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Cascais

Our fourth day in Portugal was also our first day on the road – getting around Lisbon is infinitely more enjoyable by tram, as dealing with parking and the city traffic is an unnecessary hassle.

Cascais, PortugalHalf an hour’s drive away from the hustle and bustle of the capital is Cascais, a quaint and picturesque coastal town. Stunning though it was, we weren’t really able to make the most of it having made the mistake of arriving both off-season, and on a Sunday, so all of the museums and galleries were closed (a rookie mistake on our part).

Cascais, PortugalCascais, PortugalCascais, PortugalLuckily, we weren’t really in the mood for rushing around and trying to pack everything in anyway – after our whirlwind of a weekend in Lisbon, and the nightmare journey into Portugal (if possible, avoid flying with TAP airways) it was incredible just to wander the streets, eat ice cream and do some casual exploring.

Cascais, PortugalCascais, PortugalCascais, PortugalNever one to visit a place without sampling the food, we stopped into the House of Wonders, located on Largo do Misericordia. They specialise in healthy, mostly vegetarian fare, and have a great roof terrace with an excellent view of the sea and the town.

Cafe Galeria House of Wonders, Cascais, PortugalCafe Galeria House of Wonders, Cascais, PortugalCafe Galeria House of Wonders, Cascais, PortugalTheir Middle Eastern mezze platter was just what we needed after what felt like three solid days filled of bitoque (delicious Portuguese steak, egg and chips) – although I steered clear of the pitta.

Cafe Galeria House of Wonders, Cascais, PortugalMezze Platter, House of Wonders, Cascais, Portugal

The place has a great vibe – a lot of arts and crafts, a great roof terrace and a light and refreshing mezze platter, but was really let down by the cocktails, which were watery and underwhelming – hence the 3.5 rating from me.

The House of Wonders is located at Largo da Misericórdia, 53, Cascais Centro, Cascais, +351 911 702 428.

3.5 Stars (3.5 / 5)

Had the weather been a little warmer it would’ve been lovely to relax on Praia do Peixe, or do a bit of surfing in the beaches nearby for a lovely day out.

Have you been to Cascais? What are some of your top tips? Comment below, and be sure to follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram!

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Lisbon, Portugal

In May, my boyfriend and I took two weeks off, which we spent driving around Portugal. Most of our trip was extremely unplanned – we played it mostly by ear, staying in AirBnBs and driving around in a rental car.

We started the first weekend off in Lisbon staying in an AirBnB near the Estrela Basilica.

Basilica Estrela, Lisbon, PortugalEstrela Basilica, Lisbon, Portugal
Lisbon, PortugalSr Guilho, Lisbon, PortugalSr. GuilhoLisbon, Portugal Tram

Our main event for our first weekend in Portugal was a Silver Wedding anniversary party – a beautiful tram ride throughout the city, with a lovely meal at the end, followed by a nice walk up to Castelo de Sao Jorge.

Where I Ate

Gambas, Sr Guilho LisbonTapas, Sr Guilho Lisbon

One of my favourite eateries in Lisbon was Sr. Guilho, a tapas bar with an excellent gin selection in Campo de Ourique. Some of the small plates like the gambas and chourico were really delicious, and the selection of local gin is well worth trying. Each gin was served in really unusual ways – one with orange peel and coffee beans, and another with grapes and bay leaves.

Sr Guilho, LisbonSr. Guilho, Lisbongin, grapes and bay leaves, Sr Guilho, LisbonSr Guilho, Lisbon

Sr. Guilho is located at Rua Coelho da Rocha, 21, Campo de Ourique, Lisboa.

4 Stars (4 / 5)

Where I Went

Gulbenkian Museum, LisbonGulbenkian Museum, Lisbon

The Museu Calouste Gulbenkian has some really incredible art that seems almost obscene that it comes from the collection of one person – oil magnate Gulbenkian, who also earned himself the nickname of ‘Mr. Five Percent’ due to retaining that share of all the oil companies he helped to develop. Some of my favourites were the Monets and Manets, as well as the incredible Islamic Art – the Gulbenkian is definitely worth a trip, even if just to walk around the grounds if you’re a fan of Brutalist architecture like I am.

Museu Gulbenkian, LisbonMuseu Gulbenkian, LisbonMuseu Gulbenkian, LisbonMuseu Gulbenkian, Lisbon

If you’re not as into art, the Gulbenkian centre also have a lot going on in terms of live music – which is exactly how Mr. A spent his afternoon, listening to music in the adjacent building while I looked around the gallery.

The Museu Calouste Gulbenkian is located at Av. Berna 45A, 1067-001 Lisboa, Portugal
+351 21 782 3000.

Have you been to Lisbon? What are your favourite places? Comment below, and be sure to follow me on TwitterFacebook and Instagram!

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Jukai, NYC

A little over a month ago, I headed home for a week long, unbelievably overdue trip to my hometown of New York. It was such a fleeting visit that I spent most of my time meeting up with friends for drinks at old haunts, spending time with my family and stocking up on essentials in Sephora – nothing particularly blog-worthy in my opinion, with the exception of the tasting menu at Jukai, located in basement-level in midtown Manhattan.

Jukai, NYCJukai NYC - Oysters

For the quality of the fare, the tasting menu at Jukai is an absolute bargain at $55 per head. As expected, the menu varies depending on season, as well as the catch of the day, but the oysters – served with ponzu, spring onion, and lime – as well as the homemade tofu (in the assorted starters), the Chef’s choice sashimi (which included an amazingly fresh yellowtail and maguro tuna) were outstanding, and seem to be a semi-regular fixture on the menu. In terms of the quality of the sushi, I haven’t found anywhere in London that compares to the quality of the fish found in New York – it’s definitely worth keeping in mind for your next visit.

Jukai NYC - OystersJukai NYC tasting menu

The fillet steak was perfectly cooked to my liking (the rarer side of medium rare) – although the only drawback from the meal was the bland and unmemorable broiled fish, which escapes notice almost entirely.

Jukai NYC - SteakJukai NYC Tasting Menu - uni and ikura

As a rule, I tend to be all about the starters and the mains – I don’t have a sweet tooth, and could quite happily do without. But I’m so glad I went against my usual nature at Jukai – the white sesame blancmange and black tea pannacotta have easily become one of my favourite desserts of all time, although the white sesame blancmange has the edge over the latter, as it has the nuttiness of sesame but with all the creaminess and texture of a traditional blancmange – a true culinary feat.

Jukai NYC, SashimiJukai NYC, Sashimi

With the meal, we had a sparkling rosé from Long Island. I’m ashamed to admit that when it was recommended to me by my waiter, I grimaced – I am not the biggest rosé fan, and I know absolutely nothing about Long Island wines. It was, in fact, really pleasant, and a great accompaniment to the meal – I stand corrected! It’s worth keeping an open mind at Jukai – the gambles certainly paid off for me.

It’s worth booking a table in advance, especially for the tasting menu, as this cosy little basement venue gets quite packed – but in terms of ambience (very modern Japanese), quality of food and value for money you would be hard placed to find better.

Jukai, NYC

Jukai is located on 53rd Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenue, Manhattan, New York.

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24 Hours in Hong Kong

Hong Kong

After a few amazing weeks in Cambodia, it was time for me to go back to reality: back to work, back to London. There aren’t any direct flights from London to Phnom Penh – and with the free 72-hour transit visa for Hong Kong, it seemed rude not to experience the city while I had the chance!

I had 24 hours in Hong Kong, and thanks to some careful planning I feel I managed to make the most of my time there. My fleeting visit was short and sweet, and I’m really excited to go back at some point!

I was in Hong Kong shortly after the demonstrations – I was preparing myself to witness some of the residual aftermath, but to my surprise I didn’t see any (though during my short trip I didn’t manage to get to Admiralty or Causeway Bay, where a lot of it took place).

Hong Kong

My flight from Phnom Penh landed in Hong Kong at around 3pm. After buying a return ticket on the Airport Express, I had managed to get to my hotel on Nathan Road, drop off my hand luggage and check in at around 4.30 – leaving me with plenty of time to explore.

Yat Chow Pearl

My first stop on my Hong Kong itinerary was to Yat Chow Pearls, on Canton Road, near the Jade Market. This little shop might not look like much from outside, but it was highly recommended by a Hong Kong local as a great place to get your hands on some high quality pearls. You can get strands of pearls, earrings and pearl rings all at incredibly reasonable prices. I bought myself a single pearl pendant, and brought back several strands as birthday gifts for friends and relatives.

Hong Kong

Yat Chow and my hotel were on the Kowloon side of the river, and I was keen to get to Hong Kong island and up to Victoria Peak. We walked from Yat Chow to the river (around 20 minutes or so) to get the Star Ferry across – a great way to get a view of the Hong Kong skyline. Unfortunately it was for me it was fairly overcast, but spectacular nonetheless.

During my planning, I’d envisioned going up to the Peak by Tram, but once I saw the ridiculous queue I scrapped that idea as I risked wasting a great deal of time. Rather than queue for 45 minutes (or pay an extortionate amount and buy a ticket to Madame Tussauds in order to skip it), we jumped in a taxi to the top.

hong kong

The taxi worked out rather nicely, but we’d agreed upon a set fee beforehand – next time, I’d run it on the meter as the driver completely ripped us off!

Despite having been ripped off like typical tourists, the skyline was pretty amazing and more than made up for it.

Erin (Islandbell) in Hong Kong

After an hour or so of taking in the view, we got in a cab to Wellington Street, Central to the Yung Kee Restaurant for dinner.

yung kee restaurant hong kong

Our trip to Yung Kee was based on another recommendation given by a Hong Konger, and had the most incredible roast goose. You always know a place is good when you place your order, only for your waiter to correct you to the point where you’ve changed it almost completely. On his recommendation we ended up getting the roast goose, and I am so glad I did.

Goose from Yung KeeYung Kee

It might not look like much, but if you’re ever in the neighbourhood I seriously recommend it. The sweet and sour pork was pretty good too!

With a belly full of goose, after dinner I put my party pants on… and went back to the hotel for internet, Back to the Future II and some serious shuteye.

Back at the hotel, I’d been given a mission from back home, a seemingly simple one – to bring back a bamboo steamer. What was casually requested, rather offhand, soon descended into a mini frenzy of obsessed madness, as simply popping out to get a steamer in Hong Kong isn’t as quite easy as you might think it to be.

tuck chong sum kee bamboo shop

Hong Kong is no longer a place where these things are made, and had it been any city in China it might have been a fairly simple request to make.

Luckily, the hotel had fabulous internet, and I read up on a charming little local family business – the last of its kind in Hong Kong – which supplies local restaurants (and annoying tourists, like myself) with homemade bamboo wares.

tuck chong sum kee

And so I spent my last morning in Hong Kong trekking across town to Tuck Chong Sum Kee Bamboo Steamer Company. Much to my delight and relief, it was still there (some of the articles I’d found online were quite a few years old).

Tuck Chong Sum Kee was a charming little store full of amazing handmade bamboo steamers, moulds and other knick-knacks, making my brand new, homemade bamboo steamer the perfect souvenir to bring home – and one with a story, too!

tuck chong sum kee bamboo shoptuck chong sum kee bamboo shoptuck chong sum kee bamboo shop

After my morning excursion, I had my fill of dumplings and caught the Airport Express back to the airport for my flight, almost exactly 24-hours later.

tuck chong sum kee bamboo shop

My short stint in Hong Kong really won me over, and I’d absolutely love to come back one day!

Yat Chow Pearls can be found on Canton Road, near Kowloon Park.

The Yung Kee Restaurant can be found on 32-40 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong. If you go and don’t get the goose, I don’t want to hear from you.

4 Stars (4 / 5) for the goose alone.

Tuck Chong Sum Kee Bamboo can be found on 12 Western Street, Sai Ying Pun.

Kep & Kampot

In terms of global cuisine, Cambodian food is, in my opinion, seriously underrated. Cambodian food has the same culinary roots as it’s Thai neighbours, but with less of the heat. When the Portuguese brought over chillies in the 16th century, it became an integral part of Thai food culture, while it didn’t influence Khmer cuisine in quite the same way.

Kampot

Dishes like fish amok or beef lok lak are delicious, but relatively unknown outside the region. They are seriously under appreciated, and if you do ever have the chance to try them, you should.

Rusty Keyhole, Kampot

A two hours drive from the capital, Kampot province is home to the Kampot pepper. Kampot, you could argue, along with the neighbouring province of Kep, is the Lyon of Cambodia – the gastronomic capital of the country.

Kep and Kampot are a foodie’s paradise – with rich spices, deliciously fresh seafood, and, inexplicably, home to the BEST RIBS I’VE EVER HAD.

Rusty Keyhole, KampotRusty Keyhole, Kampot

I was in the region for three days, and managed to make it to the Rusty Keyhole twice for their ribs. I’d like to point out that I am usually not a fan of ribs at all – I don’t like barbecue sauce, and gnawing at bones isn’t usually my thing. Usually.

Rusty Keyhole, Kampot

The Phnom Penh Post rated the ribs at the Rusty Keyhole as the best in Cambodia. I, however, rate them as the best in the world. The sauce was perfect – not too sweet, not too sickly, just right – and the meat was succulent, falling off the bone and divine. I am still dreaming about these ribs, three weeks on.

rusty keyhole

For those who dare brave it, they challenge diners to eat a whole ‘Dino-Rib’ (1kg of ribs). Those who accept, and succeed, get a free dessert and a photo up on the wall of fame. There’s also a hilarious wall of shame for those who fail miserably. I didn’t take them up on the challenge, but if I could eat a kilo of anything in one sitting, it would be these ribs.

Rusty Keyhole: 5 Stars (5 / 5)

Kep Crab MarketKepKep

There was no shortage of things to do during a trip to Kep – like going to Rabbit Island, just a short boat ride away, and going up to Bokor Palace and Casino, an abandoned French-colonial resort on top of a mountain. It’s all beautiful, eerie, and somewhat magical.

Kep

Dining in Kep was also a magical experience. Go down to the crab market at sunset, to enjoy fresh crab served with a delicious Kampot pepper and lime juice sauce.

We went to So Kheang, one of many establishments adjacent to the crab market. Once we gave our orders, our waitress would wade out into the ocean and retrieve the crabs fresh from the baskets.

You can get the crab served in different ways, but from experience, getting it steamed rather than grilled or fried is the way to go. For anything else, I’d recommend the latter, but for crab you want it to retain its juicy flavour and texture.

Kep Crab MarketKep Crab

So Kheang, and the other establishments alongside the crab market will get you a few crabs each for around $7. They are standard, no-frills type places, but often have a stunning view of the ocean and the food is simply incredible.

Kep Crab MarketSo Kheang Crab So Kheang Crab

So Kheang 5 Stars (5 / 5)

Kep Sailing Club

Another place to try in Kep is the Sailing Club. Try and get a table for sunset (it’s worth booking), and the cocktails are really enjoyable, and the view is simply stunning. The Sailing Club has a great atmosphere, but is let down by the food slightly – with such a good view, and such great cocktails, it’s such a shame that the quality of the food doesn’t compare to the cheap and cheerful joints a stones’ throw away. However, if you’re looking for a romantic setting, the Knai Bang Chatt Sailing Club would be a great place to go (and the desserts there are fabulous).

Kep Sailing ClubKep Sailing Club

Sailing Club 3.5 Stars (3.5 / 5)

The Rusty Keyhole can be found by the riverfront in Kampot.

So Kheang can be found next to the Crab Market in Kep – 092 254 683; 097 253 9186.

The Kep Sailing Club (Knai Bang Chatt) can be found at Phum Thmey Sangkat Prey Thom, 989, Cambodia.