Thursday, 31 August 2017

First Hard Rock Hotel in China opens at Mission Hills Centreville, Shenzhen


The interior of the Deluxe Room

Hard Rock Hotel Shenzhen is the latest addition to the Hard Rock Hotels group. Located at the heart of Mission Hills Centreville, this brand new hotel is the only Hard Rock property in China. Following its soft opening on 12 August, I was privileged to be the first guest to check into the hotel.

 

The facade

The facade of the hotels exudes splendour and elegance with the shape of a shimmering majestic gold dragon created by cymbals.

The lobby

The spanking new lobby is hip and trendy while retaining sophistication. Throughout the property, one can see the valuable and intricate memorabilia on display. Guests can see more unique pieces once the hotel is officially open to the public from 1 September onwards. The most striking feature is of course the signature fendar guitars which are beautifully displayed on the walls.

Enjoying my welcome drink upon check-in

The check-in process was smooth and efficient and I was even offered a welcome cocktail. I was then escorted to the room by the Royalty Rock Lounge Manager, Mr Rock Li. He was very professional and polite and explained to me more about the amenities of the room.


Modern furnishings

The Deluxe Room is an innovative mix of music-inspired Rock n’ Roll décor and contemporary Chinese elements. Hard Rock Shenzhen continues the brand’s tradition of presenting captivating moments through music. Whether you like rap, pop, reggae or F&B, you can create a hands-on experience with the brand’s signature ‘The Sound of Your Stay’ amenity programme, offering an in-room Fender guitar checkout and DJ-equipment rental which is complimentary and will be delivered to your room upon request. Alternatively, you can also enjoy different genres of music in your room ranging from chill, alternative, hip hop, regional, RNB Discom, Classic to Ambient.


Pristine view

The room also offers a pristine view of the golf course and the Mission Hills Centreville.

Bath amenities


The luxurious bathtub

Other than the fantastic music, I also loved the Rock Spa amenities in the room as well as the luxurious oversized bathtub overlooking the Mission Hills Centreville landscape. Perfect for luxuriating in the bath and enjoying some quiet moments. 


Working out in the gym

The 24-hour gym was another highlight. Fitness fanatics can access the gym using their keycard at any time of the day. You can also request for ear phones where you can enjoy your favourite music while burning those calories. There is also a roof-top pool, unfortunately it was not open during my stay.


The All Day Dining Restaurant

The hotel also has various restaurants to cater to discerning palates. All Day Dining Restaurant – Sessions has a produce-driven menu with local favourites and international delights masterfully prepared using the freshest ingredients. The restaurant's design is funky with purple and yellow accents. Private rooms are also available.

The private room

For those who are inclined towards Asian food, you look forward to Hainanese chicken rice, kung pao chicken, wanton noodles, fried rice and hand cut noodles with beef. The pickled shrimp on crunchy lettuce is appetising with tangy notes.


Pickled shrimp on crunchy lettuce

I like the international favourites as every dish is like a beautifully composed symphony, aesthetically pleasant and delightful to the taste buds. 

Quinoa risotto

Seared salmon sous vide 

For something healthy, you can go for the quinoa risotto or the seared salmon sous vide accompanied with creamy sweet pot seared salmon sous vide, green beans and baby radish. 

Mushroom cappuccino

The mushroom cappuccino is smooth, creamy and delicious and is topped with frothed milk.

Assorted breads

Charcuterie platter
After a good night's sleep, you can look forward to a sumptuous buffet consisting of assorted Danish and croissants, assorted cheeses, charcuterie, dim sum, pancakes, hand-made noodles and fresh fruits. There is also an egg-station where you can have the egg prepared in whatever style you want.

Tantalising dim sum

Hard Rock Café

Nachos

Grilled Salmon

Mac & Cheese with Grilled Chicken

The mainstay restaurant is of course Hard Rock Café which offers American-style comfort food such as mac and cheese with grilled chicken, grilled salmon, burgers, nachos and more. 

Rock Shop®

A stay at any Hard Rock Hotel is never complete without a visit to Rock Shop®. Be awed by the vast collection of private-label T-shirts, accessories and collectibles.

GMT+8 Lounge

To relax and unwind, sip a cocktail at GMT+8 while immersing in the splendid view of MH Centreville.

Your little ones can also have a little adventure and bond with other kids at the Roxity Kids Club. At Hard Rock Hotel Shenzhen, you will never be bored as there are lots of activities to look forward to. I will definitely be back!

Hard Rock Shenzhen Hotel is located at No. 9 Mission Hills Road, Shenzhen, 518110, China. For enquiries and reservations, please call +86 (0) 755 3395 2888 or email info@hrhshenzhen.com

Alternatively, please visit here.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

A Taste of Northern Spain at The Optimist, Hong Kong




The bar area on the ground floor

Weekends are the best time to escape from the hustle and bustle, enjoy an indulgent meal and chill. If Spanish fare is your cup of tea, you will definitely not be disappointed by The Optimist at Wan Chai, Hong Kong. This 2-year old bar and restaurant focuses on authentic, rustic and delicious Northern Spanish cuisine. The brainchild of Christian Talpo and Manuel Palacio (the duo behind the famed Italian restaurant, Pirata), The Optimist has a charming ambience with high ceiling, natural materials and leafy plants. On the second and third floors, you can see vintage paintings, giving the restaurant authenticity and cosiness, transporting one to Spain. Other than the lovely setting, what I like about The Optimist is the warm and hospitable service, making me feel at home instantly.

Crab salad pintxos and tomato bruschetta

Every Sunday, The Optimist serves a semi buffet comprising an all-you-can eat tapas selection, sharing starters, choice of a main course and desserts.

Salmore jo (cold tomato soup)

The extensive variety of tapas and salads is a great way to titillate your senses and whet your appetite. However, it is good to exercise some restraint before piling your plate with too much food as there are many more substantial courses to go. 

Spanish tortilla

Some of the delectable treats to look out for include the Spanish tortilla, crab salad pintxos, assorted cheeses and cured meats, melon mint salad, salmore jo (cold tomato soup), pumpkin salad, kale salad, salpicon salad and cucumber and black sesame salad.

Spanish cold cuts and cheese

The sharing starters include a selection of Spanish cold cuts, ham croquettes and the broken eggs (heuvos rotos). 

Broken egg (heuvos rotos)

My favourite was the broken egg ((heuvos rotos) – a very delicious dish prepared with fried eggs, fried potatoes and chorizo. This is particularly a hot favourite in Northern Spain where the people are less well-to-do and families will gather together to enjoy a hearty meal together.



Ham croquettes

The ham croquettes were excellent too, a delightful balance of a crisp outer exterior and a soft, fluffy interior, giving it a greater variation of textures.


Arroz caldoso (seafood rice) 

If the starters, tapas and salads are not sufficient to fill your stomach, the main course definitely will. I chose the arroz caldoso which is a seafood rice dish cooked in a broth to a creamy consistency. A little like the Italian risotto, it was flavourful with the sweetness of the seafood and the tanginess of the tomatoes. Although the texture was smooth and creamy, every grain of rice was separate, firm and al dente.



The finale was the dessert selection which included brownies, raspberry cheese cake and the flan. I wanted to have all three but my stomach could only contain one. I chose the cheese cake which was a little heavy, however, the raspberries gave it a more refreshing taste.

The interior

The Optimist is an excellent place to unwind and indulge in down-to-earth and authentic Northern Spanish cuisine. If you are going for the Weekend Brunch, I would suggest that you go with an empty stomach.

The entrance

The Optimist is located at 239 Hennessy Road in Wan Chai, Hong Kong. For reservations, please call +852 2433 3324 or email info@theoptimist.hk
Alternatively, please visit here.



Monday, 31 July 2017

Café Epure at Harbour City, HK - A Haven for French Classics and Afternoon Tea


The alfresco area

Café Epure, is an elegant tea room which is part of fine dining 1-Michelin star restaurant, Epure. Previously known as La Brasserie by Epure, it is a charming haven for French classics, dainty confections and delightful afternoon tea. 

The patisserie corner

Located at Harbour City, Café Epure has a cosy ambience with whimsical murals. Service is splendid, and the waiters are well-trained, friendly and thoughtful.

The café has a 3-course brunch set menu priced at HK$368 comprising one appetiser, one main course and one daily dessert or cheese and a 4-course set priced at HK $438 consisting of one appetiser, one main course, one daily dessert and cheese.

Maine lobster salad

For starters, the maine lobster salad is my favourite. It is smooth, rich and creamy and enhanced with the tanginess of the tomato, freshness of the apple and the crunchiness of the celery and onion. The different textures and flavours work together magically to create a dish which is well-balanced and pleasant to the senses (requires additional top-up of HK$58).

Smoked salmon salad

The smoked salmon salad accented with capers, red onion and lemon is another lovely appetiser,  combining salty, sweet and aromatic flavours.

Duck leg confit

The duck leg confit was adroitly executed, the crispy skin enveloping the juicy, tender and succulent meat inside. The ‘bell pepper piperade’ sauce is a delightful mix of bell peppers and tomatoes, giving the duck a hearty and robust taste. 

In-season fish

I also like the in-season fish with olive oil, capers and parsely. During my last visit, I tried the cod which was absolutely delicious. The method of preparation is simple, however, the taste is fresh, satisfying my palate to the very last mouthful.

Crêpe Suzette

For desserts, I would recommend the Crêpe Suzette, a renowned classic French dessert, made up of a crêpe with beurre Suzette – a caramelised sauce of sugar, butter, caramel and orange, flambéed with Grand Marnier. The combination of the different ingredients create a beautiful harmony of flavours, satiating all my different senses. The best part is that it is served with mango sorbet, heightening the overall dining experience (additional top up of HK $20 is required). 

Caramelised vanilla apple-tart 

The caramelised vanilla apple-tart accompanied with vanilla ice cream is another hot favourite. The round apple tart is topped with layers of delicately sliced apples and dusted with icing sugar. Very palatable while being aesthetically pleasing too (requires an additional top up of HK $20).

In the café

Café Epure is an awesome place for brunch, afternoon tea or dinner. Food is excellent and ambience is perfect for a tête-à-tête with close friends. It is located at Shop 403, 4/F Ocean Centre, Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong. For enquiries, please call 3185 8331. Alternatively, please visit their facebook page here.

The entrance









Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Pampering Weekend Stay at Sands Macao


The luxurious Premium Suite

My recent stay at the Sands Macao was nothing short of luxury. Located in the heart of the Macau Peninsula, a glittering landmark in Macau, the Sands Macao Hotel is an elegant hotel with a collection of 289 exquisitely designed suites offering stunning views of the ocean and city. 

The best part of the hotel is that it is just a mere 5-minute drive from the Outer Harbour Ferry Terminal and directly opposite Fishermen’s Wharf, the largest leisure and themed integrated complex with dining, shopping and entertainment facilities. 

Getting to the hotel was a breeze. There is a shuttle bus which takes guests from the ferry terminal right to the lobby of the hotel.

The lobby

The minute I arrived at the hotel, I was charmed by the majestic entrance. What really impressed me was the check-in process which was smooth and efficient and was completed in a jiffy. 


The living area

I was delighted to be upgraded to the Premium Suite which is priced at MOP$6000. I was escorted to my room by the bellman who shared with me more about the facilities of the hotel.

The bedroom

The lush room features contemporary furnishings, custom-made hand-woven carpets, premium lighting fixtures and excellent audio-visual equipment.


Sleek plasma TV

There are three plasma televisions in the room, one in the bedroom, one in the living area and one in the bathroom. 

The spacious bathroom

The bathroom is huge with marble flooring and a Jacuzzi tub for me to relax, soothe my muscles and rejuvenate my senses.  The white tea and rose bath amenities were great for me to pamper myself in the bath.

The wonderful bathroom amenities

The swimming pool

The outdoor swimming pool on level six is heated which is great, the only setback is that it is  a little small. Perfect for a relaxing dip but not big enough to swim laps.

Relaxing by the pool

I was a little disappointed with the absence of a gym in the hotel as I have brought my exercise attire and was planning to work out. However, guests can luxuriate in the exclusive spa and sauna.

The Japanese station at 888 Buffet restaurant

There are six restaurants and a food court to whet the appetites of food lovers. I had dinner at the 888 Buffet Restaurant which offered an extensive selection but the food did not live up to expectations.

Assorted sushi

The sushi and sashimi at the Japanese section were pretty decent but the rest of the other food did not leave a memorable impression. I did not get a chance to try the food at the other restaurants such as the Copa steakhouse.

The shopping area

As gambling is not my cup of tea, I did not try my luck at the casino. It was quite an interesting experience to walk round the casinos and see gamblers at the poker table and the roulette machine. Shopping at Sands Shoppes also offers an amazing experience with 850 duty free outlets.

 Asian breakfast (room-service)

After a good night's sleep, savour a delightful breakfast in the privacy of your room. The Asian breakfast comprising abalone and chicken porridge, prawn dumplings and stir-fried egg noodles was delicious. I love the smooth, soothing porridge with generous servings of abalone. The prawn dumplings were succulent and simply bursting with flavour.

Indulging in yummy breakfast in the suite

Overall, I had a fantastic stay at Sands Macao. It was a pampering and indulgent experience from check-in all the way to check-out. Service was impeccable and the room was extremely comfortable. I will definitely be back again!

Sands Macao is located at Sands Macao Hotel, Largo de Monte Carlo, No.203, Macao SAR, P.R. China. For enquiries and reservations, please call +853 2888 3388 or
email inquiries@sands.com.mo.

Alternatively, please visit here.