Musings on Travel, Fashion & Fun

Leave a comment

Hong Kong – Via Tokyo: Matcha Goodness

Via TokyoIf there is a café that gained popularity primarily through social media, it has to be Via Tokyo in Hong Kong – I got to know about the place after seeing numerous Instagram posts about its amazing matcha soft serve and the cafe repeatedly winning OpenRice’s Best Restaurant Awards (voted by users). I only got to try it after two trips to Hong Kong.

Via TokyoThe original store at Causeway Bay is located at the corner of a residential building about 10 minutes walk from Causeway Bay MTR station. Via Tokyo is opened by restaurateur Kosei Kamatani, also the owner of Ramen Jo and even a shisha bar.

Via TokyoThe dessert café specialises in Japanese soft serve ice cream and pastries made with Kyoto matcha powder (finely milled green tea) and 3.6 Hokkaido milk (a brand of premium milk from Japan with 3.6% butterfat recognized for its creamy rich texture and hint of vanilla essence).

Via TokyoThe cafe offers three main flavours of soft serve (Vanilla, Matcha and Houjicha) in addition to seasonal flavours. Naturally the matcha flavour is the most popular. In order to encourage guests to try other flavours, the cafe doesn’t serve matcha flavour on Wednesdays. A very interesting marketing strategy indeed.

Via TokyoThe best times to visit is during odd hours (I visited at 3pm). Otherwise get ready to queue.

Via TokyoWhat would you have today? :)

Via TokyoSince it was my first time, I went for the 3-flavour waffle cup (Vanilla, Matcha and a seasonal Black Sesame flavour) served with shiratama, red bean paste and a candied chestnut. The taste wasn’t overpowering, and the texture was firm and smooth. I was initially worried that I wouldn’t be able to finish 3 servings all by myself, but obviously my fear was unfounded lol.

Via TokyoThe cafe serves tea-based cakes as well. There is a larger cake selection at their Tsim Sha Tsui outlet, which also serves kakigori (shaved ice dessert).

Via TokyoIf you are looking for a dessert place in Hong Kong, Via Tokyo would be a good choice for some soft serve ice cream. Another Japanese dessert place that you can also try is Sweets House Cha Cha. Itadakimasu!

Via Tokyo Causeway Bay
Address: Shop nos. 1A-1B, G/F., Leishun Court, 106-126 Leighton Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Nearest Train Station: Causebay MTR Exit F1, walk down Jardine’s Bazaar towards Pennington St, then Leighton Road. About 10 mins walk
Tel: +852 28951116
Opening Hours: 11:00AM – 10:30PM (Sun-Thurs), 11:00AM – 11:00PM (Fri-Sat)
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/viatokyocafe

Via Tokyo Tsim Sha Tsui
Address: G/F, 29 Cameron Road Kowloon Tsim Sha Tsui
Nearest Train Station: Tsim Sha Tsui MTR Exit B2. About 4 mins walk
Tel: +852 2385 6388
Opening Hours: 12:00PM – 11:00PM (Sun – Thurs), 12:00PM – 11:30PM (Fri – Sat)



Hong Kong – Lam Tsuen Wishing Trees 林村許願樹

Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree 林村許願樹

Make a Wish..and wait for the magic to happen

Located at Tai Po 大埔 in the New Territories 新界, Lam Tsuen Wishing Trees 林村許願樹 are one of the most popular shrines in Hong Kong and featured in many Hong Kong dramas. Lam Chuen is especially crowded during the Lunar New Year when everyone flocks to the trees to make their wishes for the coming year. So no doubt I was full of anticipation to visit the place and make a drama wish for myself.

Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree 林村許願樹

How did the wishing custom start in Lam Tsuen?
In the past, fishermen would throw paper josses to every Tai Pak Kung (earth god) tree on their way to the New Territories, wishing that this would bring them good luck and protection. When a dying fisherman who sought a miracle from the tree got his wish granted in the 1960s, worshippers started flocking there and the wishing custom was set.
Another version says that there was a worshipper whose son was very slow in learning. After he had wished upon the tree, his son completely changed and made incredible academic improvement.

Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree 林村許願樹

There are actually two Pak Kung trees in in Fong Ma Po. One is the Wishing Tree near the entrance of the village and the other is a banyan tree farther away.

Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree 林村許願樹

There is also an area with statues bearing the 12 zodiac animals. Looks like a scene out of a sci-fi movie where some galactic beams will start to shoot down anytime, and an immortal appears. And I faint there and then :D

Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree 林村許願樹

This, is NOT a usual sight at all – we got the tree all to ourselves!
It has been raining cats & dogs so there was no visitors, and the rain was just stopping as we arrived (now I call that luck).

Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree 林村許願樹

Even the dog wants a wish :)
(I wish it would stop raining!) lol

Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree 林村許願樹

So what do I do?
Get a wishing card tied to an orange from one of the sellers around, write your wishes on the card and toss the wish up on the tree. The higher the wishing card lands on the tree and stays there, the more likely your wish will come true. Believe me, it’s harder than you think.
People may try to sell you incense sticks, candles and lanterns too (this is the touristy part). You do not need to feel pressured to buy.

Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree 林村許願樹

Talk about advancement – wishes now come in a checklist! LOL
Just tick the wishes that apply. I was tempted to be greedy and tick ALL OF THE ABOVE.

Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree 林村許願樹

Off to make my wishes!

Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree 林村許願樹

If you had the same suspicion as I did looking at the tree, you are probably right. It’s an artificial tree.
The original wishing tree was a camphor tree which was accidentally burnt down by the huge pile of offerings left by visitors. It was then replaced by a bauhinia, which collapsed due to the excessive burden of offerings. The banyan tree which was then planted suffered the same fate in 2005 when the weight of the oranges caused branches to fall off. This practice was then replaced by hanging your wishes to wooden wishing boards according to your Chinese Zodiac sign instead. I guess visitors must have found this alternative not as exciting, hence this artificial tree was erected so they can continue tossing their wishes up.

Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree 林村許願樹

Wooden wishing boards similar to those in Japanese temples
You write your wishes on a piece of yellow joss paper, roll it up and hang the “宝碟 bou dip” on the wishing board bearing your Chinese Zodiac sign.

Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree 林村許願樹

This is the poor Banyan tree currently undergoing rehabilitation. I call this “abuse by oranges.”

Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree 林村許願樹

It’s like a very, very old lady with so many poles to prop her up. So poor thing! Human desires sometimes can be overpowering, and become a destructive force.

Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree 林村許願樹

While you are there, do go try the handmade beancurd store just across the road from the entrance.
You can also visit the nearby Tin Hau Temple which was built in the late 18th century, or continue the day’s journey to Yuen Lang 元朗 (via Bus 64K or the private minibuses) where there’s more yummy food and sights.

Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree 林村許願樹

Ryan BB is certainly excited to eat beancurd :)
Hong Kongers eat their beancurd with orange coconut sugar. It’s so addictive, I now buy that to eat with my beancurd now.

Lam Tsuen Wishing Trees
Lam Tsuen, Tai Po, New Territories
Tel:   +852 2638 3678
Opening Hours: 9:30AM to 5:30PM
Email: lamlukwing@hotmail.com
Website: www.lamtsuen.com

Getting There
1) Take the East Rail line to Tai Po Market station and take Exit A1. Hop on KMB bus route 64K or 65K (bus fare about HKD5-7) or minibus 25K and alight at Fong Ma Po Bus Stop (12 stops). Lam Tsuen Wishing Trees (林村) are across the road.
2) Take the Tsuen Wan Line to Tai Wo Station and take Exit A. Take Bus No 64K or minibus 25K and alight at Fong Ma Po Bus Stop. Lam Tsuen Wishing Trees (林村) are across the road.
3) Take the Tsuen Wan Line to Tai Wo Station and take Exit A. Take a taxi :)