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Welcome to The Lunch Belle, a NYC based food and travel website that views various dining scenes and destinations through the lens - and belly - of a highly opinionated thirty-something.

xoxo, 

Lindsay

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Tuesday
Nov232010

The Lunch Belle's Pearl of the Orient

Sometimes - after returning from holiday - you need a good, solid week to collect all of your thoughts, recount new adventures, and, in my case, recover from a serious bout of jet lag.  I've been home from Hong Kong now for about 11 days and, supposedly, I should be feeling fully rejuvenated by tomorrow.  They (Who knows who "they" are, anyways - "travel experts," I suppose?) say that for each hour of time difference, it takes one day to recover.  So, with twelve-hours of separation between New York and Hong Kong, I'm only one-day away from normalcy.  Let's see how I feel tomorrow, shall we?

~

Hong Kong was everything - and nothing - that I had expected or anticipated.  From its efficiency, infrastructure, and sophistication - to its people, culture, and regional cuisine - my first experience in Asia was an abundant feast for each of my five senses.  I fell in love with, and left a small piece of my heart in, the glamorous Pearl of the Orient.

Here are some tidbits that I learned along the way, plus a couple of tips for any of you future travelers:

  • The good ol' U.S. of A. is hardly the center of the universe.  In many aspects, America is falling rapidly and dramatically behind.
  • Not once did I see a single cigarette butt, wad of chewing gum, or item of trash on the busy streets of Hong Kong proper or Macao.  Visitors, take note and follow suit.
  • Subway stations and the trains, themselves, are spotless.
    • With digital time tables, riders know when the next subway is approaching the station - in every station.
    • At the Airport Express train station - in the middle of Hong Kong's Central District - travelers can check-in for outbound flights and drop their luggage at assigned airline counters before ever arriving at the airport!  Trust me when I say that this is so much cheaper and more efficient than hopping in to a cab.
  • I know that I'm going to get crap for this, but Portuguese food really sucks.
  • ...however, the Macao Ferry Terminal has better Portuguese egg tarts (the only Portuguese food worth eating) than any free-standing restaurant in Macao.
  • Speaking of Macao: if you plan to visit, bring your passport.
  • At meals, tea - not water - is served.  If you want water, you have to order it.
  • If you don't know how to use chopsticks, you're screwed - unless, of course, you bring your own silverware.
  • Shopping malls abound, literally.  You can get your shop-on everywhere from subway stations, tourist attractions, and bank buildings.
  • I have never seen so many 7-11 convenience stores in my life
  • ....nor have I seen so many apartment building masses - outside of the Bronx - ever. Row after row - mass after mass - of apartment buildings in Lantau (near the HK airport)
  • Burping and loogey-hocking is perfectly acceptable in public.  Men, you will be in heaven.
  • On that note: while I love Purell just as much as the next guy, hand-sanitizer towlettes are great for many things beyond just hand cleansing: use them to wipe down tray tables, hotel room remote controls, toilet seats, etc.
  • Hong Kong has quite the expat singles scene.  Ladies, if you're in to the investment banker set, this is your city!
  • Prior to your departure, find out which bank's ATMs are compatible/won't charge service fees to the debit card that you plan to use overseas. 

~

And these, dear readers, were a few of my most favorite Hong Kong/Macao things:

  • The view of Hong Kong & Kowloon's twinkling, urban landscape - as seen from Victoria Harbour  
  • Street food/drink, namely bubble tea and warm waffles lathered with margarine, sugar, and peanut butter 
  • All of the glorious, life-changing meals that I ate at Din Tai Fung
  • Chinese architecture
  • The people of China
  • Macao: truly, the anti-Vegas "Las Vegas of Asia."  Imagine a gaming town free of Nascar t-shirts, mullet hair cuts, tattoos, and really bad blonde die jobs. Salvador Dali sculpture adorning the entrance to the MGM Grand Macao (hotel)The Venetian Hotel, MacaoThe grand hall inside of The Venetian Hotel, MacaoThe plaza at the MGM Grand Macao
  • (Doctor) fish spas: the very fact that this is allowed/considered hygenic blows my mind.  But hey, when in Rome!  

~

Read it & eat,

The Lunch Belle 

Tuesday
Nov232010

BLT Prime

When I hear the word "man," there are a few things that immediately come to mind: deep voices, armpit hair, Adam's apples, and steak.  So after we whetted our palettes with a cocktail, we made our way towards BLT Prime, a modern-day meat & potatoes shrine that I have wanted to try for the longest.  Mom, Aunt Phyllis, Cousin Eric, and I had one of the most fun, delicious, and memorable meals together.  The food was rich and overly abundant, but the atmosphere was not...in a positive way.  While the decor was nothing short of sophisticated and chic, the tunes playing overhead were a mix of pop, classic rock, and motown - making every diner in the room feel, somehow, more at ease and comfortable.  The scene was hardly uptight and stuffy - something you may expect from a restaurant of that caliber/in this particular neighborhood (ahem, Novita!).

Dinner at BLT Prime: le menuDinner at BLT Prime: chicken liver pate and toast pointsDinner at BLT Prime: salumi assortmentsDinner at BLT Prime: mini grilled cheesesDinner at BLT Prime: pickled vegetablesDinner at BLT Prime: BLT's famous popoversDinner at BLT Prime: a look inside of the popoverDinner at BLT Prime: crabcakeDinner at BLT Prime: tuna tartareDinner at BLT Prime: filet o' beefDinner at BLT Prime: filet mignonDinner at BLT Prime: potato skinsDinner at BLT Prime: creamed spinachDinner at BLT Prime: hey, we tried!Dinner at BLT Prime: Happy 25th, Eric!Dinner at BLT Prime: from left to right - Aunt Phyllis, Cousin Eric, me, Mom

Monday
Nov222010

NYC tourist-tip of the day

How to politely navigate through NYC by foot

  • If you must stop to read directions, kindly move over to allow for pedestrians to pass.
  • When in doubt, keep to your right.  Otherwise, just be cognisant of how the crowd in front of you is moving and follow suit.
  • On escalators: stand on the right, walk on the left.
  • Unless the sidewalk is virtually empty, no more than two people should walk side by side.  Avoid group sidewalk huddles.

Read it & eat...and be wise on the street,

The Lunch Belle

Friday
Nov192010

NYC tourist-tip of the day

Tourists: I'm going to apologize, in advance, for NYC's Neanderthal subway system.  Aside from the fact that it's unpredictable and extremely non-user friendly, it's expensive, to boot.

If you've ever visited London, Paris, or Hong Kong, for example, then you're fully aware of each city's efficient rail and road system, which makes a mere mockery of ours.  But, before we compare apples to oranges, allow me to offer you a glimmer of hope, should you find yourself visiting The Big Apple: "HopStop."  Now, add the URL ( http://www.hopstop.com/?city=newyork ) to your mobile device or scratch pad - or wherever it is that you deem appropriate.  This magic link will get you from point A to point B, literally and seamlessly, with detailed instructions for every step of your journey - whether you're walking from Rockefeller Center to the Empire State Building, or taking the subway from your hotel in Times Square to Ground Zero. 

Tips

  • Download the HopStop application to your mobile device.
  • Prior to your visit to NYC, play around on HopStop to familiarize yourself with the site.
  • HopStop recognizes major landmarks (i.e. Grand Central Terminal), but you should always make an effort to be cognisant of your current and destination address, if at all possible.    Alternatively, you can enter whatever building number you're standing in front of as "point A" of your journey.
    • I find it helpful to jot down my hotel's address (or wherever it is that you're staying) and keep it on my person while I'm away from the property.

 

Read it & eat...and be wise on the street,

The Lunch Belle