Thursday, May 27, 2010

HK Art Fair 2010

Dionisio Gonzalez - Nova Aqua Gagosa II 2008 - a blend of photos from slumps and modern, geometric architecture
Yoshitomo Nara - Sleepless night 2007 - limited edition of 300

David Nash - not sure about the name of this, but doesn't it remind you of the Twin Towers in New York?

Yoshitomo Nara - Your Dog 2003
Familiar style from a gallery near Hollywood Road

This may give you the creeps!!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


This simple cup of cappuccino never fails to amaze us. From the different layers of colors, the complex coffee fragrance and even the way milk is frothed.

The other day, dad tried frothing a bottle of fresh milk and it came out completely flat. The first thought was the bottle of milk went bad. That tasted perfect. Creamy and cold, yum!! Only then did dad remember that full fat foams, though fuller in texture and flavor, are much much more difficult to make. Of course, he never had any problems using UHT full fat milk to froth before, since those are never very creamy.

You might be surprised to hear that the scorching hot steam coming out of the steam nozzle on an espresso machine is not an essential ingredient of the cappuccino milk foam. In fact, one can argue that the steam is detrimental to the formation and maintenance of the milk foam. The foam is formed by splashing milk and air together and the steam is just an agent in the process. The resulting water vapor or the condensed water are bad because the foam bubble wall becomes runny and prone to collapse if it is hot and has high water content. Hence frothing is best done with a lot of ice cold milk and the nozzle is only placed just below the milk surface.

Given that the hot steam is not an essential part of frothing but splashing the milk is, there are devices that splash milk mechanically, like the Nespresso Aeroccino. Since high temperature is bad for holding the bubbles, you can even have cold milk foam for cold drinks.

For those of you who want to know why full fat milk is tough to froth into foam, you might want to look up whey proteins, which are essential in stabilizing milk foams and ice crystals in ice creams. It also plays an essential part in body building.

Monday, May 17, 2010

泗益 Si Yik - Hong Kong Style French Toast

After the Eve Felder cooking class mum had in Tai Tam, mum and dad went to their favorite french toast "dai pai dong" in Stanley. 泗益 Si Yik occupies one of the most conspicuous position within Stanley being just off the round-about going into Stanley High Street. It's a tiny stall selling the whole selection of dishes that you would normally expect from a “cha chaan teng", 茶餐廳.
They ordered two cold "yuanyang", 鴛鴦 and the french toast.
The cold "yuanyang" came pretty much immediately. It was a nice treat after a long stroll through Stanley market.
The french toast, 2 pieces of bread filled with "Kaya" jam then coated with a layer of hand-whipped egg fried with a lot of grease, took a while (almost 15 minutes) to arrive. It no longer looked as fluffy as it used to be and when you actually put a piece in your mouth, the burst of different flavors was no longer there. Slightly disappointing, especially after mum raved about it to Eve Felder after the cooking class, telling her all about the french toast in this little stall in Stanley. Time to search for another place or just an off-day by the cook. Where's your favorite "sai dor see", french toast in Hong Kong? After all it is the first item in 40 Hong Kong foods that we can't live without in CNNgo, there must be better places around.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

What the Dog saw - by Malcom Gladwell

Would you buy a printed book whose content you can download legally in entirety from the internet? Before buying the printed version of "What the Dog saw", you need to ask that exact question. Of course dad bought his before he knew of such option, as both the front and back cover of the book never mentioned the fact it was a collection of past articles from the New Worker magazine and all these archived articles are available at Malcolm Gladwell's own website:

But even with this useful hindsight, dad would still recommend buying this compendium of articles. It saves you time in retrieving them individually from the internet and then printing them out. He would even argue that it's a better buy then Gladwell's other more famous works Blink, Tipping Point and Outliers, where Gladwell expand an underlying, simple thesis into an entire book.

Blink - trust your gut instinct once you have practiced something for long enough
Tipping Point - exponential increases in activities are often triggered by some events that will be obvious only in hindsight
Outliers - exceptional successes take place under exceptional (lucky?!) timing and inordinate amount of hard work

"What the Dog Saw", in contrast, covered a broad spectrum of topics often with brilliant insights. If you like Freakonomics and Super Freakonomics, you will definitely like this book. Our favorite articles are the following for obvious reasons:
Troublemakers - What Pit Bulls Can Teach Us About Crime
What the Dog Saw - Ceasar Millan and the Movements of Mastery
The Ketchup Connundrum - Mustard Now Comes in Dozens of Varieties. Why has Ketchup Stayed the Same?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Special license plate "5*X 542"

Guess this is banned in Hong Kong!!  Forgive the title...  Had to improvise in order to avoid suggestive ads....

From the simplest of things

They probably don't want to see the 2 pictures together

#12 Meat mountain in  40 Hong Kong foods that we can't live without in CNNgo.

How many layers can you wrap a Castella?

That is before you count the paper bag which it came in!!

High Tea in the Shangri La Hong Kong

People in Hong Kong often plan their holidays months in advance, so that they can all meet up in the crowded airport, only to find out the neighbor next door is staying in the same resort. So during long holidays, Hong Kong suddenly becomes hospitable again. Driving through the central cross harbor tunnel at 9:00pm feels like driving through traffic at early hours in the morning, unlike Japanese who decide to venture out of their homes to face the crowded roads during the long golden week (GW) break.

Alas, if a quiet time enjoying some afternoon tea is all you are looking for during your holiday, you can do worse than staying put in Hong Kong.

A few good noodles

Today, the free Chinese newspaper am730 ran a double-page spread special on the Japanese noodle culture with 2 articles: one written by a Chinese and one written by a Japanese who is fluent in Chinese. The special has some interesting photos and the 2 articles are both well written. And it provides the perfect opportunity for us to talk about a few noodle places in Hong Kong.

Inaniwa Udon Nabe
Situated at one of the quieter corners in the Elements shopping mall in Tsim Sha Tsui, the deceptively small shop front opened up to a spacious restaurant with high ceiling. Well past lunch time during a Saturday, most of the tables were still occupied. Despite the restaurant being quite full, it didn't feel crowded, perhaps helped by the high ceiling and the way tables were spaced out. The menu was simple: a few hot dish selections, udon accompanied by separate bowls of different sauces or soup (Tsuke udon つけうどん) and Japanese hotpot (nabe 鍋).

If you want to know more about tsuke udon, especially in relation to Inaniwa udon nabe, there is a fairly detailed discourse in with the link as attached here. But as explained in the am730 article today, "tsuke" noodle was first developed for "ramen" in Tokyo in 1955 and it is still mainly a way reserved for serving "ramen". Wikipedia article in Japanese here.

Suffice to say, this shop made a damn good bowl of Japanese udon. But then if you follow the cooking instructions of the udon you get from Japanese stores here, you should get a decent shot of making a good bowl of cold udon as well. Guess the harder part is to get the sauce or the soup right.

The surprise was actually the sausage which came twirling inside a sizzling hot plate. Well worth going just for that. Delicious!!

Shop 2002, 2/F, Elements, 1 Austin Road West, Tsim Sha Tsui
尖沙 咀柯士甸道西1號圓方(Elements)2樓2002號舖

HKD150 for a bowl of noodles. This was the most expensive bowl of beef noodles that dad has ever eaten. Situated at the crossing between Star Street and St Francis Street, an open-kitchen style interior with simple wooden tables and benches, this shop offered a very limited menu: noodles with 3 choices of soup (all HKD150) a few snacks and desserts. If it was a blind tasting, dad would never have guessed the price. In Hong Kong, there is enough clientele who would equate a high price to delicious food for this shop to carry on thriving.
G/F, St Francis Street 33, Wanchai.  Tel: 22940426

鼎泰豐 Ding Tai Fung
While super famous for its soup-filled xiao long bao 小籠包, its chicken soup noodle is well worth trying. Somehow the chicken soup tastes the same no matter where in the world you order. The only problem is waiting for a table.

麥兆記 Mak Siu Kee Wonton Noodle
Perhaps the best traditional thin egg noodle in Hong Kong. You can feel the "bounce" on the noodles. But the wonton 雲吞 here are not as good, but the beef tendon and brisket in chu hua sauce is very tasty. Photos to follow, if we get them.
Electric Road 74B, Tin Hau.

If you fancy making your own wonton noodle, you can get fresh wonton skin and fresh egg noodles here. Photos and recipes to follow.
G/F, Tai Wo St 4, Wanchai.