Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Chiu Chow Garden 潮庭, Hutchison's House, Central, HK

Chiu Chow Garden (same English name of Chiu Kong Chuen), has been on the 3rd floor of Hutchison's House for quite some years, one floor up of my favourite Shanghai Garden (posted about the hot burnt pig's knuckle earlier). In general this one is much better than Chiu Kong Chuen and I am not sure it will replace Chiu Kong Chuen gradually. At least one more branch in Taikooshing is replacing Chiu Kong Chuen.

1. Kung Fu tea. Smells good but strong enough to get you awake for hours. 2. Nice table ware.

3. the shop inside. 4. crushed cucumber 拍青瓜 HK$38. The sauce is nice but the cucumber wasn't crushed with subtle crushing force with Chinese chopper knife. This crushing is important as the cucumber should be crushed with small cracks to absorb the sauce immediately instead of marinating. This way you would taste the fresh cucumber with nice chill soy sauce/sesame oil/vinegar mix.

5. Finally I found one proper goose meat slices (HK$108). Nice "Lo Shui (soaking sauce)". Goose meat tender and juicy. This reminded me of the old time of Chiu Kong Chuen. 6. Chilled sea cucumber in wasabi dressing HK$58. I like it as it's very wasabi, and matching the green flavour of celery. Good to chill off in hot summer time.

7. Deep fried crab meat patties (HK$98). See how dry on the outside. This is a nice deep frying technique with good oil. Very juicy inside. Must try. 8. Stir fried Kai Lan with "big earth" fish chunks HK$68. See only the selected parts of the middle stem of Kai Lan and they are evenly cut in adjacent angle.

9. Mini steamed bean paste dumpling HK$22. Chewy but not hard. Filling is very smooth. 10. Almond "tea" with egg white HK$28. Freshly ground almond with nice egg white (not overcooked at all. very silky smooth).

Photo free retro. comments: 國福樓, I-Square, TST, Kowloon

OK, fat-free, sugar-free products. Please excuse me for the below photo-free comments. :)
1. Shrimp dumpling: overcooked. Dry hard shrimp inside. Dumpling wrap thick.
2. Siu Mai: a bit hard. Pork not marinated well and some cornstarch found.
3. Char Siu Bao: the bun too chewy and if staying longer, can be used as a ping pong ball. BBQ pork very dry inside and BBQ sauce is too salty.
4. Steamed rice roll: Too mashy. BBQ pork the same problem - too dry.
5. Steamed satay squid: the worst I have ever tried. Heavy cornstarch coating. Squid marinated with too much soda powder. Satay sauce not aromatic and not spicy. Don't know what that is.
6. Spring roll: final step failed as very oily inside out.
(above dim sum range from HK$48-68)
7. Pan fried lotus stem/pork patty HK$120 (only 6 mini patties): the worst. Too hard and not enough lotus stem paste. Also very oily.
*all the above with pork used are pork-flavour-free.
8. Stir fried Kai Lan with ginger juice HK$150: I saw 4 mini coffin-like ginger (yes 2cm x 6cm thick ginger slice) resting on the Kai Lan and those ginger slices very hairy (lousy grade of ginger!). Kai Lan has no ginger aroma, but it's the best among all since they don't have any seasoning.
9. Ba Choy/dried ba choy pork soup 金銀菜豬𦟌湯(for 6 persons): the most expensive "soup of the day" I have ever tried - HK$420 (more expensive than a shark fin's soup by Jade Garden). However, this soup is not bad since they use chicken/spare ribs for the soup base. On the contrary, there is no dried ba choy flavour. For those who haven't tried the original cooking may think "a chicken soup". This soup did remind me of the rich guy ordering home cooking dishes. That's the point. They thought they could have something more expensive to make the clients feel more superior by neglecting the clients' real need.
10. Rice in lotus leaf HK$280. Rice too wet. Ingredients are so so. Too much soy sauce used to cover up. Lotus leaf not rinse well that it has some "wet" smell.

Two words: FORGET IT!

Yeoh's Bah Kut Teh 楊氏肉骨茶 Queen's Rd. Sheung Wan, HK

Spare rib soup with Chinese herb (Bah Kut Teh) was once quite popular in HK but now left only a few shops. I guess it's because the HK Chinese consider taking this Chinese "hot" soup would make the body a bit too hot, as some herbs like 黨參當歸 are used. However, for those who understand more the Chinese herbs, they should know this soup with much background story of the tough working overseas Chinese on how they put to make this soup. There are some balancing herb like 生地熟地 to cool off and nourish your body. Together with pork to go with spare ribs, the pork will balance the "hot" character of spare ribs. So this soup if with the appropriate mix of the correct herbs and ingredients, shouldn't be of any problem.

1/2. When I sat down, I already felt like I'm in Malaysia's certain local shops by checking the this stand for spoons/chopsticks and this bowl for rinsing. As when I almost finished the meal, I found myself even further being like in Malaysia from listening some Malay Chinese speaking as "千差,無相干..". I need to clarify for the local Malay Chinese that they don't speak like Lo Kar Leung in that TVB drama shooting in Sabah. Malay Chinese don't speak like mainland Chinese by distorting the Cantonese words in upper sound. It's the word they use rather than the accent.

3. the combination of bah kut teh. See they use not just spare ribs but also pork. I already gave 2 extra points on this. 4. Chicken rice HK$35 for a set. Amazing that the chicken was done in the original hot/cold water cooking but too bad the chicken is a fridge one. Why I can tell it's the hot/cold water boiling. It's the juicy meat and tender texture. Steaming can't be like this. Besides, this hot/cold water boiling can make the chicken skin quite bouncy and smooth. Anyway, can't complain they don't use a freshly killed one because it's just $35 for a set.

5. chilled black fungus HK$22. Well, the look is not that tempting but the texture and it's very chilled. The chef served some soy sauce with wasabi. Didn't expect this Japanese style eating is that good. Besides, a bed of ice was put underneath to make sure it's icy chilled. 6. Wow... boiling hot hot boiling bah kut teh. Besides 黨參, I smelled 生地. The soup is in a nice mix and not too overwhelming. The spare ribs were done well but not too mashy nor too chewy. You know what. I ordered a second bowl! To go more local, I took it with steamed rice. This is the way the hard working overseas Chinese take their breakfast and this soup gives them a day of energy to work and work.
7. Hokien noodle 福建炒麵 HK$38. Another unexpected local stir fried noodle. See even the plate is very Malay Chinese food style. What even amazed me it's 100% local Malay taste because they use some sweet thick soy sauce 甜珠油 (not easy to find in HK) to stir fry it. The look may not be nice but the taste is. Some fish patty slices are used. 8. The surprise never stops. When I saw salty plum lime juice 青檸話梅水(HK$15), I wondered but then ordered anyway out of my curiosity. All I can say this drink remind me of our childhood. My friend ordered a longan juice (sorry didn't take photo as that drink was bottom's up in a minute), but he also said it's like a drink in childhood. So $15 gets you back suspended to a child. Big saving against those rejuvenation programs.
9. As when I was leaving, the shop was already filled with many local Malay Chinese. Home coming for them. BTW, this shop didn't post any Eastern Magazine or Drink Man/Woman magazine or those aditorial postings, except it's listed as one of the 150 shops Choy Lan visited. No need. Word of mouth is the best tool. At last the shop is claimed from Klang 巴生 (the port for KL) of Malaysia.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Hot burnt pig's knuckle by Shanghai Garden 紅燒元蹄, 紫玉蘭

For those who wanna know the "hot burnt" cooking, please come try this one by Shanghai Garden. Quite many restaurants often use soy sauce and oyster sauce and sugar to make their so-called "hot burnt" cooking. The first step of "hot burnt" is to brown the yellow rock sugar (not the transparent square ones) in the wok at low heat to get the "burnt" aroma of yellow rock sugar. The next step is to stir in stock and some fine soy sauce (no need to put much since the burnt process would make the sauce very deep in color) to braise the food.
1. A 6th visit to Shanghai Garden and this time with more people, I insisted on ordering this "love and hate" dish but every time the "love" wins. It's very cheap in terms of 3 dishes together (eggs and veggie and quite in a big portion) at just HK$168. 20 years ago, Snow Garden 雪園 already charged it at HK$280.

2. The waitress helped cut it in easy pieces. Wow... the Chef made the "hot burnt" sauce so good as I can taste the original "yellow rock sugar burnt aroma". I even wanted to pack the sauce. The eggs are wonderful too - very nice "Lo Shui". The veggie was stir fried with some yellow wine that go so well with the other 2 fellows. We cleaned this big plate. So happy!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Give 550D a little more

1. the original 18/55 kit lens on 550D - buy a lens hood (HK$90) to protect the lens and also to shelter against the side light flare in - just like when it's sunny bright, you need to have your hands held against your eyebrows to see things clearly. 2. Get a hand grip (Canon brand at HK$1,2xx and sub-brand at $1,0xx) to make it larger for your hand to hold the camera firmer.

3. Of course, the hand grip isn't just for style. It can be put with 2 batteries to boost up the performance of 550D. Well simply say it as "turbo". 4. This is something I neglected in the past - the battery mha value. mha is like horse power, voltage is the speed for a car. 400D's battery is at 720mha, 500D at 1,000mha and 550D at 1,120. One 2A alkaline battery (pen battery) is about 1,500mha. So this 6 x 2A batteries mean 9,000mha vs. 2,300 mha (on turbo). Well the more mha, the faster the flash can restore to get ready again and the faster the focus...etc. That reminded me of my old time remote speed boat that I also use 8 or 12 batteries to boost up the motor power, and also part of the electrical knowledge I learned from my father and my brother.

5. See how this one looks but it's 60% heavier. I hesitated to do that since together with a zoom lens 300mm, this is even heavier. 6. What's good about the hand grip is that it has the side buttons for enlarging and focus/shutter button; so you don't need to bend your hand up for pressing the button on the main camera body.

The kid on the run

The below photos show the weakness of 550D in capturing fast moving objects. At this kind of photo taking, 1/10 second could make a real difference.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Crunchy silky sugar coated banana 拔絲香蕉 by Crystal Jade Tai Yau

The below is another physics experiment of our wise ancestors. First deep fried the banana coated with malt sugar and immediately put them in icy water to make the sugar coating crunchy and silky hair-like. What an interesting experiment and yet so yummy!

Home made plum wine

My friend made this home made plum wine. Wow, when I opened the jar, the room was filled with the fragrance of plums. See those plums are pinched and that's her secret way to make it even more fragrant.

Home cooking dishes for the Rich 富豪的家常小菜

There were times I went to dinners with some rich tycoons. We went to those famous "canteens" or xxx club houses for the riches. There they asked the captain to get them some home cooking dishes (寫幾碟家常小菜). After a while, a team of waiters came in serving a big pot of shark's fins, steamed "east star" garoupa, 2-3 head abalone....etc. So the rich guy giving that order was freaked out and called the captain "do you eat all these at home everyday? I said home cooking dishes. A soup of veggie/pork. Stir fried veggie, steamed snapper...etc.". Take them out now!". So 20 min. later, they came in and serve the ordered ones. There it came something extra. The veggie/pork soup is in a shark's fin chicken soup base. Stir fried veggie with some abalone slices. The steamed snapper with middle part of Chinese golden ham and top grade Japanese "flower" mushroom. Wow the rich guy was so furious and threw all those dishes onto the window. Well the room was filled with soup, veggie, fish chunks....

Those people in that "canteen" really don't know the rich people would want something simple and basic sometimes. Off the business, some of those rich people are just ordinary people who feel like getting something that remind them of their old tough time before they get rich. Those short-sighted captains/waiters should know if they really read the mind of that rich guy, they could get more tipping than from serving shark's fins. That's also why Cathay Pacific has a rice cooker on board and serve fresh steam rice in first class, as well as steamed rice roll/congee for the breakfast. In return, the rich people enjoy so much flying on CX first class.

1/2. Went to a special place which I can't explicitly disclose it but you can find some hint on the photo. This canteen is pretty nice. Quite surprised this place serve these quality stir fried home cooking dishes. Yummy!

between Phang Nga and Trang

All along the Southern Thailand to the border of Malaysia, there are many scenic islands, stones, even trees in the middle of the sea.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Momo Cafe, Marriott Vista Sathorn

This Momo Cafe offered a menu of fish variety from tuna, salmon, cod to seabass at around THB300-400.

1. The shop. 2. Iced coffee by Illy.

3. Tuna with black/white sesame crust on thin sliced turnip with wasabi mayo. The tuna is a bit dry. The wasabi mayo should have been a bit more blast. Interesting the most delicious one is the chilled turnip underneath. 4. Green salad with balsamic vinegar. Very chill and fresh veggie and the balsamic vinegar is not bad.
5. Creamy spinach. Very nice though a bit rich. 6. Pan fried sea bass in tomato sauce. This one is much better than the tuna. Juicy, tender and aromatic.

Mandarin Oriental shop and cafe, Siam Paragon G/F, Bangkok, Thailand

1. Blue berry cheese cake. The one is 80% similar to the classic New York cheese cake of MO HK of 20 years ago (now no more in MO HK). I have been extremely lingered onto my most favourite NY cheese cake by the ex-MO HK and so far none can be compared to 50% of theirs, until I came across this brother. Nowadays many cheese cakes are either too creamy (to get a smooth texture) or too hard. Some even forgot the classic sour cream and put some sweeter cream on it, completely forget the original NY cheese cake that the classic sour cream is a perfect match to the rich cheese flavour. So glad to find a 80% alike brother after all these years. Why 80% is because it's a blue berry one without the classic sour cream, but they didn't make the blue berry to extra sweet and rather made it more fruity flavour to match the original cheese flavour. BTW, I explained it to my friend on how either the fruity acidity or sour cream to match the cheese flavour since my friend didn't try the original cheese cake but got misled by the other sweet cream cheese cakes over the years. 2. Dark choco tart. Another delight to taste the aromatic dark choco. and it's not sweet either.
3. My favourite iced fruit tea. Back behind is the best Thai iced tea I have ever tried. However, as I asked the shop lady if I can buy the tea leaves, I got a polite apology as it's in a secret recipe. Though she recommended me to go to Yawara to get some, it wouldn't be the same for sure. For those who like Thai iced tea please this is a must try!