Monday, November 30, 2009

Musings on Michelin stars, Tim Ho Wan 添好運 and more

In response to the criticism to the much-maligned 2009 Michelin Guide to Hong Kong & Macau, the 2010 guide, which came out last Thursday, featured two new entrants to the 1-star category who serve traditional Chinese cuisine to the hoi polloi. The additions were definitely well received by the local media and probably the owners / chefs of the two restaurants. But it may not be good news for the loyal customers, the queues are only going to get longer. One of the new entrants is Tim Ho Wan 添好運 which we have mentioned a few times in our blog.

Hong Kong restaurant offers Michelin-starred food for 78p

Michelin dishes available for 1 USD in Hong Kong

The other new 1-star entrant is Hung's Delicacies 阿鴻小吃 in North Point. Mum and dad never heard about Hung's Delicacies before even though it's closer to home. But then again, just can't imagine mum raving about such delicacies as duck's tongue 鴨舌 and chicken feet's tendon 雞腳筋. Perhaps this is for dad to go and try alone some day, once the Michelin's effect wears off a little, ie the Michelin induced queue becomes shorter.

A little of the Michelin's fame has also dusted on us. Our blog hit meter has shown a much higher hit rate since Friday. Initially, we thought there were a new bunch of people interested in our well being. The meter keeps registering higher numbers. We were perplexed until we found out that if you Google search Tim Ho Wan, our blog tops the list!!

Tim Ho Wan and Hung's Delicacies are not the only niche local restaurants featured in the 2010 guide. Tim's Kitchen 桃花源 has been elevated from 1-star to 2-star. And mum's ex-colleagues will tell you, mum used to organize take-away from Tim's Kitchen a few years ago. Those were the days!

And of course, another restaurant that's been elevated in its star status, is Fook Lam Moon 福臨門 in Wan Chai.

Bo Innovation, which mum doesn't particularly like, has been demoted to 1-star. Perhaps mum will write up on her take on the 2010 Michelin Hong Kong & Macau guide similar to this banter in One day, when the guide becomes more established here, you might even see a chart similar to this for the New York guide from us. Enjoy eating, enjoy life!!

View Tim Ho Wan 添好運 in a larger map

Monday, November 23, 2009

Know Thyself

With the warm winter sun shining through the cool, crisp, dry air, we kept running almost forgot that mum and dad were there. With so many brethren of ours doing the same and a few of their owners holding bite-size treats, we were literally out of control. Chasing, smelling, wrestling each other, snatching tennis balls from others, we had a great time time in the Wan Chai Dog Park managed by the SPCA near the entrance of the Hong Kong Island end of the oldest and busiest cross harbour tunnel. The area has improved since its opened over 2 years ago and it's now fenced off into 2 sections. So now even if we get hurt, it would be from fighting with another dog rather than being run over by a speeding vehicle. Sorry no photos, none taken, perhaps we will be there again next week and get some of our pictures taken while we run wild and enjoy ourselves.

Most of the dogs in the park were well behaved. They might run, they might roll, they might play along. But there were no bullies, or more like, all the bullies were on tight leashes. The same cannot be said about kids and teenagers that walk around terrorizing the streets in Hong Kong. Rude without even the bare understanding of manner, perhaps best described some of the current crop of young Hongkies. A tight leash will certainly be helpful for some of them!

Mum and dad went to see The Christmas Carol 3D Version in Pacific Place AMC cinema in the afternoon on Saturday just before taking us to the dog park. While driving down to the park, they talked about the impressive effects and the magnificent screenplay in 3D constantly marred by this not-so-little girl of maybe 10 incessant kicking of the back of mum's seat. Sitting at one of the back rows in the cinema, the girl kept kicking every now and again whenever she felt like, despite mum having repeatedly asked her politlely to stop kicking. This went on for the whole length of the movie!! When they departed from their seats, they looked at the girl's parents who sat either side of the girl, half assuming that they would at least make an attempt to apologize. But then you can't expect the wrong parents to breed the right kid. The two stood there seemingly oblivious to what happened right beside them. Bad blood stays in the family.

Then last night, mum and dad had dinner in Time Square with a couple of their friends. While waiting for their turn for the table, a teenager wearing an "Indian Piggies" jacket, yellow-rim glasses with dyed-yellow hair walked straight into dad from behind and knocked his iPhone off his hand on to the floor. The guy kept walking with his girlfriend with a pony tail glancing back. Not bother even to utter a word of sorry. They went straight to the counter to get their place in the queue. While waiting for the table, dad just kept staring at them and they would just look away avoiding eye contacts. Cannot even imagine what their parents would be like.

These incidents are of course nothing new and probably a by-product of the modern day Hong Kong education, or the lack of it some might say. This blog title, "Know Thyself", is an Ancient Greek Aphorism promoting the ideal of understanding oneself and by extension understanding of others. One effective way to see more clearly is in the eyes of outsiders. "Concierge" is a free magazine in Japanese distributed in Citysuper among many places. The October issue was about knowing Hong Kong people in the eyes of Japanese. There were some funny and insightful observations worth sharing here in another entry.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Memories II

For those living in Hong Kong, they would probably be familiar with the sight of brilliant red, pink and purple flowers blooming everywhere around Hong Kong from the balconies of high-rise buildings to landscape gardens during the autumn to winter season. These are Bougainvillea (aka Bugambilia, 簕杜鵑 not to be confused with 杜鵑, Rhododendron which blooms at a different time during the year. Due to its ubiquitous presence in this region, it is the city flower for a lot of southern coastal cities in China including, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Weizhou and Xiamen. But Hong Kong's floral emblem is Bauhinia Blakeana 洋紫荊, which is a particular genus of Bauhinia first discovered in Hong Kong in 1880 (just imagine discovering anything new in Hong Kong nowadays).

Bougainvillea holds a special place in our hearts not only because we see the plant every day in the garden right beside where we take our afternoon naps; but more importantly the first bloom last year coincide with the day when Cadet was euthanized exactly 1 year ago. See previous blog entry here.

Whenever there is a starry night, mum would say Cadet is looking at us. Lets hope he's enjoying a peaceful life in dog's heaven with muffins and biscuits falling down like raindrops everyday.

Rapidly developing international health scare

The early advent of the cold weather probably brings with it an earlier start to the flu season here. While no dogs have contacted swine flu yet, we are always wary. You never know when the public opinion will turn around and call for a cull of dogs, as some did during SARS when they couldn't figure out where the bacteria was from.

The scariest story coming out is perhaps the rapid spread of suspected cases of mutated swine flu in Ukraine. The story itself has taken on a mutation of sorts of its own. Initially, some observers believed that the Ukrainian government was exaggerating the matter as an excuse to impose strict public orders in order to interrupt a general election whose results were likely to be unfavorable to the government.

More deaths and infections were reported and then the World Health Organization (WHO) sent experts to Ukraine and supposed to have verified and reported the situation by now. But there's been unknown reasons for a delay in the reports. More reports of deaths and infections. Now border controls all over Europe have been put on alert for visitors from the Ukraine. As usual numbers get spun out of control, the number of deaths went from 189, a few days ago to 315 now and the number infected from 1 million to 1.4 million. And we still don't know if this is indeed swine flu.

Anonymous doctor said that the lungs of the corpse have gone coal-black in color. All these are reminiscent of the movie "Outbreak" or the book "The Coming Plague".

Outbreak (Snap Case)

The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance

Hope this is just a scare!!

Doggy Biscuits

When we stay home idly listening to the TV blasting behind us, we hear "global warming" all the time. But the last few days certainly do not feel like "warm" at all to us. While those in Beijing can blame the snow storm on rain experiment, but we never hear the HK government fire anything up the sky other than fireworks. So the welcome wintry gust is probably the work of mother nature after all.

As this cold spell continues, there's nothing better than the smell of freshly baked cookies and cakes. Mum and dad are baking more nowadays, after all you don't want to switch the oven to 180C when the kitchen is already 35C. It's a different matter when the kitchen is 15C.

You probably wonder what goes into the doggy biscuits which drive us all crazy. You might be surprised that our treats are very similar to the ones for human consumption, the major differences are

  • No Chocolate, use Carob in situ - one of the most popular human desserts is dogs' worst enemy, the theobromine in cocoa is a killer. You can read more here. Carob is a safe alternative but apparently tough to find in Hong Kong. If you find it in Hong Kong, let us know. Ours are from friends in far away places.
  • No Raisin - Nobody knows why, but never feed grapes or raisins to us. So choc n' raisin cookies are out for us. You can find some dog biscuit recipes with raisins in the web but as in human recipes you never know if they have gone through the trial process.
  • Less sugar or no sugar - most of the recipes use honey instead. Honey is a lower calorie and more nutritious alternative. Sugar will make us fat and rot our teeth.
Ingredients commonly found in dog desserts are - carrot, banana, pear, banana, apple sauce (no added sugar), pumpkin, honey, carob, peanut butter, oats, walnuts, cream cheese, sour cream, tofu, soy milk, cornmeal and egg.
Spices and herbs - cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla extract.

Quality dog biscuits should be fit for human consumption, just a harder and healthier alternative. Get your mum and dad to start baking. It's fun and delicious.