Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Caffè HABITŪ (the table) at G.O.D. Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Recently I've come to realize that I'm not very good at traveling alone. When I'm by myself, it's easy to procrastinate. Holed up in a hotel room for three straight weeks while not being on an actual holiday, the big bed with pristine white linens and the oh, so welcoming tub in full view always seem to beckon to me, "It's so hot out there, why bother?" When I do get out, I'll end up taking it easy, not rushing from one place to another, sometimes spending hours on end just sipping coffee while watching life unfold in a foreign land.
Then there's this little problem between directions and I. While Vijay has confirmed that I'm an excellent map reader and a great road trip co-pilot (when I'm not sleeping while he's on the wheel), I tend to put myself in a spot by relying on the sometimes unreliable GPS - I proceed to blame the easy access of modern technology for this. It is faster to press the Google map button on an iPhone than to dig out a half crumpled map somewhere from the deep abyss of a full backpack, unfold it and try to determine the 'You are here!' spot innit?
After exploring City Super at Causeway Bay's Times Square two weeks ago, I got out from the store spent the next half an hour trying to locate this café somewhere along Leighton Road. I nailed the building down but Leighton Center's entire front was undergoing renovation and somehow I got the wrong address from Google, looking for a street level café which doesn't exist. I gave up eventually and decided to leave the area towards Central but as I passed the back of Leighton Center on the way back to the MTR, a bookshop called G.O.D. caught my eye and next to it the sign Caffè HABITŪ was plastered above a flight of stairs leading to my target destination. Great, I thought, my first solo venture at the Island didn't turn out to be so bad after all.
This is one of those places where mothers with strollers co-exist happily with hippie teenagers testing out their lomo cameras, starry eyed couples on dates and notebook toting techies looking for free WiFi. I was there primarily for a change of diet (after a week long of typical Hong Kong fare) and one of their signature coffees - the intriguing rose latte. The lobster bisque and roasted lamb chops were just... necessary distractions to address my protesting tummy. I'm pretty sure what went into the latte was a few drops of rose water, which can come across strongly even when used sparingly, as I have experienced when making this and these. It worked for me though, the sweet fragrance blended in perfectly with the bitterness of the coffee, the end product required little sugar to sweeten the deal.
Normally I wouldn't be fazed by cuteness but the baby lobster half drowned in the bisque was too much for me to handle, so I decided to let the little guy hang around after polishing off the soup. I never thought I'd see the day when I can't bring myself to dismember and engorge an already cooked crustacean due to its adorable appearance. The chilling lobster confused the waitress somewhat, she passed by a few times, not sure whether I'm going to eat it or not, before finally asking me if she could clear away my red friend.
The good thing about not having an agenda for the day when travelling is the possibility of being involved in whatever comes next.
Over the next hour and a very sweet lemon meringue tart, I made friends with two strangers - Vivien and Katie. As my lamb chops gradually met their fate, Vivien arrived first, sat beside me and sank deep into her book (later discovered to be Narnia) after placing her order. Then Katie parked herself on the chair opposite and asked for the menu. All three of us were alone but Katie seemed to have some difficulty deciding on what to order. As Vivien's tarfutto pizza (with wild mushroom and black truffle) arrived, Katie broke the ice and asked us if we wanted to share something. So while a plate of spinach and ricotta tortellini was being passed around, three women - one from Hong Kong, another from a small town an hour away from San Francisco and yours truly from Malaysia got to know each other. Food brought us together but our conversation quickly steered into the direction I truly missed. Subjects ranging from quality of education, cultural diversity, cultural adaptation and mastering languages to personal growth were debated late into the night. We could've gone at it all day had we met earlier. Needless to say, we added each other on Facebook.
On Labor Day I brought a visiting Vijay back here after a movie date. It amused him that it still took me awhile to figure out where the place was. For novelty sake I ordered the Earl Grey latte but found that the tea leaves were too overpowering. The chocolate mousse though, kept me happy while Vijay poured over his map to plan the rest of his short trip. I haven't been to the other branches of the café but reviews in general attest to similar quality of food and service as this Causeway Bay outlet.
If I return again in two weeks (and still remember where it is), I would give their rose milk tea a go.
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17 Comments on Caffè HABITŪ (the table) at G.O.D. Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
I never have an agenda while travelling and that's what makes it fun. I love the way you put it ' to see life unfolding on foreign land " I'm always intrigued by it and like to spend hours just watching people.
Posted by Kulsum @journeykitchen, at Feb 2, 2012, 2:22:00 PM
Kulsum: I believe so! I'm slowly appreciating the 'not planning ahead' approach. Sometimes I believe we miss out on adventures and meeting great people by keeping too much to our schedule. I think some balance would be good, at the very least I plan where to eat, for obvious reasons.
Posted by PickYin, at Feb 2, 2012, 2:22:00 PM
I too, would not be able to resist the baby lobster shot. It screams, 'photograph me'!
I can't quite travel alone too. But erm, i've never tried though. :P
Posted by Sherie @ Maameemoomoo, at Feb 2, 2012, 2:23:00 PM
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Posted by Sherie @ Maameemoomoo, at Feb 2, 2012, 2:23:00 PM
i love travelling alone, the anonymity of it, the people judging, i mean, WATCHING.
i love that you met people during this particular excursion and became friends. food initiated the conversation but good company created the friendship. love it.
Posted by Lan, at Feb 2, 2012, 2:24:00 PM
Sherie: People around the table were looking at me one kind when I shot the lobster. :D You can easily travel alone in the world's most livable cities. I'm not so sure about other places though, but I'm beginning to dream of traveling alone more.
Lan: Exactly. And it would be so easy to just eavesdrop on conversations around you to keep yourself entertained/amused/surprised. I spent a good first hour at this place doing that.
Posted by PickYin, at Feb 2, 2012, 2:25:00 PM
Your baby lobster looks suspiciously like a crawfish. I've been dead wrong before, but just sayin'.
Posted by Anonymous, at Feb 2, 2012, 2:25:00 PM
Anon: Actually you're dead right! I can't believe I missed the difference. I have never cooked with both before, just goes to show.
Posted by PickYin, at Feb 2, 2012, 2:25:00 PM
that crawfish (crayfish?) looks as if its grappling onto the last strands of hopes of its dear life, almost drowning in its own bisque! A silly question though, was it purely for decor or was it "consumable"?
The sweet lemon meringue tart looks so delish. I love the meringue work, unlike clumsy me who tried to do something similar 2 weeks back.
the moziac flooring bears such sharp juxtaposition against the modern and somewhat chic design of the place, likening remnants of a 茶餐厅 Hong Kong tea houses from the 70s.
Thanks for checking out this wonderful place!
Posted by Alan (travellingfoodies), at Feb 2, 2012, 2:26:00 PM
Alan: Crawfish/crayfish/crawdad. It was consumable but I admit it was originally positioned in an amusing 'helpless' position, claws clinging to the jar and all. The tart was too sweet, all of us three girls couldn't finish that one tart.
I love that kind of mosaic flooring especially when it's well kept and shiny. There's a Starbucks somewhere in Central done up like an old coffee shop too, which I may check out next trip.
Posted by PickYin, at Feb 2, 2012, 2:26:00 PM
I will most likely be back in Hong Kong again in mid June. May just check this place out. So envious of the great travel photos!
Posted by shirley@kokken69, at Feb 2, 2012, 2:26:00 PM
Shirley: Ahhhh, looks like I'll miss you again, my last trip will end on 8th June. This place just came out with some new items on their menu, if you're in the area, it's a good chill out spot where you can have long conversations without having to shout.
Travel photos? Comes with a price. Having the camera with me makes it impossible to 'blend in'. No matter how good my Cantonese is people will know I'm a visitor. :D I suppose you've started lugging around yours too?
Posted by PickYin, at Feb 2, 2012, 2:27:00 PM
No, I have in fact even stopped bringing my compact camera... :) I am constantly on the road going from customer to customer...with my computer, so it is quite impossible to lug my DSLR around...
Posted by shirley@kokken69, at Feb 2, 2012, 2:27:00 PM
Shirley: Ah well, I know what it's like to have a notebook on my back day in and day out. I bring the camera around only during weekends and dinner out after work. Sometimes it's better not to shoot to savor the moment.
Posted by PickYin, at Feb 2, 2012, 2:28:00 PM
Loving all your beautiful pictures here and on your Facebook. I can't wait until I am able to travel again to visit all these lovely places in Hong Kong.
Posted by Ellie (Almost Bourdain), at Feb 2, 2012, 2:29:00 PM
Thanks Ellie. I don't get to visit as much as I like to. We'll definitely return for an actual holiday in future.
Posted by PickYin, at Feb 2, 2012, 2:29:00 PM
G,Day, I came across your site from The Little Teochew where I was looking for a egg tart recipe.
And I found your great site I have been to H.K. twice and two of our daughters have been once each. However all three are on their way to H.K. in July , your posts have been posted to them so that they can read and enjoy all that beautiful food in advance Thank You for sharing
Posted by Margaret, at May 25, 2012, 3:21:00 PM
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