Hotel Sav Hong Kong: Floor of Love art exhibition for charity! Pop-up design shop, Goth holiday gift guide.

hotel sav pop up store

Hello from my colorful home in Hong Kong — Hotel sáv!

As you might recall from this story, I have a “La Carmina room” at this award-winning boutique hotel. Artist Naomi Rubin and I took part in their “Floor of Love” project, which dedicates the entire 22nd floor to art and charity. 

I’m excited to share that the Floor of Love is officially launching in December — and hope you will stay in our room at Hotel Sav!

hong kong indie fashion design shop

In this post, I’ll show you the new, original art that Naomi created for the opening exhibit.

I’ll also take you inside Sav’s new Pop-Up store, rainbow afternoon tea set… and end with a Gothic gift guide, highlighting holiday presents under $20.

travel blogger opens hotel, la carmina room

Let’s begin in my “La Carmina hotel room” at Hotel Sav. (My address: Room 2219, 83 Wuhu St, Hung Hom, Kowloon, Hong Kong)

Last February, my team and I went to support the hotel opening, and created this travel video about decorating this space to represent “Love the Dream.”

devil horns hair clips

Now, Sav Hospitality is celebrating the launch with a big Floor of Love event. The Sonic Garden space will feature new works by the artists — including Naomi! — and the 19 decorated rooms will be open for viewing.

Our art will be paired with wines that match the themes (Love the Planet, Community, Dream, Memory). There will also be food tastings, a graffiti car display, and music. Best of all, you can buy the works, and proceeds will go to the Disabled Association and Make a Wish Hong Kong.

hong kong travel sketches

You can peek inside the various Floor of Love artist rooms in this photo diary, as well as see more of the La Carmina works (such as these sketches featuring scenes from Hong Kong).

Keep scrolling to see the three new pieces that Naomi made… they feature my Scottish Fold cat Basil, and mouth-sewing!

sailor moon fashion clothing line

I always feel at home when I stay in my Hotel Sav room, and wind up with the most vivd, lucid dreams.

(I’m wearing a Sailor Moon jacket that I got in The One – Tsim Sha Tshi mall. This fashion collection features clothes with Sailor Moon symbols and patterns. My black Very Metal dress is Gladnews, and the Unknown Pleasures tights have a Joy Division print.)

chinese young modern artists exhibit

On the first floor lobby, anyone can shop the “Pop Up At SAV” — a collection of local designs that celebrate art and lifestyle.

This space has an eye-catching selection of jewelry, purses, watches and more. There’s a rainbow rack of sáv Beach Wear, and all types of stationery branded by the hotel.

pop up at sav, hotel hong kong

I’m wearing a Korean bracelet and squeezing a “towel bear,” which I’ll give to my baby niece as a present.

rainbow purse, iphone case

The wall of paintings is by local artist Mark Lui. You can shop for his Design Works cell phone cases, which come in carved wood and rainbow prints. I’m carrying one of Mark Lui’s Botkier tote bags, which are among the most popular items.

I hope you’ll stop by the Pop Up at Sav, to check out these artistic goods!

naomiyaki art, naomi rubin artist

And now, let me share with you the three pieces Naomi Rubin made for the Floor of Love opening party. Below are her titles and “a short bit of story that takes the viewer a little closer to the memories she drew from when painting.” Let’s start with two inspired by Basil Farrow the Scottish Fold cat! 

Pencil and acrylic on paper

“It’s a rare joy when you get to meet the family of someone close and feel the realization that you already know them. Then, you can draw them some more.”

godzilla cat, scottish fold painting

Back-Alley Photography
Pencil and acrylic on paper

“The first time we shot photos on that trip, it was on the way to meet some unlikely co-workers. We stopped in a back-alley that made for unusual lighting but fantastic poses and composition. Most of this city is real, but the parts have been taken from all over — kind of like a real city indeed.”

hong kong floor of love opening

Last Minute
Acrylic on paper

“The posters were made on the train ride up, and pasted guerrilla-style around town as we filmed. We checked out the venue space only the evening before, and even that changed around on us. We were ready though, because we had been practicing.” (Hint: if you’ve followed our TV-fixing work over the years, you may recognize this scene from the Joko vs Klaas lip-sewing episode!)

It’s wonderful to see how Naomi’s art continues to evolve. She is currently working on a mystery project; you can watch her Naomiyaki site for changes.

rainbow afternoon tea, cakes

While staying with Hotel Sav, I also got to try the new “Floral with Colors” Afternoon Tea Set. It’s a rainbow delight of sweet and savory treats, decorated to look like a blossoming garden — complete with chocolate soil and a twirling butterfly.

hotel sav colorful afternoon tea

The bite-sized delights sit next to flowers by Hahahflorist. I had fun eating the mousse with a miniature garden shovel, and skewers of mozzarella with tomato and caviar.

Anyone who orders the Floral Tea Set receives a packet of flower seeds and a Casetify screen protector for free. And if you wear a floral dress or accessories to high tea, you might get a special tote bag too.

hong kong hotel afternoon tea menu

The hotel also has a new “Patisserie by sáv” on the ground floor, serving fresh cakes and pastries every day.

hotel sav bar, restaurants

I think you can see why I love staying at Hotel Sav! It’s less than a year old, and has already racked up awards for best design, branding, marketing and more.

amplitude bar hong kong sav

My friends and I enjoyed hanging out at Amplitude bar, which has a music theme. We snacked on fresh fruit cocktails (there’s a whole rainbow of them) and  snacks such as oven baked pizza.

chocolate rain cute bear statue

I hope you’ll stop by Hotel Sav to see the Pop Up shop, and try their Floral Afternoon Tea. And don’t forget — you can request to stay in the La Carmina room, when you travel to Hong Kong!

Above, we hope you enjoy the Hong Kong travel video we made about the hotel opening, and Chinese celebrations. (Filmed and produced by Borderless Media )

rainbow perfume bottles

And now… my Gothic Alternative gift guide! It’s “Nightmare before Christmas” time, and I’m sure you’re scrambling to pick up holiday presents. It’s always a challenge to find something unique and useful, especially for someone of a Gothic disposition.

To help you out, I’ve rounded up my favorite Goth gifts, most of which are under $20 US. I hope you find these shopping tips helpful! kawaii cute iphone phone cases valfre

A mobile phone case is a thoughtful present, since these tend to have high turnover (people use smartphones constantly, and eventually break the covers). These iPhone and Android cases are fun and stylish, and not too heavy. Of course, make sure you know what type of phone your friend uses so that you purchase the right model.

From left to right, my favorites (in $20 range!) are a 3D pastel goth phone case –– a must have for those into sweet kawaii. Anime fans will smile when they unwrap the Pikachu Pokemon iPhone case.

Valfre makes the niftiest soft mobile cases, including a carton of 100% boys tears, a mermaid seashell phone case, a black cat with big eyes (my favorite), and a funny giant pencil.

goth beanie, skullcap, gothic tuque

During the winter months, your friends will need a knit cap to keep warm — or tuque, as we Canadians call these things. Instead of a boring basic beanie, why not give them something fun?

Killstar has the most eye-catching Gothic accessories on the market. I had a hard time deciding between (from left) the aliens with upside down cross beanie, pentacle and moon winter cap with a pom pom, “So Goth I’m Dead” hat, and pyramid Killstar tuque. (These links lead to where you can directly get them.)

gothic lipgloss, jeffree star lipsticks

I’m fond of giving and receiving high-quality makeup, especially if it’s by brands that are not usually found in stores. All of these picks are under $20 too. 

Anastasia is the queen of eyebrows, and makes a brow powder palette that looks very natural. The self-sharpening Anastasia eyebrow pencil is beloved by makeup addicts worldwide. (All of these come in different shades.)

Matte, long-lasting lip glosses are currently all the rage.  Jeffree Star has a fabulous collection that includes shades like dark blue and purple gloss. Recently, I’ve been wearing this exact shade of Urban Decay lip gloss, and can vouch that it stays on.

skull home decor, skull vases

If someone has recently moved to a new apartment or dorm, a home decor gift is a nice gesture. Try to avoid “Halloween party” products, and look for items made with better materials.

On the top left, I’d welcome this a set of Mercury colored glass skull bottles. They’d look great on a shelf or mantle, and can hold a fresh flower. Below these are are two versions of a cardboard 3D skull, which also comes in black and other colors. This unique skull can serve many purposes, from a paperweight to a scratching station for your cat!

A skull-shaped planter adds character to the home. In addition to plants, the vase can hold various objects such as candy or pens. Finally, this purple Day of the Dead glitter skull can hang on a door, wall, or Christmas tree.

gothic eyelashes, dolly false lashes

False eyelashes are an excellent stocking stuffer, especially if you find Japanese ones with cute packaging. I love the Wicked Hippie eyelashes with rainbow accents and colors.

Dolly Wink is a favorite brand among Tokyo gyaru and Harajuku girls. The bottom right Velour Lashes are made of high quality silk fibers, and I wear them on my photoshoots.

haute couture goth fashion purses

Finally, since you never know what Santa might bring you… I’ll share my dark dream wishlist! These are the height of Gothic haute couture — designs to die for.

I’m lusting over this circular spider purse made from black velvet, with matching cobweb stiletto heels. These Majesty Black leather gloves are evil queen fabulous, with gold spiky nails.

On the right, Alexander McQueen is the king of darkness. I have my eye on McQueen’s Goth clutch purse with a knuckle grip and Swarovski crystals, and studded leather platform Oxford shoes.

awake anime pink faux fur coat

And above is my Technicolor dreamcoat.  This anime pink faux fur coat by A.W.A.K.E is kawaii done right! It’s available here, in case one of you feels the urge to pick it up for me… anyone? Anyone?

I hope you found my Goth / alt gift suggestions to be helpful, as you shop for friends and family this Christmas season. Have fun, and let me know if you have other suggestions for presents.

lavender hair color

How do you like my art / charity collaborations with Hong Kong’s Hotel Sav? You can find out more, and book my La Carmina room, on their website and Facebook.


Hong Kong’s natural, healthy pet food retailer: Pet Sensei! Cat & dog supplies with a cause.

custom cat mascot suit, big cat head mask

Animal-lovers, you will love this story. Above, as you can see… my Scottish Fold cat has become a life-size mascot!

We’re thrilled to support a new Hong Kong pets service — Pet Sensei. This online store sells healthy products for dogs and cats, and supports animal charities. 

scottish fold cat cute face ears

Basil gladly “lent a paw” to the company, knowing that they only sell the best brands of food, litter and more — at affordable prices. Plus, Pet Sensei donates funds from every item sold to animals in need.

(Read on for more, as well as a Chinese Gothic Lolita modeling shoot!)

Pet 師父, petsshk

These days, having a pet is like having a family member. We want to provide our furry friends with the best possible food and care. (What a baby — Basil Farrow loves to be carried!)

However, in China and Hong Kong, it’s expensive and difficult to purchase high-quality pet food. Respected international labels (such as Orijen and Wellness) aren’t found in most local pet stores, and online prices are astronomical. Locals told me they feel stuck and frustrated by the situation.

pet sensei hong kong cat and dog food

Basil to the rescue! My plump cat is the face of Pet Sensei, a site that makes these top-quality products easily available in Hong Kong. The company imports pet foods and supplies directly, and sell them at lower prices than other sources. They’ll also deliver right to you.

buy healthy pet food online, hong kong

Pet Sensei has created an entire community around their mission of helping animals. On their Facebook page (Pet 師父), you can share cute stories about your pets, learn about animal care, and play games to win prizes.

In Hong Kong, it’s hard to find pet foods without by-products and potentially toxic ingredients. Pet Sensei, on the other hand, sells top-rated international brands including Orijen, Wellness, Oven Baked, Natural Balance, Artemis.

natural cat dog food retailer, hong kong

The staff illustrator does a fantastic job at turning Basil (the maoo) and Tiny (the dog) into cartoon characters. Above is a comic from Halloween — you can see the latest ones on the Petsshk Facebook page.

hong kong dog rescue, pet charity

In addition to donating funds to charities, the staff of Pet Sensei takes direct action to help animals in need. 

Recently, they rescued Pi — a dog who was constantly being mistreated, underfed, and thrown into the sea. When the owner found out Pi had cancer and needed urgent surgery, he abandoned him. Pet Sensei stepped in and paid for the surgery. They are giving updates on the Facebook page: “Pi is now recovering slowly. We will continue to fund the clinic expenses until we can find someone who can take good care of him and love him for the last stage of his life.”

scottish fold cat basil, pet sensei

Not all pets are as lucky as Basil… That’s why we wanted to lend our support to Pet Sensei and their animal rescue work.

We hope Hong Kong pet owners can feel great about buying quality goods from a company that cherishes animals, and helps them speak out.

buying pet food litter hong kong store

And to top it off — the prices are pretty fabulous. Right now, they are holding a week-long Pet Carnival that is offering discounts, lucky draws, games and more fun.

The site is available in both Chinese and English. Customer service is very responsive and fluent in English, so if you’re an ex-pat in Hong Kong, you won’t have any trouble ordering from them.

hong kong pet store, english language chinese supplier

I hope you’ll check out Pet Sensei — and please tell your Hong Kong friends who have pets! Basil sends a snuggle in return.

chinese gothic lolita dresses, spider hong kong

What else have I been up to in Hong Kong?

I recently did a photoshoot with my friends. Above, I’m modeling with Natalie Lam, designer of the local Gothic Lolita brand SpiderThese enigmatic photos are by Thomas Sandfield, who shoots fashion editorials and music videos in Hong Kong and worldwide.

hong kong rooftop fashion photoshoot

We snuck up onto a rooftop to shoot these images. Thomas has a magnificent eye for capturing the mood of the city.

chinese goths, gothic lolita models

Above, I’m with my rainbow-haired friend — Mim Lai Sandfield of Sandfield Productions, a talented illustrator who also edited these photos. We’re all wearing Spider Gothic & Lolita fashion.

chinese girl makeup portrait

K. Lau of Bright Production took part in the shoot too (we met in Cebu, Philippines). He captured the above portrait of me, and the behind-the-scenes below.

fashion photographer hong kong, street style

Natalie and I look pleased with the shots Thomas took!


We are obsessed with Miffy the X-mouthed bunny. I got this purse from the Miffy store in Shanghai (there are branches in Hong Kong too).

hong kong fashion bloggers photography

Hong Kong’s gritty buildings formed the perfect backdrop for a squad of Goths. 

hong kong goth lolita fashion

A peek at what goes on behind the lens. Thanks also to photographer Arthur Rash (far right) who joined our adventure.

corset lace victorian goth dress

Good thing I’m not afraid of heights… as we were up high on the roof, without a barrier!

Thanks to my Hong Kong friends for the fun shoot.

goth bathrobe, silk kimono

Finally, on the topic of Gothic fashion… thought I’d give you a head’s up. Shopbop is having a big sale here until Nov 30 — a great time to pick up winter items, or presents for friends. I’m personally loving this silk kimono robe, top with collar and bow, and fuzzy black gloves.

What do you think of my Scottish Fold being a pet mascot? Enjoy more cat cuteness on the Pet Sensei site.

We got Henna tattoos! Moroccan beauty workshop & Couscous rolling class, Plan-It Fez tours.

long egyptian dress, kohl eye

Morocco was one of my dream destinations for years. My team and I finally went this summer, and the trip turned out to be as rejuvenating as I had hoped.

This year, I’ve tried to put a greater focus on projects with meaning. I love sharing stories about travel, underground culture, and locals (especially women) who are forging unique paths.

When I spoke to Plan-It Fez Tours — a female-run independent business in Fez — I knew that their goals were exactly in line with ours.

moroccan beauty workshop fez

Plan-It Fez collaborates with Moroccan women, and offers immersive activities that support their livelihood. It’s a win-win that lets travelers get a more intimate tour experience. 

On the first day, we did a drum-making activity. This time, I’ll show you how we did a beauty workshop with women inside the Fez medina! 

henna dye tattoo on hands

The ladies taught me Moroccan beauty secrets, and I got henna for the first time (a temporary skin art, using dye that comes from a flowering plant).

couscous making lesson

Then, we drove to a Berber village, where I made (and ate) the best couscous of my entire life. Be sure to read to the end, so that you don’t miss this adventure.

(Henna dyes have been used since Ancient Egyptian times, so it’s appropriate that I’m wearing an “Eye of Horus” dress from Pretty Attitude Clothing.)

moroccan herbs spices

The Fez medina is a sprawling market filled with the smell of spices, calls from vendors, and mysterious twisting corridors. Our guide led us to a low door, and we had to duck to go through the tiny pathway. Like in a dream, it opened up into a gorgeous circular space decorated with curtains, ottomans and tiles. 

At the center was a table topped with herbs, argan oil, and flowers. These ingredients form the basis of beauty mixtures, which have been passed down throughout the centuries.

where to get henna in fez medina

Our Plan-It Fez guide, Siham, introduced us to these local ladies. She translated for us, since they only speak Arabic.

“They are asking if you’d like to wear a traditional robe,” she said. Of course, filmmaker Melissa and I said yes. The women brought out a silky purple one for me, fronted with intricate beading, since it matched my hair color.

morocco women dress, robes

In Moroccan culture, the women care for their skin with natural products, usually mixed at home. The ladies let us participate the process from the start, with a base of dried henna leaves.

green colored lipstick

We learned about a “magic” lipstick that looks bright green — but when you put this henna tint on your lips, it turns red!

morocco balcony architecture

The family atmosphere and Moroccan decor made us feel as if we were transported back in time.

We looked up, and saw the matriarch waving at us!

herbal paste for hands

The beauty workshop is run by three generations of women. The youngest showed us how to blend and then hand-mix a herbal paste that softens the skin. It had a light, earthy scent and felt soothing on the back of my hands.

getting henna tattoo hands

Then, it was time for my first henna experience. This temporary body art / hair dye has been used for centuries in North Africa, the Middle East and India (where it’s also called mehndi).

Today, the mixture is still made in the same way, with crushed and liquefied henna. However, Moroccan women tend to use a modern syringe to apply the designs for ease.

henna floral patterns, designs

The designs tend to have floral, natural, swirling motifs (above is a modern style, on Melissa’s hands). The women are experts and work quickly, completing a hand in as little as 10-15 minutes. They told us that they don’t plan out their drawings — they simply go with the flow.

henna class, lessons

Henna is traditionally used for special occasions like birthdays and weddings. However, it can be worn at any time, and women often bond by applying henna for each other.

We loved seeing how these women worked, and how the designs organically took shape.

Getting a Henna Tattoo in Fez

Here are my finished hands, done in the traditional henna style. I was in awe at the amount of detail and variation.

Melissa also got “I’m allergic to nuts and white fish” written on her forearms, in Arabic!

arabic henna traditional tattoos

It took about 30 minutes for the paste to dry, and then I left it on for most of the day before flaking it off.

moroccan henna on hands

The finished henna is a rust-orange color. If you’re careful, these designs last 1-3 weeks.

moroccan beaded dress

A big hug for Siham, our guide at Plan-It Fez, for taking us to this Moroccan beauty workshop. 

virtual reality travel tv show

Shout-out to Eric Bergemann of Borderless Media for running around and doing all the photography and filming, while we got our henna on!

best bakery in fez, morocco

Our cultural tour continued with a visit to yet another women-run business: a bakery and couscous shop called Fatima Zahrae (فاطمة الزهراء). It’s located in a Berber village about an hour’s drive from Fez.

women run small business morocco

We would never have gotten an authentic, participatory experience like this without Plan It Fez.

moroccan female bakery

The little shop looked like something from a storybook. Inside, about ten women worked at different tasks.

morocco bread oven

It was wonderful to see how the bakery operated. The collective business lets them earn their own independent living, work alongside other women, and share the profits fairly. 

how to make couscous

I took off my shoes, and sat on the couscous-making carpet with this Berber lady (notice the henna dye on the soles of her feet). She taught me how to “roll” couscous, starting with moistened semolina flour.

couscous lesson fez morocco

Using these traditional tools, we rubbed the larger pieces in a circular motion, until they broke down to the right size and texture.

hand rolled couscous method

We shook the basket to bring the bigger pieces into the middle for further rolling. Of course, I caused a bit of a spill!

When the couscous was ready, the women steam-cooked it to the perfect fluffiness.

baking flat bread morocco

We continued the cooking lesson by seeing how the women prepared bread. They kneaded, shaped and “poked” the round flatbreads at an incredible speed.

cooking class fez morocco

Cooking classes are always a fun way to make memories and learn about the local culture — even if all you do for the “cooking” part is put the loaf into the oven!

couscous cooking lesson morocco

The experience included lunch… and my jaw dropped when this Berber woman brought out a towering plate of couscous, topped with vegetables and chicken! (Note her pretty light-colored eyes).

Before coming to Morocco, I admit I wasn’t fond of couscous. It always came out of a box, and had a dry cardboard taste and texture. But let me tell you… the couscous at Fatima Bakery is a whole other species. Fluffy, nuanced, fresh. We ate together from the large plate, and I couldn’t stop taking more spoonfuls of the couscous!

chicken with olives

When we ate our fill… the women surprised us with a second dish of chicken and olives! I could have dipped the warm oven-baked bread into the sauce all day long.

melon grapes peaches fruit plate

Finally, a fruit plate with local melons, grapes, and peaches. I’ve had a lot of memorable meals worldwide, but without doubt, this couscous cooking class ranks in the top ten.

women shopping in morocco

Time to walk off our meal, with a stroll around the neighborhood. We saw women and children shopping and socializing.

street art, cool weird morocco

How funny — in this tiny Berber village, we came across street art from the Japanese anime, Dragonball Z! 

plan-it fez market tour

We ducked into the marketplace, which has a funny dolphin cartoon on the wall.

meat market morocco

I try to do market visits wherever I go. It’s a great way to get a sense of the local daily life. 

hanging racks lamb morocco

You might come across sights and smells that you find more difficult, such as this hanging rack of meat. I encourage you to keep an open mind, even if you may not be comfortable with everything you see. In my opinion, stepping out of your usual zone is one of the best aspects of travel. 

fez custom tours, tour guide

Morocco can be a more challenging place to visit, and we’re so glad we did this journey with Plan-It Fez Tours. Thanks to our guides, we were able to directly meet local women who run creative businesses, and experience beauty and food through their eyes.

Have you tried henna tattooing before? What was your experience like?


Hello Kitty Chinese dim sum restaurant, Hong Kong! Gudetama theme cafe buns, Sanrio museum.

hello kitty chinese food, restaurant hong kong

Yet another reason you should drop everything and travel to Hong Kong… there’s now a Hello Kitty dim sum restaurant! 

At Hello Kitty Chinese Cuisine, diners can bite into fresh steamed buns that look like the famous cat. Read on for dozens of photos from the theme restaurant.

hello kitty anniversary exhibit taiwan

I’ll also take you inside the somewhat-controversial Gudetama cafe in Hong Kong (where you can squeeze chocolate poop out of the egg character), and a Sanrio anniversary exhibition in Taipei. 

And if you’re a fan of Hello Kitty, you’ve got to check out the cute fashion items below!

hello kitty supercute exhibition

Let’s start with my visit to Hello Kitty Chinese Cuisine. There are many Sanrio theme cafes worldwide — remember the Seoul Hello Kitty one, where I ate cake shaped like her face?

However, this is the first time anyone has done a Cantonese-style Hello Kitty restaurant. It’s a cute-faced version of dim sum, the traditional dining where everyone shares bite sized dishes around a table.

hello kitty theme restaurant hong kong food

The local owner pitched the dim sum idea to Sanrio, and won them over. The restaurant’s interior design is magnificently executed, combining Chinese tradition with Japanese kawaii. Case in point: the paintings of beautiful ancient Chinese ladies… with Hello Kitty’s face!

Hong Kong Hello Kitty Restaurant Address: Shop A to C, Lee Loy Mansion, 332-338 Canton Road, Jordan, Kowloon.

It’s about a 3 minute walk from the Jordan MTR subway station, or ask your taxi driver to go to 佐敦廣東道332-338號利來洋樓A至C地舖

Hello Kitty 中菜軒, sanrio wine

The Hello Kitty Chinese restaurant is extremely popular, so don’t expect to walk in and get a table. Fortunately, you can make a reservation in advance through their website.

The excitement begins at the entrance, where there’s a glass case glittering with Sanrio jewelry and wines.

hello kitty chinese cuisine restaurant menu

Even the table and chairs have Hello Kitty faces, carved right into the wood. The attention to detail is apparent here — a nice change from other Asian theme restaurants, which often skimp on quality.

The menu is in both Chinese and English, with illustrations. You can choose from a range of Cantonese dishes or fusion creations, all decorated with a Hello Kitty touch.  (On left, a giant bread-cat, with Chinese patterns imprinted on her bow!)

hello kitty theme restaurant, jordan kowloon

The restaurant has several special dishes, such as this one made with apples since this is Hello Kitty’s favorite fruit. 

Another happy departure from other theme restaurants: Hello Kitty Chinese Cuisine uses “real” ingredients such as vegetables and beans to make the decorations.

hello kitty face dumplings, har gaw

The owner focuses on healthy ingredients, and it pays off. The har gow (steamed shrimp dumplings) were so good that we wanted to order several more baskets!

We were pleasantly surprised that the quality of the food was so high, considering the pristine Hello Kitty faces on everything.

hello kitty mask, theme restaurant

Every aspect of the dim sum experience gets a Kitty makeover, even the paper lining of the steam baskets.

hello kitty pastries, bread rolls

I’m sure you “awwed” at this photo of Hello Kitty steamed buns… We won’t show you the “after”, where we tore into her face! Inside, there is a light and delicious red bean paste filling. 

(Photos by noircorner and Ken Yuen.)

hello kitty pudding dessert custard

Finally, we ended with this light egg white custard and fruit. A perfect palate-cleanser, without added sugars or fake flavors.

hello kitty dim sum bun, recipe

This was by far the best Hello Kitty theme restaurant I’ve visited, with high standards for the Cantonese food, cute presentation and interior design. The prices are also very reasonable.

hello kitty chinese cuisine restaurant china

It’s the small touches that make this dim sum experience such a pleasure. I love how the owner was able to create an authentic Hong Kong dining experience, fused with Hello Kitty. 

More info including how to make reservations on the Hello Kitty Chinese Cuisine site.

gudetama cafe popup hong kong

Sanrio characters are extremely popular in Hong Kong, possibly even more so than in Japan. One of their new mascots — Gudetama, the lazy egg — seems to be everywhere.

We stopped by Mongkok’s Langham Place, where they were celebrating the mall’s 10th anniversary with a Gudetama exhibition. I admit I don’t really “get” this character’s appeal… maybe someone can explain it to me?

gudetama exhibition, event

People lined up to take photos with the funny displays, including Gudetama as an egg sushi, and a subway train. There was special Gudetama merchandise at the pop-up store, but fitting with his attitude, I was unmotivated to take a look!

gudetama cafe hong kong

Hong Kong also opened up two Gudetama theme cafes. The one in Kwun Tong is a “YATA Gudetama Café by Izumi Curry” (Address: LG/F, apm Millennium City 5, 418 Kwun Tong Road).

I took photos of Dim Sum Icon, the sort-of controversial Gudetama restaurant. (Address: L308, 3/F, The ONE, 100 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong)

gudetama cafe egg menu food

Similar to the Hello Kitty restaurant, this one has dim sum dishes that look like the egg character. However, there are also international selections like burgers and ramen, and the decor is much simpler.

Gudetama dim sum icon, poop bun

Do these diners look engrossed with their food? Perhaps they are grossed out… by the Gudetama bun, which has a rather bizarre design…

gudetama chocolate bun, squeeze bottom

If you squeeze his body, chocolate sauce comes out of his butt! I doubt I’d be able to eat something that looks like a mascot with brown liquid oozing out the back…

marilyn monroe hello kitty

On the other hand, I was gung-ho to pose with Hello Kitty statues at her 40th anniversary exhibition in Taipei. 

We actually took these Taiwan photos a while ago, but I never got around to posting them. Last year, Sanrio celebrated Kitty’s big birthday with an interactive exhibit at Songshan Cultural Park (松山文創園區). (Address: No. 133, Guāngfù South Rd, Xinyi District, Taipei.)

Fans paid an admission fee of about $20 to see Kitty in various guises, such as Marilyn Monroe and Holly Go Lightly.

sanrio museum, exhibition statues

The exhibit consisted of several giant rooms, each decorated with large-scale displays that you can pose with. Most of these feature Kitty, but there are also statues of other Sanrio mascots. Above: Pom Pom Purin, Lala from Little Twin Stars, Keroppi the frog, and Pom Pom Purin.

hello kitty cafe taipei taiwan

The Taipei exhibit hall also had a Hello Kitty pop up cafe, serving desserts and drinks decorated like her mouth-less face.

sanrio desserts

This pop up has now closed, but you can still visit Taipei’s permanent Hello Kitty Sweets Restaurant. (Address: No.90, Sec. 1, Da’an Road, Xinyi Distict, Taipei).

hello kitty macaroons

These colorful macaroons and cupcakes, topped with Hello Kitty candy decorations, look too cute to eat!

I paid a bit extra to see the Hello Kitty hologram show. (Hey, you only live once.) We weren’t allowed to shoot it, so imagine a bizarre hologram of Hello Kitty entering the stage — it was basically someone in a glittery purple dress and giant cat-head mask. She sang and did para-para moves with two background dancers, while soap bubbles floated in the air. We had a lyric sheet, and wanted to sing and dance along to the “Kitty Kitty Kitty” rap song… but nobody else in the audience was moving a muscle.

Songshan Cultural and Creative Park

Are you curious as to why I’m doing this bizarre hand pose? It’s a tribute to Brown, the bear from Line Friends — yet another character with a single expression! He always does this tentative morose pose, with the tips of his index fingers pointed together.

breakfast at tiffanys hello kitty

One of the best ones was “Hepburn Hello Kitty: Breakfast at Sanrio’s.” You wouldn’t expect to see this cute cat combined with Hollywood icons… but it works.

marilyn monroe hello kitty

I was impressed by the amount of creativity that went into these intricate sets. In front of Marilyn Kitty, there’s a grate that puffs up air, blowing up your skirt! The designer even incorporated Kitty’s bows into the background architecture.

hello kitty museum, design evolution

Hello Kitty’s design has changed over the past 40 years. One room was like a museum, showing her evolution from baking pies in the 80s, to Charmmy Kitty in the 2000s.

1990s hello kitty statue

Is that a tattoo on my arm? Nope, it’s a Sanrio stamp. There were special stamps and inkpads located all throughout the exhibit. Fans collected these prints on notebooks or on their bodies.


This exhibition took place in Songshan Cultural and Creative Park. Originally a Japanese colonial tobacco factory, Taipei’s government has converted this unexpected space into a “Creative Hub” for artists and innovators. The park transforms ghosts of its past — boiler rooms, warehouses — into modern design museums, gardens and stores.

You can check the Songshan Park website for upcoming special events. This “Hell Kitty” presentation is no more, but there are always other kawaii displays.

hello kitty restaurant, taipei

Taipei is crazy for this cat. In addition to the Sweets theme cafe, the airport has a Hello Kitty lounge. EVA Air also has a Hello Kitty airplane, which I’m keen to fly.

gustav klimt hello kitty

The Kiss by Gustav Klimt turns into Hello Kitty and her teddy bear. A wonderful use of colored mirrors to recreate the Art Nouveau work.

hello kitty club party dj

You all know I love Italo Disco… so this was perhaps my favorite backdrop!

Wouldn’t you love to party all night with me and DJ Disco Queen?

charlie chaplin hello kitty

The life-size sets encourage guests to pose and be silly. In front of this retro TV, there were giant Charlie Chaplin shoes that you could step into.

sanrio concept sketches

Near the end of the maze-like exhibit, you could see the concept drawings and a video of how it all came to life.

Pretty amazing how a simple character design can inspire so many artistic variations, over the course of four decades.

bad badtz maru statue

Taipei’s Hello Kitty exhibition encapsulated what I love about Sanrio. They’re more than cute merchandisers. Their designs inspire creativity, unite fans of all ages, and put smiles on their faces.

Would you visit a Hello Kitty dim sum restaurant, or exhibition where you can pose with the characters?

(Here are my favorite Sanrio fashion items and toys below — click the images to shop them.)