Thursday, August 10, 2006

I've got a secret and I'm going to tell!

Ok, I admit it.

I’ve been hiding something from you all…

But I couldn’t reveal the surprise until now….

I met Susan Jung!


*wild applause ensues*

Susan Jung for those of you who aren’t in HK, is the Food and Drink Editor for the South China Morning Post and has the enviable job of reviewing restaurants, writing features about food and introducing recipes on Sundays.

However, don’t be fooled into thinking it is an easy job, she has to maintain neutrality in the face of what might be strong opinions, as well as churning out high quality writing a few times a week.
This week, she has chosen to feature food bloggers, of which the most excellent Cha Xiu Bao, the witty Sunday Driver, the not-yet-met HK Foodie and myself were featured. (that’s right, run now to your nearest newsstand and grab that coveted food blogging edition of SCMP… go go go!!!)

I also got a special treat you see. I had asked Susan if she would allow me to ask her 3 or 4 simple questions for Sui Mai…

She graciously assented.

One of my questions, being a cheeky chubby, was going to be whether I could go on a review with her. Quite honestly, I wasn’t expecting a yes. I was preempted from asking this question by Susan asking me if I would mind the interview being conducted over a review!

To say I was excited is a *slight* understatement.

So I apologize in advance for this very long, marathon post. I highly suggest you have a nice cup of tea and a sit down, together with a biscuit before carrying on.

For the record, we went to Cru on Staunton Street and we had:

- proscuitto wrapped figs with gorgonzola cheese
- sesame seared tuna salad
- Blue swimmer crab pasta
- Lamb fillets
- Blueberry crepe
- Caramel tart with wild berries

First the food…

While I love fresh figs, I felt that the saltiness of the proscuitto and the heaviness (and slight gloopy nature of the sauce), overwhelmed the poor fig, who didn’t manage to show its true colors. Still ate them all though!

Sesame seared tuna salad was a major disappointment. The salad was over-dressed which made the leaves all wilted and overly sweet and the tuna was average.

The pasta was quite nice, cooked perfectly but the crab was not tossed through but was clumped on top, which made it difficult to get a good pasta to crab ratio per mouthful.

The lamb was good but it came sprinkled with crushed pecans of which some were slightly stale, according to Susan. It was also accompanied by a broken aioli, which looked extremely unpleasant with a thick layer of oil.

It was a lot of food but with our dessert stomachs in place, we soldiered on (I didn’t take much convincing…)

The blueberry crepe was gorgeous! The crepe came in two huge rolls absolutely stuffed with blueberries and a small dish of freshly whipped cream and another one of vanilla ice cream. The amount of blueberries per crepe was quite astonishing and we wondered whether it was really blueberries inside or plumped with cream. It turned out to be blueberries which were slightly crystallized to form a thin crunchy coating which lent texture to the crepe. There must have been at least a good pint of blueberries in the two crepes. It was delicious and I ate my whole crepe….and it was huge.

The caramel tart with wild berries was nicely plated with a beautifully buttery crust and a gooey caramel filling, the berries and the cream were also generous.

On the whole, I was much more in love with the desserts than the mains.

But onto the fun bit! My ‘interview’ with Susan:

**Disclaimer: Wordings may not be exact but this is what I tried to remember, despite my excitement!


Sui Mai: What was your favorite sneaky treat as a kid?

Susan: Chocolate! My parents thought I was allergic to chocolate, which I might very well have been and wasn’t allowed to have it very often. Good thing I outgrew whatever allergy I might have had!

Sui Mai: Guilty pleasure or sneaky treat you enjoy now?

Susan: Taiwanese ‘iron’ eggs(*)!

Sui Mai: So when you were a child sneaking chocolate did you ever think that you would become a food critic?

Susan: Well, I am definitely doing something that I’ve always wanted to do. My background is as a pastry chef and my parents were appalled when I told them I wanted to be a cook but they are much happier with my job now. I came into this job a little by chance. I had started to write for the SCMP for a few months when this job came up and they offered it to me. I suspect that my neutral writing style also helped.

(SM: For your reference, the lovely Miss Susan Jung has a background in journalism and has worked as a chef in many recognizable and respectable kitchens around town…how’s that for street cred?)

Sui Mai: What is one food you wish was more readily available?

Susan: Good Mexican food

Sui Mai: What is a food you enjoy but others may find strange?

Susan: Chicken hearts…. When I was studying, chicken hearts were a cheap source of protein but I did enjoy eating them.

Sui Mai: !?!!?! I love chicken hearts!! I got in trouble in kindergarten back in Canada when my teacher thought I was lying about eating 20 of them! I’ll eat chicken hearts with you anytime!


There were lots more conversation and lots of food questions flying around in addition to a shared puzzlement over the British male obsession with Bird’s Custard. In my opinion the absolute best way to spend an afternoon with a friend I just met.

So lots of props to Susan and a sincere thanks for a lovely afternoon and putting up with my slightly hyperactive excitement.

44 Staunton Street
Tel: 2803 2083

(*) I couldn’t find a good explanation but Taiwanese iron eggs but these originated from Dan Tsui area of Taipei (or is it Taiwan...?) and as the story goes, an old lady couldn't find enough customers for her tea eggs and as she was very poor, she cooked the same old eggs every day, let them dry out, and then cooked them again so that they became very hard but extremely flavorful and chewy, which, to her surprise, attacted more people than the normal tea eggs! This is a popular treat in taiwan, small quail eggs which have been cooked and treated (to speed up the process) to become hard little nubs of chewy egg. According to Susan, they sell them at Sogo for the outrageous price of 7 for HK$7!


susan said...

Hi Jessie, it was great to meet you - I really enjoyed our lunch. And I really like your blog - it's very funny. Let's meet up again soon, okay?
(yes, it's really me!)

ttfnRob said...

How cool! Wel done you! You will have to keep a copy of that article for me to read - or is there an online link?

Keep up the good blogging.

Sui Mai said...

Thanks Susan, I'd love to meet up again, just name the date!

Thanks Rob, I have it admit, it was quite fun seeing myself drawn up, chubby cheeks and all! I'll save a copy for you!

Sui Mai