Thursday, September 28, 2006

Welcome to da hood

We had recently made friends with a charming couple who coincidently live, in this city of over 6 million people, in the same building as we do!

Incredibly lucky for us, is that they are good cooks. The reason we found this out was that we weaseled our way into a house warming they were throwing simply by offering the use of our chocolate fountain (you won’t believe the number of doors this baby has opened).

Upon popping downstairs to their flat (gotta love a travel time of less than 1 minute!), we were greeted by the couple but distracted by the intoxicatingly mouthwatering smell emanating from their kitchen. Acting on impulse, I rudely went into the kitchen and demanded to know what the source of the smell was. It turned out to be a side of roast beef cooked in beer, with a chipotle bbq sauce, designated to be rolled up in our choice of corn or flour tortilla, served up with THREE different kinds of homemade salsa, served with a delicious salad containing mozza, proscuitto, mixed greens and ripe cantaloupe lightly dressed with an incredibly refreshing vinaigrette containing crushed mint.

Oh but the beef. It was beautiful. Perfectly tender, seasoned just right, hitting that tangy, savory and slightly sweet with complex spices with the warmth of the peppers, it was one of those dishes that made you drool as you chewed.

Not one to reveal secrets, the male counterpart of the couple showed us only one of the ingredients, the homemade adobo sauce he made from some bark he bought (smelled and looked like he put a dirty sock in the jar with spices!) as he couldn’t find it ready made.

The boy and I ate an embarrassing amount of the beef. It was delicious. All the others were very good complements but it was the beef that really stole the glory.

One of the other guests bought a homemade Grand Marnier torte which tasted of brownie on the bottom and some sort of whipped heaven on the top.

By the end of the night I had a pair of invisible pants* under my jeans.

Now my only problem is how to scam my way in again…anyone have any ideas?

Somehow I don’t think rice crispy treats will cut it…

*invisible pants – what I call the marks you get from your trousers when either a) they are too tight or b) you ate too much because you’re a greedy bugger

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Supersize me

Look what I found!!!

Bag of cheetos larger than my torso.

Get thee to Gateway, baby! In Sheung Wan, across from Cosco Tower.

Despite my very best convincing skills, fluttering of eyes and even threatening, the boy wouldn't let me buy it.

Aw shucks...

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Self fulfilling prophecy

I walked by Mannings yesterday and saw this sign

Advertising extra 10% off slimming products, walked two steps more and in the same window display saw this sign

25% off snacks.

Monday, September 25, 2006


After running some errands, I thought the boy deserved a treat and had the intentionof taking him to Malay Mama for one of his favorite dishes of Laksa.

However, typically, we got side tracked along the way and decided to stop in at Katong Laksa, which was conveniently across the street (please...I've given up trying to figure out why restaurants serving similar food are always right next to each other) with the excuse that there's a Malay Mama in Causeway Bay but no Katong Laksa.

Two bowls of Laksa were ordered. The supreme one for the boy ($68) and the 'normal' one for me ($48). We toyed with the idea of ordering a prawn mee for one of us instead but being allergic to prawns, I wasn't keen on accidentally swallowing a bit and swelling up like a hippo with German measels. I added vegetables for $3 to my dish to make up for the prawns I'd have to pass over to the boy.

We also added a dish of Rojak for experimental purposes. We couldn't work out from the name and the photo what it would be like so decided to try as intrepid foodies.

The main difference between the supreme and the normal was the presence of two huge fresh prawns and significally smaller (likely frozen) shelled half prawns in mine... oh and the $20 price difference (not a worthwhile splurge in my opinion...even if I could eat prawns).

Other ingredients in the Laksa were cockles (I only had about 5 in mine unfortunately) which tasted wonderfully seaside-dy, thin rectangular fish cakes, tau pok (deep fried puffy tofu balls), beansprouts and vegetables. My bowl was loaded with the green stuff (water spinach or 'tong' choi) and it was very nice although the soup lacked the strong, in your face flavor and spiciness hit I was looking for.

The rojak came halfway through our bowls and it looked promising at first with unidentifiable pieces coated in a dark brown sticky sauce and covered with crushed peanuts. I lifted a piece to my mouth and I was shocked to find that it was very well chilled and tasted both savory and sweet and actually quite awful. I wasn't sure what I expected but this wasn't it. The dish, as far as I could tell, contained fried dough fritters ('yau jah gwei'), pineapple, apple, perhaps some pear. It was salty without having any discernable flavor and cloying with sweetness. I ventured another piece, which turned out to be apple flavored with the sauce once again. Nope. Didn't like it. The boy valiantly tried and turned up his nose as well. Trust me, I love the salty sweet combo (chocolate covered salted potato chips is a match made in heaven) but this one didn't do it for me. It was ick personified.

I felt dreadful when the incredibly hospitable and kind owner came and asked us why we didn't like the dish and insisted on us taking it home to try again at a later time. She did warn us that the sauce contained Singaporean shrimp paste and that by taking it home, it may not be as crunch (although truthfully, we didn't think it could get worse). We took it home but it went straight into the bin despite our best intentions and attempts at poking at it, hoping to dredge up appetite for the shrimpy, sweet, cold, mushy dough.

Katong Laksa (2 branches)
G/Fl., 8 Merceer Street
Sheung Wan
Tel: 2543 4008

Shop D1, G/F Kam Sing Mansion
155 Jaffe Road
Wan Chai
Tel: 3168 2478

Thursday, September 14, 2006


It's getting late at the office and I'm snackish. Lucky for me I happened across those damned impulse buy items at the local Wellcome the other day.

I had two packets of Pretz, snacks beloved of HK along with Vita lemon tea and Vita soy bean drink.

But I had special Pretz. Yup, these babies came from Japon (Japan to the uncultured masses... *sniff*)

Specifically, they were shrimp and peas. Let's admire a second their compelling packaging.

Notice the 10% on the shrimp flavored and the 20% on the pea flavored? I'm guessing it says something like, 10% REAL shrimp and 20% REAL peas!

Funny enough, although this snack had only 20% real peas, it kicked 100% Peas' ass (if peas had an ass).

The shrimp? it tasted like shrimp crackers....not shrimpy enough according to a discerning colleague.

They were incredibly brittle and crackly but very good in terms of flavoring...although loaded with msg.

So, final verdict?


Oh and lest you think I'm a greedy bugger, no, I didn't eat all 4 packets. I ate two. Gave 2 to a colleague. So there.

Breakfast of Chompions

I was lucky enough to go out for TWO breakfasts on both days of last weekend. Although some people may be turned off by the idea of brunch or breakfasts, to me it is one of life’s indulgences when you get to relax and take your time over your food and either read the paper, not caring when you finish with no need to rush off.

On Saturday after the chore of waking up early on a weekend to go to the bank, stand in line for what seems like ages, being told that you have a lot less money than you thought, the boy and I trudged towards home when my eye lighted upon my perennial favorite. Tsui Wah.

Yes, it’s not high end and may not be the cleanest or the best food about but the whole range of options on their incredibly extensive menu, the speed of their service and the fact that it is open 24 hours a day, is located not 5 minutes from my house, and delivers makes it a favorite.

So we sat down and ordered the set breakfast which came with two eggs, a bowl of abalone and ham macaroni, a small crusty (crusty as in lots of crust, not as in gross crusty stale) roll and a drink.

Simple but very effective. I know macaroni soup is not something eaten frequently by those in the West but to me, it’s always been a comforting bowl of breakfast, prepared by my mother in times of upset tummies, cold weather and when there’s nothing much in the house except leftovers and frozen vegetables.

My ice coffee was traditional cha chan teng coffee with evaporated milk, again, a Canto version that is not unpleasant in the least.

On the Sunday, we finally had a chance to try the Flying Pan. Now I love English breakfast so had been wanting to go for a while. The boy was reluctant, worried of being let down by bad breakfast in Disneyfied English surroundings (we take our food, including ambiance, seriously). It too is a 24 hour restaurant (got to love that) and when we walked in at 3pm, there were quite a lot of people, including some which I'm sure just rolled out of bed.

I knew I would love the place as soon as I walked in. No, it wasn’t the cheery atmosphere, nor the comfy lounge couches, nor the huge platters others were eating. Nor was it the fact that there were booth seatings all around the windows, games scattered and happy customers. All these were good things but what caught my eye was that on every single table there were a platter of condiments including a shaker of cinnamon sugar!! Absolutely brilliant. Cinnamon sugar should be on EVERY breakfast table! I was happy not to have to ask for ketchup and Tabasco but it was the cinnamon sugar that got me. Needless to say I sprinkled it on everything.

(Pictures to come...but you get the drift, large plates, eggs bacon, the odd blood pudding and lotsa cinnamon sugar....)

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Cooking with Brassiers

One of the best things of having your own food blog is the delightful places that friends keep recommending you to.

Yesterday I was invited by a friend to hotpot. It was near TST East and called Tai Fong Lau and she raved about the food. I can't say that I met her suggestion with enthousiasm. After all, she is not local and hotpot during summer?? But obviously the lure of her sparkling company and that of her new husband plus the promise of foods worthy a try couldn't be resisted.

So after finding a clothing shop at exact address I was given, I text a "help" message to my friend before looking up and seeing the huge neon green sign pointing to a place around the corner.


I walked in and immediately asked if there were any Westerners in the house (hey-ay!). They were easily identified, greetings given and hotpot ordered.

I have to admit. I was confused. My lovely friend kept going on about this is the only place which had hotpot in a brassier. Hmm.... I wondered how that would work. I've never cooked anything in my brassier and to be honest, besides holding the girls up, didn't think they had any other function in life. It turned out, quite obviously to those English speaking natives reading this, that it was a braZier. Something in which to hold charcoal. Ah ha. It was all coming together now....

A tray of sauces were given and instructions to mix to our heart's content. We were told that the base of our sauce should contain the peanut paste which is featured on the upper right, looking like runny poo (not my words, I swear!) and the others to be mixed in according to preference. Going clockwise, there was vinegar, soy sauce, chili oil, rice wine, fish sauce, sesame oil, the whites of Chinese leeks, cilantro and ending with the bright red preserved spicy, fishy tofu (fu-yue). In the middle was sugar and preserved olive leaves.

We then ordered a plate of lamb, beef, shitake, enoki, dried beancurd sheets, tofu, water spinach, a plate of dumplings (handmade so I couldn't resist) and finally glass noodles. I was seriously worried it wouldn't be enough but as you can see, the plates of meat were piled up very high and it turned out to be just the right amount for all of us (with me eating the lion's share) except we couldn't finish the water spinach.

It was different because I had never eaten hotpot with a huge steaming kettle of charcoal heating my soup before and I loved making my own sauces and sharing with friends. The staff were friendly enough and gave us deep fried balls of dough stuffed with red bean and sprinkled with sugar for dessert.

Would I go back? Yes but probably more for the Peking duck, of which we saw more than half a dozen rolled out to be skinned at the table.

The brazier is different butI felt that the soup base could be more flavorful and the side effect is that my hair, even after two washes, still smells of burning charcoal.

That being said, cooking with the brazier is getting rare in HK and is worth doing at least once, especially if you had the fabulous company I had.

Tai Fong Lau
Official address to be provided later but here are the 'directions' to restaurant:

Go to 29-31 Chatham Road South, look above your head and see the Tai Fong Lau big ass neon sign, turn into Hart Avenue and it's on your left, upstairs on the 2nd floor.