Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Comilonas Private Kitchen (Hong Kong)

black ink seafood rice paella

Razlan got me blogging about this wonderful dinner gathering at Comilonas Private Kitchen. It wasn't for Christmas, it wasn't for any special occasion, we just wanted to gather around and share some laughters and the occasional hugs over some hearty food. Thanks again for organizing this dinner Razlan! Tucked inside a rather local building in the Western District, Comilonas Private Kitchen specializes in Catalan cuisines. Chef Lluis from Barcelona and his wife Carrie, a Hong Kong local, run the warm and welcoming joint which was decorated based the 60s/70s style with plenty of wooden fixtures and perhaps furniture inspired by Northern Europe designs from the 70s.  The tiled green / white floors are traditional of a typical Hong Kong home in the 70s and I assume those are original from the previous or even first owner of the place.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sassy's Ultimate Christmas Gift Guide for Guys

Who said I just blog about food??? I recently got a chance to write for Sassy's Ultimate Christmas Gift Guide for Guys. For those unfamiliar with Sassy Hong Kong, it is a "the Hong Kong girl’s hub for original lifestyle content and honest opinion that covers this buzzing city top-to-bottom and supports a strong, real-life community of Sassy girls." Well, I think it is time to move beyond just the girl's perspective and explore the great potential of sassy guys in Hong Kong! (by definition, the word sassy is not exclusive for female, it can be applied to male as well! woohoo! right?) There are 2 parts to the Guide mentioned, you can check them out here: Part 1 << Me, Moi! & Part 2. Of course my XMAS wishlist includes cooking equipment and facial care as well!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Posto Pubblico (Hong Kong)


Christmas is approaching and in such a festive season, all sorts of gatherings often filled the December calendar with endless meals. For some reasons, out of the so many festive holidays during the year, Christmas seems to be the only one that truly fill the air with love. Be it romantic love, friendship love, security love or unconditional love,  it is the feeling of being loved that makes this holiday one most of us look forward to every year. At Posto Pubblico on a particular evening this December, their private dinner venue Posto Privato was filled with all sorts of love, including my love for good food! I have to admit, Mr. G from Posto Pubblico knows how to throw a good party!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

"For Chang" Hot Pot 火井火鍋海鮮飯店 (Hong Kong)


The sudden drop of the temperature recently not only increased my appetite for something hearty, it made me crave for something more! Right now all I can think of in my head at this hour is a bowl of instant noodles with a few slices of spam and one fried egg sunny side up. But the lazy side of me took over because it would take too much effort to make those at this late hour. The next thing that appeared in my mind is hot pot because all we need is a pot of boiling water or stock to be exact and some fresh raw ingredients. A good soup base is very important indeed for such a cuisine and recently I discovered a new personal favourite here at "For Chang" Hot Pot tucked somewhere inside the Western district.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Flavours Asia (iPad App) - Wine Pairing made Easy


Wine pairing was never my thing but I have been learning, trying to pair different wines with different sort of food whenever possible. No, it is not an excuse to drink but part of a learning process. I think many would agree that Chinese food / wine pairing is difficult likely because of the wide range of flavors one would experience in one single meal. In many cases, quite a number of different types wines would be selected in one single Chinese meal to match the many individual dishes. Not an easy task for any sommelier in my opinion, not to mention for an average diner like myself with limited knowledge of wine.  A new iPad app named Flavors Asia may be able to assist those trying to enjoy matching wines while having a Chinese or even other Southeast Asian cuisines. This newly launched iPad app developed by Estates and Wines, the Moët Hennessy Wine Division, attempts to provide a solution for wine lovers when having difficulties in pairing wines with Asian food. It is this very app that interested me in attending the event. Without making a fuzz about it, I am sure it is quite obvious that the suggested wines in the app are all from their own unique collection such as Cloudy Bay, Cape Mentelle and Chandon.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

TABLE FOR TWO (Hong Kong Chapter)

It is not often that I talk about charity or charitable organization on my blog but recently I came across one that somewhat inspired me and made me devote this entire post on it. As a disclaimer, I am not officially being endorsed by this organization, it is just an upcoming charitable organization in Hong Kong which I came across and feel strongly that its objectives & missions are very relevant and quite important within the foodie community in Hong Kong and around the world as well. This charitable organization is called TABLE FOR TWO (TFT).

Monday, October 31, 2011

Cantopop 港土茶記 (Hong Kong)


Cantopop has been opened for quite some time and it got quite some attention in the media at the beginning thanks to its sustainable dining concept carried throughout its chain of restaurants such as Linguini Fini and Posto Pubblico. It is not until recently that I finally got a chance to visit Cantopop. It was by invitation (which nowadays seems to be a very popular thing amongst restaurants but I do have something to express on this point on a later post, so stay tuned) but my experience at Cantopop was a pleasant one with a few misses of course. I will explain why a bit later but one thing I have to say is that I admire and support their sustainable dining concept by sourcing locally and minimize food wastage by using all animal parts if possible, but the question is where to draw the line at times. I am spending quite some time to writeup this post because I think there is a need to, a need to express my opinion in all perspectives which may or may not be different from the general public or even fellow foodies.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Antique Patisserie (Hong Kong)


I am not lazy, I am just busy recently sorting out different projects I am "trying" to work on plus I am about to move to another flat thanks to the rapidly increasing rent in Hong Kong! In about 3 weeks or so, I promise I will start cooking / baking / sharing more! Just in time for some XMAS treats perhaps? I do want to talk more about my long awaited return to Antique Patisserie since they moved location a while ago but for now I will share my recent Afternoon Tea experience in the form of images. I went there early that afternoon (or perhaps morning?) intentionally so I can take advantage of the natural sunlight and minimize disruption to other guests while I play with my food and doing my funny poses from taking images from all imaginable perspectives! (P.S. - make sure you BOOK before you go, so PLAN AHEAD!)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Travel - Taipei, Aug 2011 (Day 4 / 4)


I had great expectation on my last day here in Taipei during this summer trip but I started off with pretty much disappointment. Good that my disappointment was followed by excitement thanks to a great find of cafe and creative bagels! Yes, I had great hopes for Just in Bistro which is located just right next to our HOME Hotel, literally a few steps away. Another work of Justin Quek, Just in Bistro is situated in the trendy mall of Neo19 and offering a wide range of items coverage a various cuisines. Our visit was during lunch time and we picked items from the Asian set menu.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Sunday Champagne Brunch, Cheers!


I have to admit that Sunday Champagne Brunch has become more of an indulgence or an occasion rather than something on a regular basis. I suspect that inflation has invaded every part of our daily lives that a dollar is no long what it used to be even just six months ago. However, if you do fancy an occasionally indulgence like I do, the distinguishing factor in picking your Sunday Champagne Brunch venue got to be the Champagne!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Travel - Taipei, Aug 2011 - (Day 3 / 4)

Mitsui Cuisine

On our 3rd day, we were able to get up before 12:30pm only because I made a lunch reservation at 1:30pm. When it comes to food, to urge to sleep becomes secondary! The place was Mitsui Cuisine which has become one of the must stop Japanese restaurants in Taipei on every visit. Mitsui and its chain of Japanese restaurants each has its own theme so to speak to provide a different experience to diners. I am not certain and I doubt Mitsui and all its outlets are the best (or the cheapest) in Taipei but so far all my visits have been very consistent in terms of quality and service.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Man Wah @ Mandarin Oriental (Hong Kong)


Time truly flies, it is the season for hairy crab once again! Instead of cooking myself this year, I kicked off the hairy crab fest at Man Wah (Mandarin Oriental). Truly an indulgence I may add. I was invited along with a few other fellow bloggers to attend the advance tasting for the special offering from 15 to 23 October during which the Crab Palace Restaurant in Shanghai will be visiting Man Wah, bringing a series of famous dishes including its famed Shanghai hairy crab. One of the special highlights will be the technical display of de-shelling crab in front of diners in three minutes! I do wonder how long it took them to master such a skill!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Travel - Taipei, Aug 2011 - (Day 2 / 4)

Smith & Hsu

Typhoon Nanmadol was approaching Taiwan during our stay causing unstable climate and frequent showers. We were afraid we would be stuck in the hotel (not so much about flight delays or cancellation to be honest, really don't mind staying longer), but luckily by the time we got up the early morning shower has stopped and left us with a gloomy sky. I like waking in the rain, it is rather romantic as well but only if it is light rain or shower not heavy rain AND strong winds!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Just another story ...


I came across an online story recently, written by J for Jerk. His blog is written Chinese but the untitled  story was interesting enough that I have decided to spend some time to translate it into English for sharing.   The story is about a teenager and his life experiences which many of us can relate to in some ways. It is (or was) quite relevant to many of us or perhaps all of us who have been through the teenage years.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Travel - Taipei, Aug 2011 - (Day 1 / 4)

Dazzling Cafe

Like most people, I do enjoy afternoon naps whenever possible. After checking into HOME Hotel around 4pm, I spent 20 mins or so doing interior shots followed by a 5 mins rest on the sofa which turned out to be a 20 mins nap thanks to the comfort of the sofa!! Almost every time I attempt to take a 5 mins nap on this sofa, it ended up nothing less than 20 mins, it happened at least once every day during our stay! By the time I got ready it was 5pm already and our lunch was ... plane food, therefore we were quite hungry.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

HOME Hotel (Taipei, Aug 2011)


I am a sucker for boutique hotel! Yes I am! I rarely blog about hotels or travel accommodations in great details unless I would actually return. The previous boutique hotel I blogged about was the QUOTE Hotel in Taipei which is still in my top 3 pick in that city. On my recent trip to Taipei, I took advantage of a discount package and stayed at the newly opened HOME Hotel in Taipei which I am very impressed with the moment I stepped into this boutique hotel. While there are still areas for improvement which I will talk about later, the following two elements more than captured my undivided attention:
  1. It is located in the center^ of Taipei, right in the middle of the XinYi district, within walking distance of the Taipei 101 and literally 1 min walk to the trendest Neo19 club scenes, 3 mins walk to the Mitsukoshi Department Store, 5 mins to Tapiei City Hall, 10 mins walk to Bellvita and right next to Vieshow cinema. (^there are many districts in Taipei, 12 administrative districts to be exact. Xinyi is just one of them, each with their own characteristics. The Xinyi district is significant in recent years because of Taipei 101 ) 
  2. Home Hotel implements a MIT policy meaning everything or perhaps 98% of the hotel is Made in Taiwan. The wood, the lift, the carpet, tea, coffee, furnitures, mattress, garbage bin, sleepers, TV, soap, shower gel and all in-room amenities are Made in Taiwan! Yes I did check most of the items in order to verify its claim! (except for the Yamaha iPod/iPhone station perhaps)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Mandarin Grill + Bar (Hong Kong)


Many restaurants and chefs nowadays have the tendency to categorize themselves in the different schools of ... gastronomy, be it molecular, avant-garde, traditional, new cuisines or something as extreme as emotional cuisines, they are all different styles of cooking aiming to put creativity into every-changing culinary experiences. It can be quite confusing indeed to imagine the cuisine by their name or category. At Mandarin Grill, the chef likes to call his cooking progressive gastronomy. So what sort of cooking is progressive gastronomy? It is difficult to describe in a few words but if I understand the concept correctly, it puts emphasis on presentation, a strong visual as well as direct stimulation of the 5 senses.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Food Photography (Random Sharing @ Canton Deli)


It is no secret that I am a food photography enthusiast and I take advantage of any opportunity I come across to capture food images. Many asked me for tips on food photography but I would not call it tips, perhaps sharing is more appropriate because I am learning as well. I mentioned a few pointers such as minimal use of flash photography in my previous post but like to expand from there in this entry using images taken on my recent invitation to Canton Deli 廣東茶居 at Harbour City 海港城.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Am I Math-Challenged? (Ranting)

iPhone 3GS image
I am not a big fan of numbers despite my semi-technical background but I got challenged recently by a restaurant-not-to-be-named on my ability to do simple math such ... adding! I did not plan to write about it but with the overwhelming comments on Facebook where I posted about the incident, I think it is worth sharing.  Detailed explanation is not required, a picture is worth a thousand words perhaps?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Food Photography (Revisit)

Bites, Camera, action!

It was truly an honor to be interviewed along by SCMP's weekly Food &amp; Wine section on the topic of food photography. It is quite true that with the advancement of technology, the use of digital cameras has been widely popularized over the last 2 years. More people capture their dishes before eating and it has become  more of a norm than trend nowadays. Diners and restaurants alike are more accustomed to such a scene with many welcoming such an act. There are two schools of thoughts on whether such "snap then bite" is an acceptable act but it is a topic of extended discussion, not what this article is about. (I am pro "snap then bite" of course!) This article, titled "Bites, camera, action" by Nan-Hin In is about tips on food photography. Professional photographers and subject experts (I am an enthusiasts at this stage!) provide useful tips on how to take better food photography on a daily basis, without any bulky gears of course. As mentioned by one of the experts, built-in camera flash is a no-no and in my opinion, flash photography in general should be minimized at restaurants especially if you are simply dining out on a regular / personal basis. Aside from the quality of the images, built-in / external flash photography would affect or disturb other diners at the restaurant. It is out of simple respect that food photography enthusiasts should restraint from doing so in most if not all circumstances. Solution? Visit during lunch time if natural sun light is available or upgrade your gears and/or lens!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Linguini Fini (Hong Kong)


Mochachocolata tried it, HK Epicurus experienced it, Dorothy is about to review it after her many visits. Many reviewed it on Openrice.com and I expect plenty more to come as well for this newly opened New York-Italian lofty restaurant named Linguini Fini. Reviews so far are mixed but it is only normal because we all have preferences when it comes to taste and we are all entitled to our own opinions as well. The key is once again in sharing in a way that truly expresses one's experience for others to enjoy or simply to provide information for readers. My approach has always been to share my experiences / adventures as factually informative as possible so readers can be their own judge. My first visit to Linguini Fini was a pleasant one thanks to the warm hospitality of the restaurant in letting me try out a great number of dishes beyond which my already expandable stomach can handle. There were hits and misses on my first visit (and Dorothy's 10th visits), but there are a few things this "lofty joint" truly stand out among similar establishment in my opinion.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Cheesess (Hong Kong)


Hoping to satisfy my chocolate craving, I walked from one end of Causeway Bay the other end in search for Awfully Chocolate. Little did I know that their location has been moved recently but the group still runs the same spot. No more chocolate, it now sells nothing but cheesecake hence the name Cheesess. With only 4 choices of cheesecake (New York, Sydney, Kyoto Raspberry and Kyoto White Cheesecake), it a sign of great confidence or over-confidence, depends how you see it. Similar to Awfully Chocolate, there was no display of any cake whatsoever, only images of their selection. As recommended by staff, I picked one of its favorite items, the New York Cheesecake. Between small and large, I selected the small which set me back HKD138. Why do I mention price so early in my article? It is because it is an important element of my experience. For HKD138, you get a small-sized New York Cheesecake just slightly wider than a quarter pounder or perhaps Filet-O-Fish. Any cake with 4 inches in diameter seems to be reasonable but don't forget about its height!!! Value vs worth is a very personal matter which I cannot be the judge for all but for HKD138, I do expect getting a slightly bigger if not taller cheesecake! Did I mention the berries sauce cost you an extra HKD38 for a small jar?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Hiro Sushi (Toronto)


Not much of a review this time around but more of a sharing. Hiro Sushi has been in business for over a decade, situated in the downtown Toronto area headed by Hiro-san himself almost every single night! His dedication and joy of being at the restaurant serving diners inspired me in re-thinking about one's dream and possibly how to achieve it with passion, patience and perseverance, the 3P which l like to call it. When young, many of us have been asked what you want to become, some wanted to become policemen, some doctors, some firemen, some bus drivers, some lawyers, some chefs and some even wanted to become rockstars. As for myself, I honestly don't remember what I wrote or if I came up with anything as a matter of fact. I strongly believe that there is nothing wrong in having a progressively developing dream(s). Hiro-san's passion to food has re-sparked my quest in evaluating, prioritizing ... and realizing my dream(s).

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Bettys Kitschen (Hong Kong)


There have been countless reviews and mentions of this new establishment by Alan Yau ever since it opened. Reviews and feedback so far have been mixed, many complained about the food, many raved about the food and its rather rare selection of French recipes. Some emphasized on Chef Largard's skills and creation while many were captivated by the venue and its decor, including staff's 1950's maid-like uniform. For those unfamiliar with Alan Yau, he is the mastermind behind the famous Wagamama, Hakkasan and the recently Michelin starred restaurant Yauatcha in London. Whenever I hear his name in association with any restaurant, the first thing that comes to my mind is exciting culinary marketing initiative followed by trending culinary creativity. Alan is a successful restaurateur as well as a remarkable entrepreneur when it comes to the F&B industry. Take Hakkasan for example, he not only popularizes Chinese cuisine in London but he took Chinese fine dining scene to a next new level. With that taken into consideration, when I step into Bettys Kitschen at IFC (Hong Kong), the thing that got my attention or interest was the overall execution of the whole concept which of course includes service, decor, menu, atmosphere and food. I wanted to see what took Alan so long to open his first restaurant concept in Hong Kong and what sort of dining trends he is going to set with his new venture.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Please think before you speak (Ranting)

The story goes something like this. I was calling a so-called hip restaurant situated in Causeway Bay requesting information on their afternoon tea set and seat availability at its massive outdoor terrance. The following is the phone conversation between the (S)taff and myself (J).

S:          Thank for calling XXXXX, this is YYYYY speaking, how can I help you?

J:           Hi, I would like to ask if you have any afternoon tea set during weekdays?  

S:         Yes we do, we have afternoon tea set from 3 to 5pm during the weekdays.  

J:          Is the outdoor terrance available during the afternoon tea period? 

S:         It is if weather permit ... 

J:          Great! How about reservation? Do I need advance booking? 

S:          [pauses] ... business is sort of slow nowadays ... so no need to book in advance .... 

J:          OOOKKK .... thanks! 

I am sure you can spot the concern I have in regards to basic communication skills. The use of words in both Chinese or English is of utmost importance not just in the F&B industry but in any situation or human interaction. One simple tip (personal tip of course) is to think before you speak and treat yourself as the person at the other end of the conversation. It is not that difficult is it?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Mochi Mochi and more Mochi!


It was my first attempt in making mochi from scratch. Whenever I go for froyo, mochi is often a must along with blueberries and other seasonal fruits whichever appeal to me at that moment. Charging me a fortune for fruits I can understand but mochi is something that I cannot truly justify yet I still order it thanks to my lack of self-control when it comes to mochi. I have no one to blame but myself when it comes to frozen yogurt! I followed a youtube instruction on how to make mochi in 30 mins and the result was ... humm ... well, it was a good experience and I am sure my next attempt would be much better! I would try to make plain mochi instead of red bean paste mochi because I want to bring my own mochi when ordering my daily froyo fix! Please check out my mochi attempt on my >>> prochats.she.com/tastes channel <<<

Monday, July 18, 2011

My 7 Links (Blogosphere Project)


Not only am I excited but I am honored to be invited by e_ting to be part of this Tripbase's My 7 Links Project! Not only does the project "unite bloggers (from all sectors) in a joint endeavor to share lessons learned and create a bank of long but not forgotten blog posts that deserve to see the light of day again," it serves as a timely self-reminder on why I started blogging back in 2009 and my commitment in sharing my travel and dining experiences.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Pleasures of Taste (Random)

Pineapple Bun

While reading a recent post by HK Epicurus, his name reminded me of a few passages by Alain de Botton which I came across quite a while ago on the subject of ... general philosophy.  The philosopher's name Epicurus (or its verb Epicurean) has been associated more than often with good food and wine, but there is more to Epicureanism than simple enjoyment of culinary excellence. Epicurus philosophy focuses on the attainment of "happiness" with a strong emphasis on sensual pleasures which includes the pleasure of taste thanks to his love of excellent food.
The beginning and root of every good is the pleasure of the stomach. Even wisdom and culture must be referred to this. - Epicurus 

Friday, July 8, 2011

Thomas Haas Fine Chocolates and Patisserie (Vancouver)

Thomas Haas

On a sunny Thursday morning, a light breeze blew across my hotel room from the balcony which I left opened the night before. Waking up this way by the wind instead of annoying alarm tones certainly made a huge difference in term of my mood. It was certain a smile or a gentle grin on my face even without checking it with a mirror. Holding a cup of not-so-great machine brewed in-room coffee from Starbucks, standing out on the balcony under the warmth of the morning sunshine, I can't help myself but to feel rather lucky, happy, thankful, glad and ... very lucky? :) A picture is worth a thousand words but when it comes to joy and happiness, it can only be best described either by action or ... by the one's "glow". In any case, it brings me to yet another happy topic, chocolates! Some say Chocolate can help fight depression, some say it can be part of a wonderful diet plan and some say it can help lower your cholesterol. Forget it I say, as long as it makes you happy by eating a piece of chocolate or drinking a cup of hot chocolate, go for it!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Double Down by KFC (Toronto)

Double Down by KFC

So what exactly is a Double Down by KFC? Simply put, it is an ordinary cheese + bacon burger but with the two buns replaced by two big slabs of KFC original recipe chicken breasts! Oh yes, not that ordinary right? My friend A dared me to give it a try and being who I am, I am all in! I have seen the commercial on TV for a few times and tempted to give it a try. As warned by many, prior to eating this, one should arrive with an empty stomach and ensure one has high sodium tolerance. I was quite nervous for some reasons, perhaps because it seemed to be a challenge or maybe just because of the verbal pressure I have been receiving about this Double Down.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Travel - Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia)


The trip to Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) was an interesting one in many perspectives. First of all, during my 4 days stay in the month of May, I somehow took very few pictures, a total of less than 200 before filtering of course. What happened? Nothing to be honest but I would consider myself struggling on a point / issue raised by a friend shortly before my trip. I was asked whether I travel to experience my journeys with my eyes and mind or via the viewfinder of a camera. It did bother me for quite some time and I repeated ask myself that question hoping to find an answer or a justification against that. I take pictures to capture the moment, to construct each of my images within a fixed frame to tell a story, to express a massage via the image. I have to agree that at times I snap more than I should without really thinking what I want to express, that includes pictures of food and general snapshots. I think it is a habit I must grow out of in order to focus on what I really want, to bring some meaning to the pictures I take. It is not so much about the quality of the pictures, I am still an infant in the art and science of photography, but it is the attitude behind the act that matters more.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Travel - Guam (Part 5/5)

View from Two Lover's Point (Guam)

Two Lover's Point is one of the key attractions in Guam located on a cliff-side overlooking both the Tumon Bay and Philippine Sea. Stunning view and on a quiet afternoon, the sound of the  crushing waves somewhat created a sense of peacefulness, filled the air with joy and ... love? The story or the legend of Two Lovers Point (Puntan Dos Amantes) goes something like this according to its website: "The lovers tied their long black hair into a single knot. And acting as if they were entirely alone, they looked deeply into each other's eyes and kissed for the final time. Then they leaped over the long, deep cliff into the roaring waters below." Is it just me or I find the idea a bit ... daunting or perhaps not so romantic? The idea of the knot and jumping off a cliff is not really a modern definition of romance right? Then again, during a different period, the ways to express true love differ quite significantly across different cultures, what we considered a common practice may not apply to two lovers across the pacific, we must respect each of their ways of cultural expression and most importantly is the fact that what's common among cultures is the underlying concept of love and affection between two lovers, that's universal in my opinion. (I may be a bit off topic here but the same theory applies to food such as soup which many cultures have it as part of their culinary history even when there were no contact between them across continents. What about the concept of spirits, ghosts?) In any case, Two Lover's Point in Guam represent true love and is worth a visit not just for the view but for what it represents.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Tim Hortons (Ranting)

No matter how you like to call it, a donut house, coffee shop or a deli, Tim Hortons has become a household name for Canadians. I frequent it for its overly sweet double-double (double sugar, double CREAM) coffee more often then I should, not because of its ... humm at its very best mediocre coffee (in my opinion of course) or food, but for the sense of familiarity. The convenient locations, the familiar decor, the overly sweet flavors experienced when young are the few reasons for my return visits. Many memories, countless precious hours have been spent in their shops. I am pretty sure many loyal customers have the same sort of feelings and sense of familiarities on their return visits.

Tim Hortons has expanded quite rapidly over the last 5 - 8 years in terms of number of locations and food selections, offering more than just coffee and donuts but all sorts of sandwiches, soups and of course wraps. In terms of business potentials, one can clearly see from its constant queues almost in every single outlets across the nation. While one may judge by such observations as a positive sign, a simple act of actually queuing up for a cup of coffee would prove you otherwise, unfortunately!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Queen Margherita Pizza (Toronto)


Stepping into Queen Margherita Pizza (QMP) made me feel like stepping back in time for a moment with its name, its wooden door and the aged building exterior. However once I was greeted by a young, tall and stunning receptionist with such a welcoming smile, I know I am in for something ... different? The lower floor was quite cozy (aka small!) but a few steps up the tight and crackling staircase which can fit only one person and one way traffic, one will find a very large modern dining room filled with natural sunlight! Hello natural sunlight!!!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Travel - Guam (Part 4/5)


The people in Guam seem to be enjoying themselves most of the time, enjoying the abundance of sunshine, the heat (some prefer the heat), the friendliness among neighbors, the frequent festivals, and of course the food. After a few days of staying here in Guam, I am quite used to the heat already, I embraced the heat and humidity because there was not point fighting against it, you will sweat anyhow. Arriving at the Agat Mango Festival with that mentality was proven wise! The American flag I saw flying around was a good reminder that I was actually in the land of the USA because with the humidity and large amount of Japanese tourists in town all the time, it was hard to think otherwise.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Life Is Meals: A Food Lover's Book of Days (Books)

I have just started reading this newly acquired book which I think is more than just another printed pile of paper on the topic of food or how unhealthy processed food can be over the last few decades, it is a book that tells stories, memories and experiences of the authors, in their kitchen or over meals on each day of the year.
... [the authors] put the book together not to be definitive but rather to appeal to those for who eating is something more than a mere necessity. It's not meant to replace favorite cookbooks but instead, in a way, to compliment them, to give them further context and, in the course of doing it, to give a year, perhaps more, of pleasure ... Life is many things, and among the best of them, it is meals. - Life Is Meals: A Food Lover's Book of Days,  James and Kay Salter
We eat on a daily basis because of necessity (and quite fortunate indeed), some have the luxury of having three or more meals a day, some live by a meal a day either by choice or not, some with great effort may be able to squeeze one or two meals during their busy schedules for a quick bites. No matter which category you fall under, I believe food is often best enjoyed by sharing them with others, your loved ones or whoever enjoy and appreciate the food as something beyond mere necessity. Like food, stories and memories are meant to be shared and treasured. Most meals, if not all, are often carried on with all sorts of conversations, start talking, start communicating over meals, it is time to tell your stories for others to enjoy!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Oatmeal and Raisins Cookies

Oatmeal & Raisins Cookies

Yes it has been a long while since I cooked or baked anything, please forgive my laziness at times. The important thing is that I am back! Cookies have to be one the easiest items for those who enjoy baking but I still post this up because it means more than just a tray of simple Oatmeal and Raisins cookies, it marked the re-beginning of my cooking habits. I am driven not just for the love for food, I am driven by my passion and will to cook, bake, create, serve, love and eat of course.  No matter it makes much sense to you or not, it makes perfect sense to me which is most important. I followed Bill Grander's Everyday recipe (thanks http://gastronomousanonymous.com/ for the recipe book! ), simple and ready to eat within an hour for sure! Oatmeal and Raisins Cookies, Enjoy! :)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Travel - Guam (Part 3/5)


The Maila Ta Fan Boka (Come, Let's Eat) started on a high note, as in the top floor of Hotel Nikko Guam. It was nothing overly formal, a brief introduction by the organizer and a breakfast session overlooking Guam's Tumon Bay. To my surprise, there were over 50 bloggers and representatives from various Asian countries attending this event, namely, Hong Kong, Japan, China, Korea, Taiwan and Philippines. For once, I feel very comfortable tweeting on the go because most people here are doing the same! We were encouraged to tweet, post or even blog on the go with the mobile devices provided. I think Hong Kong should try something like that both for the tourism and the promotion of digital media for what it is worth. I know it is kind of risky to bring out the topic of social / digital media but however you like to define it, it remains an area of growth and one that more people and businesses are trying to understand for its full potential. Anyhow, after breakfast, our first stop was a mango farm!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Travel - Guam (Part 2/5)


As mentioned, Guam is an unincorporated territory of the United States located in the western Pacific Ocean. It is part of the USA only differ by the fact that the "state / territory" has no voting rights. With almost 40K US troops stationed there, the Guam government received an annual compensation or so-called rent for that part of the land within the island accordingly to my sources. That is a fairly large sum of money for an island of this size and population, so in other words, I say Guam is quite rich! It does make one wonders why the USA want to keep this island under its control repeatedly over the past century or so. Time for some history? Like it or not, I am going to talk about it for a bit before going into details of my trip which include tons of food 24/7 and a few exciting activities such as flying a plane and other water sports. Of course it is a given to be able to see clear blue sky and fluffy clouds almost every single morning!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Travel - Guam (Part 1/5)


Guam is an unincorporated territory of the United States located in the western Pacific Ocean accordingly to wiki. It has a population of around 180K, about 40K are US troops and approximately 30K Japanese are living here based on my little research. I started with such facts because I do find it quite interesting to see such large population of Japanese living here in Guam. With a monthly average 28K - 30K Japanese tourists visiting Guam, I guess that explains why. The chance is you will see a lot of Japanese tourists at any given moment, Japanese signs are everywhere even in Kmart, public transportation, menus, billboards, fire exit signs and most staff at tourist destinations (both local and perhaps Japanese-Americans) speak fluent Japanese. Come to think of it, NTT DoCoMo Pacific has a branch here in Guam! (beyond excellent mobile 3G reception and great pre-paid mobile data plan by the way) In terms of population density, I am quite certain Guam has more Japanese restaurants than in Hong Kong! Most tourists leaflets are default in Japanese!! I certainly did not expect such a scene prior to my arrival but after just a few days, I started to have the feeling that I am actually in a small city in Japan rather than in Guam, USA! Just in case you are wondering, a lot of the businesses here are also run by Japanese businessmen.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Salt and Peper anyone? (Guam)

Salt and Pepper
Yes, it is quite a random post I have to admit but it is a rather significant post, a post of great importance in my opinion. I have been writing a lot of posts on restaurant reviews but in additions to that I do have many rants piled up to be released regarding food and how we treat, value and respect food we often take for granted. I have been doing quite a bit travel over the past 12 months and most involve taking the plane. While I have a lot to say about plane food, both good and bad of course, that would be for another dedicated post. But just to show you the following iPhone picture I took on my way to Guam simply because I want to express the attached comment and what I learned from the meal.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Whitehead Club - BBQ (Hong Kong)


A much overdue post on my first BBQ of 2011. Of course we are talking about HK style BBQ! It took place back in April on a very relaxed afternoon along the coast somewhere in Hong Kong. It is quite rare to find such a place in HK nowadays where a group of us can sit next to the coast, welcoming the cool breeze from the sea while getting the necessary warmth from the BBQ fire. It is hard not to admit that many in Hong Kong are quite spoiled in a sense, here at Whitehead Club, you only need to arrive with your wallet and the rest are being taken care off. There is no need to start the fire, no need to bring food or drinks because they have all that you need, just name it. (well almost everything.) To be honest, while convenient  such convenience makes the whole experience a bit boring, took out the so-called fun part when it comes to HK style BBQ. Therefore, to make things more interesting, we ordered an entire pig for roasting!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Foodie Magazine - May 2011


“Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.” This quote by French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau is one of the key inspirations behind My Favorite Sweet Escape entry for May 2011's issue of Foodie Magazine. Many people spend majority of the day (and night) working hard in their cubicles, often over 10 hours or more. Somehow many consider this long working hours as the norm in Hong Kong but is this the case for improved productivity? A regular break from work would help you recharge and reset, a regular break with sweets would be even a better choice. Exactly how? Check it out <here> and enjoy your sweet break! 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Travel - Macau (Mar 2011)


Macau also known as Macao to many, has become more than just a post Portuguese colony since its handover to China in 1999. It is now known as the Asia's Las Vegas with gambling revenue surpassing the whole Vegas according to many sources. New mega casinos are being built if not already for the next few years and revenue + profits are only expected to increase. I have been to Macau quite a few times over the past year or so but mostly for day trip and solely for food or shows and never really for gambling. Small bets are fun but in Macau, there is no such thing as small bets apparently. Over the years, I have been seeing the minimum bets on a simple Black Jack table increase faster than your heart can handle.  Then again I am not into gambling so not really a concern to me but it is an interesting observation nonetheless. What I am trying to say is not how much the casino industry is booming, everyone knows, but what we have been ignoring is how the huge flood of tourists and development focus have made us forget about the great food scenes in Macau, at least what's left of it. Not to mention how the popularity of some famous eateries have benefited commercially but deteriorated in quality over the years. I was here in Macau over the weekend sometime in March 2011 for my friend's wedding and instead of the popular or upscale eateries (which are over-abundance by the way), I went for some rather down to earth neighborhood joints for my daily food intake.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

An Overweight Tale

No Running this time?

Recently I wrote a bilingual piece (Chinese + English) on a topic somewhat related to food on my personal blog. It was my first blog entry that contains Chinese and many are telling me that I should do more bilingual posts in the future on this food blog. Honestly, I do plan to do so but please give me some time because doing a Chinese-only post is one thing, doing a translated post from Chinese to English or vice-versa is easier said than done to me. In any case, posted below is the piece from my personal blog, enjoy! :)

Friday, April 29, 2011

Assaggio Trattoria Italiana (Hong Kong)

mascato wine bavaroise with caramelized peaches

We all have our stories to tell, be they romantic, humorous or just plain horrific. The point is, similar to food, stories are meant to be told and shared. Located inside the Hong Kong Arts Centre, this Italian Trattoria with views overlooking the harbour is a story of mixed emotions. By day, the dining room is flooded with natural sunlight and by night, the dimly lit atmosphere gives off such a seductive vibe that it’s hard not to imagine yourself as Giacomo Casanova having supper by the window.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Thai Liang Zhi Thai Restaurant 泰娘子泰國餐廳 (Hong Kong)

Stir-fry Belachan Tung Choi

One thing I realized after my many meals since I started this food blog is the need to step out of the box named "laziness" when it comes to food and try not to surrender to the tempting words of "convenience." I have been a victim of such many times and I am trying to get rid of this bad habits of mine when it comes to a pleasant meal. I am not talking about spending the efforts or money to get myself a fancy meal, I am referring to all sorts of meals, cheap or expensive meals can be equally enjoyable or equally regretful. I had a chance to review a newly opened Thai Restaurant for Timeout Hong Kong and it was another great example of how not to be lazy when you are searching for a decent meal, travel the extra mile please, at least you can leave the restaurant filling slightly satisfied. Check out the review <here>

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Lau Sum Kee's Noodles 劉森記麵家 (Hong Kong)


Apparently this noodle joint has quite a history behind it and I am ashamed it took me all this long to try their famed noodles. I am not a big fan of Chinese egg noodles because more often than not they contain strong alkaline flavor which I hate so much! However, the type of noodles they specialize here is the so-called Jook-sing noodles (竹昇) which somehow has very little alkaline flavor, was it my lucky day? Either they use very little or I was lucky? Anyhow, Jook-sing (竹昇) or bamboo noodles got its name because the dough is made / kneaded by riding on a bamboo log. I wish I had the chance to see how it is done.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Domani Ristorante (Hong Kong)

Cold Cucumber and Yogurt Soup, Smoked Salmon and Sprouts

Back in Toronto, there are two annual food events, one is the Summerlicous and one is the Winterlicious. For 2 entire weeks during a specific period, food lovers in the city can have the opportunity to satisfy their cravings for special tasting menus at some of the favorite restaurants in town at a much lower price than usual. The New York restaurant week offers similar "food festival" as well. Now Hong Kong is having its first week-long Springalicious food festival starting 27 April - 3 May. You can check out the Restaurant List and Menu <here>, do check often because the list is growing. When I was in Toronto quite a number of years ago, I attended a few featured Summerlicous / Winterlicious high-end restaurants which offer three-course prix fixe menus valued almost 50% discount compared with the usual menus. When the event first started, it was an immediate success but as the festivals carried onto their 2nd / 3rd year, things started to change in my opinion. A common issue experienced by many diners (including myself) was how the food quality and proportion seemed to be watered down along with the special price. When I first heard of this Springalicious event in Hong Kong, I admit I had the same concern and I clearly expressed that to the organizer during a tasting session which I was invited to. I have to say my concern is less relevant at this point because I realized I cannot quite compare this with what is being offered in Toronto for a number of reasons: (1) Springalicious covers more than just Western cuisines but a wider selection such as Japanese, Thai and Chinese; (2) the price discount is not extremely huge in comparison (~ 25% - 30% off) which sort of translates to more standard proportions and more of a reason to maintain food consistency for the participating restaurants; and (3) more than just for marketing purposes, this festival can let some chefs experiment with their creativity with special menus dedicated for it. Of course the above is yet to be seen or proven, but I think it has potential to be something interesting for many years to come in the Hong Kong food scene.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Foodie Magazine - April 2011


Recently I had the opportunity to contribute a piece on My Favorite Sweet Treats in the Foodie Magazine Hong Kong for their April 2011 Easter issue. It is not hard to guess as to which is my favorite place for sweet treats but here it is again if you still don't know, check it out <here>. Happy Easter in advance! May this Easter be a happy and joyful one! Keep smiling and keep eating! :)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Travel - Singapore (Feb 2011) - Part 3/3


It is really hard to get tired of Hainanese Chicken Rice and during my stay in Singapore, everywhere I go I tried to spot places with Chicken Rice because I just love it so much. I once talked about the various school of approaches to preparing Hainanese Chicken, the blander vs the richer chicken. After quite a few meals at various restaurants that serve chicken rice, I find many carry similar flavors while their rice are what distinguish them apart. After a short stop at the Singapore Flyer (sorta boring to be honest), we head to the Singapore Food Trails under the Singapore Flyer which offers a place full of 1960s-themed food stalks. Of course Hainan Chicken Rice was on top of my food list! I read from a magazine or something which recommended this Bugis Street Famous Hainanese Chicken Rice, so perfect timing.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Travel - Singapore (Feb 2011) - Part 2/3


My previous Singapore post I discussed on my justifications behind my humble opinion on hawker centers, their necessity to the city to be exact. For this post, in addition to froyo and more food adventures, my leisure walks over my few days there somehow heightened my sense of ... observations or perhaps released  my urge to express myself via writings on subjects more than just food. It is a refreshing attempt but I quite enjoy this little change.  One of the reasons for my visit to Singapore was to experience the cultures as well as the environment, both living and perhaps working as well. Moving to Singapore to work / live crossed my mind several times (for various reasons) but before doing so I wanted to travel there at least for once or spend more time there. While I weight the option of moving there, I noticed the increasing number of Singaporeans (of all ages, mostly in the mid / late 20s) in Hong Kong, especially in the Central Business District and perhaps all around Hong Kong to be honest. Now here is the million dollar question, why on earth am I planning to move to Singapore while many are making their move to Hong Kong or other major cities around Asia or even the world?

Friday, April 1, 2011

Travel - Singapore (Feb 2011) - Part 1/3


Singapore is amazing! Singapore is amazingly hot, amazingly humid yet amazingly attractive in many ways. Singaporeans are amazingly tolerant to the heat especially while enjoying sizzling hot dishes inside hawkers centers without air conditioning. I truly admire their tolerance to the humidity, almost 365 days a year. I guess I admire all those who live in the southeast asia region with similar climates! The last time I was here was over a decade (or perhaps two decades) ago when I still consider junk food as part of my daily balanced diet. Time flies and looking back I should have visited earlier and more often as well. My first impression upon arrival on this recent visit (aside from the heat and humidity) was one of ... welcoming with mixed feelings. The occasionally random smiles from strangers (and lovely ladies) on the streets made a world of difference even if such smiles were a direct result from my "lost / OMG" tourist look on my face. Whatever the reasons were they do not matter because such small acts like a smile made me feel right at home.

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