Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Movie - Spice

The below is also a very nice movie. This one and the other one called "Like Water for Chocolate" are something about how magical cooking can be. How food can make people happy and make people cry. Apparently this one is about spice and how you make a difference in using various spices for cooking. The boy's grand pa told the boy about each spice's characteristics and also the controversial point of using cinnamon with pork. The spice would also make people remember something and in time such memory would boost a person's mind back to something they wouldn't be aware of, as the movie's theme - the way to everyone's heart!

Bruce Lee - 苦海明燈 (Light in a dark sea)

When people often pay attention to Bruce Lee on his Kung Fu's movies, there are some movies he appeared at his younger time, together with some great actors/actresses. This movie was about him being an abandoned boy in an orphan house led by "White Swallow 白燕" as the school principal. Later on, his real mother showed up due to his career success as a great doctor. The story may be the same old one, but Bruce Lee, as a 10 year old kid did a very nice performance in the movie and I think he is even better than the other actors.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Movie - The Motorcycle Diaries

The young and the adventurous, Che Guevara took a motorcycle with his friend from his home country Argentina all around in South America up to the northern part in Columbia and Guatemala and for sure his revolution in Cuba. He was a medical student with a Marxist mind (I'm not to here to promote Communism but in fact Communism derives from Marxism). Che Guevara had his eye sight over the many places he had been to, until he arrived to a place where there were the patients with leprosy (skin infection once thought of being infectious in the old time and those patients being locked up like evil persons). He realized how some people's sick mind was and decided to help those patients. Thereafter he decided to change the world - counter-social and counter-capitalism and ultimately a contemporary revolutionary advocate. Regardless of the movie's background, the movie showed some spectacular views of the whole Southern America!

Honolulu Cafe 檀島咖啡室, Central, Hong Kong

This cafe used to be a popular place for its coffee, egg tarts and certain local adaptations of western dishes, but it's no longer that popular due to the competitiveness of other cafe and restaurants.

1. The shop is 60% occupied. 2. Iced coffee HK$18 (as compared to other similar deco. cafe, iced coffee is at around HK$12-14). The coffee is quite ok though a bit bitter dry.

3. An old fusion food BBQ pork on spaghetti in "orange" color tomato sauce - HK$45. If you want something in the old time, this is the dish. However, the mushroom and the frozen veggie have quite a strong "frozen" smell. Supposed they should pan fry those longer to take away that frozen smell. 4. veggie/pork with noodle soup HK$35. The pork was marinated too long that the meat is like paper. The veggie/mushroom/fried tofu has some kind of "washing powder" smell. Really frustrating.
5. the egg tart - HK$6 (as compared to other cafes at HK$2.5 to 3.5. Even Tai Cheong's egg tarts are just HK$4). If you prefer a milky custard taste with a less butter crusty tart, this would be what you want. However, $6 is a bit over-priced considering what they put in the tart. 6. the menu.

7. when this cafe offered all-you-can-eat hot pot in dinner time, you would know what they are facing. They had better look into what they are serving, rather than giving more variety for more weakness to be exposed.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Bellini Italian restaurant, Taipei, Taiwan

Some of my local friends often tried to bring me to some foreign restaurants like Thai, Korean, even Cantonese. This time I got brought to an Italian restaurant called Bellini.

1. In walking into the shop, the waiters/waitresses would greet you with some Italian word. Considering the mood to be Italian, I would expect at least some olive oil/balsamic vinegar and some bread would be served on the table, but there was only just some wet napkin. 2. The coffee was tried to make it like Italian espresso but it's not. It's just a stronger coffee and it's quite bitter dry. 3. So for anyone who has been to Los Angeles, they should know what Chinese chicken salad is - veggie with chicken and some Chinese crispy thins in sesame/soy sauce dressing. I ordered a chicken salad but it turned out to be very Los Angeles style.

4. The pizza crust is pretty nice but the topping is a bit interesting. I ordered a BBQ chicken pizza but it turned out it is a Hakka cuisine "the Lord's Chicken 霸王雞" as you can see the ginger and scallion as the topping. I wondered if they would have "Ginger duck 薑母鴨" or "Sesame chicken 麻油雞" as the toppings then. 5. This one was supposed to be ham and mushroom pizza, but it turned out it's some cold cut on top with a basil. Funny thing is the cold cut is still cold and it turned the pizza to be just slightly warm. The worst is the tomato sauce. It's just some no-frills brand tomato sauce. If the pizza is just at TWD200, I wouldn't complain but this one is at TWD350. So I just finished the outer skirt of the pizza with nothing on, and simply told my friend I like plain bread actually. I often insisted trying something local like soy bean drink and rice dumplings but was complained "I shouldn't eat like a child.". They should treasure their original local food.

Visual Retrospective - Seoul/Taipei

Short haul new business class Taipei-HK, Cathay Pacific

Before launching the "fish bone" new business class, CX has once launched another short haul business on its 330 fleet. However, attention has been paid to their "fish bone" business class. On my way back from Taipei to HK, I got an upgrade to try this one - lucky that 2 out of 3 sectors, I got upgraded.

1. the seating. 2. Though the flight is just one hour something, still a proper business class meal was served.

3. Nicely warm panini. 4. Turkey salad to go with the season's holiday.

5. For sure a Christmas cake was to complete the meal. 6. This one is pretty nice - beef/veggie with steamed rice.

7. the whole meal. 8. a black coffee.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Station Mall, Taipei, Taiwan

This mall is attached to the Central bus station behind Taipei Train Station.

5. a hotel called "Palais de Chine" is built on this mall. Interesting if they are under the influence from all those exaggerating building names from HK. Another legacy of those pro-foreign culture.

7/8. For those who have been to Siam Paragon in Bangkok, don't you find it a home coming.

Taipei Station台北車站, Taipei, Taiwan

Taipei Station has now been attached with the high speed KaoHsuing-Taipei railway and the centralised bus station for routes to Hsin Zhu, Tai Chung, Tai Nan, Kao Hsuing and Ping Tung...etc., making travel more connected.

1. the look still the same. 2. inside the same.

3. the 2nd floor has changed to a food court managed by the Breeze Mall. 4. See the 12 generations of trains.

5. the ticket counters. 6. the bus station.

7. Civic Blvd. is another main road diverting traffic from the East to the West. It's always busy. 8. A big mall annexed to the bus station.

9. On one of my taxi rides back to the hotel, I chatted with the driver and got to know this centralised bus station has given the locals much headache. There is only one bus lane getting into the station, leading the buses queue in a long line and also causing a very bad traffic. Originally all these bus stops were scattered from the various side street of Chung Qing N. Rd to Cheng Di Rd. Right now the traffic got stuck at one point.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Yung He soybean shop, 永和豆漿大王, Taipei, Taiwan

In 1995 to 1997, Madam Fa, our Japanese friend and another friend from Hang Zhou had various trips to Taipei in search of the best soybean drink and rice dumpling. Though the locals often said the Xi Hai soybean shop in Yung He city is the best, we don't agree to it as that shop is in a massive production and made the rice dumplings in advance. So shops after shops, wasting after wasting food and time and money, I believe we have tried more than 100 shops in the whole Taipei city from all those trips. We still think this one on Fu Hsing S. Rd. section 2 between Shin Yi Rd. and He Ping E. Rd. is the best. So today I got to try it again and it's still the best to me.

1. the shop didn't deep fried the Chinese doughnuts a lot and just to the right amount for people to get the freshest deep fried crispy doughnuts. 2. iced chill soybean drink (TWD20, USD0.7) - so nice and so cool though this time they didn't have enough burnt bean aroma.

3. another view to the open kitchen. 4. my most favourite rice dumpling (TWD35, USD1.1). See how nice the rice was spread as a thin roll and easy to eat. Besides, the Chinese doughnut inside is very crispy, plus the Chinese pickled and the dried shred pork are perfect! No matter how full I am, this is always the one I can't leave even a rice. Must try!

5. Siu Lon Bao (TWD70, USD2.2). Though the wrap is not thin enough, the filling is very nice. At least it has the pork flavour, mind me to say it to compete with Din Tai Feng that the filling of Din Tai Feng is not that nicely aromatic with pork flavour. So if we replace the filling of Din Tai Feng's Siu Lon Bao with this one, it's perfect! However, I prefer thicker wrap of Siu Lon Bao as I like flour aroma; so this one is better for me. 6. the shop.

Ren Ai Circle 仁愛圓環

1/2. This place has been my most frequently visited place as I used to go to the Jiu Lu九如湯圓 for the mini rice dumpling in osmanthus broken rice wine sauce, and the below 2 restaurants.

3. was so happy and surprised to see this shop be back, King Join 京兆尹. The shop was once in financial debt and closed since 2001. It was one of my listed "must go" restaurant in the old days. The shop served some very nice royal dessert in the late Ching Dynasty. The descendants of the royal chef for the dessert part from Ching Empire fled to Taipei and ran this shop. Will report that later. 4. 驥園砂碢雞湯 Che Yuen chicken soup - a must try but the soup is in a big portion and you can't order a smaller portion or half order. So at least you should come here with 6-8 people. The soup is a bit expensive at TWD1,800 to 2,000 (USD60-70) but it's much worth it. The soup was boiled for over 24 hours with some baby pig knuckles, lotus seeds, golden ham...etc. I used to go to this shop with my local friends but now can't get all of them together. Then the other time I brought my sisters to this shop but then took away half left over back to HK (at the pre-Ladin time that we could still carry liquid on board). My sisters still talk about this shop.