Monday, December 22, 2008

First 2 Meals in Manila

1. La Regalade, Arnaiz St. (former Pasay Road) in Makati.

- The night was cool so we had the soup of the day, Spinach Cream Soup, which I rate a B+.
- Upon the recommendation of a friend we ordered the Manila clams with chorizo which came steaming hot in a bowl with the heavenly scent of cream. I give it a B for Boo! The clams were NOT FRESH, in fact, they were going bad. Hubby, who eats spoiled food without noticing, commented on his first bite. Any self-respecting restaurant should serve sweet, fresh seafood. Of course I complained and expected not only an apology but at least an offer of another appetizer, for free. I only got the apology.
- To replace the clams we ordered the sable parmesan, a baked, thin parmesan tart topped with tomato slices and served with a bowl of tossed greens with vinaigrette on the side. I would have enjoyed this so much more were it not for the bad experience with the clams, and if only it were given to us for free as "consuelo".
- The waitress recommended the 7 hour lamb leg and hubby wanted to try the snapper with eggplant. I added the ratatouille as a side dish. The servings were huge, and I would give the lamb an A for Average (though very tender). The snapper was well-cooked, though not the freshest, but I did fall in love with the eggplant puree it was resting on and give it an E for excellent. The ratatouille did not elicit any feelings of childhood wonder (maybe because I never ate it as a child haha) but it wasn't anything special. The service was good, the servings generous and the prices reasonable but the question is...

Would I return? DEFINITELY NOT.

My friend, who has great taste in food, was quite impressed with La Regalade the first time he tried it. I read somewhere Chef Alan Raye plans to return only 4 times a year from his Vancouver home base to check the resto out because he feels the staff are all reliable and ready. I beg to differ. I think he needs to be around more. At the very least the kitchen staff should have known better than to serve bad clams. That spoiled the dinner for me. I couldn't enjoy the other dishes anymore after the heavenly- scented appetizer's fall from grace. Sayang.

2. Mamou in Serendra. Last year I tried to book at this famous place three times and got rejected. This year I was lucky, but was a bit apprehensive and wondering why is it suddenly easy to book? Hmmmm...

- With the refreshing, smooth and not-too-sweet dalandan shake, I was off to a good start.
- An appetizer of Melba chips and vegetable dip with truffle oil was only half-eaten, sad to say. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't the best.
- My friend ordered the chicken noodle soup which had a fragrant, tangy, sweet Vietnamese soup base. She liked it. I thought it was a tad too sweet.
- The fish in beer batter with malt vinegar and a side of red rice was crunchy and tasty, but the fish was not the freshest.
- After trying (and loving!) the chorizo pasta in Chateau 1771, I decided to try the Batac Bolognese with fennel and tomatoes. It was bland. I had to sprinkle a lot of freshly shaved parmesan, some lemon juice and pepper flakes to liven it up. The pepper flakes were fantastically hot and I would love to take some home with me.
- To cleanse the palate we had the key lime pie but I thought my friend's version better.

So sue me for being so finicky but I had expectations. And I was (and still am) disappointed.

I would give Mamou another try though, and order the steak, steak rice and the pork and chicken with beans and cinnamon saba.

In the meantime I will stick to the tried and tested: the vendors at Salcedo Market, pork bbq from my favorite Capitol Medical Center vendor, Via Mare for simple Pinoy food, longganisa from my mom's suki at Kamuning Market, Dampa, Fook Yuen in Banawe.

Maybe, once I've recovered from my disappoinment, I will try Galileo, In Yo, Bistro Filipino, Cafe Juanita and Adarna.

Next Monday I'm eating at Terry's Selection at the Podium. I wasn't too happy when I fist ate there, several years ago, I hope it has only gotten better with age.

Have I tried anything interesting? Yes, definitely! Good friends from HK sent an enormous rhum cake that, a week later, is still soft and seeping with rhum and butter at every bite. I bought some of Kitchen's Best goodies like food for the gods, butterscotch bar, chocolate fudge and peanut butter bar. The peanut butter and butterscotch were the best. San Lo's Famous emapanadas (chicken pastel, jamon y queso and carne norte) were rich and filling as well. The jamon y queso and chicken pastel were my favorites. In my mom's fridge now is a bottle of Joyce Aragon's queso de bola spread which I will try tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Birthday Meals

For lunch hubby and I had a "date" at Hanagushi at Lan Kwai Fong, this large Japanese restaurant that's not street level, is quite pricey and yet always full. Hubby had his usual beef fillet cubes on rice with raw egg (HKD 185), a teppanyaki of sorts with very tender beef and a sweetish sauce you can ask extras of (not exactly teriyaki but addicting!). Of course beef paired with sticky, hot Japanese rice with lots of sauce to dribble over is always a sure winner.

I had their yakitori set lunch (HKD 220) which came with miso soup, Japanese fried rice and dessert. Skewers of mushroom stuffed with minced chicken, giant asparagus, chicken fillet with leeks (they call it long onions), chicken balls, chicken wings and chicken liver arrived one after the other. All in all a happy birthday lunch. Not exactly the prices you would find at the "set lunch" places in Soho, and I was surprised with the crisis and all there were people waiting for a table at 1:30 pm, but that's HK for you. We were there because it was my birthday, they were there just because.

Dinner was supposed to be at Grissini (the Grand Hyatt's Italian restaurant) but hubby has been wait listed for a week (see what I mean? people in HK are still eating out, and eating well!) so we opted for Baci instead. Little boy was with us (I think he's old enough to go to proper restaurants and is adventurous enough to not go home hungry). We shared the rich and creamy porcini and black truffle risotto, a tomato, basil and spicy salami pizza, and fresh tagliatelle with rabbit ragout. Little boy ate tons of the crisp flatbread, tried the pesto dip, ate 2 slices of pizza, finished off his half order of bolognese, and ate a lot of the tagliatelle (without the rabbit, which all of us found too gamey).

Little boy loves eating out, whether at a formal restaurant, a cafe or his favorite HKD 16 noodle shop. He probably takes after me, the one who gets excited at the mere thought of eating someone else's cooking.

No cake or dessert for us on this day, no candle-blowing either. I'm trying to eat healthier this time around, and not gain as much as I did with Little boy.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Winter journeys and foodfests in pictures

It was my first time to go to Tai O Fishing Village, touted by the HK Tourism Board as the "Venice" of the East (I wouldn't go so far as to compare it to Venice), with its homes on stilts and fishing boats. It's a tiny place but there are boats you can rent for HKD20/person and if you're lucky you can see the famous pink dolphins.

Dried fish parts: which parts, I have no idea. The vendor gestured that it was part of the belly. Oh how I wish I had a translator with me that day.

Other dried fruits of the sea: scallops and sea cucumbers.

A quiet lane leading to a sun-dappled seaside promenade of sorts. The picture of village life marred only by tourists and their cameras.

Ate hotpot at Yau Gwat Hei, a very popular resto. We ordered the specialty, wintermelon broth studded with shredded dried scallops and lotus seeds. Check out the size of that melon! Was the restaurant worth the hype? Definitely not! Service was lousy and the place was old and ill-maintained. Was the broth good? It looked good, but was decidedly bland. My pa makes the BEST hotpot broth ever.

We ordered pig's liver (generous portion), fishballs (very tasty and springy), Shanghai dumplings (average), baby bok choy (fresh and crunchy), enoki mushrooms, thinly sliced marbled beef (not the best), cuttlefish (tough and chewy), tofu and vermicelli.

the beef

the dumpling which Little boy loved

the broth simmering with the wintermelon flesh

Good Spring Company Limited, found on the corner of Stanley and Cochrane Streets in Central, sells herbs and herbal tea. After lunch office workers queue up for their requisite HKD5 cuppa which they say aids in digestion. After eating a cheap, oily and msg-laden lunch they need all the help they can get.

Pa was fascinated with the tea dispensers.

There's ginseng tea, sweet flower which I tried a long time ago, and the one with 24 bitter herbs which my intrepid father tried.

The man was oblivious to my camera. He must be used to it.

In Macau where everything is cheaper, even these skewered snacks were at least HKD3 less than their HK counterparts.

At Thai Basil in Pacific Place, we ordered the pumpkin custard with pandan ice cream. It was pleasantly cold (I thought it would be baked and warm), refreshingly sweet in a way only pumpkin can be.

An image of the other side: pandan ice cream (I wish they used a larger scoop). What are those pink and green strands you say? They tasted like cotton candy! Or should I say haystack candy?

Another dessert: sticky purple rice with mangoes, caramel, coconut cream and toasted coconut slivers which were a tad too jaw-breakingly crunchy.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Ah... France. I dream of visiting, of walking its streets, OF EATING ITS FOOD!!!!!

I can't just yet, but something from France came to me in the form of Laduree, a 146 year old Parisian institution that started as a bakery, and is now a tea salon/purveyor of luxury food.

A good friend thoughtfully brought over her baby pink Laduree box, and inside 6 macaroons were gently cradled, waiting patiently for a delicate hand to bring it over to not-so-delicate lips smacking with anticipation. I'm not a big macaroon fan myself, but I timidly tried one, and ended up enthusiastically eating 3.

We each had the pistachio, coffee and the revelation of the afternoon: the salted butter caramel. Similar to dulce de leche but less cloying, it was a sensation to the taste buds, a creamy, toffee-like silken creation with salty undertones. I, the not-a-macaroon-fan, could probably eat 3 in one sitting. Good thing there was only 1. After enjoying the macaroons, and while in the throes of utter pleasure, a part of our brain prodded us with the reminder that we had overeaten, that we consumed more sugar and calories in 10 minutes than we should have, so in an act of desperation we drank some hot tea and immediately felt better. I mean, what could be healthier, right? And tea does go so well with macaroons.

Confessions of a Shopaholic

I can't enter a food shop or walk by a market without buying something. Anything. A calorie-filled snack, an unnecessary, expensive ingredient, a kitchen doodad I admire then stick in a drawer, a bar (or three) of chocolate, something I feel my family back home will enjoy (even if I can only give it after several months), an exotic find from a country I haven't been to (now that definitely increases my choices exponentially).

Hubby says I enter with good intentions to just "window" shop, and leave a few hundred dollars poorer. My friends are testament to this predilection/addiction. Which means grocery lists are largely ignored as I tend to purchase far more than I originally planned -- but then aren't most shopaholics this way?

Last week I walked up to the Peak after my class and chanced upon Marketplace by Jason's. Part of the Dairy Farm Group, it's a cross between an upscale, expat-targeted Wellcome and Oliver's in Prince's building. That is to say, it's not as nicely stocked as Oliver's, but is far, far better than your ordinary neighborhood supermarket. I cruised the aisles and found nothing that interesting, plus I really didn't need anything. My freezer was groaning, my fridge bloated, my cupboards barely had an inch of space.

And yet you can guess what happened. The card got swiped, and the goodies lugged home.

wicked! Lindt dark chocolate with chili

worth a try: Movenpick 72%. I love my bittersweets. I love my darks.

The only dark hubby likes: with whole, crunchy almonds

For our families back home: rich, silky truffles

And my happy find: sinamak or spiced vinegar. I'm sure it's not the best brand out there but just look at the floating "silis" and flavorful spices and tell me you don't crave chicken inasal.

Friday, November 07, 2008


1. I am several blocks away from HK's oldest street market, where I get my weekly supply of fresh seafood and thrice weekly supply of fresh vegetables.

2. I am a few blocks away from 2 Italian delis where I get my deli meats, cheese, fresh bread, fresh herbs and other Italian bottled condiments and sauces.

3. I can count at least 6 private kitchens that I can walk to, if I'm so inclined. One Cajun, 2 Cantonese, 1 Sichuanese, 1 serving Sichuan/Beijing cuisine, 1 French. Pierre Gagnaire's PIERRE and Joel Robuchon's Atelier can also be reached by both my legs, in less time than it takes to eat lunch.

4. I live 20 minutes away from work, and on my way I pass by hidden slices of local life and culture (think stores selling paper houses, cars, LV bags and other material possessions the Chinese bring to the other world; dried seafood and herb stores with abundant displays of aromatic and medicinal bounties of the sea and land; small shops selling extremely inexpensive clothing from Korea and China).

5. There are supermarkets all around me, with one selling prepared sushi, sashimi and Chinese roasted meats.

6. I live 10 minutes away (by walking) from the premier restaurant and cafe district of HK, SOHO and NOHO. I'm a few hundred steps away from innovative food, leisurely Sunday brunches, decadent desserts, dimsum restaurants older than I am, a snake soup shop, the yummiest burgers and thinnest thin crust pizzas, noodles and wontons galore. Oh and did I mention I can have my pick of the following cuisines? Ukrainian, Russian, French, Mexican, Lebanese, Nepalese, Egyptian, American, Chinese regional, Chinese desserts, Finnish, Swedish, Canadian, Thai, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Moroccan, Japanese, Indian, Singaporean, Filipino, Spanish, Australian, Argentinian, Cajun, African, Malaysian, British, Irish...

If visitors ask me where I live, I won't rattle off my address. All they need to know is that if they visit me, they will surely be well-fed.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Pizza! Home-made! Perfect!

A good friend who's also a great cook lovingly made the thinnest pizza crust I've ever laid eyes on from scratch and invited us over for a night of conversation, pizza variations, wine and mojitos, and if that weren't enough, she ended the fantastic repast with a multi-layered mango float.

To start, we had insalata caprese, a slice of red-ripe Australian tomato on top of which rested an oval of buffalo mozzarella, kissed by fresh basil leaves. A few spritzes of extra virgin olive oil and drizzles of balsamic reduction and viola, a beautifully plated appetizer materialized before her (hungry and grateful) guests' eyes.

The 2nd course, a pizza salad or sorts, was simply small versions of the cracker-like crust topped with slivers of mozzarella, with whispers of baby arugula floating about and 2 paper-thin slices of parma ham folded, accordion-like. Balsamic vinegar and olive oil nicely rounded off the dish, and groans of "mmmmm" resounded as the saltiness of the ham mingled with the slight bitterness of the leaves which were offset by the sweetness of the balsamic. Each bite ended with a crunch and pleasurable sounds pervaded.

Three kinds of pizzas followed.
First, Mediterranean-style with pine nuts, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic and artichokes topped with feta and Manchego cheese.

Second, meat lovers with chunks of veal sausage, Andouille sausage, anchovies and garlic on a bed of tomato with roasted capsicum sauce, mozzarella cheese and Manchego.

Third, Hungarian salami with capers, olives, tomato with roasted capsicum sauce and mozzarella cheese.

After the first pizza no one was in the mood to take pictures. We were ravenous and just wanted to savor each slice.

Stuffed as we were that night, no one could resist this sweet ending.

Restaurants in HK are fine and dandy but nothing beats a dinner prepared with passion, served in a beautifully maintained home, with the proper lighting, music and aroma. Next week we veer away from gourmet and hold a proper American and Pinoy barbeque. After that, who knows? We plan to make this a regular thing, with various hosts receiving us into their homes, the food depending on mood, kitchen size and whether a dining table is available or not. Good company, dishes that could rival any restaurant's any day, and stimulating conversation are all the ambiance and inspiration we food lovers need.

* Thanks Acx for the pictures.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Vietnam in Kowloon

Kowloon City, to my mind, is a place steeped in history, hard to find and reach, the Thai quarter of HK. It means fantastic, cheap food; but it also means planning and coordination on my part such as: getting friends together, traveling far from HK Island, searching for the right restaurant.

As usual my OC-ness got the better of me. After eating there last night I realized it wasn't so far after all. Think: a short 10 minute subway ride from Central station to Mongkok on the red line, then a transfer to the green line for another 10 minute ride to Lok Fu, then a HKD16 cab ride to the restaurant. Searching for the right restaurant was a breeze. I had my usual arsenal of magazine clippings and recommendations from those in the know. The only thing that required planning was getting people to go with you so you could order tons of food without looking like a glutton and straining the limits of your stomach. Yet even that was easy. I mean, who can live in HK and say no to an invitation to dinner?

So off we went, 3 friends and I, to try out this Vietnamese/Thai restaurant with 4 branches within walking distance of each other (I thought that privilege was reserved for 7-11 and McDonald's).

What did we order, us 4? Crab in chili sauce, fried soft shell crab, beef cubes with tomato rice, shrimp balls, garlic vegetables, and chicken/pork satay.

fried soft shell crab: a generous portion that was not greasy, seasoned lightly, a gem!

crab in chili sauce: yummy but lacked heat!

beef in tomato rice: looked better than it tasted


the menu

Garisberg and San Mignel beer, anyone? Or maybe you want some Pesi-Coca.


What else did we want to order but did not have room for? Tom yum soup (weather was too hot though), vermicelli with crab meat (crab overload!), shrimp and pork rolls (we only saw it after ordering so much already), fried frog with salt and pepper, lamb ribs, all manner of curry and noodle soups.

Evidently we ordered too much and had to suffer a period of moaning and groaning. We walked a few blocks of Kowloon City after the meal and promised ourselves we would be back, to try Combo Thai (Thai/Viet), a hotpot restaurant, an incongruously located French bakery, a place known for typhoon shelter crab.

Read up on Kowloon (Walled) City!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Adventures in a Wet Market

Today was supposed to be food trip day. I had a doctor's appointment planned, then lunch with a fellow food-obsessed friend at this hawker stall in North Point (specialties: duck rice and squid ink noodles), followed by a hot stone massage treatment in Causeway Bay. Ahhh, indulgence, every woman's best friend.

But plans change, and since I couldn't contact Tung Bo and my friend and I met late, we decided to eat at this noodle shop in Central serving a set lunch of 5 pieces xiao long bao with spicy noodle soup and cold soya milk. All for HKD38. Yum!

I headed off to my spa treatment, which happens only twice a year for me here in HK (but daily when I'm in Manila, where prices make me smile), and forgot about my cooked food market obsession for 2 hours. For those who are scratching their heads in wonder, a cooked food market is a series of food stalls selling a variety of cooked (what else?) food, usually located above a wet market. These wet markets are located in a building, with some vendors spilling out onto the street. All manner of items are sold at these wet markets, like meat, poultry, vegetables, noodles, fruits, seafood, desserts, flowers, roast meats, cloths, hardware items, plastic ware and sundry articles. At a second floor accessible by stairs or escalator you will find the food hall or cooked food market. Some sell forgettable stuff swimming in oil, but others are well-known, like Tung Bo at the Java Road Market.

I read about some stalls at the Bowrington Road (the address says Causeway Bay, but it sits in the middle of CWB and Wan Chai, and I always don't know where one district ends and the other begins) cooked food market and after my massage my OC-ness returned full blast and with a painful foot I hobbled out into the smoggy, humid HK outdoors and walked towards Bowrington Road.

A kind vendor showed me where to go, and even gave me a toothy grin with a thumbs up sign when she saw me walking out, my fingers laced around heavy plastic bags filled with food in styro boxes. Inside the market no one could speak English, so armed with a combination of sign language, the article I had cut up, and a determination to seek out good food wherever they may be I sought out three places.

The first is called Qing Zhen. The write-up said they serve roast goose to rival Yung Kee, so I immediately ordered half a goose and was pleasantly surprised to be charged only HKD 70. The old man minding the stall wanted to sell me marinated goose wings but I declined. This stall is over 60 years old!

Next up: Hoi Kee Roast Specialist, which chaxuibao blogged about here. Of course I ordered the curry lamb noodles. HKD 40 for a huge, huge serving.

A short trek across the hall brought me to Kan Kee Vegetarian, whose owner is Buddhist, to get some veggies for our dinner, but they had nothing cooked and I couldn't wait so off I went to the stall by the entrance selling seafood. A guy with a cigarette hanging form his lips greeted me and I asked for an English menu so I could order vegetables. Obviously they had none so he told me to enter their tiny (and dark, and dirty) kitchen and choose what I wanted. What an honor to be welcomed into a sacred place! I was greeted by steam, the odor of cooking food and the odor of those cooking the food, a grand slam in one go! I asked for the tung choi, which is like kangkong, and told the guy to cook it in whatever way he wanted. I also pointed to some sliced eggplant I spied sitting in a basket in the dining area, and he told me he would pair it with pork. Yes, whatever, surprise me!!!! I paid HKD68 for both dishes and trudged home.

So here are the results of my adventure today, costing a mere HKD170 (very cheap by HK standards, considering there's half a goose included).

The verdict? The goose was very meaty, which is a plus, but Yung Kee's skin is crisper and the meat more tender. Their sauce was quite nice, pale but not too sweet. The curry lamb noodles were some of the best I've tasted! And I've been to the popular one in Gough Street where luxury cars park outside waiting for their classy owners to finish up their noodles.(This one is better!) Yes it looks quite oily, but heck we only live once, right? The tung choi was overcooked but the garlic and chili flavors were pronounced and the seasoning, perfect. The eggplants were likewise overcooked, or perhaps they cooked in their own heat during my long walk looking for a non-existent cab and my subsequent trip home, but the pork was tender, and I wasn't expecting much.

In retrospect I should have waited for the vegetarian meal, but with prices and servings like these who am I to complain?

Bowrington Road Market, 21 Bowrington Road, Causeway Bay. All stalls located at the 1/F. Qing Zhen is stall number 5, Kan Kee is number 6, and Hoi Kee I don't remember.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Commercial Break No. 4

Me: You should try to wake up earlier each morning if you want time to play before going off to school.
Little Boy: But mama, it's so hard to get up.
Me: Then you should sleep earlier.
Little Boy: Can't you just plug me in every morning?

I asked him if he was an appliance and he said yes, he needed to be plugged in through his back to summon the energy to get up so early. :)

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Too many herbs=Grilled porkchops

Inspired (again!) by Marketman's posts on the thin porkchops he had in Greece, and wanting to deal with the surfeit of fresh herbs in my fridge (I tried using the word "ref" here in HK, but no one understood) begging to be used, I brought out my weapon of choice, my trusty mallet, and pounded away.

Here are pictures of the chops rubbed with dried oregano, fresh thyme and rosemary, drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice, with a touch of salt and pepper. I don't have an outdoor grill and had to make do with my grill pan, so I sorely missed the char marks and burnt, crisp sides, but it tasted good! So good I forgot to take pictures of the finished product.

Favorite Supermarket No More

I went back to Jusco in Taikoo Shing recently, and viewing the supermarket from the eyes of a grumpy hubby, I realized it was too crowded, and the Chinese and Japanese language labels were more of a hassle than an inspiration to re-learn Mandarin. I still love the food stalls, and bought 3 (yes, 3!) Japanese pancakes- one with matcha and adzuki, one with banana chocolate and another with strawberry adzuki.

It's not my number one favorite supermarket anymore. I guess after shopping in cramped stores with a limited selection, you are awed by such cavernous (by HK standards) space, bright, bright lights, and scores of Japanese goodies waiting to be devoured! I realize now that all supermarkets in HK have their limitations, so I'll just go to each one for the good stuff they have.

Jusco or Apita in Taikoo Shing: anything Japanese

Great in Pacific Place: Polaine bread, balsamic vinegar in barrels, beautiful but limited selection of cookware and silicone products, sauces from all over the world

City'Super in IFC, Harbour City: Little Mermaid Bakery for their tantalizing smells wafting throughout the store, a selection of Japanese goods, their cheese and deli counter, chocolate products

Oliver's in Prince's Building: their veal bratwurst from the deli

Three Sixty at the Landmark: reasonably priced deli stuff and fruits

Wet market: seafood, meat, fruits, and vegetables!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

My Favorite Supermarket in HK

I didn't use to have a number 1 favorite supermarket or gourmet grocery store simply because living in HK you are spoilt for choice. Three Sixty (The Landmark, Central) has a convenient location, a wide range of organic products and reasonable prices. Oliver's Delicatessen (Prince's Bldg, Central) has very reasonably priced deli meats and sausages, City'Super has many locations and a wonderful-smelling bread shop called Little Mermaid. It also stocks Splenda by the packet, and my trusty fire-engine red silicone utensils. Great Food Hall (Pacific Place) stocks food from all over the world, and always entices me with their expensive "olive oil and vinegar" in barrels selection. They also carry Polaine bread from France. I'll segue a bit and tell you about the avocado oil and avocado oil with lime my friend is raving about. She says it can be found in HK but it's very pricey. She bought hers from New Zealand, where it's made. I can imagine drops of this fragrant oil on salads and pasta. Mmmmmmmmm, I miss the truffle oil an uncle gave me. It ran out ages ago.

So you see? There are so many food shops in HK (I hear the newly-opened Jason's Marketplace is a must-visit) that it's hard to choose just one favorite.

Yesterday though, a friend brought me to Jusco in Taikoo Shing (far away on the Easternmost side of HK Island)and I fell in love. A few of the highlights:

*Wide aisles and bright lighting.
*A lot of Japanese food on offer. And I mean a lot.
*Prices are far better than most.
*The crowd at their ready- meal counter was awful and jostling for space, but this can only mean the food is good.
*I've never seen such a variety of fish on sale.
*A Japanese restaurant inside that serves set meals that look yummy, although I have yet to try it this weekend.
*So many food stalls selling a variety of sweets like Stick Sticks (cakes cut into sticks instead of wedges), Beard Papa (the gourmet cream puff), Antique Tea Room, Maria's (their cheesecake was selling out fast), and Sakura Street (I loved the Japanese pancake filled with matcha cream and azuki and gobbled one up in minutes), to name a few.
*Savory stalls include a Fat Angelo's pizza by the slice and packed salads, 2 long Chinese cooked food counters, 2 sushi counters, a takoyaki counter, Japanese skewers, and so many more.
*If you get tired of grocery shopping, they have several floors of department store above.
*A Macau restaurant across the street that's well-known for their pork chop bun, curry and fried rice.

I ask you then, what's not to like? Probably the fact that there's no fresh seafood stall or a butcher, but I can walk to the Graham Street market (HK's oldest, since 1841)near my home. Most labels are also in Chinese, which means I have to brush up! Despite these negatives, Jusco is officially my favorite supermarket in HK.

Nearby is Apita, (located in Cityplaza, a mall in Taikoo Shing) another supermarket run by a Japanese chain, if you get bored with Jusco. Their prices are slightly higher, though. On the top floor of this mall is the best food court in HK! Their Taiwanese food, Wonton and Congee, Vietnamese Food and Sergeant Chicken (Hainanese Chicken Rice) stalls are famous! I tried the chicken rice yesterday. It was dreamy to be able to eat soft, pliant flesh dipped in soy sauce, chili sauce and the finest ginger, mixed with fragrant rice and soup. Their chicken is boneless! They even have boneless chicken feet.

I have now decided that the eastern side will be the location my next food trip. This includes Taikoo Shing and North Point (haven of Fujian cuisine, the one I grew up eating).

For a list of HK food shops see this link:

Wonton vs. Dumplings

A Chinese friend just taught me a food lesson yesterday. She says wontons and dumplings should not be interchanged or confused with the other. Wontons are often crescent-shaped, and fillings are composed of meat, vegetables and crunchy strips of dark fungus. Dumplings are usually round, and filled with meat only.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Wonton Chronicles

One rainy afternoon I met up with Hiro Sakai of the blog Eating and Cooking. The reason we met up was simple: he had a mission. To try several wonton places in Hong Kong that I previously blogged about here and here.

How we found out we knew each other from long ago is not so simple, and involves convoluted, funny, and scary emails sent back and forth for several weeks. We thought we were each other's "stalkers", and had we not discovered each other's identities we probably would never have met up for an afternoon of eating and talking about food.

A wonton, or wanton, is a type of dumpling filled with savoury minced meat or vegetables. I personally love those with one or a combination of the following: shrimp, prawn, minced pork, minced watercress/spinach/courgette/chives. I've tried one with lamb at a famous hotpot place called Little Sheep. It's a chain restaurant from China, and is so huge it was listed in the stock exchange recently.

Hiro S. told me to prepare my tummy for our feast so I didn't eat lunch. Using a tiny umbrella meant for one we walked around Central and tried the following places:

Tsim Tsai Kee, Wellington Street: We shared a bowl full of steaming soup and generous servings of prawn dumplings and some beef noodles.

Mak's Noodle, Wellington Street: We had a bowl of shrimp dumplings and another with beef brisket and tendon.

Sam Tor, Pottinger Street: Again we had a bowl of soup with shrimp dumplings and shared a huge plate of fried fresh fishball with clam sauce. The clams were tiny, fermented and salty. I've tried fried fishball at so many places but this for me was the best- not fishy, no overpowering Chinese herbs, not greasy.

For dessert we relaxed at this place called Antique Tea Room on Lyndhurst Terrace, and Hiro S. remembered to buy some BBQ pork (cha siu) and roast goose from the famous Yung Kee on Wellington Street.

I'll let Hiro S. blog about this foodtrip (which had the best dumplings, prices , ambiance etc...). He took pictures and he's got a great memory for tastes, prices and food in general. He never wrote anything down so you can imagine how much that memory holds- considering how prolific he is when it comes to restaurant hopping.

Thanks Hiro S., that was a fun afternoon! For those who are based abroad and want to know where to eat in Manila, his is the blog to read.

Greek Salad

Inspired by Marketman's posts on Greece, especially this one about a Greek Salad he tried at home, I decided to whip up my own Greek-style salad for lunch today.

I used these lovely grape tomatoes I found from my neighborhood fruit stand (tomato, is, after all, a fruit), cut them in half, and tossed them in with some leftover lettuce, crispy cucumbers (the small kind, like MM suggests), dried oregano, extra virgin olive oil, white wine vinegar (my red wine vinegar was way, way past its expiry date so I had to bin it), a splash of lemon juice, and I poured in half a pack of cubed feta cheese and kalamata olives marinated in herbs and oil.

Of course I was in a hurry and had to make do. Next time I'd grab some fresh oregano leaves, a huge hunk of feta, some wicked marinated olives from Great, and beautiful tomatoes from the market.

For breakfast today I had some yogurt with Manuka honey (from New Zealand, supposedly with healing properties) and 2 fresh strawberries. How's that for feeling like I'm in Greece?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Kitchenware Sale=Naughty Thoughts

Yesterday hubby and I, along with a male friend, went to the most disappointing kitchenware clearance sale ever!!!!!!

It was held in a tiny hotel function room, and most of the wares were either damaged, detached or downright ugly.

I went to a Le Creuset Clearance Sale and it was heaven compared to this one, despite the 1 1/2 hours I had to endure standing in line.

Maybe it was our fault. We arrived at 3pm, 2 hours to closing time. Maybe bargain hunters scrambled for pots and pans in the morning and left the unwanted items sitting forlornly on the tables, looking old, stale and pathetic.

We saw a silicone spatula, it's head detached from its handle. The head was selling for HKD 2. Hmmm, I wonder if it's truly a bargain to buy it considering you'll have to burn your hands since it didn't have a handle. Or maybe the handle was lying somewhere far away, ashamed to be seen in the company of castaways and mutant utensils.

Out of boredom, and sheer naughtiness, we decided to scrutinize some of the stuff on sale and guess what they were. My friend and I being kitchen buffs, it was easy to rattle off names like nutcracker, potato masher, melon baller etc.. Poor hubby had no idea what they were. We decided to take fun to the next level and describe their uses.

Anyone interested in something that will "mash your potato", "scoop your balls", "hold your eggs", "separate your eggs", or, horror of horrors, "crack your nuts"?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Commercial Break No. 4

My little boy's favorite expressions when he feels pissed, frustrated, resentful, angry, irritated or just plain buggered.

Last year: Aw, pickles! (from Higglytown Heroes on Playhouse Disney Channel)
A few months ago: Aw, Man! (from Swiper on Dora the Explorer)
Now: Tricks in copper bottom! (NOW WHERE DID THAT COME FROM????????)

Monday, May 26, 2008

THE Miele Guide

This is Asia's answer to the Michelin (sort-of, considering ordinary people get to vote, and the the criteria isn't as stringent). And I say, it's about time! Asian cuisine is steadily becoming accepted and even "fashionable" in the West. Europe is not a place everyone can travel to, and even if they could, Michelin-starred restaurants are not exactly cheap, so it excites me that an Asian list is coming out...

For those based in the Philippines, do help put 3 local, outstanding restaurants on the world food map. Just go to to vote! Hubby and I have voted for our favorite restos in the Phillipines, Hong Kong, Thailand, Macau and Indonesia. I'm definitely getting a copy- biased reviews or not, I'm a sucker for any literature that's food-related.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Food Experiments

Spinach artichoke dip

Pochero, complete with ham bones

Seafood cake with Pumpkin Pine Nut Risotto. Lacks a green garnish.

What I'm Loving in HK

Pineapple buns and other "panaderia" goodies

Fluffy omelet and crunchy buttered roll for breakfast from a very local place

Colors of the market: the oranges, pinks, greys of various fish, the depth of green of leafy vegetables, the rainbow colors of fruits in season, the reds, browns and yellows of roasting meat and fowl hanging from hooks

Stinky tofu

Dried seafood

More dried seafood, with dried kumquat (the roundish green thing) that people use in soups for its medicinal properties

Starfish! Wonder what they use this for...

Streetfood: skewered everything

Cuttlefish! Deep-fried and sprinkled with pepper salt. I prefer mine plain and swimming in vinegar.

Deep-fried vegetables, some with fish paste (made of dace)

Fresh fruit shakes/juice. No sugar or ice added! This is one of the nicer-looking fruit stands, by the way. I usually get my fruit fix from a hidden sidewalk vendor who uses maybe 2 blenders and 1 juicer of dubious hygiene for many different types of fruits.

Waffle. Who doesn't love the egg-y smell of this childhood favorite?

More to come...