Thursday, 19 October 2017

Match Report: Chatteris FC vs the Hong Kong Hornets

In a new feature for the Chatteris Blog, Ben Bennett (our answer to Jose Mourinho) documents the trials and tribulations of Chatteris FC, a football team made up of any Chatteris employees who fancy competing together against the best (and the rest) that Hong Kong has to offer. In this edition, we join Ben as Chatteris FC take on the fearsome Hong Kong Hornets...

Chatteris FC were back in action last weekend following successive defeats (which will remain unreported) under the Saturday night lights of Kowloon City against the Hong Kong Hornets. With some tricky selection problems, the gaffer (‘gaffer’ means ‘coach’, American readers –ed.) went with the tried and tested 4-5-1 with Donald ‘The Don’ Heilig spearheading the attack, Harry dropping into defence and Kyne ‘Kynesteiger’ Wigel making his debut in the famous Chatteris sky blue from the left.

The early exchanges were even and the wind was impacting the flow of the game. Within 15 minutes, we found ourselves in front as The Don raced onto a ball down the middle like a well-maintained whippet; slotting past the keeper and giving the whole side a huge injection of confidence. However, within 5 minutes a disaster struck as we conceded from a set piece following a failure to clear from the near post.

Nevertheless, as the first third drew to a close Dave sent over a free kick from the left from 40 yards. It angled off the goal frame in an effort that David Beckham himself would have thought implausible. By now, we also had a team of cheerleaders and Davy’s wavy set piece sent them into raptures once they were informed it had gone in!

We began the second third kicking into the wind with our opponents beginning to take a hold of the game. They had the breeze in their sails and so we were very grateful to Big Ron for making a tremendous Cat-like claw to keep out a shot destined for the net. The Don then galloped forward on the counter-attack and saw a good effort  kept out that was unlucky not to find the onion bag (and ‘onion bag’ means ‘goal’, American readers- ed).

Next came a moment of madness from the previously imperious Glewis as he brutally scythed down an opponent from behind in the box, causing time itself to slow down. At this point, we were unsure if we were in Kowloon City or the twilight zone. Astonishingly, the referee decided not to award the penalty which caused more confusion than an American receiving instructions from his gaffer to stick it in the onion bag.

Into the final third with the wind behind us once again, we dominated with ‘The Admiral’, Lewis and ‘Box-to-Boscar’ providing guile in the middle, allowing Dave and The Don to use their pace down the flanks. ‘The Admiral’ then went on an incredible maze-like run which included more pirouetting and twirls than an entire series of Strictly Come Dancing. He beat four opposition players before running out of steam as it wasn’t just the opponents he had tied in knots.

Into the last 10 and disaster struck as we gave away a needless free kick 30 yards from the goal which Gianluigi BuffRon couldn’t hold and the rebound was gobbled up to tie the scores at Desmond 2-2. Undeterred the roar went up from the lads and we sensed that the goal scoring was not yet at an end. With 5 minutes remaining, we grabbed a winner courtesy of our American goal scoring sensation, The Don, who hooked home after a flick-on from Oscar following a clipped ball from Glewis. The defence stood solid in the last few minutes not permitting a single chance with Adam ‘the roadblock’ and ‘50 Spence’ cracking the shutters down the sides. ‘Dirty Harry’ and the reformed Glewis were acting out their inner Gandalf, allowing nothing to pass through the middle. If anything, we were the more likely to grab another goal as Oscar teed up The Don for the hat trick, only to be denied by the opposition keeper.

Full-time result: Chatteris FC 3 – 2 Hong Kong Hornets
Man of the Match: ‘The Admiral’ Akbar Khan

Sunday, 15 October 2017

City of Lattes, Part 1

Chatteris' own Caroline Lengyel shares with us her insider knowledge of the best coffee shops Hong Kong has to offer.

I drink coffee every day, many times a day — a habit I afford by skipping meals, frequenting McDonalds and owning about three pairs of clothes. In any case, I’ve done plenty of time in Hong Kong’s indie coffee-shop scene, young but growing fast! Here are some favourite spots:

5. CAFE SAUSALITO (Sham Shui Po Location)

Coffee: 8/10

Aesthetic: 7/10

Overall Experience: 8/10

Just a few blocks around the corner from my apartment, Cafe Sausalito is the California-style coffee shop I thought I’d left behind in the States. It gets hipster cred for being in Sham Shui Po instead of the usual glossy Hong Kong Island locale. Serves (expensive) breakfast all day. The owner is very sweet and the café hosts all sorts of cool events, like live jazz!

Be warned, you will see lots of photos of coffee + my computer + possibly my bag in this series.

4. OMOTESANDO (Wan Chai Location)

Coffee: 6/10

Aesthetic: 8/10

Overall Experience: 7/10

Not the most staggering latte but a solid effort — and the atmosphere is one of a kind. The baristas wear lab coats which is a little cheesy but also makes you feel like you’re in a Frankenstein movie. I’m not entirely sure what the aesthetic is supposed to convey (the minimalist website does little to clarify)… I suppose, coffee-brewing as a science? I prefer to think of it as an art but whatever works for the beans.

I don’t have any photos from Omotesando but enjoy this pic of a man walking five pups (spotted on Gough Street).

3. COFFEE ACADEMICS (Wan Chai Location)

Coffee: 9/10

Aesthetic: 10/10

Overall Experience: 10/10

Rather posh, but you guessed that from the name :) I view coffee as a necessary expense so I was willing to shell out 100 HK dollars for a cappuccino and latte; I understand others might be less eager. Nevertheless, I love this place. The decor is minimal, the lights dimmed atmospherically— at least in the evening — and the staff are kind and very willing to answer your questions about coffee! I learnt what a tall white is here (told you I wasn’t an expert). To be honest, it gets the most points because I was able to read, write, and sneak bites of smuggled-in raison bread for three hours straight without disturbance. Not to mention the people-watching opportunities; only the classiest™ dates occur here and all outfits are on point (as in checkered pants, crop tops, suede block heels as far as the eye can see). 10/10 would smuggle again.

Not pictured: raison bread.

2. ELEPHANT GROUNDS (Sheung Wan Location)

Coffee: 9/10

Aesthetic: 9/10

Overall Experience: 9/10

Huge portions, cute patio area, enough said.

1. HAY FEVER FLORAL & GIFTS (Prince Edward Location)

Coffee: 7/10

Aesthetic: 200/10

Overall Experience: Wondrous

My favourite coffee place so far, also my favourite place on earth. I’ve been five times and each experience is etched in my memory. Put it this way: flower shop. PLUS COFFEE. Maybe I’m just basic but this had me reeling. If anyone has had a greater idea in the history of culinary arts / interior design / human innovation in general, I can’t imagine what it is. I genuinely didn’t want to tell you about this shop because it’s crowded enough (on the weekends) but I suppose you’d have found out anyhow. The coffee is great. There’s seating upstairs.
Go, live your best life, you’re welcome!

Thursday, 12 October 2017


Chatteris' own resident wordsmith Akbar Khan offers his poetic take on his new life in Hong Kong

Inspired once again,
Could be all the new friends
Could be my old job coming to an end
Could be the new job, new career
First time teaching
Probably the fear
Either way…
Got new wheels to steer

Having to watch my language
When teaching kids English
Use caution when bantering
As these kids will absorb anything
Since it’s all about portraying an ideal role model
Keeping your cool is hard pill to swallow
Especially when surrounded with smiles on adorable faces
Still can’t believe I’m teaching in Hong Kong of all places

Great sense of humour
Never a bother
Always laughing, smiling and asking
& kick off my day with at least 10 Good Mornings

Though I gotta say
Loving each and every day
& these kids bring out the best in me   
Keeping me honest and friendly
If this is the first month
For the rest of this school year
… I’m ready

Sunday, 8 October 2017

The Struggles of a Hong Kong Veggie

Chatteris' own Abbey Johnson on the trials and tribulations of adhering to a veggie lifestyle in Hong Kong

The life of a vegetarian in Hong Kong is not an easy one. When asked by family and friends if I would be staying veggie before moving to Asia, I naively answered “of course- how hard can it be?” Turns out, it’s very hard. The helpful green ‘v’ on restaurant menus does not exist, and it can sometimes seem like the locals are doing their best to sneak meat into everything you eat. Dim sum is a minefield of hidden minced pork and oyster sauce, and asking the waiter in broken Cantonese if the spring rolls contain meat will often get you an eye-roll or a bored ‘hai’. Fortunately, and despite outward appearances, Hong Kong is actually a very vegetarian-friendly place if you know where to look. Here are some places that we’ve discovered in the heart of Kowloon that will feed your veggie soul without emptying your wallet.

Sham Shui Po
Sham Shui Po is more famous for its electronics than for its vegetarian food, but there are a few hidden gems scattered amongst the video game stores and the sketchy used television stalls. Kashmir Curry House is one of them- its online presence is virtually zero and it looks more like a wet market than a restaurant, but be brave and venture inside for the best curry you can find Kowloon-side. As with most authentic Indian restaurants, there are several meat-free options; the dal is a great choice as is the traditional potato curry, and for around $50 a meal, you get any veggie curry, rice and two paratha (a traditional flatbread). The best part comes after you’ve finished; the portions are so large that you can take half to work the next day and be the envy of your co-teachers. 
Recommended dish: Dal Makhani with paratha ($50)

Prince Edward
Further down the red line (and a short walk from Sham Shui Po), Prince Edward changes from the shady computer stores to streets of busy bars and restaurants. Similar to Mong Kok but without the frantic pace, this area has numerous places for vegetarians to eat. My favourite is The Alchemist on Poplar Street where you can find a veggie full English breakfast (including hash browns and Heinz baked beans).  As well as a top hangover brunch, The Alchemist serves tall iced coffees and, if you’re brave enough for some hair of the dog, classic cocktails like mojitos and margaritas. With a slightly random but calming décor and excellent food, The Alchemist is the perfect place to hide on a rough Sunday morning. 
Recommended dish: Vegetarian Full English Breakfast, with a mango smoothie. (around $120)

Yau Ma Tei
Choosing a restaurant with no English name and little English on the menu can seem like a huge gamble- but at ‘Veggie Foods’ in Yau Ma Tei, it pays off. Like so many eateries in HK, this Buddhist restaurant can seat about 20 people and there is often a long queue stretched out the door, but the 10-15 minute wait is a small price to pay for the excellent food. Don’t be fooled by the menu, which offers sweet, and sour ribs, pork chops and sesame beef, as everything in this place is 100% vegetarian. The staff are also extremely helpful and will walk you through the process of ordering (make sure to ask for iced lemon water or citron tea) and you will receive a small book of Buddhist prayers with the bill on your way out. The best part about Veggie Foods is the price- a set menu is $58 for a huge meal and a drink of your choice. 

Recommended dish:  Sweet and sour pork fillet with steamed rice and lemon water. ($50)

Burger Lab in Jordan smashes the healthy vegetarian stereotype by offering two obscenely large veggie burgers on their menu: the Veggie Burger and, my personal favourite, the Portobello Truffle. Despite being slightly pricier than the previous recommendations, Burger Lab will leave you with the food baby to end all food babies, especially if you opt to upgrade to a meal for $22 extra. There's even options for your omnivore friends if you can't convince them to give the Portobello burger a try. Tip: Grab your burger to go and have a picnic in Kowloon Park, which is just across the road. 

 Recommended dish: Portobello Truffle burger with sweet potato fries and drink. ($70)

This brief tour of Kowloon's best plant-based food should point you in the right direction towards some great places to discover, and away from eating a 7/11 sandwich on the way home or having instant noodles before you go out in case they don't have anything veggie. I've grown to love the challenge of finding great food here, and it becomes almost an obsession of finding the best, most obscure places. I hope I've inspired you a little to go out and hunt for yourself. 
Happy exploring, veggies!

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

A Weekend in Tokyo

Chatteris' Akbar Khan tells all about his whirlwind weekend in Tokyo

It was barely a weekend, as I landed Saturday morning and left Sunday evening- so just two days and one night in this incredibly clean and polite city. Following a four-hour flight from Hong Kong with a time difference of one hour, I did what I could with the little time I had.

After meeting my good friend upon landing, I was quickly dragged in the direction of a local 7-a-side football tournament. However, not having had any dinner the night before, or even a quick breakfast that morning, we stopped at a 7/11 on the way and I munched on my favourite Japanese snacks. The chicken was decent with almost no fat and loads of white meat, just like home. I indulged in plenty of fried chicken (chicken katsu) and some yaki tori (chicken skewers drenched in teriyaki sauce), and if it weren’t for my mate giving me the “this is why you’re fat” look, I would have doubled up on the dosage.

However, I was undeterred- some scrumptious burgers were on the lunchtime menu, which were delicious but a little too small for my appetite. After (almost) eating our fill we made our way to a terrace where we could enjoy a smoke and a coffee (in Japan you can only smoke in specific areas). As I ordered my iced caramel machiatto, I couldn’t help but notice how ridiculously overpriced everything was in this city. Having got off a plane from Hong Kong, it was quite a shock as to how expensive everything was, especially the cabs.

Slowly but surely a group of us made our way to my mate’s place to start prepping for that Saturday night, as it was his friend’s birthday and everyone was planning for a big night.

Above: Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo

After getting dressed I finished an amazing Bordeaux with my mate’s older brother and we all left for Shibuya. Before doing any more drinking the crew stopped at a 7/11 to stock up on ‘ukon’, a magical remedy that protects your liver from a heavy night. From there we made our way to an ‘Izakaya’ which is an informal Japanese gastropub where you eat and drink for ‘cheap’ before hitting the club. Once entering this narrow building made of wood, we had to climb five flights of stairs to make it to our table, conveniently (for me) located in the smoking area. Once seated it was, simply put, order after order of fried food, sushi, kimchi and drinks. Being in Japan I had made the executive decision to go with Sake as my poison. Once my mini bottle of Sake arrived, accompanied with a rather large shot glass, I was stopped by about 3 friends when attempting to pour my own drink. They explained that whenever someone orders Sake it falls on whoever surrounds you to make sure that your glass is never empty. It’s apparently bad luck to pour your own Sake and your friends’ responsibility to pour it for you ensuring that you will earn a lot in your career. So there I was, totally unaware of how much Sake was being supplied to me. Entering the small hours of Sunday morning, we left the Izakaya and made our way to Roppongi (nightlife central in Tokyo). I spent the cab ride with my head spinning furiously and, once we arrived, I found myself a comfy corner to pass out in for the next 4-5 hours.

Above: Sake- the chosen poison of Chatteris' own Akbar Khan

Slightly hungover the next afternoon, I manage to make it out of bed at around 1pm and toured the area with a group of friends. We treated ourselves to another burger-shack for lunch, from which we then made our way to the Tokyo Dome (an attraction and tourist hot-spot) to shop for some souvenirs. We all rushed back to my mate’s place so I could get my stuff and catch a train to the airport. I made my flight by the skin of my teeth, and went straight to bed after landing back in Hong Kong.

Above: The Tokyo Dome, a tourist hot spot

All in all, I would definitely recommend Tokyo as a trip but not for just two days. Sure I had bought the tickets a lot earlier and didn’t want them to go to waste, but a good week in Tokyo is definitely still on my to-do list while I’m this side of the world. The airline I flew with was really nice and cheap too (a Japanese company called Vanilla Air).

Just remember- if you’re planning a night out in a Japanese city, ask around for an Izakaya as the atmosphere, menu and prices are exactly what you need when warming up for a good night out!