Discovering The Ultimate Comfort Food In Hong Kong With Peggy And Angelica

Discovering The Ultimate Comfort Food In Hong Kong With Peggy And Angelica

Congee is the mother of all East Asian comfort foods. It can be featured in an exquisite banquet, be a lunch to soothe a busy day, or be the ultimate staple food to nurse the sick back to health. Hong Kongers have perfected the art of making congee and created an entire genre of the rice gruel dish, complete with distinct recipes and a list of must-have side dishes. There is a special charm dining into a congee meal in a private home, and we were glad to be invited by Peggy and Angelica to lunch during our stay in Hong Kong!

Peggy, the lady of the house, is passionate about eating and cooking healthy. While being proud that Hong Kong is home to an exciting spread of cuisine, she believes home-cooking is a much healthier option and is determined to share her own home-cooking with her family and friends. So she partnered up with her long time friend Angelica, and often invited guests to her home for a hearty meal.

Peggy welcomes BonAppetour team into her home

On a Saturday afternoon, we made our way to Tin Hau, a small district in metropolitan Causeway Bay that is known for its temple of the same name. When we entered Peggy’s apartment, we found it to be spacious and comfortable. To our amusement, there was classic Cantonese songs playing in the house. What a great way to create a “true local atmosphere”!

Pan-fried radish cake

While Peggy and her helper worked to put together the last few dishes for lunch, Angelica told us the work had actually started the day before. The radish cake were home-made, and Peggy had to start steaming them a day prior to our lunch to get it ready in time.

Our friendly hosts setting up the table

Our friendly hosts decked the dining table with food while we sipped on our tea. Peggy had prepared congee cooked with dry pak choi and salted pork bone for our meal that day. While most Hong Kongers have savoury congee on its own in restaurants, congee is served with a number of side dishes in a home setting.

Cantonese congee, served with a myriad of side dishes

So Peggy also prepared stir-fried mushroom, beans and pork, stir-fried choi sum, steamed meatballs, pan-fried radish cake (which she steamed a day before), and some extra stir-fried hor fun (rice pasta) with meat and vegetables.

Delicious spread of Cantonese dishes

There seems to be another ritual in Hong Kong when one eats congee – always pair it with pickled vegetables and preserved eggs. Peggy and Angelica prepared some pickled vegetables, pickled ginger, salted duck eggs, century eggs, and fermented tofu for us to eat with the congee. It was delish.

Congee is not complete without preserved vegetables and eggs

Peggy said on other days she would teach her guests how to pickle ginger, and gave them jars of their work to bring home. She then showed us the specific type of ginger required for this job – fresh young ginger that is only available during the summer period.

Inez, our co-founder, guides Peggy through the BonAppetour platform

After our lunch, Inez, co-founder of BonAppetour, took the opportunity to explain how our platform works and guided Peggy through the registration process.

A picture with our friendly hosts

It was a really enjoyable and pleasant evening. Our hosts are truly a power pair – whenever Peggy is busy in the kitchen, Angelica would chat with us to make us feel at home. Anyone looking for a truly Hong Kong-style hospitality should check out Peggy and Angelica’s Cantonese Lunch in Causeway Bay!


A Dumpling-Making Experience on Aberdeen Island with Edith

A Dumpling-Making Experience on Aberdeen Island with Edith

The best way to learn about a culture is to taste it. In Hong Kong's case, culture is a steamy, gastrorgasmic feast of custard buns, dumplings, rice rolls and egg tarts. Working as a community manager for BonAppetour, I visited this dim sum wonderland to meet our first few hosts, and was fortunate to be invited to dine with several of them.

Edith, our first host of the trip, has graciously invited the BonAppetour team to lunch at her place in Aberdeen. Aberdeen Island, or known locally as Ap Lei Chau (literally duck tongue island), is a beautiful isle off the southeast coast of Hong Kong Island. It is a refreshing retreat from the hubbub of central Hong Kong, and also a great place to check out the fishing harbor and vast view of the sea.

Edith's place is also a brief 7-minute drive away from Ocean Park. Guests who are traveling with their families (or anyone looking for some thrilling fun time) can visit the famed oceanarium and theme park after lunch. Talk about a great location!

Breathtaking view of Ap Lei Chau

That morning, as we alighted from our taxi in Edith's neighborhood, I was welcomed by flowing gusts of wind filled with a fresh, salty scent of the sea. Despite being known as one of world's most densely populated islands, the neighborhood had a laid-back atmosphere that sets the place apart from the busy city central. I liked it immediately.

Edith's apartment was spacious for a Hong Kong house – it has a cosy dining corner decked with books on one end of the living room, and a wall lined with travel memorabilia on the other end. Edith excitedly welcomed us into her home and discussed the menu of the day with us. We would be having pork dumplings, century egg tofu, and lettuce wraps. I was accompanied by Inez, co-founder of BonAppetour, and Jean, a food-loving expat trying out the BonAppetour experience for the first time.

Edith and her cosy dining corner

Part One: Dim Sum Class

Edith asked if we were keen to learn how to wrap the dumplings, to which we enthusiastically agreed. Wrapping dumplings always occurred to me as an advanced culinary art, and I was excited to learn it from Edith.

Edith demonstrates how to fold a perfect dumpling

Edith showed us the ingredients to be used for the pork dumplings, and demonstrated how to season the dumpling fillings. While she was mixing up the ingredients, we chatted about alternative ingredients that can be used and where we could get the similar condiments back in our respective countries.

BonAppetour team learning to be a dim sum master

When the fillings were ready, Edith showed us how to pleat the dumpling into a crescent. Chinese dumplings come in many shapes and sizes, and there are many ways to wrap a dumpling. The crescent shape is often used for potstickers, har gow (shrimp dumplings, a famous dim sum classic), and boiled dumplings. Her movements were clear and easy to replicate. And within minutes I made my first ever crescent-shaped dumpling.

Pleats of triumph

Looking at my row of carefully wrapped dumplings, I thought I was making good progress. That was until Edith told us that she would make over a hundred dumplings in one batch, while watching TV!

Part Two: Cooking Demo

While waiting for the water to boil, Edith prepared the dipping sauces for the dumplings and the tofu dish. She also quickly demonstrated how to make the classic century egg and tofu (a common cold dish in Chinese restaurants) on her small, portable kitchen island.

Edith chopping up some century egg goodness

When the water started to boil, Edith popped half our dumplings into the pot and pan-fried the other half to make potstickers, she also took a while to stir fry a bowl of minced meat for the lettuce wraps.

Pan frying potstickers

While Edith waltzed around her narrow kitchen, she continues to chat about how she planned the preparation sequence so she only had to wash the wok once. She also showed off her deep freezers that she used to store her extra produce and dumplings stash.

Part Three: Bon Appetit!

After the one-hour wrapping and cooking session, we settled down around the table and dined to our hearts‘ content. There is a special satisfaction in eating the food made by yourself.

Our creations

Edith taught us how to wrap the minced pork in a lettuce and gobble it in one go. The lettuce wraps are commonly eaten with roasted duck, but considering that it is difficult for foreign guests to find roasted duck back at home, Edith used pork instead so her guests can replicate the same recipe back in their home countries.

Minced pork for the lettuce wraps

Edith popped the century egg and tofu into the fridge and only took them out right before serving. Her special sauce went very well with the refreshing, organic tofu she got for us. Edith topped the dish with a generous amount of chopped spring onions and parsley, putting the sprinkled-on garnishes in Chinese restaurants to shame.

Home-made side dish that puts restaurants to shame

Edith was a very attentive and bubbly host. The lunch session with her was packed with energy and well-paced. I left Edith's place feeling proud that I have mastered the art of wrapping dumplings. I can't wait to show off the skills when I am back at home!

If you love to try out some Canton food at a convenient location, be sure to check out Edith’s Market Tour and Home-cooked Meal Experience the next time you visit Hong Kong!

Photo credits: 1

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Sacré Bleu! My Parisian Dining Experience with French Locals.

Sacré Bleu! My Parisian Dining Experience with French Locals.

The German philosopher Friedrich Engels once quipped that “if there were no Frenchwomen, life wouldn't be worth living” and that is especially true of two Frenchwomen in particular: Bonappetour hosts Catherine and Florence. I was lucky enough to spend two fabulous evenings with these locals, who have opened up their homes in Paris to travelers and tourists alike who want to try the crème de la crème of French cuisine.

Paris is a wonderful city, and one that I am lucky enough to call my home. But even with my (almost) fluency in French, I can appreciate how hard it can be to completely immerse yourself and connect with local Parisians. Fortunately for me, I work as the Digital Marketing Manager and Paris Community Manager for BonAppetour. This means I get to test out our hosts and their dining experiences before we promote them on our site (if you want to read more about what we do and how we verify our hosts click here!). So, it basically comes down to the fact that I get to enjoy lots of skillfully prepared meals with thoroughly enjoyable company and call it “work”, la vie est belle!


I was invited to Catherine’s abode in the 13th arrondissement of Paris, home to one of Europe’s largest China towns. I was accompanied by Inez, BonAppetour’s Co-Founder, with us were two lovely American ladies, Debbie, who was a journalist, and her sister. Upon arrival we were warmly welcomed by the hostess of the evening, Catherine and her husband Olivier- even their son Arthur made an appearance during the evening. It was wonderful to have an insight into French domestic life and to witness a family meal in action.

Along with the rich red wine, our conversation flowed freely. We spoke about France, the French culture and even the secret to making quince jelly, but we also shared stories about ourselves. Our conversation was meaningful and inspiring. We heard about local life in Singapore, what it means to be British and also listened in fascination to Debbie’s story about her mother, who emigrated from Poland to America in search of a better life. To match the quality conversation was the superior food that was professionally put together by Catherine. I do not hyperbolise when I write about Catherine’s professionalism, she trained for 5 years to become a chef, and it showed through in every course we tucked into.

I had a truly amusing evening, with the food being on par, or perhaps even better, than many French restaurants in Paris. If you’re looking for a home-from-home experience with authentic French fare then Catherine is the way to go.

Another Parisian experience in the BonAppetour repertoire that I got to try was an evening in Florence’s 19th Century apartment, just a turning off the famous Champs Elysees. Far from a traditional, everyday French experience, this dining event has more than a touch of luxury. I was invited along to a soiree where locals and expats mingled against an opulent baroque backdrop. The evening, organised by BonAppetour and the lovely Cara Cruickshank of Cafe de la Culture, had a theme: “The 18th century Parisian salon”.

Amongst us were actors and musicians in full Marie-Antoinette-style garb. The setting and fascinating lectures about important 18th Century Frenchwomen inspired intellectual talk from the guests as we sat on tables of 5-7. Florence’s food was a delight, my personal favourite being the chestnut soup…Or perhaps the little dessert bites (including my beloved panna cotta), brought along by another BonAppetour Parisian hostess, Karen.

My luxury salon experience not only showed me just how chic Paris can be, but also taught me a lot about French history, philosophy and art. It’s such a great way to get the chance to peek behind the sumptuous facade of apartments that line the great boulevards of Paris, that as a tourist one often admires but can only imagine what is inside. When dining with Florence you can wait for such an event, or you can simply dine with your friends and feel transported back in time in Florence’s apartment as she puts on a delicious Parisian spread.

I am very grateful to all our BonAppetour hosts that invite me into their homes and make me feel a part of a big French family. Which of these two experiences do you want to try when you are next in Paris? Let us know in the comments below!

Image credits: photos from the salon by What's Hot? Blog, read her review of the evening here.


More Great Articles about Paris

Travelling to Paris: An Essential Guide

On A Budget? Here Are 10 Free Things to Do in Paris

10 Things to Do in Montmartre 

Top 5 Must-Try Food Trucks in Paris 

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An Authentic Maki & Nigiri Sushi Making Experience with Naoko-san in Tokyo

An Authentic Maki & Nigiri Sushi Making Experience with Naoko-san in Tokyo

Running a food and travel company like BonAppetour has its perks – I get to meet amazing chefs and local hosts as we expand into new cities. This time, we were expanding our presence in Tokyo. The Japanese have a passion for cooking and culture which they match with a warm enthusiasm for sharing.This made it a delight to meet them, and gave much meaning to what we do at BonAppetour.

It was my first time to Tokyo – a city that I had heard so much about. The city is renowned for its culture of respect and obedience, which shines through in every thing they do – from food to architecture.

My first host was Anne, a lovely lady who has been living in Tokyo for more than 20 years. Originally from The Phillippines,  her love for Japan and its culture was evident in our conversations and in her actions. In Feb 2014, Anne made the bold decision to coordinate cooking classes and food tours for travellers, taught by a talented Japanese chef, Naoko-sensei.

Anne invited me to a demo session when I was in Tokyo, an invitation I was all too happy to accept. The kitchen was at Azabu Juban, a short 2 minute walk from the subway station.

Upon our arrival, Anne introduced us to Naoko-sensei, our host for the day. Naoko-sensei was a charming lady with a sincere smile that made me feel instantly at home. She was still preparing for the session when I arrived, but she led me around the room, introducing me to the various ingredients, while making sure that everything was set up well. She gave me a cup of hot, soothing, green tea, as we waited for the other guests to arrive. The way she conducted herself said volumes about her depth of understanding of the Japanese culture.


The matronly Naoko Sensei and inviting us into her kitchen with freshly brewed green tea


Today, we would be learning to make two popular types of sushi – Maki sushi and Nigiri sushi.

Maki sushi or Nori-Maki sushi is a type of sushi roll where fish and other ingredients are enveloped in rice and nori seaweed. It is this type of sushi that most would commonly envison when they think “sushi”. Nigiri sushi on the other hand, is hand-shaped instead of rolled, and the fish and other ingredients are placed on top of the rice instead of within.

Maki sushi is difficult to make, but as the ingredients are rolled into the center of the sushi, visual presentation is less important. Nigiri sushi on the other hand, may be easier to make,but because the ingredients are spread on top of the rice, their arrangement and appearance needs to be visually perfected – requiring great care and attention to detail.

We were joined by four other guests that evening – a mother and son from Texas, and a mother and daughter from Pakistan. Before beginning, we washed our hands and gathered around Naoko-san, who then began her lesson.



We began with the sushi rice – how to cook it, why it is so fragrant, and the ingredients required to accentuate the rice aroma. We all had a hand in mixing the rice with the vinegar in a shallow wooden bowl, and gently tossing the rice while cutting into it vertically with a spatula. Naoko-san showed us how we should fan the rice so that it would cool quickly; fanning causes the gelatinization of the rice surface to give a glossy finish.


Naoki Sensei deftly cutting into fragrant warm sushi rice



We started off with the more challenging Nori-Maki sushi, and got ready to use our hands to roll it all up. It was then that we understood why it takes years of training to become a sushi chef! The application of force must be delicate yet firm; it definitely takes lots of practice to master the art.

Naoko-sensei was amazing! She made the whole experience so much fun, she saved our Maki sushi from breaking apart with her skilled fingers, while encouraging us and making us feel so accomplished at the same time. By the end of the lesson, Naoki Sensei had us feeling like we too could become sushi chefs!


Guess who made these scrumptious rolls? Nigri made by me on the left, maki on the right


At the end of the afternoon, we parted ways, happy to have shared an enjoyable day learning about an integral part of Tokyo’s food culture. The experience was an eye-opener, allowing us to discover interesting insights about the life of locals whilst making instant friends in a city that I visited for the first time.


Me with Naoko-sensi at the end of the class. It was such a joy meeting with her


This hands-on experience with learning about Japanese food made us feel that although we would be leaving Tokyo in a couple of days, the lessons gleaned from Naoko-sensei over those short few hours would stay with us for a very long time.

Many thanks to Anne for giving us this experience – a little a piece of Tokyo which we were allowed to bring home to our family and friends!


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