of lamb with raw garlic dip and dipping sauce. At 8 o’clock sharp and for 13 minutes many of the buildings across on HK Island light up with lasers and searchlights. It’s known as the symphony of lights and is named in the Guinness book of records as the ‘Worlds largest permanent light show’ all too quickly the show is over and we are on our way back to the hotel. By now I’m really tired and can’t wait to get into bed. I flop into bed, but alas at 1am I’m awake again until 4.14am. Still it was good to get all my emails and texts done.