Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Dog Food - musings on beef

We always wonder why we get to eat tiny tidbits of beef and only after torturous demand of doing all these "Hand! Down! Rollover! etc etc". And our daily meal is the from the same bag of processed lamb and rice. It's strange, because beef is mum and dad's favorite and they go through all the trouble to order every thing beefy under the sun, Black Angus, Wagyu from Japan and Australia, grain fed, blah blah blah.

We wouldn't mind a bowl of Gyudon 牛丼 for breakfast once in a while. This beef on rice in a bowl, popularized by Yoshinoya as a fast food all over the world, had its roots as dog's supper. The legend has it that during the Meiji era when Japanese was first introduced to red meat (note during Edo era, eating red meat was banned in Japan), a Japanese man saw a Western woman fed her dogs with leftover beef stew over rice. The Japanese man followed the recipe and started selling the dish. For the full Japanese article on this topic, please refer to http://www.joqr.co.jp/meister/kunimaru/051003.html. In fact Gyudon is aka Kame Chabu, ie dog's dinner, where Kame was from "Come!Come!". Spare a thought for us next time you go to Yoshinoya.

Back to why we don't get beef for our regular meals. Apparently we get sick from allergies from eating beef protein. For similar reasons, chicken is not a good diet for us either. That's why lamb and rice is often recommended to reduce itchy skin.

Pork is no good for us for a different set of reasons. They are difficult to digest and have more chance of harbouring parasites.

But still hope we get a bite next time when they grill the wagyu beef.

Tim Ho Wan 添好運

It has been a while since the last entry we did on our friend Cameron due to a lack of inspirations. The weather certainly doesn't help. Every time we take a walk we end up coming back drenched like a chicken to the slaughter (落湯雞 is a Chinese colloquial saying for drenched or soaked through, which literally means chicken fallen into hot soup. It has its roots in the Ming dynasty, 1368-1644. The closest English idiom is perhaps drowned rat.) After starting out as the driest May for the last 40 years when you could feel the autumn breeze walking at night, it has all gone horribly wrong for us.

Back to the topic of our entry, this is a restaurant that mum read about in the online version of Time Out magazine a few weeks ago. So a rainy Sunday morning sounded like the perfect time to go and try the place out. It turned out the rain helped in the queuing time.

Traffic was light. The journey from Hong Kong island to Wylie Road turning into Waterloo Road was exactly as directed by Google map but then it went all horribly wrong, "No Right Turn" into Dundas Street. Aiyah!! For a free service, it's not bad. Mum and dad finally found the right route in by asking around and parked into a multi-storey carpark in Dundas Street (update - Hang Lung carpark HK$7 per 15mins, not too bad space-wise; there was a Ferrari parked there. It turned out that there's another multi-storey carpark right opposite the restaurant in Paradise Square 百利達廣場.) It was a short walk to the restaurant in Kwong Wa Street and people were already queuing up despite the rain. Mum and dad got ticket number 24 when number 2 was just being seated. There were 20 tables. You can imagine the rest. But the rain seemed to have cut the queue by more than half and they were seated in about 20 minutes. 17 to 22 all went "MIA".

The claim to fame of Tim Ho Wan is it's opened by the former dim sum chef of the only Michelin 3 star restaurant in Hong Kong, Lun King Heen in the Four Seasons Hotel. Whether Lun King Heen is worth all its stars is another issue. But it was definitely worth the wait in the rain. Go there before the quality goes downhill as in the case of most small restaurants in Hong Kong after they opened.

Must try :-
Chicken glutinous rice wrapped in lotus leaf 古法糯米雞 HK$18- the rice is soft and the ingredients are juicy with the faint fragrance of lotus leaf.
Char Siu in crispy bun 脆皮叉燒包 HK$12 - very tasty and crispy top.
Chinese Sponge Cake 馬拉糕 HK$10 - delicious and don't worry about the side effects of eating them.
Fried Turnip Cake 臘味蘿蔔糕 HK$10 - can taste the shredded radish and it was well fried with a crispy skin. A lot of places you get more dough than shredded radish.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Dog Roll and South Stream Seafood

So what's this dog got to do with dog roll and seafood? He is Cameron, the house dog for South Stream Seafood and apparently he is trading toys with dog roll. Seafood and dog roll don't sound like they come together. But in the case of South Stream, they do. In fact, when the delivery man comes to the door, often he has more meat than seafood, because the whole family are carnivores. Yummy!! We don't get dog roll all the time, sometimes we get beef rib bones on, which are good for our teeth. If we are good, we get these perhaps once in a month or two. Meanwhile, this weekend, mum and dad had all their meat and fish for both lunch and dinner from South Stream. When they went to this magnificent house in Barker Rd for a house-warming bbq, the owners got all the meat and fish there. Mum and dad like recommending go places to their friends. Remember to get us some dog roll this coming weekend!!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Garden Produce

Last night mum and dad got all excited during dinner. You would have thought they just made something special like Kobe Wagyu. It was just a few stalks of beans fried in butter with a bunch of other veg. We have seen those every time we had our exploratory trip around the garden. Just a few sickly looking plant trailing up the trellis and not enough even for us to snack on!! Apparently, they tasted better but we had no way to tell as we were not invited to the tasting. Guess it's all in their minds, seeing the beans from seeds to plant.

If you like organic garden produce, ie not something from huge scale intensive farming that you get in supermarkets, planting your own is not really a solution even if you have some space. Your best bet is to go to the Organic Farmers' Market in Star Ferry on Sunday. Apparently they have one on Wednesday as well, but mum and dad have never been. More on this in a later entry.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Epsom Salt 瀉鹽

First and foremost, Epsom salt is not your everyday seasoning like rock salt, sea salt, table salt, which are all variants of the same thing sodium chloride NaCl. It is the common name of magnesium sulfate. And you won't want to add it to your food like any seasoning, because as the Chinese name suggests, it's a laxative and often use in conjunction with lemon juice as a folk remedy for colonic cleansing. It's also a component of bath salt among some of its other uses.

Magnesium is essential to the formation of the green stuff, chlorophyll, in plants. The photo shows the difference Epsom salt made to our chilli pepper. We use 1tsp of Epsom Salt for 1 to 2 litres of water.

You probably won't find Epsom salt in your average garden centre. Go to your local pharmacy for these. Of course you need the Chinese name, otherwise most local wouldn't have a clue.

Black Kite (麻鷹)

Whenever Hong Kong gets a clear sky, we see many of these flying machines circle over our heads and we never really know what they are called. They are Black Kite, the most common raptor found in Hong Kong and they have adapted well to our city life and thrive by picking up rubbish and dead animals around us. We caught sight of one sunbathing on top of the scaffolding the other morning. Wish we can fly like them, but at least we don't need to pick on rubbish to feed ourselves.

We see birds flying around all the time, but it's not easy to get a clear view of them. And when we do see them, we are too busy chasing after them to take a photo. Like the ones who took our peaches before, they are red-whiskered bulbul(紅耳鵯). It will probably be awhile before we get a photo of those rascals. But you will be the first to know when we do.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Random Walk up Mount Butler

You must be familiar with the government TV advert about how you should be prepared before trekking around country parks in Hong Kong, like tell your friends, bring plenty of water, bring a phone, etc etc. (You know the one where the kid fell down in the middle of some godforsaken place!!) We always thought mum and dad are sensible people and would do the intelligent thing. But how about bringing us for a walk without any of the following: phone, wallet, money, water. Believe it or not, all they had was a lighter, a cigar and newspaper for our poop. But what started out as our usual half hour there-and-back walk turned into 2 and a half hour marathon up and down hill. We started out 4:45pm on Labour day and didn't get home till after 7:15pm. The true meaning of labour. Just as well they took a taxi home from Quarry Bay.......

Take a look at the map and imagine our crazy day. And bear in mind that some of the steps were even higher than our bodies. But it was fun walking up and maybe we can get some pictures taken next time when they are better prepared!

View Random Walk in a larger map