I’m going to wrap up last month’s trip to Hong Kong with just an observation about the state of wedding photography there. All I can say is that there must be a lot of it about. Sure, the Chinese tend to go in for big, elaborate wedding receptions, but I just couldn’t get my head around all the pre- and post-nuptual photography going on around the city.
Pretty much every day, day or night I would notice some crew out snapping away in sometimes the most random of locations. Sure, atmospheric street scenes can have their charm, somewhere like Soho or Sheung Wan, but just next to some billboards in Central?!
There’s always a warm glow of satisfaction from stumbling on a new ‘find’. Not necessarily breaking undiscovered ground, but just following your own instincts. Shugetsu Ramen at 5 Gough Street was somewhere that I’d noticed a couple of times when photographing around Sheung Wan. Although it had only been open a few weeks there was a real buzz about the place and always crowded as it’s only open for lunch. Although I’d tried to get in a couple of times, I finally managed on a late lunch break from a shoot nearby. Delicious…
Butao Ramen (above) at 11–12 Wo On Lane, Lan Kwai Fong was somewhere I just never managed to get in. Hong Kongers have a strange penchant for forming a queue and pretty much any time of day, there was a line opposite this tiny ramen bar. It’s got a real cult following and even on Saturday morning (when most people are either working or nursing the night before), when I passed by on the way to a shoot there was already a major queue waiting for it to open up.
Even though Hong Kong has long been enthralled by Japanorama (Sogo, Hello Kitty, etc) and ramen is the thing for the kids (if not McD’s or KFC), for me, no visit to HK is complete without at least a couple of bowls of won ton mein from Mak’s Noodles on Wellington Street. It’s a real establishment, unpreposessing in its old school charm and still managing to pull in a loyal following despite the long queues outside the hot new Vietnamese across the road. Even though the bowls may be some of the smallest you’ll ever see, after a few of those babies, I’m a very happy man…
The whole ramen thing reminds me of one of my favourite movies, Juzo Itami’s Tampopo. The last time I was working in Tokyo, I caught a TV news story about a New Yorker, Ivan Orkin who had moved to Tokyo to learn the whole ramen craft locally and finally set up his own noodle shop, Ivan Ramen just outside the city. Itadakimas!
So, suddenly back to Hong Kong for a catch-up round.
After Cafe Goldfinch in Causeway Bay, next stop on the nostalgia tour was Mido Cafe in Yau Ma Tei. Dating back to the Sixties, it feels like a complete time warp with the original tile detailing and boothed interior. Upstairs gives you a good view of the street below where the night market kicks off after it gets dark.
The great thing about Mido is that it’s unashamedly unreconstructed and slightly shabby around the edges. Nice as Cafe Goldfinch was, I found it all a bit too self-knowing what with all the signed posters and menu references to ITMFL.
The menu is all standard Sixties Canto-Western fair, including their famous French toast (pictured) complete with a drizzle of condensed milk. In a way, it’s a refreshing antidote to the glut of Starbucks, Pacific Coffee and designer barista bars that have boomed in the last few years.
I’ve been offline for a while now and thought that I’d better get back in the swing of things.
Returning home to a big edit of the Hong Kong work, a last minute shoot, school half-term and then all the excitement of the Queen’s Diamond Jubiliee holiday meant that time just seemed to fly.
The above graffiti appeared just before the Jubiliee weekend in the most incongruous of places – the side of my local Poundland. Thought to be the latest by Banksy, it quickly got covered with protective acrylic and there’s even a handwritten sign giving directions at the nearby tube station.
I’ve been putting off getting my eyes re-tested for ages, but luckily I built it into a trip into town for some appointments. Also, it’s nice to go somewhere more upmarket than Specsavers. I remember the first time I got my eyes tested at Cutler & Gross, it was by Mr Gross himself – v charming. C&G Vintage had a great little window display with their iconic frames like the Hockney ones above.
Quite understated and classy unlike Harrods around the corner which was completely over the top with its ‘visual merchandising’. Not only that, I happened to be there at noon and they started blaring out the national anthem at full blast from outside speakers.
Anyway, while the Diamond Jubilee was part of modern history I’m glad that its now over.
I’ll just have to do a big catch up on my Hong Kong trip now…