Fat Burger Finally Opening in Hong Kong?

After what seems like more than 9 months with at the QRE Plaza with signage that says “Fat Burger: Coming Soon” (or something to that effect), I thought it was never going to happen. I thought maybe the burger chain got into some bad disputes with the building owner even before they started operating. But now, the boards are gone and now you can finally see that something really is getting done inside!

I’ve had Fat Burger about 5 times at the Venetian in Macau and their quality has always been fairly consistent. Definitely not bad, but nothing fancy.

Fat Burger to Open Soon in Hong Kong?

Fat Burger to Open Soon in Hong Kong?

Especially with the burger craze in Hong Kong in the last couple of years, we’ve seen burger joints such as Duke’s Burger, Burger Republic, Atomic Patty, Shake ’em Buns to just name a few. Fat Burger will be having a tough time competing … and the economy’s not helping either.

Don’t you worry, I will pay you a visit.

Fat Burger
QRE Plaza, Wanchai
(Opposite Hopewell Centre)

How the Chinese beat Pizza Hut in China

I got this from an email forward titled “How the Chinese beat Pizza Hut in China” and found it very amusing. I remember doing something similar at a local Pizza Hut when I was a kid, of course, not piling up nearly as much. Actually, I haven’t dined inside a Pizza Hut in so long, I’m not sure if they even have a salad bar anymore. Its not a surprise Pizza Hut had to adopt a “1 visit to the salad bar” policy … but if anyone can bend the rule, Chinese can!

The Base

The Base

"The Pillar"

Second Base:

Securing the Pillar

Securing the Pillar

The Second Storey

The Second Storey

Preparing the 3rd Storey

Preparing the 3rd Storey

Putting Pressure in the Middle

Putting Pressure in the Middle

My Favorite Peaches!

My Favorite Peaches!

Fill Those Spaces with Corn!!!

Fill Those Spaces with Corn!!!

Preparing the 3rd Storey ...

Preparing the 3rd Storey ...

Where are the Security Guards?

Where are the Security Guards?

Mayo Acts as Glue

Mayo Acts as Glue

5th Storey

5th Storey

And Finally ... 7th Storey

And Finally ... 7th Storey

1 Salad for a Group of 10!

1 Salad for a Group of 10!

And if you thought that was good … check this out …

PAGODA!

PAGODA!

I Think That Reads 20+ Inches Tall

I Think That Reads 20+ Inches Tall

PAGODA WITH SNOW!

PAGODA WITH SNOW!

At the end of the email, it says that “Pizza Hut is suffering huge losses in China” … which adds to the humour of these pictures, but I’m not so sure if they really are. YUM! Group seems to be doing especially well in China …

Now if only they have “Pizza Bars” … “Dear Valued Customers, one visit to the pizza bar please” … use your imagination 🙂

Dakota Prime Now Open in Hong Kong!

Edit: New Entry on Dakota Prime (December 5, 2008)
The talk of the town last night was the grand opening of Dakota Prime, a steak house … that apparently isn’t really a steak house. Their slogan is “Hong Kong’s first ‘Anti-steakhouse’ steakhouse” and when I asked what that really means, the simple answer I got was: “Well … we serve seafood too”
The poor branding didn’t stop the crowd from checking out this new restaurant, which falls under the Prive Group portfolio.
I got in at around 9:30 and was satisfied to find that there was a free flow of most alcoholic beverages; champagne, red wine, white wine, branded water, etc. and the servers were very attentive to making sure everyone had a full glass of whatever they were drinking. A sign that their service is equally as attentive when they restaurant begin operating? Perhaps, let’s wait and see 🙂
Dakota Prime Grand Opening Invitation
Dakota Prime Grand Opening Invitation
Grand Opening at Dakota Prime

Grand Opening at Dakota Prime

Chefs at Dakota Prime

Chefs at Dakota Prime

View from my Seat

View from my Seat

What’s even more impressive is that the restaurant was serving steaks and mini-burgers (with mini steaks inside) for tasting, which I can only smell and hear about … but never tasted. The restaurant was so packed that I can only hear about how good the steak was, without ever setting my eyes on them. Rumors began to spread that guests were infiltrating the kitchen so get their hands on the first pieces of beef that comes off the grill.

Alas, the free-flow champagne got the better of me … but that’s because I had an empty stomach.

Now I know when “Kobe” and “Wagyu” is overused and tried, you need to come up with other places that serve “fine beef” and I’m guessing that is where “Dakota” comes into play. In any case, it looks like Dakota Prime is off to a good start. They did especially well with hiring those 2 hotties who dealt with the guest list last night by the VIP lift.

Disclaimer: The author of this blog is acquainted with one of the investors of Dakota Prime.

Dakota Prime
7/F., LKF Hotel, 33 Wyndham Street
Central, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2526 2366
www dot dakotaprime dot hk

Awfully Chocolate Now Open in Hong Kong!

Ever heard of Awfully Chocolate?

The franchise opened its Hong Kong franchise today over at 2 Hysan Road – the franchise now boasts a presence in 6 cities across Asia; the other 5 being Singapore, Beijing, Jakarta, Shanghai and Taipei.

The have an interesting concept. The store decor has a very minimalist black and white feel to it (as you can see from the photos) and unlike other cake shops, they don’t have a large glass fridge that acts as a showcase for their cakes. Rather, you walk in, order from a list of 3 different types of chocolate cakes (if I remember correctly, the flavors are original chocolate, chocolate & banana and chocolate & rum) and the staff takes them out from a fridge at the back and gives them to you in a box. You cannot buy them by the slice and these awfully chocolaty chocolate cakes are apparently made daily to ensure freshness.

Since every store has a slightly different “feel” to it, without of course straying too far from its basic branding concepts, this particular branch near Lee Garden (and Lee Theatre) included a simple and playful addition to the store front: a very retro 60’s theatre / cinema feel using lightbulbs around its name. Get it … d … do you get it? Get it?

Awfully Chocolate Hong Kong

Awfully Chocolate Hong Kong

Launch Party

Launch Party

Awfully Chocolate Chinese Take-out Boxes

Awfully Chocolate Chinese Take-out Boxes

Guests were served the cakes in slices (the only time they serve them in slices!) in little cliched Western-style Chinese Chow Mien-take away boxes … which works! Its cute and fun … taste good.

Looks like they’re off to a good start! Good luck Awfully Chocolate!

Disclaimer: The author is acquainted with the owner of the Awfully Chocolate Hong Kong franchise.

Awfully Chocolate
2 Hysan Road
Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
www dot awfullychocolate dot com

RIP Krispy Kreme Hong Kong

I think many of us here were really excited when Krispy Kreme came to Hong Kong about 2 years ago. I’ve been a regular ever since and I would visit any of their branches at least once a week. Unfortunately, unlike the US, Krispy Kreme here did not pass out free donuts while you line up … and I’ve always thought that an original glaze at HKD 10 (~ USD 1.3) is a little on the expensive side. I wonder if they would’ve done better pricing their donuts at a cheaper price. Can anyone remind me how much a Krispy Kreme donut in the States cost?

Funny thing was, I’ve always thought that business was doing well for them … but in retrospect, I don’t recall seeing many customers at any of the Krispy Kremes.

Here’s the article on from today’s newspaper, The Standard:

[Begin Quote]

High Rents Blamed as Hole Blown in Doughnut Dream
Nickkita Lau and Timothy Chui

The Hong Kong franchisee of US doughnut giant Krispy Kreme is on the verge of closing all its outlets in the city.

Five of its seven stores – managed by Australian brothers Wayne and Brian Parfitt who bought the Krispy Kreme franchise two years ago – were closed yesterday.

Only two at the airport remains open, leaving a two-week window as management looks for a buyer. More than 120 people may lose their jobs.

One employee said she was surprised when notified about the closure yesterday morning because business had been fine the night before.

The local franchisee placed itself in voluntary liquidation.

The independent financial advisor appointed by the franchisee to help place the company into voluntary liquidation, Stephen Bricose, blamed the failure on high rents in places such as Causeway Bay and Mong Kok.

He said a buyer had not been found over the past six months despite strenuos efforts.

Briscoe said employees had been paid up to the end of last month. He did not have a concrete figure on how much debt the company had.

A meeting of creditors will be held on November 12 to appoint liquidators to deal with the assets and the claims of employees and creditors.

At least 12 Krispy Kreme employees have so far sought assistance from the Labour Department.

Krispy Kreme is the second-largest doughnut chain in the United States.

The Parfitt brothers also had the Macau franchise and had planned to open 20 outlets in five years.

The first branch opened in Causeway Bay in August 2006 and its international reputation attracted long lines.

The failure of Krispy Kreme has not deterred all owners of foreign franchises.

Ray Fung, operations manager of Canadian fast-food chain New York Fries, whose first branch in Hong Kong will open next month, said past experience has shown fast-food outlets are not especially sensitive to recessions.

“During recession, people typically spend less on luxury goods such as shark’s fin, but consumers will always want their comfort food, and fast food is an indulgence that doesn’t exactly break the bank,” he said.

The franchisee of two branches of American chain Burger King said it will continue with its plan to expand despite the financial turmoil.

According to an industry source, local eatery Cafe de Coral is planning to expand its network to 30 outlets …

[End Quote]

RIP Krispy Kreme Hong Kong. To quote the bankers on Wall Street, “It was fun while it lasted” … I don’t know what I’ll do without you man. Is Hong Kong not ready for Krispy Kreme? The thing is, if its not ready now … I don’t think it ever will be.

Why is Glass-bottled Coke Better?

People often say Coke tastes better coming from a glass bottle. I believe, or my taste buds led me to believe, that Coke does in fact, taste better in glass packaging. But why is that? I found a thread on answerbag and here are some response to the question “Why does Coke in a glass bottle taste better?”

  • For me it holds in the flavor better
  • they say that if you drop a penny into a glass of coke that it will dissolve in a few days,maybe the acid content in coke absorbs some of the metal of the cans
  • It’s true, no clue why. The same applies to beer, better in glass.
  • Coke is so acidic it must react with the metal can and that adds to the flavor or takes away some of the good taste. Glass is very neutral. It doesn’t add or subtract from food.
  • mind over matter.
  • It is true, looks like it has to do with metal versus glass. Metal will make a chemical reaction with the carbonation that doesn’t happen in the glass bottle. The biggest difference in taste that I find is in the Grape and Orange Sodas, like Fanta.
  • I don’t know but it really does.
  • I woulld have to agree that it’s because glass is non-reactive with the Coke. Where the metal will react if it’s not coated. and the formula for Coke was made to be stored in glass so putting it in cans really isn’t good for it.
  • I agree it does, but the manufacturer states its the same exact ingredients. Its kind of like drinking milk from a glass milk bottle, instead of a plastic carton. Is it psychological? Maybe. My taste buds know the difference.
  • My Grandfather told me years ago that it was because the bottled Cokes had more syrup than the cans. I don’t see why they would use 2 slightly different formulas for Coke in bottles and cans, but I wouldn’t ever argue with PawPaw. He sold them for 50 years before he died. And, he was right about one thing for sure. The 6 1/2 oz. Coke in bottles had a better taste than in any other size. There was nothing better than sitting out in front of his grocery store, talking about the cows, or the hogs, or the daily news, and drinking a 6 1/2 oz. Coke with him. I miss him something fierce.
  • Regarding the “corrosive Coke comments,” most of that is nonsense. Coke (and other soft drinks” are far less corrosive than most fruit drinks, especially citrus. And, for the record, aluminum cans have two internal coats of a non-toxic transparent finish that prevents any corrosion and, more importantly, preserves the flavor of the beverage.
  • The other day I went to the World of Coke in Atlanta. As part of your admission price (too much) they give you a souvenir World of Coke 8 oz bottle of Coke in a 6.5 oz style bottle to take home. This Coke is bottled on sight in their slow bottling plant at the museum. Rather than keep it on a shelf as a “collectable”, I put it in the refrigerator and later drank it. I believe that was the best bottle of Coke I have had in years. I don’t know if it tasted so good because it was in a glass bottle or because it was so freshly made.
  • Because that’s your opinion

So which one really is true? I’m here to find out.

I emailed Coca-Cola Support at Coke.com (yes, as you can imagine, I really don’t have much to do …) and here’s a very “safe” / “Covers-all-angles” response from a very polite lady called Sheila, from “Industry and Consumer Affairs” at the Coca-Cola Company:

[Start Quote]

“Thank you for contacting The Coca-Cola Company about the taste of Coca-Cola classic.

The Coca-Cola Company works closely with all of the independently operated Coca-Cola bottling companies around the world to ensure that the quality and taste of our soft drinks are uniform, regardless of what kind of container they come in or where they are sold.

Although the ratio of syrup to water is the same in all containers, several factors may affect the taste of any sparkling beverage.  These factors are storage temperatures, length of storage time, frequent openings and the water used to make the products.  Any one of these factors, or any combination of them, may cause you to detect a different taste in the product.

We hope this information is helpful.  Should you have additional questions or comments, please feel free to contact us again.”

[End Quote]

And here’s my takeaway (read: strictly my OWN opinion) from the email:

“We are addressing Coca-Cola Classic only, so let’s not assume that what I am about to say applies to all the different flavors under the Coca-Cola brand, or subsidiary brands under The Coca-Cola Company.

We partner with local bottling companies and we try our best to apply stringent quality and taste control to ensure consistency throughout … but, whether these bottling companies really follow our guidelines, we don’t know.

Furthermore, I cannot confirm whether Coca-Cola in glass bottles really taste better (even though that might be true) because over 95% of all of our retail Coca-Cola Classic products are probably either in cans or plastic bottles. That means, if I tell you that our beverages taste better in glass packaging, we can reasonably expect a significant decrease in sales for our flagship product in aluminum and plastic packaging. I might as well pack my stuff and bid goodbye to my job.

Factors affecting the taste can be blamed on storage temperature, length of storage time, frequent openings and water used to make them. That also means, everything except for the last item has nothing to do with us and you can conveniently blame the water thing on local bottling companies. No, the different tastes in aluminum and plastic containers have nothing to do with chemicals from the beverage reacting with the elements, because that would be a big no-no.

Now that I’ve successfully fended off your question, please don’t ever put me on the spot again. Thank you.”

So, what’s the REAL answer? I am still trying to find out …

Bottled Coke is Better?

Bottled Coke is Better?

I can down this in about 3.24 seconds. Who’s up for a challenge?

SNAKE KING TWO (蛇王二) !!!

One of my favorite restaurants (I know, I use the term “favorite” way too much, it not very effective anymore) in Causeway Bay is none other than SNAKE KING TWO! I’m sure that’s that the real English name for 蛇王二, but that’s the literal translation and I can’t be bothered to change it.

Their signature dish is of course the “snake soup” (蛇羹) or more like “snake stew” because its so thick. It includes shredded snake, chicken, pork and mushroom, among other ingredients boiled in a big pot. Best consumed during the winter … trust me, it will keep you very warm.

Of course, its still very warm in HK right now, so I didn’t feel quite as comfortable drinking that as my partner did. (I’ll probably get a nose bleed for being too 熱氣!) So I opted for this Chicken Feet Conch Soup (鳳爪燉螺頭湯), which is also a very popular soup.

Their roasted dishes such as the two different types of Chinese sausages, Cha Siu, Chicken and Roasted Duck is also very well made and is very consistent.

Definitely worth a visit if you haven’t tried! With these sort of old restaurants (老字號), is you just never know if it might just disappear one day. Try it while you can! I don’t know what I’ll do if this place is gone …

蛇王二
No. 24 Percival Street
Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Tel1: +852 2831 0163
Tel2: +852 2832 2977