Wednesday, March 14, 2018


A friend who was posted to Fragrant Harbour for several years is returning home to Blighty, and rejoining family and friends in Oxford and London.
It is likely that the future holds gardening, three martinis down at the club, and smoking his pipe outside in the weather because there are fewer places to light a bowl indoors in the modern era.

My guess is that within a few years he will yearn for a subtropical climate, while surrounded by the tumult and uproar of a teahouse, and muttering "damned tourists" at all the mainland interlopers.
Dim sum in the New Territories.
Or Central.

He likes rocky trails and storm-tossed coasts (how do you toss a coast?), so as a farewell to Hong Kong he should really visit Lion Rock before leaving.
Perhaps traversing the entire length of MacLehose too.
Terminating in Yuen Long for restoratives.
And a bowl of Elizabethan.

Better him than me. My legs hurt, and every week crossing Nob Hill late at night after cocktails in North Beach prompts my bile and grumbling.
Bugger it all, I am too old for this, where's my sedan chair?!?
I should be able rent one, for that once-a-week jaunt!
Plus guards, to keep the loonies away.

But a nice hot cuppa and a smoke at the far end sounds exceedingly nice.
If I were to open a business at the edge of Chinatown, it would be an all-night chachanteng (limited menu during the wee hours) with deep awnings and space heaters outside for the other tobacco fiends. Indeed, a totally evil plan, because it would disrupt the family schedules of several old men, as well as the sleep of nearby residents (because many elderly Cantonese gentlemen here play cards and carry on), and just to spite our population of young hipsters, the staff would not be fluent in English (or pretend so), and at night would include persons of a possibly dubious past.

The deep awnings and the corner mounted space heaters are an essential part of the plan. Like bars and cafes in the Netherlands, encouraging the smokers to stay, though outside, but comfortable, is a way of circumventing the health nazis. Even if the clean and smoke-free interior is empty.
Especially in inclement weather.
And the cold season.

Strong milk tea ((港式奶茶 'gong sik naai chaa'), of course. Hong Kong milk tea is very much like masala chai, without the masala.
It's EXTREMELY restorative.

Dunhill's Elizabethan Mixture is in the same ball park as both Dunbar and Dorchester, made by Germain under the Esoterica label. Tilbury, also an Esoterica product, is not too dissimilar, and if you like such blends you will find much joy in Greg Pease's entire Fog City Selection.
HH Mature Virginia is no longer made, alas.
But it was exceptionally nice.

A video celebrating Hong Kong, and a tune with which he's probably familiar:

東方明珠香港 -- 獅子山下 -- 羅文


He'll be back in England in April. I assume the climate will not surprise him. It rains a lot. Apparently Cantonese food in Oxford is quite good.
And there is even dim sum.

It always startles me when I discover that distant places where you would not expect it also have dim sum. But finding good roast duck (燒鴨) outside of San Francisco Chinatown is always a bit iffy, and an actual chachanteng (茶餐廳) is very rare indeed.

A good rendition of 焗葡國雞飯 is probably not possible.


The aroma of slightly scorched fresh ginger is extremely evocative, by the way, and adding a piece or two to stews is something I recommend. And nothing can quite duplicate Lee Kum Kee (李錦記) Oyster Sauce (蠔油);
it's Marmite for some expats.

Also, plant loquat (盧橘) trees.
They should grow there.
Perhaps a hot house?

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