Thursday, 1 October 2009

Food Review -- Fairy Cakes (Cup-cakes)

Colleague of mine from work knows that I have recently started off my own personal food blog Geoff's Twitchen and has invited me to try out her fresh home-baked cup cakes which I promised I will do a review on it. Never been a fan of cup-cakes due to all the cream & butter and personal favourite even at this moment is Muffins & Scones -- just not cup-cakes. On top, I have heard many positive comments from our other colleagues on the quality & appearance of her home-baked cup-cakes therefore a review session was necessary.

Monday morning at work, I was given a plesant surprise. My colleague brought me a beautiful cup-cake box which included 6 cup-cakes of 3 flavours. Packaging & appearance was extremely impressive considering it was home-made therefore kudos to her on putting such effort and I can smell a business opportunity on this shortly. However, the most important factor still is decided by the flavour & taste of the cup-cakes regardless of the packaging and appearance.

Chocolate Cup Cakes
-- This was a simple and pure Chocolate Cup-Cake with rice crispies garnished on the top. The flavour of the Chocolate was rich which is delicious providing you have a sweet tooth and it wasnt too sweet which is perfect for the Hong Kongers's palate. The texture of the cup-cake was very dense which was disappointing and the crispies were slightly stale maybe due to the reason that I have left the cup-cakes for a whole day in office before tasting it. Overall, it was worth a try especially for those that love indulging into Chocolate.

Rating:: 2/3

Quality of CupCake: ***

Banana Cup Cake:
Topped with Almonds, this Banana Cup-Cake was my personal favourite. The Banana Cake was delicious as the texture and flavour reminded me of child-hood memories from Banana Cakes that we used to purchase in bakeries. This simply was very mouth-watering and my highly recommended cup-cake out of the 3 flavours. Areas of improvement will be to perhaps too add more bananas to enhance the banana flavour. One ironic comment which I want to highlight is that this Cup-Cake would have been perfecto if there wasnt any cream in the cake but however, all cup-cakes have to contain some sort of cream, correct? Highly recommended for sure!

Rating:: 1/3

Quality of CupCake: 3/1/2*

Coffee Flavoured Cupcake:
With a big dash of Coffee flavoured cream on the top of the cup-cake, the appearance of this cake wasnt tempting myself in any way but Kudos must be given to my colleague that it was a very cute cup-cake indeed, very professionally baked & decorated.

Areas for Improvement

*The Coffee flavour was not very bland therefore more coffee must be used for this.
*Took a first bite of the cup-cake and realised that the inner part was extremely dry therefore not what I expected from trying the first 2 cup-cakes.
*As much as I like coffee flavoured cakes or pastries, as a comparison between the 1st two cup-cakes, this certainly was a major disappointment as I have personally requested a coffee flavoured cup cake from my colleague.

*The Coffee Cream on the top was intensely butter-flavoured which was not my cup of tea as the taste & smell rightly puts me off my appetite.

Rating:: 3/3

Quality of CupCake: 1/1/2*

Despite the minor setback on the Coffee Flavoured Cupcake, all in all, it was a great experience to be reviewing one of my colleague's brand new hobby & potential new career. I hope this honest review will not discourage her and please keep up the good work as you are doing good for the dessert industry in Hong Kong. We need more local food heroes like you in Hong Kong!

For more details on ordering & purchases from Fairy Cakes, please visit and by email @

Happy Eating & Drinking


Monday, 28 September 2009

Food Journey #23 - Battle of the Salad Bars in Hong Kong

We have seen an influx of Salad Bars in Hong Kong during the past 24 months and seems to me that we in Hong Kong have finally realised that importance of eatting vegetables on a daily basis. A few commercial salad bars that immediately comes to mind includes Dressed Salad, Just Salad & MIX Salad located in Three Sixty, all located in the heart of Central serving up to the expat population (mainly) and the local population. Thus, I decided to do a quick review and share with you each of my individual experiences with 3 different brands which are positoned very differently.

Essentially, Salads are the simplest dish it can possibly be as it is simply just Leaves + Dressing, not exactly rocket science. You have a pack of romaine lettuce, few drizzles of olive oil + balsamic vinegar, there you go, your plate of salad right there! This gives me a thinking to why some salad joints can so easily screw up the "salad".

MIX Salad

Personally, I am a good friend of the guys that are behind MIX and firmly believe the concept is great as Hong Kong needs something like this. However, my experience at MIX Salad at ThreeSixty is an absolute stinker and I have also realised that some of their branches are closing down (referring to Causeway Bay Branch).

a) The ingredients, toppings & choice of leaves are not very appealing to start off with especially the tomatoes looked like it had been sitting in the fridge since 1999.

b) For the price of HKD45 for a small salad and HKD75 for a large salad, they are absolutely shooting themselves with the price. Why would anyone order a $45 salad which was approximately 1/4 the size of Dressed or Just Salad aside from myself for the purpose of reviewing in my blog. The difference between a small & larges salad was enormous!

c) The choice of toppings were boring and was particularly expensive to top up on the salad.

d) Biggest mistake was to order my salad with the Sweet & Spicy Vinagarette which was purely FOUL! I did not taste any substance of spicy flavours in the dressing but instead, it was more like a sweet & sour sauce and imagine the pairing with veggies and yes, it didnt pair well at all. The salad was so bad that I had 1/2 the box which was small enough and had to run downstairs to fetch myself a sandwich instead.

Honestly do not see why & how they have customers, corporates lining up every day for a salad, does that tell us that there aren't any genuine good salads in Hong Kong. Vow to never return to this place ever again and definitely the 1st to be eliminated from the battle!

Address: 4/f, ThreeSixty, The Landmark, Central (中環德輔道中12-16號置地廣場4樓Three Sixty超市Food Court內)

Food Quality (5* the highest): *

Price for Lunch (5$ = very expensive): $$$

Just Salad<

Location for Just Salad in Central is spot on and their guys are impressive in securing good locations. With 2 locations, one in Cochrane Street and one in World Trade Building, both located in the hub of Central. What's more, their Cochrane Street location is extremely close to our office therefore a regular for majority of our colleagues. Have always people arguing between the difference Just Salad & Dressed Salad, in fact, I think there is still a gulf in the level between the 2 brands even though both are imported salad brands from The States.

a) With a regular salad priced at HKD45 per bowl (Very Good Size) including 4 toppings, the ingredients are in quality much better than MIX Salad and at least there is a wide range of toppings to be choosen including Avocado, Portobello Mushroom, 1 whole Boiled Egg etc. However, one downside is that the toppings do not always seem very fresh and appealing. The additional topping which you have to pay extra such as Pesto Chicken, Salmon, Scallops does not appear to be worth the extra money to pay for. Finally, the free slice of bread is always extremely stale. Enough said!

b) Staff at Just Salad does not seem to speak very good English considering majority of their clients are expats and are quite poorly trained. On a few occasions, the regular salad which I order at Just Salad are charged differently which baffles me a lot as it is the same size & ingredient and as a regular customer, I have no clue why sometimes it is charged at $55, sometimes at $60 sometimes at $45!

c) The experience or ambiance at Just Salad is another area which needs to be improved. I enjoyed watching the staff chopping & stiring up the salad as that always provides a bit of entertainment for us customers but the general vibe which I experienced whilst approaching the salad bar was a local salad bar attempting to be western even though the brand is originated from the US. It has that very local substance and the 2nd floor is extremely cramped during peak hours.

In my opinion, Just Salad has its areas for improvement such as quality of toppings, ingredients, service and ambiance but in general, the level of satisfaction & taste is much much better comparing to MIX Salad. For those that like a bit of Asian flavours, I highly recommend that Yuzu Dressing as that is a delight.

Address: 30-34 Cochrane Street, Central, Hong Kong (中環閣麟街30-34號地下B舖
Tel: 2850 6818

Food Quality (5* the highest): ***

Price for Lunch (5$ = very expensive): $$$

Dressed Salad

If our office was located in IFC, this would be my local salad bar to have the freshest salad daily. It seems to be ridiculously busy on the weekdays during the peak hours and is also busy during the weekends. A hip place full of Tai-Tais, corporate employees, model-wannabes, fashionista wannabes and buff guys, girls & fitness freaks coming out from the Pure Fitness gym above. I managed to avoid all this crowd and decided to visit the location in Queens Road East (opposite Hopewell Centre) in Wan Chai on a fine Sunday to try out once again in a different location.

a) With a regular salad priced at HKD48 per plate (very generous portion) including 4 toppings, the ingredients are in top quality & form comparing to above joints. The selection of toppings is much diverse and also includes my favourite -- Anchovies which is a definite KUDOS!

b) The moment you step into Dressed Salad, there is a sense of hip & coolness about the place. Very similarly vibe that tickles me everytime I walk into Cafe O, the Macs, the cool high bar seating and the smooth tunes that is on the stereo. My definite cup of tea in terms of a relaxed healthy Sunday lunch.

c) I recieved some comments from our Geoff's Twitchen fan page on facebook that the service is not so up to scratch. Agree to a certain point especially in the IFC location during lunch-hours as there is always a long queue of hustling & starving office workers all waiting to be fed. Maintaining top-notch service during peak hours is something which Dressed Salad has to work on for sure. However, my experience in the Wan Chai was pure fab as staff were friendly, courteous and were extremely helpful in helping you to choose your toppings! Plus, they all spoke perfect English as well!

d) Pricing point starting at $48 for a large plate of salad is something which I think is very reasonable as you know you are getting the service, ambiance & the freshness of the products in return. However, the additional charges on the attractive toppings such as grilled chicken etc could be quite hefty if you want your salad slightly more luxurious.

e) Highly recommend the Salad Wraps -- must try!

The Winner of the Battle of the Salad Bars in Hong Kong award goes to Dressed Salad as the quality of salad, ambiance, service, staff wins by a gulf of a distance. Highly recommend you all to visit the location in Wan Chai as that is an extremely chilled out location and one of the cool spots in Wan Chai for some people watching if you are bored. Do you agree with my review and if not, leave me a comment today!

Happy Eating!


Address: GF, 202 Queen's Road East, QRE Plaza, Wan Chai, Hong Kong (灣仔皇后大道東202號 QRE Plaza 地下1號舖

Tel: 2893 4848

Food Quality (5* the highest): ****

Price for Lunch (5$ = very expensive): $$$