me

  • Signs

    We’ve seen iterations of this before, but it’s still a great sign.  We saw this in Singapore.

  • Pests

    A new twist on a no smoking sign from Singapore.

  • Tim Ho Wan – Hong Kong

    [taq_review]

    Location
    Tim Ho Wan has various locations in Hong Kong, Singapore and now Manilla.  The non-Hong Kong locations are franchised.  Follow the links above for a Tim Ho Wan near you.

    Atmosphere & Service
    You won’t walk right into to a Tim Ho Wan. You’ll wait. And wait. We were fortunate enough one afternoon, to get in in less than 10 minutes. But most of the time, you’ll wait 30 minutes. 60 minutes. Maybe more. There are no reservations. The good news is the line moves rather quickly and they don’t let people linger over their food.  On some days if you go at extremely non-peak times, you may be able to walk right in, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

    Service is fast. Servers bring things out as they’re ready, to keep you eating and keep you moving. Ordering is just like sushi. You fill you’re order out on a piece of paper. With the places always packed, seating can be cramped. They try to pack in as many as they can, so the atmosphere reminds you of fast food.  This is not fine dining, even though they’ve won a Michelin star.

    Food
    Tim Ho Wan. There’s only three other words beyond that that you need to know.. Pineapple Pork Buns.

    Tim Ho Wan has 28 dim sum dishes, but what got Tim Ho Wan their Michelin star were the BBQ pork buns. Phenomenally good. Sweet and salty exterior filled with char siu pork. It’s hard to eat just one order, but that’s what you’ll be relegated to at most locations.  The BBQ pork buns are just one of the Big 4 Heavenly Kings which also includes Steamed Egg Cake, Vermicelli Roll with Pig’s Liver and Pan Fried Carrot Cake.

    Prices are moderate and you definitely get what you pay for. But those BBQ Pork Buns, they’re pretty much worth anything you want to pay.


     

    (Original Location)
    G/F, 9-11 Fuk Wing Street
    Sham Shui Po, Kowloon
    Hong Kong

    +85 2 788 1226

    MTR Station: Sham Shui Po, Exit B2

    Other Hong Kong Locations
    Singapore Locations  

    Other reviews:
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    Prices: $

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  • Kaya Toast

    If you’re a fan of coconut, then you’ll love Kaya toast.

    Kaya toast is a snack found primarily in Singapore and Malaysia.  A breakfast staple, but also great as a snack anytime of day, Kaya toast is thin brown toast with a thick coconut jam (kaya, that’s made with sugar, coconut, coconut milk, eggs and pandan) and then a thick slab of butter.  You can also have it with a soft egg, but we’re purists and prefer it with out.  This stuff is so yummy and costs less than $2 USD.

    If you’re in Singapore, you can find Kaya toast in many local food places.   Two local chains that are known for their Kaya toast are  Ya Kun and Killiney Kopitiam.  Ya Kun Kaya Toast has been around since 1944 and has a location in T3 at Singapore’s Changi Airport.  Killiney Kopitiam has locations in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia.

     

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  • Intercontinental Hong Kong Spa

    18 Salisbury Rd
    Kowloon, Hong Kong
    SAR, China

    +85 2 2 721-1211

    MTR: East Tsim Sha Tsui

    Website

    Treatments: $200US and up

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    [review]

    The Intercontinental Hong Kong Spa has a great location on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong and has top-notch facilities.

    Treatments
    We had arranged for a 3 and 1/2 hour treatment, that included a 90 minute massage, scrub of the season and 30 minutes mineral bath, plus lunch by the pool. The lunch was prepared from a special spa menu. You were able to sit in a secluded area of the pool where you could look out across the harbour to the skyline of Hong Kong.  Other treatments at the spa are typical of most, but include many with an Asian wellness theme.  Our treatments were in a granite spa suite, that included a jacuzzi, sauna and steam shower, as well as massage table.  Very nice, comfortable and quiet.

    Facilities
    As you enter the Intercontinental Hong Kong Spa, there’s a large reception area and well equipped exercise area as you enter. Walls of glass overlook the large pool area. Changing areas and locker rooms are nice sized. Treatment rooms are separate from the spa entrance. As you leave reception, you walk outside to a separate building that’s just steps away. From the moment you enter, it’s like being in a whole different world. It’s super quiet, with treatment rooms along a dimly candle lit corridor.

    The outdoor pool was large and they have a unique outdoor whirlpool. It’s a two level whirlpool. At the top, you have a large whirlpool separated by glass. One side is very hot and the other side ice cold. Both spill over into a moderate temperature pool below.  You have phenomenal views of Kowloon Bay and Hong Kong.

    Pricing
    Pricing is comparable to most premium spa in Hong Kong.  Expect to pay $200 USD and up for a regular treatment, with packages approaching $500 USD or more.

    There are two Intercontinental Hotels in Hong Kong.  You’ll want to make sure you make a reservation and go to the correct one.  The Intercontinental Hong Kong is in Kowloon.  The Intercontinental Hong Kong Stafford is in Hong Kong proper.

     

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  • Ambassador Transit Hotel

    Terminals 1,2 and 3
    Singapore Changi Airport
    Singapore 
    +65 6 507 9797

    Hotel Website

    Rate: Starts at around $60 USD for 6 hours

    Reviews:

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    [review]

    We’ve stayed at the Ambassador Transit Hotel in Singapore too many times to count.  It’s absolutely perfect for what it is.  A place to sleep for a few hours, shower and move on to your next flight.

    Location:
    Ambassador Transit Hotels are located in each of Singapore Changi’s three terminals.  All are located on the upper level (Level 3) above the terminal concourses and gates.  Signs are posted in each terminal throughout the airport and the locations are easy to find.  Remember this hotel is located IN the airport behind security.  You do NOT clear customs and you DO NOT go to luggage pickup.

    Rooms:
    Rooms here are very basic.  This is not the Ritz Carlton, but it’s not a hostel either.  Beds are pretty comfortable and rooms are a bit on the small side.  Surprisingly for being in an airport, rooms are pretty darn quiet.  Quieter than most city hotels, actually.  There’s a small desk in most rooms and an ensuite bath, toilet and shower (unless you choose a basic room with a shared bath).  Other furnishings are basic, but rooms do have a TV and internet connection available.  Terminal 3 is the newest version of the Ambassador.  If you’re looking for something more upscale, try the Crowne Plaza outside of the airport.

    Facilities & Service:
    Service here is very friendly and efficient.  It’s bare bones, so don’t expect room service or any other facilities.  This is pretty basic.  But remember, you’re in Changi Airport, one of best airports in the world.  There’s a swimming pool, sauna, workout room, countless shops, a theatre showing current movies, and much, much more.

    Pros: The perfect place to freshen up and catch a nap while in transit in Singapore.

    Cons:  This is a VERY POPULAR solution for transiting passengers in Singapore, one of the busiest airports in Asia.  Reservations are STRONGLY ADVISED at least two to three months in advance.

    The Ambassador sits behind security at Changi near the gates. You WILL NOT be able to get your luggage. Make sure you have what you need in your carry-on as you transit Singapore.

     

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  • Tim Tams

    If you’ve never had a Tim Tam, you don’t know what you’re missing.  We very rarely eat junk food.  But since we love trying the local cuisine when we travel, we’ll try just about anything.   On our first trip to Australia a few years ago, we ran across Tim Tam’s.  All it took was one and we were hooked.

    Tim Tam’s are made by Arnott’s in Australia.  While those in the US would call them cookies, they would say they’re biscuits.  It doesn’t matter what the terminology is, they’re basically addictive as all get out.  They come in a variety of flavors. Tim Tam Original (chocolate), Tim Tam White, Tim Tam Double Chocolate Vanilla, Tim Tam Chocolate Orange, Tim Tam Turkish Delight, Tim Tam Honeycomb, Tim Tam Dark Mint and finally Tim Tam Dark Rum & Raisin.

    We prefer the Tim Tam Original.  2 cookies with chocolate creme sandwiched in between all covered in chocolate.  To those in the know, a special way to enjoy Tim Tams is to bite off a very small piece on opposing diagonal ends of the cookie and use it as a straw.  It works best with cold milk, coffee, tea or hot chocolate.

    Tim Tam’s were hard to come by in the US, until a few years ago.  Pepperidge Farm now imports them and sells them under their label. You can find them at Cost Plus and Target.  You can also find it various places online., including Amazon.  If you’re traveling, you can also find Tim Tam’s in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and other Asian countries.  Most convenience stores will stock them.

    And if you don’t believe they’re popular, here’s a statistic from the Arnott’s website:  “1 in every 2 Australian households contains a packet of Tim Tams and around 35 million packs are sold each year –  that’s nearly 400 million biscuits!”

  • Pearl Bakery – Portland, OR

    102 NW 9th Ave.
    Portland OR 97209

    (503) 827.0910

    Pearl Bakery Website

    Other reviews:
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    Prices: $

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    [review]

    Location
    Pearl Bakery is located, appropriately, in the Pearl neighborhood of downtown Portland.  Just a block from the infamous Powell’s Books, you’ll find it on the corner of 9th & Couch.

    Atmosphere & Service
    Service here is great and it’s always well staffed.  You order at the counter and whatever is fresh out of the oven, is displayed in cases in the front.  There’s plenty of open space up front, with a tall counter along the windows for people watching and plenty of tables in the center.  It’s a lively place at most hours of the day.  If it’s raining (which it does a lot), it’s a great place to spend the afternoon taking in the delicious smells from the kitchen as you have a pastry or coffee.

    Food
    We’ve visited here several times and talk about awesome. If you’re into pastries, breads or baked goods it would be hard to find a better place in Portland. Pearl serves up the best of the best not only in their retail location, but also supplies most of Portland’s top restaurants with their baked goods.  In addition to baked goods, they serve a small selection of sandwiches and salads at both lunch and breakfast.  You need to get here early, because many of their popular items sell out quickly. Our favorites were the gibassier, croissants and pain auxe raisins. While the macarons weren’t as good as those you’d find in Paris, they’re definitely some of the best in the US. I don’t think you can really go wrong with anything here.

    On our first visit, we were fortunate enough to tour the kitchen during a tour with Portland Walking Tours. This a place where almost everything is made by hand, using state of the art baking equipment. And you can tell.  The only disappointment here is that they don’t keep later hours. They close around 5PM each day. Since the Pearl is one of the more popular neighborhoods in Portland at all hours of the day, this place could make a killing if they were open a bit later.

     

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  • Olympic Provisions – Portland, OR

    107 Southeast Washington Street
    Portland, OR 97214
    (503) 954-3663

    1701 NW Thurman St
    Portland, OR
    (503) 894-8275

    Olympic Provisions Website

    Other reviews:
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    Prices: $$-$$$

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    [review]

    Olympic Provisions has two locations in Portland, one in the Southeast and one in the Northwest section of town. The menu at each is slightly different, with a few similarities. We visited the SE location for lunch.

    Location
    Located in a former warehouse district just across the river near the Morrison bridge. Olympic Provisions sits on the corner of a non-descript warehouse that’s been converted into offices. You’ll need to look out for the small sign over the door on the corner of the building, otherwise you’ll coast right on by.  Inside, the space reminds you of an old deli/meat market. The best thing here is that most of the tables are two tops, so they can easily be arranged for just about any size party. There is a small deli case, where you can buy house made kielbasa, bacon, sausage, wieners and more.

    Atmosphere & Service
    Inside Olympic Provisions, the space reminds you of an old deli/meat market. The best thing here is that most of the tables are two tops, so they can easily be arranged for just about any size party. Service here was very friendly and fast. There is a small deli case, where you can buy house made kielbasa, bacon, sausage, wieners and more.  This place is on the smaller side, so you may have to wait a bit if you don’t have a reservation. This is a sought out place to eat, so don’t think it goes unnoticed just because of it’s location.

    Food
    Fantastic. We went for brunch and sampled both lunch and breakfast items. We tried the hash, which featured house made kielbasa. Another item we loved was the Hot Capicola sandwhich. The soup of the day was some of the best we’ve had, as were the house pickled vegetables and house made goat cheese, jam and bread.  The drinks here were also good. We had the house Bloody Mary, which if you like ’em spicy, this is the place. They have a nice, but short selection of wines and other drinks as well. Just perfect for a place this size.

    We wouldn’t hesitate to come back here. It’s definitely worth the 10 minute walk/taxi ride from downtown. It’s one of the places you don’t mind lingering the afternoon away with good drinks and good food.

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  • Clive Coffee – Portland, OR

    79 SE Taylor St #100
    Portland, OR 97214

    (800) 520-2890

    Clive Coffee Website

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    Clive Coffee is a unique place that you must stop into if you’re in or near downtown Portland.  Originally, we thought it was your typical coffeehouse slash espresso bar.  Au contraire.

    Clive Coffee is a temple to coffee.  From espresso machines, to coffee brewers, equipment, supplies, etc.  Clive is THE place to go, not just in Portland, but probably anywhere in the US.  From mid-range to high end, if it’s a quality espresso maker or brewing device, Clive has it.

    Everything is displayed much like you were purchasing a fine imported automobile.  The machines are polished and glistening.  Displayed like works of art.  Which many are.  Clive does also sell their own beans.  A nice selection of beans from various regions around the world.  As you review the coffee equipment, you can test their coffees in various machines.

    What surprised us most, is how long people linger.  This is really a unique experience and if you’re in to coffee, this is your place.  The staff is extremely knowledgeable and very friendly.  It’s worth your time.