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Friday, August 27, 2010


Since I was away in Hong Kong on my birthday, H and L took me out for a belated hometown b-day dinner at Tagine, a new age-y Moroccan restaurant in Beverly Hills. We opted for the tasting menu, here is the first refresher course, sorbet on a bed of cucumber salad to cleanse the palate in preparation for all the flavors to come.

We had a few courses ... they turned on the mood lighting so too hard to photograph... here is grilled tiger shrimp on a bed of sweet potato puree and arugula courtesy of L's blackberry flashlight.

My birthday treat! Aww, thanks so much girls :-) I had a great time!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Santouka Ramen

In search of the perfect Ramen, I went to (Little) Osaka via the Catmobile Express... This is a popular Japanese chain in SoCal, Santouka, or Fire Head Mountain (see the three Chinese characters on the banner?). Hm, we Chinese should charge the Japanese for intellectual property infringement! In the form of free ramen for life :-)

I had been craving the Shoi or Salt ramen ever since having a perfect bowl at its Torrance branch. But alas, this one was somewhat disappointing -- the broth was thick and yummy, but what is this layer of grease doing floating on top? Huh? Totally ruined the ramen.

Diners chowing down the ramen -- slurp slurp slurp.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


My grandmother will turn 87 years old this year. She raised me when I was a baby. Times were particularly difficult for my parents when I was born. So she looked after me. For whatever reason, mosquitoes were particularly attracted to me...when I slept, she would stay up for as long as she can, to watch over me with a fan, to fend away the mosquitoes. She said she couldn't bring herself to ask my parents to buy a mosquito net for me. That was how difficult things were for my parents and she didn't want to put any burdens on them.

I don't know why, but I thought of my grandmother tonight on my way home. When I was seven or eight, I went back to my ancestral village to visit her. Being the youngest and the most mischievous grandchild (oi, all my cousins were so well behaved), I remember hopping around in the courtyard up to no good, while my grandmother watched on, with the most content smile on her face. I guess that's happiness.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


I never knew a corporate-y mall restaurant would be this good. L is leaving us to teach English in China this week, so I, being a big sister, decided to take her out and teach her some essentially phrases before she heads out. L is vegetarian, so she got this vegetable platter. The veggies were carefully chosen and beautifully arranged, there is the grilled artichoke, tomatillos, tomatoes, various types of pretty!

This has to be the best rotisserie chicken I'd ever had in the US. Nothing like the stringy Tyson's chicken. This is tender organic chicken, generously seasoned with herbs and spices (yay! flavors!), and the broth it came with is so good... Highly recommended.

Good luck L! I know you'll do us proud. Remember to scream 救命 (pronounced Jiu Ming or Joe Ming (Dynasty) if it's too hard to remember) whenever you don't feel safe. Awww.. we are sending our baby legal assistant off, sniff sniff...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Cat's Innocent!

Mom, told you I didn't break the plate. See? Gee, someone's got some growing up issues :-)
Photo Courtesy of Pei

Friday, August 13, 2010

Dream Chasers

Don't ask me how I ended up here... but this is a hostess bar in Shanghai. Here is how it works: once the guests arrive, and very expensive drinks ordered, a dozen or so very young women wearing cheesy white gowns will march in, each with a numbered tag, they line up and introduce themselves (where they are from etc), and if one of the guys fancies her, then she will be picked for the night to entertain the guy. As to how they entertain, that's anybody's guess. I was told the guys were on their best behavior knowing a lawyer was in their midst. But there was plenty of touching and kissing... and being a woman, it felt awful, I wish I had never gone to this place. The girls are probably ten years younger than me, and you feel sad for them, cuz they are too young to know this is so not worth it... the price they pay far exceeds whatever money they make.
The girls reminded me of this passage from the Great Gatsby:

Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter — tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And one fine morning ——
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

The glittery Bund... the green light that seduced the girls to leave their hometown to line up along a wall with a numbered tag...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Sigh, another food post, I eateth too much... rubbing buddha belly. L and I could easily pass for sisters. So we pretended to be the Chinese version of Paris and Nicky Hilton and strolled down the boulevards of Beverly Hills... and ended up at Bouchon, Thomas Keller's new gig in Tinseltown.

Pretty place setting... and pretty girls :-)

First up - seafood tower... they gave us some really good oysters. I particularly loved the little ones to the right of the tower, you know the ones with squiggly fringes... I think they are called Mikimoto or some thing  like that.

Fennel salad with figs... pic out of focus, my bad.

Dessert, shockingly, we were stuffed after the seafood tower. Very very good cream custard and very very good chocolate-y thingies. Afterward, we walked off the calories by taking a tour of the back kitchen, we then asked the front desk if we could become part time veggie cutters... or bus girls :-)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Yung Kee in Hong Kong

Yung Kee is a famous restaurant in Lan Kwai Fong, Hong Kong. So one night, we decided to brave the rain, and the five minute taxi ride, to taste its famous roasted goose...

First floor dining hall, by later that night, all three floors were packed, with people waiting on the side...

Free appetizer: ginger and thousand year old egg... the purpose of the ginger is to warm up your tummy. Not sure about the 1k yr old egg. I have very much a love hate relationship with these antique eggs.

We ordered a very unusual fish called -- Black Sea Watermelon Seed, named because of its jet black scales... notice the sharp red lips. I felt kind of bad, it's like it belongs in an aquarium rather than on people's dinner plate.

Here is the star of the evening... sadly the quality has gone down since five years ago (I used to come here quite often back then). The goose was a bit lukewarm, and just not as flavorful as before.

Another famous dish -- giant prawns stuffed with crab roe. Me likes very much. Sorry it's 4 in the morning, just got back from Hong Kong and super jetlagged so writing like a five year old.

Cantonese style noodle dish with veggies and meats... not pictured is a yummy veggie dish with crab meat and sauce.

And here is Mr. Black Sea Watermelon Seed... the Cantonese cook steamed fish like nobody else... it was perfectly cooked, perfectly seasoned, tender and delicious. RIP Mr. Fish.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Star Ferry

Taking the Star Ferry from Kowloon to Hong Kong Island... all for less than 50 cents... can't beat the view. 

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Cheung Chau from the Peak

Here is Cheung Chau Island from the Peak (I even added red arrow to help you)... HK is really puny. I went to the island then to the Peak this Sunday, all in maybe three four hours... so convenient. I didn't know this was Cheung Chau, then I remembered reading about it as being dumbbell shaped, then I looked up HK's map and was like, I was just there!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Cheung Chau Island

IMO, the outlying islands are the best kept secrets of Hong Kong. They are a mere half an hour to an hour's ferry ride away, but they could not be more different. Here is the harbor at Cheung Chau Island.

A long time ago, more island people lived on boat than on land... here is one fisherman's home. See the clothes being line dried on the boat?

One of the main thoroughfares on the island (here is a popular dim sum restaurant)... btw, no personal/commercial vehicles are permitted on the island... only specially designed emergency vehicles. So lots of people ride bicycles on Cheung Chau.

Another busy side street... the local foods here kind of reminded me of some Taiwanese dishes such as oyster pancakes, mi shian...

Local lady selling dried seafoods

McDonald's... why are we Americans such scene spoilers :-)

The oddest umbrella I'd ever seen... see how sleepy this little island is?

Eating dim sum... the restaurant owner asked me: are you going to eat all that? So I replied: why don't you help me... and he was laughing... people are really easy going here, completely different from the main Hong Kong Island. Btw, all this for less than five bucks.

It was so hot, I almost got a heat stroke. So after dims um, I hid inside Circle 9 (local equivalent of 7/11) and watched as a parade passed by.