#theWanderlist. Revisiting Favorites, Discovering New Ones at Fish & Meat, Beef & Liberty, and La Cantoche

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A few days ago, I wrote part one of a post of dinners I had the pleasure of partaking during my birthday’s week this month. Birthday dinners in Hong Kong are great because there’s always plenty of choices and offers in this city in relation to cuisines and concepts. And because this is Hong Kong, every year there’s a selection of new trendy “IT” places all the time, making it hard to keep up if you don’t go out all the time.

My plan was, instead of having a big party I would have a dream week of food tastings from four fresh dining hotspots i’ve never been to and two I wanted to revisit. In the previous post, I wrote about the delicious entrecote from La Vache, the humble yet delectable offerings of ABC Kitchen, and the wonderful pairings found at Ham & Sherry.

In this post we end with the last three… a fun yet underwhelming revisit to La Cantoche, an amazing re-experience at Fish & Meat / Stockton, and a new burger discovery with Beef & Liberty.

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+ “Fun French… I Used To Love It, Now I Just Like It”

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The last time I was at La Cantoche, was for a media tasting with about 12-14 of us, and the plates from the entrees to mains were generally flawless in presentation to delivery. Some dishes, like the Rice Krispies in Lettuce Wrap were infectious while the Roasted Camembert Cheese with Potato Balls and the Reblochon Cheese Chicken Cordon Bleu were divisive. This time the Camembert and the Cordon bleu were the star attractions of the dinner, but that’s because everything else (even the Rice Krispies) were generally dry (as in not moist) and underwhelming. The birthday chocolate cake was 1-note sweet, flat, and dry. At the media tasting, the Camembert and Chicken Cordon bleu probably tasted the same as at my birthday, but because every other dish tasted so delicious, juicy, and fresh, we couldn’t help but compare.

Conceptually it’s a fun restaurant from a French-Viet guy (present almost every night) who wanted to take basic home cooked French fare, but mix it with a bit of the Asian twist he grew up with. Unfortunately, when we started putting photos on Instagram and Twitter, another “La Cantoche” from Paris tweeted back saying this:

I checked out the website of the Parisian La Cantoche, and sure enough, it’s also youthful twist at French fare, with their logo’s font being similar to the one being used in Hong Kong.

Do we have a Chinafied version on Hollywood road perhaps?

In the end of the day none of this would have mattered if the food stayed the same quality as the Media Tasting… but that’s the media tasting. I love the ambiance and vibe here in general, but I from the last time I was here, to now… it was a bit disappointing and not really consistent. That said my birthday table had about twenty of us, and there was another birthday table of about 20 people as well. We RSVP’d over a month in advance, so I’m sure they were more than ready.

For the best casual French restaurant in town, try Metropolitain in Sai Ying Pun. It’s consistently a winner amongst my French friends.

Thanks to these guys for showing up and celebrating with me!

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Also thanks to the Lovely Louise for planning it, making it happen, and putting it all together! 

EAT La Cantoche . GF, 227 Hollywood Road on 5 Wa Lane, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong . T: +852-24260880 . Walk Ins Welcome

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+ “Fish, Meat, and Drinks To Die For”

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Okay let me tell you about Fish & Meat. This place is crazy excellent. I’ve only been to this place once with friends (NOT a media tasting) and I can tell you 100%, Fish & Meat is the best new place for… well… fish and meat. From the pre-drinks, to the entrees, to the mains, to dessert, then post-drinks after at Stockton below, it’s by far an excellent and hearty meal that takes you somewhere else… like a European Seaside community or something to that effect. I’m not so sure about the back story, but the “on point” theatrical yet restrained ambiance of the restaurant’s decor is by designer du jour Ben McCarthy of Charlie & Rose, whom I interviewed recently for INDESIGNLIVE Magazine.

Everything on the menu is everything you could possibly want in a menu from a Western seafood restaurant. The offerings are straightforward, with the key element being that is focus on classic simplicity with a big dose of heritage touches.

For my dinner we had the fish, a Whole Roasted Italian Sea Bass with Fennel and a tasty Romesco Sauce, and meat, a 32 Oz Prime Beef Rib from Kobe with a house Bearnaise and Salsa Verde. The menu says they’re for two people, but we were more than stuffed with the four of us. When ordering don’t miss out on my favorites, the Sweet Corn Polenta, and the Grilled Fennel with Celeriac, Saffron, and Verjus. For Starters a selection of from Roasted Bone Marrow, to Fresh Baby Spanish Octopus, and Soft Duck Egg Raviolos are available. Don’t skip the Sicilian Lemon Tart with Country Clotted Cream at the end.

Overall everything in the meal was finely cooked, at the right temperature, with the right zesty flavours, leaving every one just right and more than satisfied. The restaurant is on the pricier side, but I really feel that i’m actually getting European flavours, and not just an imitation.

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After Dinner, make sure to remind your hostess to allow you entrance at the “super secret, speakeasy” bar downstairs called, Stockton. Also designed by Charlie & Rose. Stockton has some of the finest fancy “mixology”-esque cocktails in the city. It’s adventurous while being not to feminine or trendy. I love whisky and this place has amazing whisky based cocktails. Try my two favorites, the Athole Brose featuring a Blended Whiskey with Wild Heather Honey, Oatmeal, Drambuie, Luxardo Amaretto di Sachira, and topped with Double Cream or the Brass Monkey, an HM King with Compressed Citrus, Maca, Lucuma, Vanilla Gum, and Chuncho Bitters.

When i’m around the Central area, Stockton is the new “local” for me there. I’m not a Lan Kwai Fong (Hong Kong bar street) type of person so this place is a good go-to, always punctuating a night’s out after dinner.

The decor is lovely, and the space is filled with found antiques from Thailand and Paris… making it feel like an authentic pub, rather than a theatrical reproduction.

EAT Fish & Meat . 2F, 32 Wyndham Street, Central. T: +852 25656788 . Reservations Essential / DRINK Stockton. 1F, 32 Wyndham Street, Central . T: +852 25655268 . Reservations Recommended

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+ “New Burger Joint I Really Like, Plus the Korean Fried Chicken…”

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My sister and I ended my #JJsBirthdayWeekofEats, with a Sunday brunch at Beef & Liberty, a new beautiful burger joint on Level 3 of that three-story modern commercial building on the corner of Wing Fung Street and Star Street.  I didn’t know much about Beef & Liberty before I got here, but I was just a fan of the branding work by WHITESPACE HK and the wall mural by Los Angeles based artist, CYRCLE, that you can see from the street. (Even though I’m obviously a foodie, i’m a design tourist first.)

According to their website, Beef & Liberty is a “modern homage to the original beefsteak clubs… originating in eighteenth century London.” Guys, it’s a burger shop. And a pretty good one at that. The meat is hormone-free grass fed beef from Hereford and Angus cattle, naturally raised by small-scale farmers in Tasmania. 

My sister and I shared one burger (it was the 6th of 6 major meals straight) and one appetiser. We started with the Crispy Chicken Wings, which are basically Korean Fried Chicken. The wings are huge and the skin is cooked crisp. While it is saucy, it doesn’t take away from the crispiness of the dish nor is it too oily either. It’s a perfect wing and Korean chicken served just right. For the burger we didn’t order the Classic (I rarely do for fancy burger joints like this), but instead ordered the Green Chili Burger… a burger with green chili slices, jalapeno relish, cheddar cheese, butter lettuce, and mayonnaise. The burger was big enough to share for two, but not too big to sink your teeth into without ingredients slopped around because of it. The bread here is perfectly pan fried, and absorbs the oil well… meaning it doesn’t fall apart. The beef was cooked rare (how I like it), with the jalapeno relish and green chili giving an interesting southwestern tex-mex twist to the flavour.

We ended the meal with dessert (who doesn’t)… a Warm Skillet Cookie & Cream, which is exactly what it says it is. The chocolate chip cookie is freshly baked and the clotted cream is homemade, balancing the overly sweet cookie. I’d definitely come back here again.

EAT Beef & Liberty . Star St. Precinct, 2F, 23 Wing Fung St., Wanchai, Hong Kong . T: +852 28113009 . Reservations Recommended

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Overall the dinners were great, but most important was that I was with friends and family members which made the experience very memorable.

I also just wanted to quickly show off some of the great presents I got this year; like this hilariously amazing sweatshirt with a “United States of James Franco” print on it from RAD in Paris.

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Other cool gifts; check out these travel bags from my friends Eddy  and Jason. Eddy makes these amazing camo totes from his label, Compound By 3 Spirit and Jason just launched a menswear leather accessories label called Hammer & Needle. (The travel books are via my other pals Katrina, Jason, and David from Louis Vuitton.)

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Now that my amazing “Jesus Year” 33 is over… I can’t wait to continue to work that much harder creatively moving forward into the coming year based on the cool stuff that has happened within the last twelve months.

And of course, much Gratitude to the everyday. I don’t forget this.

JJ.

Taipei Photobook, Spring 2014

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Because we were all free, and the opportunity came up to jet out of HK on Western and Chinese Valentine’s Day (ie. Lantern Festival) weekend, me and my friends went to Taipei for a last minute getaway trip care-of my pal, DJ Angus Wong’s, hospitality friends and family discount at the amazing W Taipei

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In total it was a 48 hour trip. We departed Friday night via Cathay Pacific and jumped on a plane to Taipei where we were immediately picked up by the W Hotel limo and whisked to the W Taipei less than an hour away from the airport for hotel check in… and then party immediately after. That first evening, Angus was hosting W Taipei’s 3rd Year Anniversary bash with W Singapore’s Mr. Has. When the W has these parties, they tend to fly in the big music guys from other W’s in the region. I’m a big fan of both Mr. Has and Angus so it was definitely a great way to start the evening and the weekend.

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In terms of quality of design and quality of fit out, the W Taipei is a great urban hotel, that’s tasteful and cosy, doing great service to the W “lifestyle” which is pretty much party party party. I loved the public spaces, the heated pool, as well as the top floor bar/restaurant, Yen, with amazing views of the city.

The rooms are comfortable, and well layed out. All internal doors and walls can be hidden in the pocket, so the whole space can feel more open and more free. There’s a great spatial flow. If you make a reservation here, make sure to ask for a room with a window that faces the Taipei 101. It makes for a more dramatic effect. 

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The great thing about W Taipei is that the hotel is located right in the middle of an ever modernising CBD (Central Business District).

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Right next door is the humongous Eslite Bookstore, the 24-hour bookstore with cool cafes and several design stores and independent fashion located within.

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Also down the street from W and Eslite is the Taipei 101 Tower and mall where you can go up to check out all of Taipei from the top of the city. There aren’t too many skyscrapers in in Taipei so you can pretty much see everything around the tower 360 degrees.

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But if you’re wanting your agenda away from malls as much as possible, then you can forego lux shopping for Taipei’s indie designer boutique lanes instead off Dunhua South Road.

My pals loved the Frapbois Shop… a teeny bopper destination shop which sold all things quirky from Frapbois, CdG, and Kenzo, to a name a few brands.

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I loved this curated wasteland shop, called Artifacts… which is basically their version of Kapok or Colette, except less French.

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You can drink Faro beer while you shop.

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And check out the cool clientele.

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It’s Taipei, so luxury indie goods are not cheap. That said I wasn’t really in a buying mood myself, so I settled for one of these key chains… guess which one I got?

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There were some stores which sold awkward merchandise…

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Like what’s that all about?

Of course, we also had to go to the original Din Tai Fung in Xinyi for some Xiao Long Bao. I’m not kidding… it’s certainly the best, and for some reason, tastes way different than the Hong Kong DTFs… much lighter and tastes more fresh.

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We went on some random time… like 4pm, so the wait for a table was only about 15 minutes, compared to the 2 hours it takes to get a table during peak hours.

When in Taipei, make sure to have a sip of TenRen’s Tea, the best fresh hot and cold tea in the city. Lucky us in Hong Kong, we’ve got a location in Sheung Wan and another one in Causeway Bay’s Eslite location now. So refreshing. 

If you want to walk off your Din Tai Fung, this TenRen’s location also on Xinyi Road, is your best bet. Also listed by Frommer’s as the location to go to.

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A brisk walk down Xinyi Road and subsequently, Yongkang Street, will let you discover very cool old antique galleries, junk shops, and japanese cafes worth exploring with your camera.

There’s this random community oriented shop that sells its space to a different business owner everyday. The owner can sell their products AND hold interactive workshops about it.

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I got so excited checking out their product of the day… some bamboo type contraption that you heat up on hot coal and hit your knees with… that i completely forgot to get the name of the shop. Nonetheless, if you just walk down on Xinyi Road, you can’t miss it. They even asked to take a photos of us, and were super excited to do so as well. Taiwanese people are all so super friendly.

Other cool things to see, a really amazing junks shop complex in a community space on 60 Yongkang Street. Really interesting selection of stores, each with their own unique offerings.

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And if you’re lucky… you can meet this man who plays a mean two-string violin.

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#theWanderlist: LWK’s The Wishing Forest in Tai Po

Here’s something to look forward to if going to the Victoria Park Flower Market in Causeway Bay is just not your thing for Chinese New year… The Wishing Forest in Tai Po, just launched last week, is definitely worth an option. Designed within Hong Kong firm, LWK & Partners’, new Parametric oriented studio, Paralab, The Wishing Forest Exhibition Pavilion, is one of two major exhibits in association with the annual Heritage x Arts x Design (H.A.D.) Walk Project, this year in Tai Po & Fanling respectively.

According to the architects, The Wishing Forest pavilion is over 10,000 square feet and is located in the historic Lam Tsuen Wishing Square, a pseudo-spiritual site for local people to hang wishes on a sacred tree (which is now off limits due to its preservation.) In response to the old tree, LWK architects; Patrick Ng, Haynie Sze, and Bennett Bossert, used the form and construction method of traditional bamboo fixing with the aid of Parametric Modeling techniques, to devise a plan and a system for a three-tier exhibition zoning experience. 

The Pavilion is then partially enclosed with translucent canvas, in both red and white color to reflect duality and unity that lanterns bring to this season. 

VISIT The Wishing Forest Exhibition Pavilion (Part of the H.A.D. Walk Project) . From 18.JAN.2014 - 23.FEB.2014, 11AM - 6PM . FREE ADMISSION . Tai Po Lam Tsuen Wishing Square, Hong Kong . T: +852-27802283

JJ.

#theWanderlist: SOJO’s East Side, Architectural Playground For Style-Hunters and Guests of Hotel Indigo

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(via EDWARKB INSTAGRAM)

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My experiences in Wanchai pretty much defined my first few years’ experiences in Hong Kong as a whole. You see, Wanchai was the location of the first design office that I worked in, and it’s also the neighborhood where I moved into 9 years ago when arriving to this city. No, I’m not talking about “Suzie Wong’s” red-light Wanchai special, I’m talking about “SOJO”, the area South of Johnston Road defined by cool cafes, and destination bars, restaurants, design stores, with a sprinkling of unique fashion shops, designer furniture store, and art galleries.

Below, Brunch at Stone Nullah Tavern.

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 What defines SOJO as different from today’s Sheung Wan, is that SOJO is still pretty much an up-and-coming neighborhood, with more affordable rent, less expats than Central, and still a bit flexible for designers to set up a home or a shop front. Additionally Wanchai’s SOJO district has a much bigger stake of the city area than Sheung Wan, with various blocks to explore off Queen’s Road East and Johnston Road for style savvy city-trekkers like me.

 If I wanted to explore Wanchai’s SOJO on foot, I’d start my journey getting off the A3 Exit at the Wanchai MTR, explore the markets across the street on Wan Chai Road, while finding my way up to Queen’s Road to explore architectures that range from Old Heritage like the Old Wanchai Market or the Blue House, to 80’s modern, to completely contemporary buildings, like the Hotel Indigo by Aedas and the Opus by Frank Gehry, which can be seen from the street.

Other side streets off Queen’s Road East not to be missed, the future re-development of Lee Tung Street / Wedding Card Street as a pedestrian only shopping haven, Ship Street the location of the famous 22 Ships Restaurant by Jason Atherton, and St. Francis Street which connects to Moon, Star, and Sun Streets, where the Monocle Magazine Bureau and Kapok Shops are located.

Below, late night drinks at Tai Lung Fung 

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That said for my weekend stay last month, I started my everyday exploration at the Hotel Indigo, where the team there graciously invited me to stay for two nights in exchange for a blog post about them and the surrounding neighborhood. Writing about design and boutique hotels, are right up my alley… pun intended. 

Because I’ve written so much about Ship Street and Star Streets on this blog, I thought that the stay at Hotel Indigo would be a great opportunity for me to really explore everything on the Eastern end of SOJO. Historical buildings not to be missed include the Old Wan Chai Post Office constructed in 1912, and now an Environmental Resource Centre. Of course it is hard to miss the Blue House on Stone Nullah Lane, for its strikingly iconic blue painted façade. The Blue House and the adjacent Yellow House behind it are currently being renovated to become a “living museum” which should be open in a few more years. Up the road is the beautiful Pak Kai Temple, worth a visit. The Old Wanchai Market from the 1930s has been converted into a residential tower podium which some may find garish, while others may just appreciate for the fact that it was never torn down at all.

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Hotel Indigo was a real pleasant surprise, in that the hotel was playful without being overtly theatrical like most boutique hotels in Asia. The interior design moments in each of the spaces within the tower’s 29 floors were sensual without it being too dark or trendy-try-hard. The best part of the hotel, thank God, are its 138 rooms, which generally come in two tiers, a studio type suite, or a 1-Bedroom + Living Room Grande suite.

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#JJStyle: Red and Blue At The Lonestar State

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Two weeks ago, I decided to give myself a break and purchased a last minute ticket online to fly back for my annual family Christmas get together in Fort Worth, Texas (aka “The Lonestar State”)… my hometown. 

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As expected with most all-American (relatively) mid-sized towns like Fort Worth, everything is all spread out. In Texas we call this spread a “sprawl”, the opposite of Hong Kong density.

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Texas is SPRAWLING.

Below and Above, The Kimbell Museum designed by Louis Khan.

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For this brief non-Asia specific blog post, I wanted to present my photos of Texan “sprawl” as it relates to some of Fort Worth’s most unique cultural treasures, a group of world class museums which emerge lightly like an oasis on a sea of a very flat wintery beige landscape.

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First off, I find the sheer existence of these museums, with their breathtaking and unique collections set… in the middle of Fort Worth’s vast flat grassland really oddly fascinating. How did these clusters of museums get built on this site… amongst the flatness, the occasional taco stand, the gas station, and some 1950’s post-war reconstruction government edifices, in the first place?!

Well thanks to Oil Money and a very philanthropic minded Oil Family (the Bass Family), all these museums stand here today. That said, I’m thankful to have had such an access to the Kimbell Art Museum’s rare permanent collections at such formative years. The Kimbell houses a highly curated and select collection of important works by old-world masters such as, Rembrandt, Caravaggio, El Greco, Velazquez, in an intimate building designed by none other than a master, Louis Kahn. It’s no surprise that I ended up following a creative career path with that kind of cultural influence in my own back yard.

As I recently walked in and around Kahn’s introverted yet timeless building most notable for its series of barrel-vaulted roofs, I was immediately transported back to all those moments when my relationship with art and architecture first bloomed right there in that very museum.

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imageAbove, the Kimbell Extension by Renzo Piano.

Other buildings I visited in the museum complex; the newly opened glass roof extension to The Kimbell, by Italian architect, Renzo Piano. Across the street, and about twice the size of the Kahn’s Kimbell, at two full stories, my other favorite; The Modern, by Japanese architect, Tadao Ando, with a collection of contemporary masterpieces.

Below, The Modern by Tadao Ando.

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Both buildings by Piano and Ando, with their repetitive roof forms, also sit lightly on a generally flat site just like The Kimbell. Both designs are strongly influenced by Khan’s Kimbell planning, the Kimbell being at the core of Fort Worth’s museum complex, tying three beautiful modern buildings together.

Lucky Forth Worth.

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I just want to add that before I flew to Texas, I was graciously gifted one of only 74 limited edition travel satchels… a special red and blue colored Seventy Eight Percent ”Dimitri”, designed by an amazing person, Hong Kong based- Israeli designer, Shai Levy, a creative I covered on this blog several times before. 

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What makes the bag special is that it is Seventy Eight Percent’s first collaborative bag ever, this one with noted New York accessories designer, Eddie Borgo, a jewellery wunderkid who is known for his luxuriously sleek-yet-punk triangular and pyramid shaped motifs. This bag’s print of “interlocking triangles” is definitely a great example of that formal obsession with the triangle…. my favorite shape.

Below, Bag by Seventy Eight Percent x Eddie Borgo, Levi’s Jeans, Club Monaco Blazer, Watch by Daniel Wellington, shirt by J.Crew, Shoes by Ralph Lauren.

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The “Dimitri” Eddie Borgo bag was a perfect travel companion to the States for me. I was able to fit everything in this stress-free and stylish lightweight carry-all… my SLR camera, sunglasses, passport, travel documents, wallet, iPad, keys, diary, and smartphone. With everything that I placed inside, it was still a surprisingly light carry.

Material of the leather is vegetable tanned (great for the environment), and the canvas a Japanese cotton.

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The limited edition Eddie Borgo bag is available now at Lane Crawford Hong Kong (IFC, Harbour City, Times Square Causeway Bay) and Lane Crawford online and comes in Beige and Brown. Another collaborative line is with Brooklyn-based artist, Julia Chiang, available in all Blue and Beige and Green. A portion of the proceeds of the collaborative bags go to the Changing Lives Foundation, a foundation focused on reaching out to underprivileged youngsters in Hong Kong and Mainland.

And because it’s red and blue, it was THE perfect travel accessory for a trip to the U.S.of.A! It was good to be back, albeit briefly.

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SHOP Seventy Eight Percent x Eddie Borgo . Seventy Eight Percent x Julia Chiang / WEAR Seventy Eight Percent / WEAR Eddie Borgo / FOLLOW Julia Chiang Artist / VISIT Kimbell Art Museum / VISIT The Modern Fort Worth / CHARITY INFORMATION Changing Lives Foundation in Hong Kong

Style Photography Courtesy of Travis Guba Los Angeles

JJ.

Have Books, Will Travel. Discover New Cities in 2014 With These Top Travel Guides

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From Left to right; it’s a Mexican Cathedral in Panay Philippines, Villa Savoye in Poissy by Le Corbusier, The Gates in Central Park by artists, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, a Harajuku Girl in Tokyo, and lastly the Santa Maria Dela Pace, my favorite church in Rome.

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There’s just something about traveling. I LOVE TO TRAVEL. My blog was almost called “The Wanderluster” or “The Wanderlust” if it wasn’t for it being such a popular if not albeit appropriately cliche and overused word to label almost any travel/style based blog and/or Pinterest mood board these days. IE. The URL was already taken. So, I turned the “u” with an “i” on the title, and as they say… the rest was social media history! 

As you can see at the photo collage above, when I travel, I always look out for Architecture old and new, fashion trends I see on the street, and unique exhibitions, both indoor and outdoor. Traveling allows me to break with life’s daily monotony, and I always rely on Traveling to remind me that life is lived in different ways by different people, and their cultures and societal norms can help inform a new perspective, which is definitely something I can utilize in my design work and lifestyle choices.

One of my biggest 2014 resolutions, is to attempt to visit new places i’ve never been in Asia, as well as continue to discover the new in my city, Hong Kong, and in the surrounding Pearl River Delta region. To help me with this resolution, I’ve narrowed down four books to help me with this whole discovery.

Not only are these books really beautiful graphically and to the touch (which totally speaks to my design-oriented sensibilities), the four titles also allow me to plan travel itineraries via 4 unique time scales; lifestyle pampering for just a moment, day long architectural walks in my city, 2-day regional jaunts, and long weekend adventures throughout Asia. By the end of the year, i’ll let you know how it all turned out i’m sure. 

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+ 0-6HOURS / Wallpaper* City Guides Hong Kong 2014

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To be honest in the age of the internet, I almost completely forgot about Wallpaper* City Guides. While there was a time that I relied on these guides solely to help me anchor my urban trips, I’ve found them less useful over the years, especially when there are blogs (like mine) that tell you what’s the cool in a city that continually evolves as much as Hong Kong does. 

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theWanderlister+ Top 10 Stories of 2013

As my final end-of-2013 wrap-up-post before the blog sees new stories for 2014, I’d like to revisit 10 of our most read post from last year. These posts are not necessarily my most favorite, or the ones i’m in love with (heck the ones I loved the most turned out to be the least read…so who knows).

Anyway what this list successfully shows is a skimmed overview of the trends and events that got people interested on Wanderlister.com. Highlights include Monocle Magazine’s big Hong Kong and APAC tour, Art Basel’s inaugural Asian branded fair, the emergence of proudly made Hong Kong labels like PYE, the popularity of public inflatable Art, and the turn to Southeast Asian and Filipino cuisine in the city.

Anyway, 2013 was so so cool in so many ways, hope 2014 is even better!

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#10 / MEDIA / MONOCLE MAGAZINE SHOP

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13 FEB 25 - The Monocle Shop in Hong Kong recently entertained friends and family of Monocle Magazine via a block party, hosted by Editor-in-Chief Tyler Brule, Advertising Director, Anders Braso, and Hong Kong’s newest bureau chief,Aisha Speirs, as part of their big APAC push.

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#09 / EVENT / OFF-ART BASEL HONG KONG 2013

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13 MAY 19 - Art Basel Hong Kong (ABHK) arrives for the first time in our great city with tons of buzz. For those who are new to all this, all you need to know that this art fair in Hong Kong is the 3rd largest art fair in the world, third only to Art Basel in Basel and Art Basel in Miami. Before we get further into the fair, so much is happening around the city with “OFF-Basel” (Official and Unofficial) Activities in the build up to opening night.

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#08 / DINING & LEISURE / SCARLETT AND MAGGIE CHOO’S

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13 MAY 04 - Bangkok is quite good with super “Designed” Wallpaper*-esque nightlife concepts and offerings and has been since the emergence of “IT” joints like Bed Supper Club, FACE Bar, and Fallabella in the last decade. While those bars are a memory of what they once were, making waves as of late are two new hotspots located high above the city with, SCARLETT, perfect for those wanting a sunset with a scene, and a new “speakeasy” very low underground, at the new/old Maggie Choo’s, for those wanting a bit of naughty privacy.

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Eat, Shop, and Be Merry… The Last #Wanderlist Of The Year

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It’s countdown to Christmas, and it’s the second to last Sunday before the new year, 2014. I’ve had a minor cold for the last two days, which has finally gotten a tad better. With a bright sun shining through the window, I couldn’t wait to get out into Hong Kong to have a mid-morning family brunch somewhere new… and by family, I mean my sister, Bernadette, and my gal pal, Louise.

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The offerings for dining destinations in the city multiply each month. Not knowing which new place to try, Louise definitely knew where we should at least be headed… the corner of Upper Station Street and Tai Ping Shan Streets in Sheung Wan where not one, but three new cafe/bistros have just opened up; namely the Upper Modern Bistro by Michelin rated chef, Philippe Orrico, ANTIPODEAN Cafe an all around coffee house, and lastly, NOSH Tai Ping Shan, a very airy and open western eatery on the top end of the street. We finally settled at NOSH because a friend of mine, Eugene, is helping run the place and the crisp cool weather today was perfect for seating at the cafe’s window bar table. I sat on the outside, while Bernadette and Louise sat on the inside.

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For Hong Kong, with increasingly strict outdoor street seating laws, but very tight spaces for restaurant planning flexibilities, some restaurants are starting to get really smart about using the establishment’s facade edges to try to place in more seats. It’s al fresco, but just not “all the way” alfresco.

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Seen&Scene: From The Vault Shanghai, DIOR and Lane Crawford Go Big or Go Broke

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Shanghai is so glamorous these days. I don’t live there. I don’t wish to live there, but like Singapore… it’s fun to visit… for a weekend. And like Singapore, it’s glam, but the kind that Hong Kong is glam in the way it’s defined as a luxury brands destination multiplied by 100. Whereas Singapore is glam in a bigger-is-better and a there’s-so-much-green-space-and-fresh-air kind of way… which Shanghai is not.

In my last business trip to Shanghai in October I was able to check out this Esprit DIOR cocktail, previewing a special pop-up exhibition of Dior archived dresses and sketches at the MOCA Museum of Contemporary Art in Shanghai thanks to my pal Katrina. Actually it was a really unique week since most of us Hong Kongers were in Shanghai for our respective jobs and it just so happened to coincide with Shanghai Fashion Week, which culminated at the DIOR MOCA Cocktail and later on for the opening of the new 150,000 sq.ft. (4/5?) story tall Lane Crawford at the Shanghai Times Square. Even ZARA at the Shanghai Time Square had a cocktail party… I mean, ZARA? They never do any marketing of any sort. Who knows how much DIOR and Lane Crawford paid for such glam events, however if you’re a fashion brand, and you don’t Go Big or Go Broke in Shanghai, then you’re probably missing out on Shanghai’s consumer renaissance.

Apologies for these really poor photographs. My early flight made me forget two of my blogging cameras and had to rely on my Samsung Galaxy Note 2 to capture the “glam”. Enjoy the photos!

+ ESPRIT DIOR / MOCA Museum of Contemporary Art in Shanghai

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I’ve never been to the MOCA in Shanghai, however as part of the museum’s desire “to promote artistic and cultural exchanges between China and the rest of the world”, they were glad to host the House of Dior for three month exhibition to display their archives. The cocktail evening for guests and clients of DIOR was nice, and the sheer amount of dresses (100 in total) and sketches on display was quite special. I was shocked to learn that the exhibition was not free, especially since it’s essentially a marketing exhibition for fashion brand. However the standard rate at 30 Yuan is really not that expensive, and i’m sure it separates only serious patrons vs the masses. Plenty of photographs by iconic stylists and photographers, like Patrick Demarchelier, and beautiful collaborative works of art made for this exhibit by some of China’s top current artists curated by Florence Muller.

Video work by Qiu Zhijie lined the entrance ramp, and several paintings of Mr. Dior by Zhang Huan, Yan Peiming, and Zheng Fanzhi, were situated around the path amongst iconic dresses laid out in thematic sections like, Pink and Red, Versailles, Paris, and Garden (all Raf Simons.) I really enjoyed the presence of an actual beading practitioner from the French atelier. It was beautiful to see these pieces go from sketch, to application, to finished works of art. We had a great time.

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VISIT Esprit DIOR . MOCA - People’s Park, 231 Naning West Road, Shanghai 200003, China . 13 SEP 2013 - 20 NOV 2013

+ LANE CRAWFORD SHANGHAI / Times Square in Xin Tian Di

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After leaving the Esprit DIOR cocktail, the gang then went on to Time Square Shanghai at Xin Tian Di to meet up with a larger Hong Kong crew who just so happened to be in the city that night or who were collaborating the Lane Crawford Department Store for their grand opening… 7 years after it closed it’s last shop here. And “Grand Opening” was an understatement as our car pulled up to a red carpet which was complete with strobe lights on all sides. For a moment there I thought this was not a usual LC launch like you see in Hong Kong… this was a Lane Crawford Movie Premier!

It was surprising to see just how many from Hong Kong were there that night. People I saw (and i’m sure there were more I didn’t see since I was only there for an hour) included; Alex Daye and Ellis Kreuger, tailors of Moustache manning their themed bar, bag designer Michelle Lai of MISCHA (they carry her bags there), Tangram designer Paola Sinisterra, jewellery and accessories designer Kate Barnett, my blogger pals Denise Lai and Jason Lam (who are actually based in Shanghai now), style editor and blogger Diviah Harilela, online editor Avery Booker, photographer Laurent Segretier, and of course my buddies, Louise, Katrina, and Hammer & Needle’s designer Jason Reason.

On the run up to it, everyone was on the same crazy whatsapp thread trying to find a place to meet up before the event and after. We all ended up meeting around the Moustache bar on a section of the 4th Floor. Place all of us in a Lane Crawford party in Central IFC and we’d take up the whole party, but our group was only about 5% of who was there, since there was a guest list of about 4,000 people. As our buddy, PR Guru, Nick Cakebread of BBDO who ran the DIOR event said, they must have collated every guest list there was in town. Anyone in Shanghai who possibly went to events were all there that night.

In the age of online e-commerce, it’s interesting to see such investment in brick and mortars like Lane Crawford Shanghai plus the newly opened 10 Corso Como there, and re-opened Galeries Lafayette in Beijing. After all we still need shops like this to help educate “style”, “Taste”, “feel”, and “fit”, in the ever growing luxuries market there… something that’s hard to transcend via a computer screen.

SHOP Lane Crawford Shanghai . Time Square, 99 Huai Hai Zhong Road, Shanghai, China . T: 400-1201483 . H: 10am to 10pm M-SUN

JJ.

#theWanderlist: Eames Exhibition Solidifies Singapore As Asia’s Newly Crowned Design Capital

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Eight years ago, when I first moved to Asia and made a quick visit to Singapore, I was so bored out of my mind. I had no idea what to do, and the first step into Clark Quay, I was ready to go away. Last month, my pal DJ Angus Wong, asked me to accompany him to check out the new W Hotel Singapore at Sentosa Cove, as the hotel was celebrating its first anniversary, and he was working the event.

Here’s Angus all lit up on the streets of SG.

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I didn’t stay at the W Hotel, opting instead to stay at the centrally located Hotel 1929 on the super cool Keong Saik Road (more on that neighborhood in another post.)

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Needless to say in the three days I was there, I had such a blast and had so much fun, I couldn’t believe that I was hanging out in the same city that turned me off all those years ago. Singapore has really evolved, and dare I say, surpassed Hong Kong in just 8 years! What really surprised Angus and I even more was that “shopping” was hardly on the itinerary (as is usually the case with him and I both). Instead we busied ourselves exploring the city’s streets on foot, taking photographs of the latest modern architectures, the newly restored Chinese shophouses that line several downtown neighborhood clusters, devoured Hawker foods, checked out design shops and galleries, drank plenty of coffee, and most importantly, he and I caught up with some of the larger design exhibitions unique to Singapore, like the very special Essential Eames exhibit at the ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands, co-sponsored by the Herman Miller designer furniture company.

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The show, which has a roughly 6 month run, is focused on the work of Charles Ormond Eames (1907-1978) and his partner Bernice Alexandra “Ray” Eames (1912-1988), two American designers who helped define America’s unique architectural, industrial, and graphic styles in the mid-20th Century. These days it’s so rare to make such a mark the way the designers of last Century were able to help create and shape visual and aesthetic cultures from the things we see, the things we touch, to the things that house us, as the Eames duo has done. The exhibition, based on the book, An Eames Primer, by the Eames’ grandson, Eames Demetrios, chronicles the partners’ life and works, and breaks down the exhibition via multiple sectors of work… such as Art, Prints, Toys, Architecture, Graphics, and ultimately wrapping it all up with the things they’ve made that still affect us to this day… an exhibition of all their chairs made in cooperation with Herman Miller.

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Recognize any of these chairs above? You know you’ve seen them before. In restaurants, bars, office lobbies, office conference spaces, homes, lounges, your friends living rooms, dining rooms…. you name it. I mean not only are the chairs truly functional and comfortable to sit in, the look is iconic, ageless, and is still considered modern to this very day. Some of the chairs like the Stacking Chair DDS or the Plastic Armchairs and Side Chairs that come in various candy colors, were designed in the 1950’s! The Lounge Ottomans are still in vogue today, at least in my friends’ living rooms. And The Aluminum Desk Chairs, are still being utilised in every cool office meeting room i’ve been too recently.

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I love it when the chairs gets deconstructed as they do above.

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