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!


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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5 Unforgettable Dining Experiences in Barcelona

5 Unforgettable Dining Experiences in Barcelona

Instead of frequenting the run-of-the-mill tapas bars in Barcelona, try something a little out of the ordinary on your Barcelona vacation. From eating in pitch-black darkness to sharing a drink in a – ice bar, here are 5 quirky places to please your palate when in Barcelona:

1.El Bosc de les Fades

Translated to ‘The Forest of Fairies’, this dark fantasy themed tapas bar is sure to appeal to both gothic horror fans and fairytale lovers. Realistically decorated with artificial waterfalls, wispy tea lights and mystical creatures lurking in the mirrors, it is hard not to believe to you have walked straight into an enchanted forest inhabited by fairies and grim-faced talking trees. Grab a refreshing glass of Sangria while you bask in the moonlight of this esoteric forest and share your grisly tales of horror with friends. A note of caution, be careful not to wander too deep into the secret grotto- there’s no telling what lies in the darkness…

2. Enjoy Paella with Home-chefs Bego and Iván

paella with bonappetour home chefs

No foodie trip to Spain would be complete without the iconic dish paella. And there’s absolutely no question the best paella is always homemade paella.

It takes a very long time to cook, so it’s difficult for restaurants to make fresh. Only 5 minutes walk from Gaudí’s iconic landmark Park Güell, talented home-chefs Bego and Iván offers Barcelona’s best paella in town using a traditional recipe from Alacant.

You can watch their whole cooking process while you enjoy an ecological white wine, from El Pla de Manlleu or rosé wine from Penedès A.O., a region famous for its excellent wines and cavas.

3. Dans Le Noir

If you are in search for innovative dining experience, why not dine in complete darkness? Enjoy a gastronomical experience in the dark at Dans Le Noir where you will find yourself fumbling for your wine glass and trying to scoop up the food on your plate. The fun part of this is guessing what you’ are eating and getting to know your fellow diners in a pitch-black room. Considerably one of the most unusual dining experiences in Barcelona, Dans Le Noir deserves a status above novelty. It is an intriguing way for you to invigorate your sense and also appreciate the gift of sight.

4. Icebarcelona  


Established on the lively shore of El Somorrostro, Icebarcelona is an unusual beach bar with an impressive interior made entirely from ice. Marval at the grandiose ice sculptures while you sip on delicious cocktails with your friends from glasses made of…ice. The bar’s interior design changes with each season, making Icebarcelona a refreshing experience every time. Remember to take lots of photos to capture these memorable frosty moments as the average entry to the bar usually lasts no more than 30 minutes! If you prefer to lounge under the Barcelonan Sun while munching on savoury nachos, you can relax on the terrace on the 2nd floor that overlooks the coastal sands and cerulean waters.

5. ABaC

Celebrated 2-Michelin-starred restaurant ABaC is helmed by the amazing Chef Jordi Cruz who is the youngest Spanish chef to have earned his first Michelin star at 24. This exclusive 56-seater elegant restaurant boasts an impressive 16-course menu that blends creativity and tradition seamlessly. Indulge in delicacies such asIberian meats, almonds with beans and “compango” bubbles and Foie gras taco with mole migas and sweet corn ice cream while you handpick your favourite wine from an extensive cellar. Also, the ABaC team is well-known for providing impeccable service. Other than the attentive servers, their thoughtful chefs would gladly customize your meal should you have any food allergies or intolerances. Although pricier than most restaurants found in the vicinity, give yourself a splurge to gain a once-in-a-lifetime gastronomical experience.

Bonus: Cook With Teresa!

If you are here in Barcelona for a special occasion, why not book a unique home dining experience with one of BonAppetour’s lovely hosts, Teresa? A professionally trained chef, Teresa easily whips up delicious Spanish fare but never forgets her motto in cooking that has been instilled in her since her childhood: love, time and quality produce. Step into her cozy home and savour an authentic meal that comprises of Coca Bread, Seafood Paella and of course, homemade Sangria. Cook like a local, dine like a local and live like a local- get a taste of home away from home and perhaps learn a recipe or two!


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BonAppetour Hosts: Alessandro Ricchi

BonAppetour Hosts: Alessandro Ricchi

Possessing an ardent passion for cooking, Alessandro has earned a HACCP certification, and is a graduated sommelier registered under the Worldwide Sommelier Association.

 As a child, he used to watch on as his grandmother and mother prepare meals in the kitchen. After graduating with a degree in law, he went on to become a practitioner for a short period of time. He soon came to the realisation that this was not where his passion lies, and decided to make a career switch to pursue his love for cooking. 

1. What do you like most about being a BonAppetour host?

Being a host at BonAppetour helped me in managing my home restaurant. Before meeting Rinita and her team, I tried to become a host through my own means and spreading the word through social media. I encountered many difficulties and met with few positive results. I tried other home restaurant platforms, but they proved to be unprofessional.

The turning point came when I joined BonAppetour. Their advertising channels and social media marketing strategies helped to garner more attention for my home restaurant, and I received more bookings for dining experiences. My collaboration with BonAppetour has provided me with many opportunities to meet people from diverse cultures. What I find extremely rewarding is getting to know what authentic Roman and Italian cuisine means to other people.  

2. Where do the locals go to eat in your city?

There are many places to dine at in Rome. The problem is that many of them are tourist traps, often selling food of poor quality at high prices. I recommend that travellers approach the Romans, and ask them where they go to eat at. Of course, now that there are home restaurants, this serves as the best answer to the needs of travellers, for they can enjoy authentic and traditional dishes prepared with top quality ingredients. 

3. What are some places that locals like to hang out at?

For shopping, we head to Via Cola di Rienzo and its surrounding streets, where prices are affordable and there are plenty of shops to visit. For dining, we usually go to Trastevere or Testaccio. These are two ancient neighbourhoods of Rome filled with restaurants and pubs, and are now popular with tourists. 

The locals head to public neighbourhood markets to shop for fresh food. There are many of these in Rome, with the market of Piazza Vittorio, as well as the recently renovated Trionfale Market being famous spots. The public parks are perfect for taking a relaxing stroll or for an invigorating run. I would recommend Villa Doria Pamphili, Villa Borghese and Villa Ada, for these are the most beautiful parks. Those who wish to go to the beach can take a thirty minutes journey to Ostia or Fregene. The sea water at these coasts are not very clean, but there are many bars and discos along the beach. 

4. Did you always have a passion for food and cooking? Tell us more about your experiences and background with cooking.

I developed a passion for cooking from a young age. This passion was transmitted from my grandmother, Iolanda, and my mother, Maria Pia. Curious about the ongoings in the kitchen, I began to experiement with culinary pursuits as as child with my grandmother, discovering more about homemade pasta, gnocchi and Roman cuisine. From my mother, I learnt about the traditional cuisine of Abruzzi, and developed the desire to create new recipes. Even back then, it was clear that I had a passion for cooking. However, for some time, this passion was accompanied by a strong interest in academic pursuits. 

After graduating with a degree in law, I carried on as a practitioner. However, I could not deny my passion for cooking, and decided to take up a diploma by the Chef of Hotel, and continued on to work as a chef in a famous international hotel chain. I have attained the HACCP certificate, and am a sommelier with the Worldwide Sommelier Association. 

For me, cooking is always a pleasure. It is relaxing and rewarding. I am always happy when guests taste the dishes, especially when the items are my creations. In fact, I love experimenting and creating new recipes. Sometimes, I start with a traditional dish and add a modern twist, while at other times I design a new dish from scratch. 

5. Which are the dishes that you love cooking the most?

I love cooking traditional Italian dishes, especially first courses, homemade pasta, as well as meat and fish mains. Most of the time, I cook dishes originating from Rome, Tuscany and Abruzzo, as well as typical Roman pasta dishes such as carbonara, gricia, amatriciana and cacio e pepe. I also enjoy making changes to traditional recipes, and experimenting with dishes to cater to special food requests made by vegetarians, vegans or individuals with food intolerances and allergies. 

Find out more about dining with host Alessandro here.

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