Thursday, August 20, 2009

A tall glass of... whatever strikes your fancy

So our train of epicurean adventures made a pit stop in Taipei, Taiwan. Yours truly spent 3 days in Asia's food paradise, and came out with its beverages leaving the strongest impression. Taiwan, the birth place of everybody's favorite Bubble Tea, is where the many fruit and herbal iced teas first became a craze. Taiwanese people are more inventive and daring with their beverages, here are the English translations of the beverage names below: Kumquat Lemon Tea, Winter Melon Tea, Fizzy Grape Juice and Pickled Sour Berry Juice.

The only drink out of the four there that's not widely available in Hong Kong is 冬瓜茶 (winter melon tea), pictured below. Winter-melon is good for reducing the heat in your body, the heat in your body is what causes an acne break out, which I'm a victim of right now, sigh! Always happens in this heat, a lot of people will drink the Pickled Sour Berry Juice to reduce their heat too, which really helps a breakout. I'm not very fond of the taste, it was just plain sweet with a very vegetable-like flavor. Vegetables belong in soup, not in sweet drinks! And you can take that to the bank.

My brother Chris taking a sip before he reacted with utter disgust. Sadly, it was the same reaction from me. Winter melon really does belong in soup, let's keep it that way.

Now this is for the ladies: did your mother ever tell you eating papaya will make your bosom bigger? My mother sure did, and I always cleared the plate every time we have it at home. Sadly, the magical effects have yet to reveal themselves, but papayas are absolutely delicious. And the one thing even better than that is Papaya Milk (木瓜奶) in Taiwan, which grows some of the yummiest papayas. The ingredients are very simple: ice, milk and chunks of beautiful, reddish-orange papaya.

And now I'm thirsty for some lychee green tea with tapioca balls, Taiwanese-style. Although too many iced drinks is really unhealthy, not only does the sugar end up on your waistline, but it's no good to put something so cold into your body. On the rare occasion that Joey from Friends actually said something wise: One moment on the hips, forever on the hips. We should really just stick to plain lukewarm water, but at the same time we're all losing enough calories from sweating profusely in this searing heat, so serve up that cold beverage!

Bon voyage and quench your thirst,
Jenny Cheng

Monday, August 17, 2009

Shake Shake! Shake 'Em All!!

Burgers' popularity has been rising in the past year in Hong Kong. When I was young, McDonald's was the only place you could find burgers. However, all these different burgers fast food place, restaurants or just burger stands are opened in many corners. I went to this one called Shake 'Em Buns (a very attractive name).

It is a self-service place, sort of like fast food but a little nicer. The interior design is quite simple, with some bumper stickers on the wall, it gives out a very foreign atmosphere. There are about 20 burger choices. The burgers there have some very creative names. My friend ordered "Magical Mushroom" Burger while I ordered "The Southern" Burger. It also has hot dogs, shakes, wings, just like a diner. A combo is $80, burger with fries and a soda. Not a good deal I must say, quite expensive in fact. Because of its price, I was expecting a very delicious burger. I must say, it wasn't as good as I expected. The burger itself is not very juicy. My burger is not as original, instead of ketchup, cheddar and mayonnaise, mine comes with sour cream, guacamole and salsa. It was a little too much of that "southern" taste. The burger itself isn't very juicy, it's not dry but when you bite into it, you can't exactly taste the beef. The burger is huge though, so if you eat a lot, it should fill you up in no time.

It's not a must try but it doesn't hurt if you don't mind spending $80 bucks on a burger!

Eat Up!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Noodles in a bag

Before I left home I made sure to say adios to Mong Kok. With shopping and crowds galore, Mong Kok is a pit stop for all tourists and locals alike. My destination was Mong Kok Centre, a mall formatted more like a market with tiny stores and stalls selling little trinkets, clothing, and accessories. Surprisingly my mission in this outing was not to shop. All my heart desired that day was a bag of noodles.

On the ground floor is a stall that provides the 'bag of noodle' service. Step one is to choose what type of noodles you want, then you proceed to choose 3 toppings to go with your noodles. Once selected, someone takes all the bags of what you've selected, combines them into one, mix
es in either garlic or spicy sauce, and you're good to go!

The best part of it is...this snack hardly puts a dent in your wallet!
Each bag of noodles, including toppings only costs $5!

man man sik,
Elyssa Yuen

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Cantonese Hot Dog with Mayo

This is how I know I'm Canto through and through. I, Cheng Ting-Yan, like mayo on my hot dog. And you'll be a fan too, if you've tried the Cantonese hot dogs at Wing Lok Yuen Restaurant (永樂園) on Chiu Long Street (昭隆街) , Central. They are the self-acclaimed King of Double Sausage Hot Dogs (雙腸熱狗王). The need for double dogs because Canto weiners are teeny weeny. The 30-year-old restaurant uses the cheapest sausages that money can buy - the pinkish pork sausages that Hong Kongers love to cook at barbecues. The sausages are cooked with very little oil in the rolling pan, which doesn't burn the skin of the sausage and it keeps it heated, so it's still nice and warm when it's put inside the bun. The buns are also kept warm in an oven and are only taken out when a hot dog is ordered. The bun is different from American ones, because the crust of the bread is crisp.

Instead of adding relish, ketchup and mustard, Wing Lok Yuen has its own secret formula of a honey mustard mixed with mayo topping that makes it the best part of this Cantonese-style hot dog. The topping is sweet and sour, and leaves a nice aftertaste in your mouth. It's a light lunch, perfect for this Indian summer. I've been feeling nauseous a lot this summer from being too full, so this lunch, which I gladly ate while strolling through Central with my brother was perfect. I don't think I could've survived on a hot dog for lunch in Syracuse, but my stomach's shrunk into the size of a walnut since coming back to Hong Kong. We Cantos have always known the delicate enjoyment of small portions anyway!

The lady pouring on a dollop of the famous honey mustard mayo! Yummers, teehee!
Bon voyage, and cheers to small portions!
Jenny Cheng

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Literal Delight Express

Most Hong Kongers do not take advantage of crossing the border to Shen Zhen. Crossing over into China is a transition that most do not enjoy or appreciate...but who can blame them? The crowds, pushing, strange people trying to lure you to their store. It's a sight that I tried to avoid at all costs myself. This summer however, I figured out how much SZ offers and crossed over by MTR 5-6 times. Last summer I went once to get a winter coat made, and I was so pleased with the result that I couldn't wait to go back! This time around I got: 3 male dress shirts, a dress, shirt, pants, skirt, and a cheung sam made. Spending hours picking out material and attempting to communicate with my tailor who spoke no english, resulted in a famished group. I must explain first that I do not venture very far past the exit of the MTR. A few feet away is a huge mall. The very top floor holds a market that only sells material, and the surrounding stores outside of this market are numerous tailors. The floors below sell everything your heart desires. Back to being famished, the famous restaurant chain in Hong Kong called Loreal has a place right next to the huge material market. If you ask me that was absolutely genius. They have bilingual menus to attract tourists (and of course people like me) and the food they serve caters to the Hong Kong crowd. After eating here once I was hooked, and ended up eating here
every subsequent time I visited.

Like any place, I can't say that everything they serve is great. An example being, their siu long bao. Served in traditional bamboo baskets used for steaming, each individual dumpling was steamed in a mini aluminum cupcake holder. I thought it was adorable when it came out, and actually brilliant for people who aren't used to or capable of picking up their dumpling without bursting its insides. THEY WERE THE BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT EVER. The dumplings were completely stuck to their aluminum counterparts and there was slim to none soup.

Thankfully, the meal only got better! My favorite dish tried here consisted of seafood stir-fried in sweet and sour sauce. They infused this popular dish with the well known dim sum dish 'cheung fan.' So, there was a mixture of stir fried seafood, and fried chinese donuts stuffed with delicious shrimp!

Other side dishes we ordered were ma ma dei but this place is a must just for their sweet and sour seafood dish!

man man sik,
Elyssa Yuen

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

再見香港 zai jian xiang gang

As I prepare to leave home, it's only fitted that I blog about one of my favorite restaurants and cuisine of all time- Shanghainese by Crystal Jade. Now, I have never been to Shanghai and have therefore concluded that my palate has not been acquainted with true Shanghainese flavors, but that doesn't stop me from loving this huge chain restaurant across Hong Kong.

Of course, siu long bao 小籠包 is a must. To this day, I have never encountered a place that is capable of making these succulent dumplings with such thin skin whilst being able to hold in a mouthful of soup. Dishes ordered when I frequent this delightful haven are: Dam Dam Min 擔擔麵 (slightly spicy peanut sauce noodles), chicken and cucumber noodle salad served with a sesame oil & peanut butter sauce, and lou ba sou 蘿蔔酥 (shredded turnip fried in little dumplings). I also recommend their shrimp fried in ham dan 鹹蛋 (salty egg).

Words cannot express how much I will miss this place. If you're in Hong Kong and have never been to Crystal Jade, shame on you...

man man sik,
Elyssa Yuen

Childhood Snack: Pudding in a Bowl

Passengers, allow me to introduce you to my favorite childhood/teenagehood snack: Bowl Pudding (仔糕). Every time I see bowl pudding sold on the street, I always buy one, preferably with brown sugar (pictured above) because when they use white sugar, it tastes a bit sickeningly sweet. And always with red bean, because it gives it a contrasting texture with the smooth and... taut pudding, and yes, those two adjectives also describe a baby's bottom. Give me this instead of ice cream any day, and I'll be a happy camper.

The pudding is steamed and used to sell for HKD$3, the cheapest food item money could buy. The brown sugar bowl pudding is always sold out at the end of day, especially when students got off school at around 4pm. Perhaps due to its popularity but most likely to inflation, the bowl pudding is now sold for HKD$4. The pudding is scooped out of the ceramic bowl using the two bamboo sticks.

I lived in Chi Fu, a middle class residential area with a cutesy shopping mall. Nothing crazy, just your regular wet market, supermarket, hardware store, a few restaurants, all frequented by the same folks who live in the area. The shop that sells bowl pudding is at the wet market where they also sell curry fish balls, shrimp and pork dumplings, noodles and other Cantonese comfort foods. My cousin Gloria and I went to the same secondary school school, so we'd hop off the school bus and head over for after noon tea. Sometimes we'd go to McDonalds or Pizza Hut, but most of the time, I enjoyed bowl pudding or other non-chain store food. I tried bowl pudding at this place that claims to be the King of Bowl Puddings (砵仔王) which has chain stores all over HK, but it tasted so mass-produced, and it was over-steamed so the pudding was all mushy. Too bad these small, privately-owned eateries are slowly being gobbled up by boring, tasteless chain stores.

Bon voyage,
Jenny Cheng