Category Archive for Food + Theme Restaurants

New Zealand local fashion boutiques: Britomart, Auckland! Cassia modern Indian restaurant & cocktails.

new zealand stylish hipster fashion

Kia ora… from Auckland, NZ!

If you’ve been following my social media (@lacarmina), you’ll already know that I’ve been travelling with Contiki — a tour company for 18-35 year olds — in New Zealand. 

I joined about 30 young travellers on their Sun and Steam tour, and it felt like a big road trip with friends. We went all around the North Island, stopping to take in the spectacular nature, nightlife, and a daredevil activity or two.

auckland skyline, sky tower

My Contiki trip started and ended in Auckland, NZ. In this first post, I’ll take you to a hip fashion district, and one of the city’s top restaurants: Cassia

It was my first trip “down under” and I flew 14 hours to get here (direct from Vancouver to Auckland). I was rewarded with the perfect sunny weather and a pristine view of the harbour, with the Sky Tower hovering over the central business district.

contiki bus tour new zealand

Why was I was excited to travel around New Zealand with Contiki? Let me count the ways…

– The tours are for millennial travellers. Everyone was my age, and the itinerary was tailored to our interests.
– There’s lots of “Me Time” and optional events, so you can explore at your own pace. 
– Contiki takes care of all the logistics: transportation, hotels, activity bookings, most of the meals and entrance fees. I could just relax and pose in front of the bus!

blue studded leather jacket, occult dress

I’ll introduce you to my Contiki crew in the next posts — but let’s begin in Auckland, where we had a free day to spend however we wished.

Outfit details:
– I’m wearing a witchy dress and hosiery from Black Milk. They also make this dress in a Game of Thrones map print!
– My bag is from Japan, but you can get this similar blue faux fur purse here. Or this blue handbag, which also looks it has a face on it.
– My jacket is from Hong Kong. It’s very similar to this blue cropped leather jacket, or less expensive Elie Tahari one.

britomart auckland shopping

First stop: Britomart, the best area of Auckland to browse local, indie fashion.

(Nail art by Glam Nail Studio, and silver Ouroboros ring from the legendary Alex Streeter Jewelry.)

auckland fashion district

Britomart, a former industrial area, underwent a transformation in the 1980s and 90s. Today, it’s a hip shopping district that mixes old (heritage buildings, Maori art) and new (mod green spaces). 

karen walker, brito mart store

You can find international clothing brands in Britomart, but I went straight to the local designers. New Zealand’s Karen Walker has been making a splash worldwide, particularly for her fabulous eyewear and bags. (I own a pair of her round sunglasses.)

Below are my favorite Karen Walker designs (click photos for more info.)

taylor boutique, women's fashion

A local friend encouraged me to visit Taylor Boutique. Everything here is 100% designed and made in New Zealand. 

new zealand designers, labels

Taylor uses leading-edge fabrics to make experimental, yet wearable garments. Love their oversized sleeves and peek-a-boo layers.

auckland style blogger outfit

These NZ stores were advertising winter fashions, since the seasons are reversed down under!

(Here’s where to find my Black Milk dress. faux fur purse and studded leather jacket. Hair by Stephanie Hoy in Vancouver.)

Juliette Hogan designer fashion

Local designer Juliette Hogan is another must-visit. Her contemporary fashions are notable for their cut and craftsmanship.

(You’re probably noticing that Britomart is eco-design heaven… gorgeous greenery everywhere.)

posonby auckland furniture shops

For fabulous dressers, World is your destination. I could have spent an hour in this store, a treasure-trove of peacock taxidermy, exotic perfumes, dapper hats and other oddities.

world store, auckland home design

In addition to Britomart, it’s well worth taking a stroll in Auckland’s Posonby district. You’ll find many of the same local designer stores here, as well as shops dedicated to home decor, coffee, raw food and more.

(Photography by Salima Remtulla and me.)

cassia top restaurant auckland

All this shopping worked up my appetite. I walked over to Cassia, a modern Indian restaurant that is racking up all the top dining awards in Auckland. (Address: No 5 Fort Lane, Auckland, NZ)

Inside, there’s a mural of the Hindu festival Holi — a perfect summary of how Cassia’s menu mixes creativity and tradition.

modern indian fusion cuisine

Chef Sid Sahrawat (famous for his fine dining establishment SidArt) wanted to break away from the stereotype of an Indian restaurant. At Cassia, he fuses the authentic flavors from his childhood with the seasonal, local produce of New Zealand.

Before we talk about the food… let’s start with a drink! Cassia has an exceptional gin and tonic menu that made me re-think the possibilities of this “basic” cocktail. Mixologist Prateek Arora made me a Tanqueray Tan with grapefruit and East Imperial Burma tonic — fine ingredients that elevated the flavors. On the right, he prepared The Herbalist, a perfect balance of Domaine Canton French ginger liquer, kaffir lime, cucumber, Angostura white rum and Benedictine.

gin tonic, cocktails cassia bartender

I encourage you to chat with the friendly Prateek; I enjoyed hearing him talk about the inspiration for these drinks.

I’m a fan of anything ginger, and adored the Ginger Monkey (an infused whisky sour with egg white foam). The Kashmiri Dragon above is exceptional: a hit of chili powder, vodka, fresh lime, and Six Barrels feijoa syrup.

cassia menu food appetizers

A quick aside… if you’re in New Zealand, you can’t leave without trying feijoa. This green fruit tastes a bit like guava, and is found only in NZ and parts of South America.

creative auckland restaurants, decor

Cassia’s exposed bricks and lightbulbs create a hip dining space. The industrial design once again breaks away from one’s expectations of an Indian eatery.

feijoa green new zealand fruit

Head chef Lesley Chandra prepared a selection of dishes designed for sharing. I recommend the starter of roasted carrot, cashew, leek, cavolo nero (kale) — the rich colors point to the careful choice of ingredients.

cassia restaurant review

Next up: venison tartar, beetroot, cabbage. Once again, he prepared a vivid dish infused with authentic spices. I confess that I scraped up every morsel of the sauce!

pork belly, auckland fine dining

One of the most popular main courses is the free-range pork with vindaloo, apple and ginger. Tender layers, perfectly cooked, in a spectacular balance of sweetness and heat.

cassia desserts, auckland

Dessert was this deconstructed beauty: blackcurrent sorbet, raspberry and hazelnut. I was blown away the intensity of the berry flavors, which unfolded on your tongue. An outstanding, clean finish.

Cassia deserves its reputation as one of the best restaurants in Auckland. I encourage you to come by for an innovative meal and cocktails, which will change your perceptions of Indian cuisine.

Auckland wharf, Wynyard Quarter

I leave you with this night-time scene from Auckland’s Wynyard Quarter, a reclaimed area by the waterfront with over a dozen international restaurants.

sky tower at night, auckland Waterfront

Coming up, I’ll show you more of Auckland and the North Island, on my Contiki journey. Their motto, #NoRegrets, is in line with my approach to travel: challenge yourself, see new places, meet people, and never look back.

On that note… Would you like to go on a Contiki trip to New Zealand, like mine? They’re offering my readers a discount code for 10% off all NZ trips, if you book with Contiki Asia by May 30! All details of the voucher are here; just be sure to reserve your place before it’s too late.

New York Gothic restaurants & nightlife! HP Lovecraft bar, Defcon Pyramid Club, Hanamizuki cafe.

mermaid hair, colorful hair inspiration

Meow — time for an updated guide to Goth New York! NYC is known as Gotham City for a reason: there’s a wealth of alternative clubs, bars and fashion to be found here.

This year, I rang in New Year’s Eve in the Lower East Side. My friends and I taste-tested the new Lovecraft Bar, dedicated to the horror author and his Old Gods. We then danced to Industrial / Synth / EDM at Defcon, a weekly party at Pyramid Club.

Read on for our spooky reviews  — and for more tips, check out my NYC Goth travel guides from over the years! 

lovecraft bar nyc

Yukiro and I were excited to visit the recently-opened Lovecraft Bar NYC. The theme restaurant / lounge honors H.P. Lovecraft and his dark, cosmic literary works.

(Address: 50 Ave B, Lower East Side, New York, NY)

hp lovecraft mural, shirt logo

The spacious bar has two floors, including a performance space in the basement. The decor pays homage to the Lovecraftian universe; all of the artwork and materials are elegantly curated. (I’m wearing this exact Disturbia top with the Lovecraft gate symbol on it. It also comes in this grey version.)

If you’ve read Lovecraft’s stories, such as his Necronomicon collection, you’ll recognize his occult symbols on this mural. Pyramids, tentacles and fear: our favorite combination!

absinthe on fire, blue flames

Upstairs, there is a fully stocked bar. The tattooed bartender prepared the favorite drink of the Goths — absinthe — and lit it on fire. 

cthulhu statue, octopus god

The New York Lovecraft bar is haunted by his evil deities, particulary Cthulhu. Part octopus, man and dragon, he lies in wait at the bottom of this fish tank. “Iä! Iä! Cthulhu fhtagn!”

HP Lovecraft has a cult following, and my friends and I love his works. If you haven’t read his books before, I recommend starting with “Necronomicon: The Best Weird Tales.”

pumpkin spice alcohol

The Lovecraft bar has an extensive food and drink menu. We had a hard time choosing from the craft cocktails, with delectable names like Tesla’s Blood, Mythos Margarita, Dagon’s Bite (named after the sea deity in one of his early tales).

The bartender also makes his own infused spirits, with unusual ingredients like carrots and chai. The pumpkin spice was tangy perfection.

hp lovecraft bar restaurant

At theme restaurants, the food is often an afterthought. Thankfully, this is not the case at Lovecraft NY.

The very first dish was possibly our favorite: a martini glass of watermelon, avocado and tuna ceviche.

lovecraft theme restaurant, tentacles

In honor of the octopus god Cthulhu, we ordered this fresh salad with tentacles. 

cthulhu mythos art

Lovecraft introduced this malevolent being in one of his most famous stories, 1928’s “The Call of Cthulhu” (found in the Necronomicon collection). The Elder God is hibernating in an underwater city, causing ripples of subconscious anxiety in our minds.

His worshippers chant: “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.” (“In his house at R’lyeh, dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.”)

lovecraft Bar Lounge new york

Chef Shapan Karmaker brought us a wide selection of stand-out dishes, including crab cakes with homemade sauces, and other Western-fusion creations. The chef has cooked at restaurants of different genres for over a decade, and brings his expertise to the Lovecraftian menu.

goth restaurants new york city

(In honor of the occasion, I’m wearing a Lovecraft Disturbia top with his symbols; it also comes in a grey version. Shop more occult fashion below.)

lower east side hp lovecraft menu

The Lovecraft‘s dark interior design, drinks and cuisine are an impeccable tribute to the author. We encourage you to visit Manhattan’s Lower East Side, and dine in a space full of mystical wonder and terror.

(Photography by Joey Wong.)

goth nightclub new york

In the same neighborhood, you’ll find one of the best alternative venues in the city. The Pyramid Club is a New York institution. It opened in 1979 and was a center of Goth, drag and LGBT gatherings in the 1980s.

I first went Goth clubbing at Pyramid while at university in NYC. Today, the dark dance parties are still going strong. (Address: 101 Avenue A #1, NYC)

defcon industrial ebm electro dj

Every Saturday, Defcon rages in the basement of the Pyramid. DJ Mike Stalagmike (above) and his crew serve up an epic playlist of electronic body music, Industrial, New Beat, synth, electro, dark disco. Instead of flipping through the usual “Goth club” favorites, the DJs go for more obscure tracks and let them play out.

As you know, I’ve been to a hell of a lot of Gothic parties worldwide (chronicled here). If you’re in it for the music — Defcon delivers. We couldn’t have picked a better place for our New Year’s Eve “final countdown.”

pyramid club nyc, gothic party

The dance floor is also a perfect balance of underground and welcoming. The DJs are friendly and came up to introduce themselves, and all the club-goers were spooky types (you won’t see tourists here). Eccentricity is welcomed, and yet everyone is respectful of your personal space.

Defcon goes down every Saturday at Pyramid Club. Kudos to the organizers for maintaining one of most authentic Goth parties in NYC (check out their Facebook for event announcements and more).

hanamizuki cafe new york

New York is also one of the best US cities to experience J-pop culture. My friends and I had dinner at Hanamizuki, an adorable Japanese cafe that recently hosted a Sailor Moon pop-up event.

(Address: 143 West 29th Street, between 6th and 7th Aves, New York, NY)

sailor moon theme popup cafe

My pink haired pal Jenny Zych is an illustrator influenced by Japanese aesthetics. We’re flipping through Strange Paradise, a zine dedicated to Asian horror films that she contributes to.

scottish fold cat art drawings

Jenny delighted me with this creepy-cute portrait of me and Basil Farrow! (Also pictured are illustrations of my cat by Lili Chin and Naomi Rubin).

creepy yeha choker

Jenny’s shirt and choker were to die for. (More eerie fashion below):

rice balls onigiri nyc

Hanamizuki’s mission is to serve simple yet scrumptious Japanese favorites, made with the healthiest ingredients. New Yorkers can live a stressful lifestyle, and the cafe aims to be a Zen-like environment where they can chill out and feel good.

japanese cafes restaurants ny

The airy Midtown location is filled with plants and natural materials. On the wood shelves, I browsed organic teas and cute gifts.

hanamizuki menu, food

Hanamizuki’s signature dish is onigiri, or rice balls. Here, these snacks are anything but basic.

The cafe serves dozens of varieties, including vegetarian options stuffed with ingredients like seaweed, yukari (dried red shiso leaf) and several types of pickles. I also couldn’t resist getting seconds of the unagi (eel) and ume (plum) o-musubi. 

Cafe Hanamizuki

We tried several varieties of miso soup, made with fresh and clean ingredients. Hanamizuki isn’t afraid to innovate with fusion rice balls, such as Hawaiian teriyaki-spam, semi dried tomato and chili wrapped in nori-seaweed.

healthy japanese food new york

A photo is worth a thousand words — you can tell guess how much we loved this octopus and veggies bowl. 

best japanese restaurant manhattan

Simple flavors, with offbeat execution. Everything we tried tasted like it was made with love.

hanamizuki desserts

Happiness is a round of desserts to share. Organic cookies, chiffon cake and mousses made us smile.

hipster cafe new york

With it cool design and homestyle menu, Hanamizuki is a New York gem. I had the loveliest dinner here with friends, and we couldn’t resist getting more rice balls to take home with us.

drag queen nyc new year's eve

Yukiro and I hope your 2016 is going devilishly so far! We’re thankful we got to reunite with friends in one of the world’s greatest cities.

new years queer lgbt party ny

If you’re planning a trip to New York, I hope you find my NYC alternative travel guides helpful. These include tips for where to buy clothing (St Marks, vintage), eat, party and sleep. 

Are you a Lovecraft fan? Have you heard of Pyramid Club, or the Sailor Moon theme cafe that Hanamizuki hosted?

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.

松山文創園區

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.)

Inside with Palina Rojinski: hosting a Hong Kong travel TV show for Pro7! Farfetch Style Reinvention.

Palina Rojinski fashion, hair, makeup

At last, I can show you footage from my latest Hong Kong travel TV show shoot! (I’ve filmed two more times in Asia since then, but it takes forever for shows to come out… hence the old hair color.)

If you live in Germany, perhaps you saw me on the new ProSieben series, “Inside – Unterwegs mit Palina.”  I was the fixer and on-camera host for this new TV show, which takes Palina Rojinski around the world in search of local experiences.

But fist, I want to share with you a new Style Reinvention project with Farfetch, where I reinterpret boy-style for a female wardrobe.

korean male fashion, kpop boys

It’s always fun to film TV shows in Asia, since this lets me see the latest fashion and trends up close.

Right now, Kpop style is everywhere. I’m particularly keen on the sleek, black, rocker clothing worn by Korean boy bands such as Excite (above).

kpop fashion moodboard, collage

Kpop male idols have always leaned towards an androgynous look — so why not mix up your wardrobe with some menswear pieces? I teamed up with Farfetch to create a “Style Reinvention” moodboard. I had fun breaking out of my usual zone, and browsing the men’s section for ideas.

Clockwork from left, I created a K-pop rock star look with:
– Issey Miyake black studded backpack
Off-White top (this type of black/white contrast is very Kpop)
– Rick Owens blazer with shawl collar, stud cuff, and zip leather boots
Raf Simons black skinny jeans

kpop boy band fashion, 24k

Now, I feel like I can fit in with the Korean boys of the band 24K!

How would you reinvent your style? Farfetch is inviting you to build your own moodboard (like I did), and share it on your blog and social media with the hashtag #myfarfetch. The best outfit, chosen by Farfetch, will receive a £250 voucher to spend on their site. The competition ends Oct 31 — Halloween — so get to it. Can’t wait to see what you come up with.

la carmina tv hosting, pro sieben

And now, back to the travel TV shoot in Hong Kong.

It was a pleasure to work once again with Pro7, the biggest German TV network. I previously filmed with them for Joko vs Klaas in Vancouver (where we sewed Joko’s lips together), and Tokyo (where we gave Klaas a bagelhead).

While I can’t release the whole episode, I put together some of my TV clips in the video above and on YouTube. I also have behind the scenes photos and stories to share — so read on for martial arts, horse racing and snake soup!

waiting hong kong airport arrivals

I was Palina’s on-camera guide to Hong Kong, in this episode of “Inside.” For the first scene, I met her at Hong Kong airport.

(My company, La Carmina & The Pirates, did the fixing for this TV program, meaning we arranged all the permits, casting, story ideas and more.)

Palina Rojinski german tv host

If you’re from Germany, I am sure you’re familiar with Palina Rojinski. She’s a DJ and popular TV host, and we hit it off straight away.

Palina Rojinski travel tv show

The concept of the show is that Palina wants to get offline, and travel around the globe without the help of cell phones, computers, or money. As her Hong Kong local insider, I was excited to show her the city’s wildest nightlife and food.

hong kong race course

We filmed a thrilling scene at the Hong Kong Jockey Club race course, in Sha Tin. People placed bets on horses, and cheered like maniacs when their favorites galloped by.

hong kong horse race spectators

This photo gives you a sense of the excitement in the grandstands, as betters cheered for their favorite horses and jockeys. Horse racing is a popular attraction in Hong Kong, a former British colony.

happy valley race track, hong kong

My friend John Skeleton and I were the odd Goths out, in this racecourse filled with older men! John was my fixing partner for this German TV show, and led all the scouting and first day’s shoot.

hong kong horse races betting

On this turf, jockeys paraded their horses for the spectators.

chinese watching horse races bets

I’ve only been to the Hong Kong horse races once when I was a child, as it’s not exactly my scene. However, it was fun to film here with the TV show. Palina placed a bet on a horse — and with the magic of TV, she won!

bunny face balloon

After the races, we paid a visit to our X-mouthed friend Miffy. (Or as we call her, “Miffeeehhhh!”)

miffy halloween costume

Oh Miffeh, always getting into shenanigans. (The TV crew filmed the balloon, and you can see it in this video.)

Palina Rojinski hong kong offline

This was a very special scene… because it starred my cousins, uncle and aunt! As you probably know, I have many relatives in Hong Kong, and they generously opened up their apartment to Palina and the TV crew.

cute asian bear toy

Palina and my family chatted about growing up in Hong Kong, and all the cultural quirks. They offered her local snacks, and let her sleep in my cousin’s bed… surrounded by cute stuffed animals.

tv show filming equipment cameras

The B-roll camera did a time lapse of the sunset. My uncle’s apartment has a marvelous view of the harbor.

hong kong harbor reflection lights

Can you imagine looking outside, and having this as your view? Palina loved meeting my family members and learning about their cosmopolitan lifestyle in Hong Kong.

Palina circus halligalli television

Palina Rojinski insisted on taking selfies with all of us, and left adorable notes for them, written in Chinese.

villain hitters, causeway bay

On another day, I arranged for Palina to visit a villian hitter. These women set up stalls beneath the overpass of Causeway Bay, around Hennessey Road. They offer a menu of spiritual rituals that drive out negative feng shui. 

chinese gods statues

This lady set up an altar with incense and statues of the Chinese folk gods, including the red-faced warrior Guan Yu.

Villain hitting, hong kong

My aunt appeared in the TV program, as Palina’s Cantonese translator and guide for this scene. She introduced her to the villain hitter, who performed a dramatic ritual that stamps out bad luck.

chinese folk rituals, spells

She burned papers and beat an effigy, to vanquish Palina’s enemies. It’s quite the ritual, and worth witnessing if you’re in Causeway Bay.

hong kong construction workers

Talk about bad timing… We ran into a traffic jam, near the Hong Kong government buildings. A huge crowd had gathered there. What was going on?

central protests, occupy hong kong gas masks

Later that evening, we looked up at a TV screen… and couldn’t believe our eyes. The Hong Kong protests had broken out into chaos, with police firing gas into the crowds. This was the start of “Occupy Central,” and we had missed it by a hair.

hong kong snake soup restaurant

Regardless, the show must go on. Palina was up for a food challenge, so I set her up at Sher Wong Yip New Snake Restaurant.

bizarre foods hong kong andrew zimmern

Look who else has eaten snake soup here… My friend Andrew Zimmern of Bizarre Foods (Travel Channel)! Remember when I took him around to Tokyo restaurants for his TV show?

hong kong china cat

At the entrance, there was a big glass case filled with writhing snakes. This cat sat right next to the snakes, and didn’t seem at all scared.

Shai Wong Yip New Snake Restaurant

The owners held up snakes, for a teaser shot. In Hong Kong, people traditionally ate snake soup to “warm up the body” and for its supposed medical benefits.

snake soup restaurant hong kong

The taste of snake soup? Just like chicken with herbs. I bet you wouldn’t even know you were eating a serpent.

hong kong martial artist, fighter

We ended the Offline TV shoot with a bang. Palina had to fight one-on-one with martial arts expert and filmmaker, Sam Leong.

He taught her some killer moves at his Kowloon fighting studio.

sam leong hong kong muy thai

Then, we drove to this epic location overlooking Hong Kong, for a kung fu death match!

Take a moment to watch my German travel TV show appearance, and let me know what you think. Thanks to all my friends and family for making this episode a success. We couldn’t have done it without you.

la carmina travel tv show host

PS: We were so busy running around that it was hard to take photos. Here is a clearer head-to-toe of the outfit I wore on this travel TV show. These were shot at Pacific Cebu Resort (more photos here.)