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Hong Kong - Kowloon or mid-level (Ohel Leah)?

I'll be in Hong Kong for Shabbat. Any advice on whether to daven and eat at Ohel Leah at midlevel, or in Kowloon with Kehilat Zion - Hechal Ezra in Kowloon?

Also, any recent experiences comparing Kehilat Zion's restaurant Mul Hayam with the JCC's restaurant as a place to dine with colleagues on a weeknight?

I have excellent experience with the Sabra restaurant at the JCC in the past; Mul Hayim opened since my last visit.

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  1. honestly it all really depends on if there are any major trade shows going on while your there. if so Kehilat Zion can get packed and when they have a lot of people they serve the food buffet style and its kind of all over the place so dont know if thats the best place to take a colleague. during the trade shows the Club is probably a better bet, though when KZ is on the ball their food is much better and so are the prices. Besides for midlevel or kowloon you could also daven and eat with chabad, a plus side of KZ is you can stay at the mandarin next door and given that itll prob rain the whole weekend staying closer to where you'll daven/eat is prob a good idea

    9 Replies
    1. re: chai18

      Thanks. I was there once - At KZ - on a Shabbat before they had a restaurant. The overflow crows was astonishing. For Schachrit, not for a meal!

      I'll try to figure out if big trade events are going on.

      1. re: AdinaA

        I have been several times, and always to Kowloon, but it's been probably five years since I was there last. I have never been on one of their packed Shabbatot, but have heard than even though it's crowded, tables are set up all over the place and there is always plenty of food for everyone. I have never been to Ohel Leah, so cannot comment. Rabbi Meoded is great and I have always enjoyed the davening and the food just never stops.
        Mul Hayam as I recall is more of an Israeli type food which is not gourmet or anything fancy, but solid good food, and after a few days in China, very welcoming. I think they have the usual Israeli fare as well as steaks, grilled chicken, burgers, etc.
        I found the JCC restaurant better for a business meal with work colleages, but Mul Yam would also work. A lot depends on where you are in HK.
        If you are there on a Sunday night, they used to have a BBQ at the JCC which I heard is great, but I always happened to be leaving on a SUnday, so I never experienced it.
        HK is one of the best places to be if you're in Asia for Shabbat from a food perspective.

        1. re: njkosher

          I can't comment on Shabbat but I was in HK for 3-4 days during honeymoon in 2010.

          I ate at all the kosher places and thought Mul Yam was excellent - albeit we were the virtually the only people in there (a midweek at about 7pm) and the service was pretty cruddy.

          The JCC meaty restaurant was good, albeit a little pricey - but it was pretty busy so at least a bit of an atmosphere. Make sure you book ahead as security is very tight.

          I also ate at Shalom Grill which is attached to Shuva Israel on Connaught Road. Food was not very good, more of an Israeli backpacker place - but on Shabbat I'm sure it will be fine as there will be services at SI within the same building.

          You can also eat with Chabad, I'm sure you wouldn't go hungry

          1. re: dsasto

            I can't comment on Mul Yam but I found Ohel Leah very servicable for Shabbat - though their best is to be found at their Sunday night dinner buffet. This would also me my choice for a business meal. Shuva Israel was very convenient to where I was staying so I did have a number of meals there too - which were adequate (utilitarian, not Chowish, if you don't mind being amidst a crowd of backpackers - not for business meals.

      2. re: chai18

        Chai18 - thank you so much! Turns out both the Jewelry and Gem Fair, and the Fashion Jewelry and Accessories Fair will coincide with my visit. That will make Mul Hayam an inadvisable place to take a colleague.

        I will take colleagues to Sabra, and look for a walkable hotel to Ohel Leah, to eat there on Shabbat.

        For anyone else in the position of having to choose between these two restaurants , there is an online calendar. http://www.hkcec.com.hk/visitors/even...

        Ethnic stereotype warning: you have to figure out what businesses orthodox Jews are in. On those weeks, Mul Hayem in particular (it is run by and for the use of the American Syrian business community) will be full to bursting. You won't be turned away, but it would not be a place to dine with colleagues. More like a very crowded kiddush/luncheon.

        1. re: AdinaA

          My wife and I were in HK a few years ago. We stayed at the Bishop Lei which was a 5-10 minute walk to Ohel Leah. It's also on Robinson Road, which means it's a flatter walk to/from shul. Otherwise, you take the escalator system or climb.

          On the other side of the Bishop Lei is a park and zoo which make for nice walks on Shabbat. I think there's a few more hotels on the other side of the park and zoo. This is all in the mid-level.

          1. re: craigcep

            Did you have trouble with elevators, key cards?

            I've eaten at Sabra before , so I assume that it's nice on Shabbat.

            1. re: AdinaA

              I don't remember either way. I do remember when the hotel was recommended to us, that it is a common hotel for visitors to Ohel Leah. It's even recommended on the shul's website. But I don't remember our experiences. If you stay there, try to get a room facing downhill (and downtown with a view) rather than uphill and a view of buildings.

          2. re: AdinaA

            your welcome have a fun report back if there are any kosher updates vis a vis HK

          1. I know you've worked out the details, but I want to note that we were at Mul HaYam in December and had a fantastic meal. Very appropriate for a work related meal (in fact, so upscale I was sorry I had to impose our two year old on them, and they had no high chairs), but best not during services at the beit Knesset that adjoins the space.

            Don't stay at the Regal hotel. Very old and tiny rooms.

            1. Mul Hayin - provided very good meals packed up and brought by someone to the meeting site/ hotel. I don't think they deliver.

              Sabra at the JCC was lovely and uncrowded even with big conferences in town. The food is very good, and the ambiance is wonderful (except, of course, for the understandable difficulty of getting South Asian colleagues past security)

              Shabbat in Kowloon - boy was I out of date. Chabad and Hechal Ezra do Shabbat.

              Hechal Ezra - the Syrian shul - has broadened, and expanded. Easily 150 for dinner on Friday. It's like Jerusalem was before the destruction, room for everyone. Lovely meal. The fish was fabulous - some sort of hot Asian spicing. (There were multiple, fish, salad and meat courses.)

              Went to Chabad on Saturday. They truly know how to make business travelers comfortable on Shabbat. 200 for lunch. When there's a trade show in town, they rent a hotel ballroom. Excellent meal with all the trimmings in a nice space.

              At both shuls the total spectrum of Jews was represented - from full kapote to I-just-came-for-the meal. Which is kind of great.

              Hong Kong is an amazingly comfortable place for Jewish travelers. They don't just feed you, they feed you well and make you comfortable. Minyan, shiurim, take-out, I didn't even get to the grocery at the JCC in midlevel. It must be ample, since the place supports a K-12 school.

              I'm not exactly saying fly to Hong Kong just for the kosher food, but you could.

              1. I've never lived there. Only spent a Shabbat there. I will say this. At Ohel Leah in the mid-levels, every week there is a Shabbat lunch for the community. It seemed like a warm and welcoming community. People were very social. It was predominately Commonwealth ex-pats (UK, Australia, Canada).