Thursday, August 20, 2009

You just can't be too careful

Mum and dad took a short trip in Singapore last weekend. As usual, they devoured everything that they could get their hands on in the different hawker centers while we stayed quietly at home waiting for our next meal worrying about them. You might think, "What's there to worry about?"

That my friend is where you are wrong. The world is never as safe as it seems. And you would probably feel safe surrounded by man in uniforms. 12 staff members of the airport security in Hong Kong were arrested yesterday in relation to multiple theft cases from bags of traveling passengers. It was only discovered when a female US traveler realize that she has lost US$ 1,000 from her wallet after passing the security checkpoints in Hong Kong. More people are likely to be arrested shortly regarding this theft ring.

In Thailand, losing just US$1,000 might be your lucky day. Take a look at some of the news weblinks below.
Tourists warned of Thailand airport scam - BBC
Attention airport shoppers - Newser

To summarise, if you browse at the King Power duty free shops in Bangkok airport, you might be scammed into paying more than US$10,000 by uniformed officers on trump up charges in exchange for your freedom. Of course the details would be different from one case to another. We know mum and dad like browsing in those shops and their recent experience with uniformed officers in the land of smiles was less than impressed to say the least. With these reports, guess they will stay at home more often. Yahoo!!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Cholesterol 膽固醇 - healthy Chinese soup recipe 神奇驗方

While going through the hard drive, this recipe jumped out. The ingredients look easy and innocuous enough, perhaps it's worth trying. Lets have a look.

Ingredients (1 tael ~= 37g) Black fungus (it specifies the white-backed variety but that shouldn't be crucial) - 2 taels Lean pork meat - 2 taels Red dates - 5 pieces Ginger - 2 slices To cook Soak the black fungus completely, then boil all the ingredients for 1 hour with water to get 2 cupful of soup at the end.

Drink every morning for 25 days (the residual can also be eaten as you like) and then test for your cholesterol level.

How much do you pay for your dim sum? 福臨門

Unlike going to a French restaurant, where you order a main course or the set menu for say HK$300 or 500, the headline price tag will tell you whether the restaurant is expensive, dim sum lunch is a mishmash of dishes and you only know when the final bill arrive.

Just so you get an easy comparison between the 2 extremes in prices, have a look at the 2 menus here, one from Tim Ho Wan 添好運 and the other from Fook Lam Moon 福臨門. Both are mum and dad's favorites. For the steeper prices you pay in Fook Lam Moon, eg shrimp dumplings are HK$16 for four in Tim Ho Wan but HK$55 in Fook Lam Moon, you get a more spacious surroundings, one of the best services in Hong Kong and the chance to rub shoulders with the rich and famous.

If you come to Hong Kong, you can't go far wrong in going to either places for dim sum. You can only queue up for the cheaper place, while reserving a table for lunch at Fook Lam Moon can be tricky at times especially during the weekends.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Tim Ho Wan 添好運 II --> Sweet Pak Fu 糖百府

The restaurant scene in Hong Kong goes through a multitude of fads every year. Sometimes it will be a whole genre of cuisine where you see a different shop in every corner no matter where you go. Their growth will mirror that of bacterial growth almost to the letter (reference to the wikipedia article is highly recommended.) We have borrowed a graph from the article shown on the right here:
Growth is shown as L = log(numbers) where numbers is the number of colony forming units, versus T (time.)

The most recent example is perhaps burger joints which have names ranging from Fat to Monster and Shakem' Buns, which is num and dad's favourite. Of course you never know if we are in phase B - exponential growth or C - stationary until the whole gig is over.

Another type of fads will be a shop drawing crowds to queue up for hours just to eat for perhaps 20 mins. These shops often burn out within a short space of time because
  • Hong Kong is a small place. Potential queuers, who have a taste for new things, do not need to travel far.
  • Almost all restaurants in Hong Kong have only one objective, maximum return within the shortest time. Quality suffers and it is often inversely proportional to the time in existence.

The latter is probably a good enough reason to go and try out Tim Ho Wan 添好運 again. The queue of people waiting were there, so the novelty value remained. So the question is, "Can its dim sum hold up in quality?" Mum and dad went with grandpa last Saturday and waited for 80 mins to find out.

While waiting for their turn, they spotted a new shop next door to Tim Ho Wan called Sweet Pak Fu 糖百府. Instead of waiting in the heat, they decided to sit down in the air conditioned shop and try its desserts in the mean time. The two "Snow Ice 雪花冰" desserts arrived, one green tea flavour and one almond flavour. And they were delicious. The texture was very smooth and fine, almost ice-cream like. Both toppings tasted great but the almond topping was more fragrant. Well worth the HK$35 they charge per item. Apparently, "Snow Ice" was first developed in Taiwan some 30 years ago and currently one of the top favourites there. And it's fast becoming a new fad in Hong Kong apparently.

Back to Tim Ho Wan, the taste was up to standard but there's definitely a marginal decline in the presentation standard. Lets hope the quality can be maintained.