I can’t believe that it has been five months since I bought my first espresso machine.
(Just a note: Since that last blog post, for some reason the machine broke down, and I went back to exchange for a black one. Top notch customer service, no questions were asked!)
Nary a morning passed when I didn’t down a double dosage of these lovely capsules. I must have tried every single flavour, for I have returned to the boutique at least three times and on each visit, I bought at least ten sleeves. All for the love of caffeine, of course!
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It was a noodle bar with a name that was hard to resist. Especially when you have a friend whose name is also Maureen and you wanted to try a new place for your first dinner gathering in the new year.
Finding Maureen (that’s the name of the restaurant, short and sweet) has been more than a challenge. At least three cab drivers claimed not to know the street, and on my fourth attempt, I demanded the driver to look at my map and to get me there. Tip: To get to Hing Wan Street, you are better off looking for Stone Nullah Lane (石水渠街). That’s where the famous Blue House of Hong Kong is located at. A few doors down from Maureen is the Wanchai Visual Archive. You can’t miss it, with its patron spilling out from the bar onto the sidewalk with their merrymaking while the entire street was eerily silent.
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Wow, it has been quite a long time since I blogged. Another year has passed and it’s soon to be Mother’s Day again! Come this Sunday, sons and daughters around the world will be celebrating this special day with their mommies dearest. I don’t know about you, but I always kinda dread the day coming…
… no, not because I don’t love my Mom. Do you mind! But because since my Mom is in the States, I am always at a dead end on what to buy for her!
Apparently, I am not alone. Our good friends over at Groupon did some research and found that many of us clueless children are stressed over what to buy for their mom, trying to find something that might please those “difficult” (I am using the term loosely here) mommies and figuring out what they really, really want.
But this year became a little different for me… and I am not let you know why. All in a good time, my friend. But if you are still at wit’s ends trying to figure out what to get for Mommy dearest, you still have time.
Groupon’s Mother’s Day deals boast a whole range of stuff you could consider for the most important woman in your life! (For those whom are married, com’on, just for one weekend!) You could treat her to a very nice meal:
A heavenly, out-of-this-world massage:
Or that piece of electronics she had really wanted to use at home:
So, what would it be?
Sometimes the best dinner plans are the ones unplanned. There’s something about doing meals impromptu with friends on loose ends, and that’s how I spent one of my Friday nights. I remembered seeing one of these roadside place packed with people at dinner time right behind Times Square, and I was eager to return to experience everything, exhaust fume and all.
Wong Kee Restaurant (also confusingly named Fai Kee Restaurant) is one of those hole in the wall Chinese place with spilled tables all over the roadside. Tang Lung Street seemed very boisterous with families eating out with children and boisterous men enjoying beer pints after work. It’s quite an atmosphere to soak in, especially considering that you are right smack in the middle of Causeway Bay.
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Once in a while you need to break out from your normal routine to discover new experience and enjoy different food. Thanks to my relentless colleagues who were out to get me for lunch every Friday (I swear, they timed it with their calendar), I found myself surrounded by the lovely ladies from the marketing department for some great Cantonese fare at the Fullka Restaurant.
Never heard of Fullka before? Well, neither did I, until that afternoon. Apparently this place was off-radar for most foodies, which was apparent by how not full it was during lunchtime on a working weekday. Further investigation revealed that this restaurant was previously named Home Wanchai (does that sound familiar?) and was helmed by Chef Lee Yue Ching of ‘Ah Yat Abalone’ fame. The set lunch was a steal at HK$88, where you get soup, one main course with rice, and a dessert. Since the main course is rather large in portion, you can go with a few friends so that you can mix and match from its extensive menu of true Cantonese food.
And so on to the lunch.
Pig Stomach Soup
Hand’s down, the best starter soup I have ever tried in Hong Kong (and that’s saying something). The soup was intense with peppery taste and was well balanced with the meaty goodness of the excellent pig stomach. The soup burns down as you drink it, in a very comforting way. It was such a perfect, fiery soup for a cold winter day.
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So I was at Hal’s Japanese Restaurant which was relocated from Central to Causeway Bay due to 2x increase in rent (according to Jason). Seems like many of the foodies know of and frequent this place, so I marked it onto my foodie to-do list for Causeway Bay area. Moon was in town, so it was a perfect opportunity for me to try out the restaurant.
Making a reservation was a breeze, and I realised why. Although I was some fifteen minutes late for my booking, the restaurant was empty. It felt like I booked the entire restaurant for our catch-up dinner; in fact, ours is the only table occupied for the entire night. It was a shame, really. The service by the entirely Japanese crew was stellar, though it would be nice if the two Japanese chefs smiled a little more. As for the food, well, Moon and I were about to find out.
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So once again I found myself in Causeway Bay racking my brain for a dinner spot with a buddy. Take it from me – if you have worked around the same area long enough, your brain will always go back to the same place for the same food.
Which was my excuse for going back to Hainan Shaoye. I have been there at least three times in the past for a quick meal, but for one reason or another, I have never blogged about it. So this time round I decided to really take note of what I am eating, look at it with a balanced eye of someone who have lived in Singapore long enough to (hopefully) know the bad and the good (the chef of Hainan Shaoye was apparently recruited from Chatterbox at Mandarin Orchard in Singapore, famous for their great chicken rice), and of someone who has his expectation, well, moderated, according to the local foodie taste.
The buddy wasn’t in the mood to have a large meal (there was this set meal with six dishes to share between two person for some $400, a good deal I must say), so once again I ordered some crowd favorite.
Without fail, my favorite Singapore rojak always draws the same reaction among my local friends. A grimace, that is. I guess this signature dish – cut fruits mixed with shrimp & belacan paste with cut tofu and deep fried dough, somewhat like a fruit salad with a spicy twist – is quite an acquired taste. I had always enjoyed my rojak, ordering it wherever I could. The version at Hainan Shaoye, though far from being on par with the original stuff, was more than adequate to scratch that foodie itch. I scooped up everything, peanuts and beansprouts and everything else. Something about that shrimp paste just evoke that Singapore glutton in me la.
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There, I have done it. After much procrastination, I have completed all my blog posts from my nature trip to Surabaya, Indonesia back in February. Though this might not have seemed much, this has been a monumental – as well as meaningful – effort for me.
I remember vividly that I had to wake up early every day to catch an hour or two of blogging, lest I will never do it, and I might forget details. Thank God I made the effort. What you can read below – a travelog made into five parts – was mainly written during the trip itself. Without these little notes I studiously made daily, these blog posts would have never been possible:
Re-reading my notes and writing these blog posts made me realised how much I did enjoy the trip. Perhaps, during the days I was there, I was too tired to properly appreciate the natural beauty I immersed myself in in Surabaya, as well as some truly local experiences. I also hold on to working on these blog posts since my Facebook sharing of the photos led to an opportunity to write for South China Morning Post’s spring edition of Encounters, their flagship regional travel magazine. Which was in itself an achievement, since it was the first time my travel writing was published in print – even if I was writing it from a culinary point of view.
I thought that would be a challenge. In truth, it was much easier done than said.
I would also take this opportunity to thank Chris, my travel buddy to Surabaya. Had it not been for his incessant pestering to join him for the trip, repeated reminders about buying air tickets, (and during the trip) selective deafness to my complaints, brutish encouragement when my knees were screaming in pain, etc etc etc (you get the idea)… I would have never done this.
I would have never appreciated the beauty of a fogged marshland. I would have never seen an active volcano right in the eye. I would never have braved my way up to a sunrise view point in the dead of the night.
This diehard city boy may just see more of such nature in his near future. And I (half-heartedly) blame Chris!
Deep inside, I had always felt it. A yearning for something different, something out of the norm. I crave for a place less crowded, less intrusive. With plenty of personal space, where you can carry an intimate conversation in relative privacy, away from prying ears and inquisitive eyes. Yes, it is time for a change, I thought.
So I went to East Soho instead for dinner on Saturday night.
It wasn’t my first time to East Soho. I have walked through the area almost a year back, while on my way back from a weekend excursion in Lei Yue Mun. The sight of bustling restaurants in quiet dignity, as calm residents and visitors carrying on with their business with tack and respect for each other appealed to me. I told myself I will be back.
And so I did, some two years later. I asked my friends from #hkfoodbloggers for recommendations. Some swear by Borgo C, the fusion-looking restaurant serving Chinese food while you sit on patio furniture. Another recommended Yi Jiang Nan, a small traditional-looking Chinese restaurant with only a couple of tables. Approvals were ringing for Tapeo, supposedly the best tapas restaurant at this part of the island.
I am a staunch believer that, if you ask for advice, you take it. But I am also a great friend and put the wants of others over my own. I dithered between the two, and finally the cozy looking sidewalk looking out to the sea at Berliner German Restaurant won me over. To be honest, there was no serious contest between Chinese noodle and a pints of draught German beer.
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The other day I was out dining alone. Usually when I do that I will mind my own business, but on that occasion I couldn’t help but notice something strange at the next table. Four guys were wearing the same jersey; obviously they were from the same sports team and are of around the same age. One would think they were taking some timeout relaxing with each other after a hardcore training session. Some call it male bonding. Others see it as team camaraderie.
But no. I wish they were.
No, because all four of them were glued to their smartphones. Their eyes were aglow with the light from the little screens. They hardly notice the food in front of them, never mind their friends sitting physically right across… if only they care to look up.
Which brings to mind a recent article I read about food meditation.
In this age of smartphones and uber-connectedness, have we lost the ability to fully appreciate food? Have we got so used to eat mindlessly, that such an unhealthy habit and social rudeness (if you are not dining alone) became the norm? Became the expected?
I pondered over this as I was having a solitary lunch at Fiat Caffé, the famed themed restaurant with menu designed by the renowned Chef David Laris. Even though I was eating alone, I was determined to practice a bit of food meditation; an eating process that focused on nothing else but what you eat and how you eat, away from distractions of screens big and small.
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