Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Photo from Omy.

Today's the last day for a chance to win a 3D2N trip for two to Hong Kong, courtesy of the HKTB. Hop on over to the website and vote your favourite blogger (anyone will do!)

I still have one more post on Hong Kong, which I will publish later today. It's on one of the best meals we've had in Hong Kong, at Margaret Xu's private kitchen Yin Yang. She also gave us a great recipe for a killer green chili dip!

Meanwhile, GOOD LUCK, and enjoy Hong Kong, whoever wins! :)

Friday, August 27, 2010

This post is my first for Yesterday.sg's Imprint series which looks at all things memorable from our childhood to old-school things still revered today. To start things off - what breakfasts did you grow up with?

Putu Mayam
Putu mayam
Putu mayam, the South Indian dish of steamed rice flour vermicelli scented with pandan, and served with fresh shredded coconut and sugar. Back in the old days, the sugar for putu mayam was dark brown, like gula Melaka shavings. I reckon it yielded also a richer and more complex sweetness. Today it's this bright orange powdery sugar.

Nasi lemak
You can choose your nasi lemak toppings - here, fried chicken wing, ikan kuning and omelette (all in only S$3.50!)
Nasi lemak is a fond favourite of all races in Singapore. Fragrant coconut rice with spicy sambal chili, fried anchovies and peanuts, a fried egg or omelette, slices of cucumber are the must-have basics. For a more luxurious dish, you can include more toppings like fried chicken wings, otak-otak, fried ikan kuning, or sambal achar. It's long been one of the most convenient "takeaway" food, wrapped in banana leaves (not only does it infuse some flavour, but it is environmentally friendly and biodegradable).

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

En papillote. Al cartoccio. In parchment. Whatever you call it, this is possibly one of the most dramatic ways to serve pasta. Pizza Hut today introduced two new pastas “cooked in paper”. There’s “Spicy Seafood Parchment Pasta” (S$12.90) and “Char-grilled Chicken Parchment Pasta” (S$11.90) - both of which are baked in parchment paper at the final stage to allow the pasta to absorb flavours of the sauce and ingredients.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Congee with Pig's Liver and Fish Slices
Congee is soul food. It really is. Even a small sip of well-boiled rice gruel can bring warmth to the body and joy to weary spirit.

I'm actually not a big fan of congee, because all too often, the ones I get are less than satisfactory. So it's really wonderful when I come across congee that's made the way it really ought to be. This one is probably one of the best I've ever had.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Hong Kong Old Restaurant has a vibrant, welcoming vibe
After the Dragonboat Carnival, we regrouped for dinner at Hong Kong Old Restaurant at Miramar Shopping Centre, just across our hotel. Another wonderful recommendation by the Hong Kong Tourism Board. I liked it the minute I stepped in. It had such a warm, convivial and cheery vibe. There's gotta be some good food here to generate that kind of positive energy!

The "Old" in it refers to old money, according to our HK guide Rosanna. This very traditional restaurant was started by wealthy Shanghainese who migrated to Hong Kong. Not only would it provide them with hometown food, but also a place to discuss business.

I love the pickled vegetables
I always love these pickled vegetables - sweet, tangy and crunchy!

Our set menu for twelve
The HKTB arranged for us this dinner set menu for 12 pax. I can't read half the things here but I'm excited!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Dragonboats heading back to the startline
After fueling up on breakfasts, we headed to the Dragonboat Carnival at the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade. The three-day event was culminating that Sunday. The carnival saw 12 countries and 191 teams participating this year.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Why did we eat two breakfasts in one day?

Well, it was the day for us to go to the Dragonboat Carnival! Something that requires epic effort and great fueling up prior to the event, obviously!

Macau Restaurant at Lock Road, Tsim Sha Tsui

OK, fine, we're not in the actual race proper, except for a "Bathtub Race" for four bloggers. But some of us just woke up early, and decided to start the day right - with FOOD. Never mind that the digital weighing machine told me I was already 1.5kg heavier from yesterday's multiple meals. We ventured out of the hotel and explored the surroundings.

We walked into Macau Restaurant (25-27 Lock Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon; tel: +852 2366-8148), in a rather random fashion, but maybe our troop leader Alvin knew a thing or two. The food turned out to be pretty good.

Macanese crispy roll with pork chop and scrambled eggs
Macanese crispy roll with pork chop and scrambled eggs (HK$25, comes with coffee/tea). I never knew how tasty the Macau rolls were until now. The pork chop is thin but tender, juicy and well-marinated. A worthy challenger to the SME (Sausage McMuffin with Egg).

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

This is a full-size replica of the HMAV Bounty
The mutiny on the Bounty has got to be one of the most famous in naval history.

This life-size replica of the original H.M.A.V. Bounty was made in 1978 for the Dino de Laurentiis movie "The Bounty" (released 1983). It stars a brilliantly brusque Anthony Hopkins as Captain William Bligh, and Mel Gibson as Christian Fletcher, his so-called friend who would lead the mutiny against him.

Waiting to board, with great anticipation
Is this really the boat where the filming took place? We were going to have dinner on it!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Tin Hau is less commercial than Causeway Bay
After Mak's Noodles, I went to meet up with two old friends, Janet and Walter, whom I had not seen in more than four years. When they heard I had already had dim sum, grilled lamb rib, curry beef brisket, and wantan noodles...the only sane option left was dessert! At first, we headed to Times Square at Causeway Bay, but later Janet thought Tin Hau would be a better choice - it's where the locals go, and the dessert shops there are less commercialised.

"Aunty Sweet" 甜姨姨 at Tin Hau
We came to Aunty Sweet or 甜姨姨. It's a fairly well-known shop, but despite its success, it's stayed as a single outlet, not a chain. The owner Candy used to work at TVB, so occasionally you'll catch some TV celebrities eating here too.

Durian beancurd
Their signature special for the month was "Durian beancurd" (HK$28) - oh yes, oddly you'll find quite a few durian desserts in Hong Kong. Gorgeous creamy durian pulp atop refreshingly cold and smooth durian-flavoured beancurd. Even though durians are generally better in Singapore, this dessert was actually really good.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Great news! If you've been following my Hong Kong posts, you'll be glad to know you can win a trip to Hong Kong yourself!

The ten Singapore Blog Award 2010 winners have blogging their Hong Kong trip experience on a special OMY.sg site.

All you have to do is check out the posts and vote for your favourite blogger here - My Hong Kong Summer Travel Blog contest.

Once you're on the page, you can click on any profile photo to see the posts by that blogger.

Some of the posts are really well-written and funny. I love Kee Hong's hilarious caricatures (he draws with a mouse!!), Jerome's soulful insights, Pete's chirpy spirit, Violet's insider familiarity with Hong Kong, Darren's lyrical wit and humour, Gin's genteel wisdom, Elaine's youthful take on things, Geck Geck's pink bling and Sze Ping's fabulous photos. Me, I was just there for the food. *grin*

You can vote every day, once a day, until the contest ends 31 Aug 2010. Good luck!

I'm putting up on the sidebar this link, so you can access it daily from here.

The blogger with most votes also wins a similar trip to Hong Kong. I don't know if it will be scheduled together, but wouldn't that be fun?

The contest is organised by Omy.sg and the Hong Kong Tourism Board.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

I walked down this alley and voila, there's Lin Heung!
After my Sun Tung Lok dim sum breakfast, Gingko House Western lunch and Kau Kee post-lunch bowl of curry beef brisket, I was walking on my own randomly exploring the vicinity. Actually, trying to walk off some of the calories too, when I passed by this huge wall sign that you simply couldn't miss. Hey! Lin Heung Teahouse! Am I at Wellington Street already?

Lin Heung Teahouse at Wellington Street
Indeed I am! Oh I was very glad to see this old school yumcha teahouse. Lin Heung (160-164 Wellington Street; Tel: +852 2544-2556) has been around for some 80 years. But it was such a pity that I was way too full to eat any more immediately.

Busy yumcha atmosphere inside Lin Heung (upstairs)
Well, no harm taking a look at least. I ventured upstairs to the airconditioned hall. It's brightly lit and reasonably clean (well, cleaner than I expected). Families were chattering at runaway speed in Cantonese, amidst the constant clink of porcelain. Steaming baskets of dim sum were shuttled briskly to the tables, their aroma filling the air once the lids were lifted. Cups of Chinese tea dotted the crowded tables. I loved the bustling atmosphere! There was not a single seat free, even if I had wanted to eat.

It's more than dim sum at Lin Heung
Lin Heung is not just about dim sum. They have popular dishes for dinner too. If I have the chance to come back, I would love to try some of these too.

Stairway leads up to airconditioned dining hall, and down to takeaway pastries
I love the dark wood stairs and banisters. At the bottom of the stairway near the entrance is the takeaway pastries section.

Super old school pastries
Lin Heung has a bakery that does traditional Chinese biscuits and pastries. They also started putting out mooncakes already.

Traditional Chinese pastries from Lin Heung Teahouse
I was determined to take away a little piece of Lin Heung with me, so I bought some of the pastries to take back to the hotel. The old-fashioned packaging is so quaint and lovely.

Flaky pastry with salted egg in lotus paste
Flaky pastry with salted egg in lotus paste. The flaky skin is more papery than oily. Very dense lotus paste too. The taste is quite rustic and traditional indeed.

Pastry with century egg in mixed nutty paste
This is the first time I've tried a sweetish pastry with a whole century egg embedded within! Gotta say it's an acquired taste.

Easy to see where Bladerunner got its inspiration from
But back to Wellington Street. I continued my way, taking in the sights. This area is like quintessential old Hong Kong. This side alley may not be a prime example, but it's not difficult to see how Ridley Scott drew some of his inspiration for Blade Runner.

Shops crammed with goods
And then we have the commercialisation that's everywhere. There are lots of shops here selling anything and everything. They are often crammed to the brim with goods, some of it even spilling out onto the pavement, mixing with abandoned cartons.

Talk about a "no signboard" eatery!
There are also all kinds of eateries here. Look at this one, a single table in a dark shop underneath tungsten lights and the dilapitated carcass of a signboard. I was just wondering if the upper level is abandoned, when I caught the words near the staircase that say there's more seating and air-conditioning upstairs.

The building in which Mak's Noodles is housed - rather gaudy, no?
I finally reach what I've been looking for. This is the building in which Mak's Noodles is housed. Had not figured it'd be this gaudy.

Mak's Noodles - Anthony Bourdain was here!
But there it is - Mak's Noodles, right on the ground floor. This legendary place needs no introduction. Even Anthony Bourdain came here. But oddly, it seemed rather empty.

Tsim Chai Kee opposite Mak's seems to have more business
And right opposite, is a rival selling pretty much the same stuff - wantan noodles, apparently at twice the size and half the price. Tsim Chai Kee had a lot more people in it.

But I chose Mak's anyway. Every other shop else can come later.

Something magical in that steamy kitchen
I gingerly made my way in, and was immediately served tea. I watched the cook in the steamy kitchen, the place where all the magic happens.

These guys are super adept at making wantans - just 2 seconds per wantan!
I also watched the two gentlemen at the back of the shop, rolling wantans with practised ease. They didn't take more than two seconds to neatly parcel pork mince and prawn into the skin and fold it.

The infamously small bowl - Mak's Noodles
And soon, my bowl of the signature wantan noodle soup (HK$28) arrived. Mak's is known for its "stingy" portions - notice size of spoon in relation to bowl? That's how small the bowl is. That's why I could still eat this after having had 3 meals.

The small bowl is meant to keep the noodles from going soggy, but that's debatable.

Mak's famous wantan noodles
I dug up the wantans from the bottom. I have to say the soup smelled great, and tasted so. Made using powdered dried flounder, dried shrimp roe and pork bones, it was pungently umami and almost perfect. The wantans were excellent - incredibly fresh shrimp and flavourful seasoning.

However, the noodles were less QQ than I had hoped. Maybe I had left them soaking in the hot soup for too long while I admired the dish and took photos. But I checked the timestamp on the photos - it was less than 4 minutes from first photo to last. Still, it must have softened somewhat. I should have had another bowl - no photography allowed.

The famous Yung Kee at Wellington Street
So I left Mak's slightly underwhelmed but still happy I got to try it. Further down the road was Yung Kee. Been there, done that 10 years ago. Nice but I'm not a big fan of goose.

So ended my short walk on Wellington Street. Enough food for the day, right? Hahaha. Not quite. I hadn't had dessert!

Next up, I meet a couple of old pals who bring me to where the locals go for Hong Kong desserts. Stay tuned.

P.S. This post is also replicated at My Hong Kong Travel Blog 我的香港之旅, where all ten bloggers record their unique perspective of the trip. There's a contest (soon) where you can vote for your favourite blogger and win a trip to Hong Kong as well!
We interrupt the Hong Kong posts for an important announcement.

Every year a wonderful gathering of food bloggers for a meal together will mysteriously coordinate itself and happen. This year, magically it will take place at Michaelangelo's on the 25th of August (7.30pm).

Well, actually a lot of voluntary hard work goes into organising of the dinners,  just that most of us don't see it. This year, Ivan, otherwise known as NinjaHelloKitty (I keep wanting to type HelloNinjaKitty for some reason) of  has kindly taken up the gauntlet. More details on his site here.

The marvellous dinner menu is as below. Please contact Ivan here - http://food.recentrunes.com/?page_id=1318 to RSVP before 15 August 2010. Seating is limited, so it will be on a first come, first serve basis. Food bloggers get priority, of course.

Dinner Menu

Crabmeat Cake with Avocado top with Mesclun Salad, Beetroot Paint & Balsamic Reduction

Short Tube Pasta with chunks of Tuna in Homemade Tomato Sauce with Capers, Olives, Chili, Garlic, Basil, White Wine & rich Fish Broth

Main Course
Breaded Veal Scallopine pan fried in Butter glace with Veal Jus, Cherry Tomato Salsa & Lemon Wedge


Sea bream blanket with crispy Brick Phyllo on Butternut Pumpkin Puree top with Tomato Salsa

Pistachio Financier with Strawberry Salsa & Mint

Coffee / Tea

$50NETT per person

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Gough Street looks more like a back alley, but there's so much to discover here!
After my dim sum late breakfast, I joined the blogger team and Hong Kong Tourism Board representatives to cross over to Hong Kong island. Our destination - Gough Street. It may not look like much. In fact, it resembles more a back alley than a proper street. But there are many wonderful shops and eateries here!

Lots of shops selling curios, upmarket bric-a-brac and home accessories at Gough Street
As we walked down the street, we saw many shops selling curios, hip designer home accessories, and upmarket bric-a-brac.

Cutesy stuff for children
Also cute stuff for children and kids at heart. Many are European imports, so may not be cheap. But so nice to look at.

Gingko House is at 44 Gough Street
Our lunch would take place at Gingko House at 44 Gough Street (tel: +852 2545 1200). It's a lovely little place run with plenty of heart.

Gingko House employs the elderly and taps on their rich life experience to enhance service
You see, Gingko House is run like a social enterprise - it gives the elderly meaningful employment, and taps on their rich life experience to enhance service levels, encourage slow food dining and build rapport with customers.

The fare is largely French and Italian dishes. There were two set lunches we could choose from - the three-course Lunch Menu (HK$50-108 depending on mains) that comes with tea or coffee; and the lighter/healthier two-course "Leisure Lunch" (HK$98+) which comes with an organic mint and honey drink.

Mixed mushroom and walnut soup, organic vegetable salad
I chose the lighter one. The soup that came was an unusual mushrooms and walnut(!) broth. The regular menu gives you a cream-based soup. The salad consists of organic vegetables harvested from their own farm in Sheung Shui.

Grilled baby lamb rib with homemade organic mint sauce
Well, the reason I chose the lighter set was not for health reasons. It's because it had the "Grilled baby lamb rib with homemade organic mint sauce" and I just could not resist this.

Maple mustard salmon steak with linguini in homemade pesto
Others went for the maple mustard salmon steak with linguini in homemade pesto, also from the Leisure Lunch (no one went for the roast spring chicken option). Look at the huge servings!

Rib eye roast with herb gravy
The rest who went with the regular set mostly chose the rib-eye roast with herb gravy. I was lucky to have a bite. It was tender and aromatic. Their chefs, although elderly, come with lots of experience from major hotels.

Dessert is a simple orange jelly
They gave everyone the daily dessert (in this case, orange jelly) even though it's only on the regular lunch set. That was quite sweet of them.

Queueing up for tomato broth noodles with beef, toast with condensed milk
As we walked back to the chartered mini-coach, we saw again the ludicrously long queue for something that must be really good. We had no idea what.

As I looked at that queue, I myself walked into another queue on my side of the street. Oh, what was this for?

Ah yes, perfect!
Oh perfect, just what I was looking for on Gough Street! The famous Kau Kee beef brisket noodles 九記牛腩 (21 Gough Street, tel: +852 2850-5967). It counts even HK Chief Executive Donald Tsang, actors Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Nick Cheung and Takeshi Kaneshiro as its regulars.

I waved goodbye to the other bloggers who were slightly incredulous that I was going to be eating again, right after lunch. Well, this afternoon was my last pocket of free time. I was determined to make the most of it. Luckily my queue was shorter, and it moved really fast.

Busy, nonstop action in Kau Kee's kitchen
I was soon given a seat - right at the end of the shop, literally the last stool, sharing with a table of strangers who did not seem to mind. I had a view of the busy steaming kitchen - the action is non-stop and bowls just keep flying out. Service is also lighting fast. Two words into my halting Cantonese, and I was thrust an English menu. Thank God.

There is a variety of noodles to go with basically beef broth or curry broth. I knew the beef brisket broth here would be fantastic, but I decided to be brave and go for the curry.

Kau Kee Beef Brisket in Curry with Ee Fu Noodles
I was well rewarded. The curry is not timid - it is rich, spicy and complex. The bowl was generously loaded with chunks of beef that had been diligently stewed for hours, until they were tearaway tender and tasty. My ee-fu noodles too, did well to soak up all the flavours. I was very satisfied. No matter what others say about standards dropping, this is still a very good meal, and for only HK$27. In an air-conditioned place.

The other diners at my table kept saying how good their beef broth was. I wished I had the stomach capacity to try that as well. But I had more things on my list to eat. Mak's noodles was next.

Sing Heung Yuen - corner of Mei Lun and Gough Streets
As I walked out of Kau Kee, I saw that the other long queue opposite it had not abated, even though it was well past lunch hour. What on earth were they serving at this makeshift food shack?

I later learned from our Hong Kong guide that this was Sing Heung Yuen which serves tomato broth noodles with beef, and snacks like toast with condensed milk. Apparently, students and regulars will start thronging there from 6am. There is no closing time, just whenever they finish, usually in the afternoon. That's gotta be some kickass tomato broth to command a queue.

Curious as I was, I had to move on quickly. Only a couple more hours left.

I really loved how on this trip, a lot of road names became not just names, but real places to me. Gough Street was just the beginning. Wellington Street was next.

P.S. This post is also on the SPH OMY "My Hong Kong Travel Blog 我的香港之旅" which aggregates the posts from the ten bloggers who went to Hong Kong. Head on over to see the unique perspectives and photos of the same trip.
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