# Saturday, 08 August 2009

The Hong Kong weather in recent weeks are really bad, having hot temperature is common in many parts of the world, but at the same time having polluted misty air and being trapped amidst a cement forest as dense as those in this city should be something unique to Hong Kong. Well, the recent passing by of typhoon is also a factor though, but it is well known that the humid hot Hong Kong weather during this season is really uncomfortable.

Although there are government and civilian measures to help fight pollution, but there are fundamental issues that make me feel that the problem cannot easily go away, limited by the size of the city with a dense population, and being affected by the manufacturing facilities in surrounding regions, there is a price to pay for living here to enjoy the good things that Hong Kong can offer.

There has been a study saying that indoor air quality can be better than those of outdoor if you have a air purifier, I have installed two of these at home, and I tend to believe that it is true, the indicator on the air purifier may show poor condition when I open all windows, but end up ok when the room is air-conditioned. If you tell the old folks that outdoor air is worse than indoor air, they must think you are crazy, but unfortunately, I am afraid that it can be true at some moment of the year.

On Air purifier, I am relying heavily on a Panasonic model, which works very well for years, the other one is Sharp, which unfortunately always emit a strange odor (I believe that it is carbon) and is rarely used (unless under conditions which I must use both for powerful and quick air clean up), I suspect that the strange odor is caused by the humidity, which may have affected the filter, and this humidity problem can also be attributed to the Hong Kong weather. I think I should avoid opening windows immediately after turning off air conditioner, as we all know, this will draw water vapors attached to cold surfaces, I think this is bad for air filters as wet carbon may produce odors as I read.

Saturday, 08 August 2009 10:58:36 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Thursday, 06 August 2009

I once worked in a building known as Jardine House in Central Hong Kong around 3 years ago, this building used to be the tallest building in Hong Kong during the 70s, and at the lower floor there are quite a few eateries and restaurants, and Jasmine Place (怡翠軒) was a Chinese restaurant that I rarelywent to, my impression with it was really not so good. Recently I went to Jardine House for something and suddenly felt like eating there, and my first impression was - wow, they have quite a nice decoration now - and looks much more high class than it used to be.

But are the food as greatly improved as the decoration? I think perhaps not exactly, usually I would judge dim sum quality of a restaurant by the basics, for example, Ha Gau (Shrimp dumpling) or Siu Mai, if they cannot do it well, then probably they are not great enough yet, and Jasmine Place fails this test in both their Ha Gau (Shrimp dumpling) and Siu Mai.

However, the 2 layers dim sum casket (good for 2 person) as a whole is quite a good deal considering the relatively expensively priced dim sums in this restaurant. Well, I am not saying that they serve bad dim sum, it is just that the price is so high that you are actually paying for the location and not the food, this restaurant I believe is serving business customers who work in the building or at nearby offices, as Central is such a busy commercial district in Hong Kong.

 

There is one dim sum that I think is kind of innovative and tastes good, which is a seafood roll (crab meat) wrapped in thin noodles, I like this one a lot.

 

Another great surprise is the dessert that I ordered, 楊枝甘露 is a popular dessert in Hong Kong, which is a mix of mango, grapefruit and coconut milk, it is one of my favorite, and Jasmine Place created one with Ice Cream in it (Mango Ice cream), and the result is double yummy! I have to give a thumbs up for this.

 

I guess there could be a reason why this restaurant is on the Michelin guide, in fact they do have a Michelin Menu (which does not look that attractive to me on paper), but personally I would recommend this restaurant if you shall be having business visit at Jardine House, do not want to go far to eat, and shall be able to claim your dining expenses from the company.

One thing that I need to mention is that their staffs are very professional and friendly, I believe foreign friends will sure find them helpful.

Thursday, 06 August 2009 17:47:42 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Wednesday, 05 August 2009

I once thought that I have tried most of the "extremes" in dim sum, but after trying out OVOlogue (祇月), I just knew I had not.

Located and renovated out of a hundred-year-old Pawn Shop, this restaurant creates a unique mix of Old Oriental decoration with a Western style atmosphere, I would not say that their food tastes super great, but the look definitely is rich for visual satisfaction.


The urchin soup (with gold dusts) is quite ok, as well as the sio mai.


But this gold fish is better for looking than eating.

I would suggest trying out this restaurant for experiences, if pure great food is what you want, you can get the same quality elsewhere at a much lower spending, or at the same spending, but with a much higher quality. But for the unique experiences, such as this special money tray used for payment, may be it truly worth a visit after all.

Address in English: 66 Johnston Rd. Wan Chai.
Address in Chinese: 灣仔莊士敦道66號地下
Tel: 2527 6088

Wednesday, 05 August 2009 22:53:39 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Saturday, 01 August 2009

Aside from eating, another kind of fun that I always enjoy is playing Lego, may be there are misconception that Lego is for kids only, many adults actually uses Lego to express themselves, I went to a local event yesterday (ani-com) and was deeply impressed by this Lego representation of my other favorite: Dim Sum

By the way, if you play Lego as well, please check out my Lego blog at: http://brickand.me

Saturday, 01 August 2009 22:53:00 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Tuesday, 21 July 2009

I have tried Shark's Fin City Restaurant (魚翅城酒家) a couple times more after my last blog entry on this restaurant (http://www.biginhongkong.com/2009/06/04/SharksFinCityRestaurant.aspx), it is really a good choice with good value for the money, only caveat is that some of their staffs did not serve well, I have been served cold food twice (while they should be hot), in one case the staff took it and heated it for me without saying much, but during the other time, the waiter questioned in a very unpleasant way, while some other staffs performed well, some just fail to perform under heavy workload. But for the environment, this restaurant is very good, not very noisy and spacing is fine.

The food, however, is really good value, I tried again the set I mentioned last time:

Pictures for the set:

Very rich and creamy shark's Fin Chicken Soup!

 

 

 

 

This is Bean Curb dessert (豆腐花), should give it a try, you can control how much Syrup you want to put in

 

Aside from the set, the dim sum and dishes are also great, below are the recommended ones!

 

 

Most friends from western world may not like to eat internals, but the beef stomach (金錢肚) on the left is really good, and their Crispy Pork (燒腩肉) is also nice, though not as good as that of Fu Sing (please see http://www.biginhongkong.com/2009/03/07/FuSingSharkFinSeafoodRestaurantPartII.aspx)

 

The Taro Puff (蜂巢芋角) is also excellent!

 

This specially favoured fried chicken (南乳雞) is spiced up by Fermented Bean Curb, truly a delicacy!

This is a restaurant that you should not miss, I really wonder why it is not mentioned in the Michelin Guide.

Address in Chinese:
銅鑼灣勿地臣街1號 時代廣場 食通天 1102 號舖

Address in English:
Shop No. 1102, Times Square, 1 Matheson Street, Causeway Bay

Tel: 3102 9838

Google Map: http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msa=0&msid=114499201820180881946.000463d25b524e2ce06d1

Tuesday, 21 July 2009 20:07:48 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)

Hong Kong was hit by a strong typhoon over the weekend and it was a stormy night that hardly any of us in the house can sleep well, the wind must have been extremely strong as the traffic lights are turned (that was what looks wierd in my previous blog entry: http://www.biginhongkong.com/2009/07/19/DoYouNoticeWhatsWrongWithThisPhoto.aspx 

But despite that, the daily life of citizens were not affected, with an effective transportation network, especially MTR, it is possible to move around without even using an umbrella! My wife used to live in a place where she could commute to her work place all within covered area connected by MTR stations. So I can say that, despite high transportation costs, MTR improves the quality of life of people in this small city. 

Check out the MTR network here: http://www.mtr.com.hk/eng/train/system_map.html

Tuesday, 21 July 2009 17:57:47 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Sunday, 19 July 2009

Not those blurred area intended to protect the privacy of people inside the picture of course.

Sunday, 19 July 2009 21:03:16 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Thursday, 16 July 2009

I talked about the positive environment impact of taking vegetarian food, I guess even not considering environmental protection, a lot of people are already doing so for health reason. In the west, salad probably is the most common vegetarian option, personally I find it too plain, and in Hong Kong, vegetarian food can be extremely attractive!

There are many good vegetarian restaurants in Hong Kong, but there is one that I would recommend everyone to try at least once, Long Men Lou (龍門樓) combines a scenic Chinese style garden with great vegetarian food, the restaurant is located at Nan Lian Garden (南蓮園池), a nice place that you can spend a whole morning, and have a great lunch before leaving, but I would suggest that guests arrive early or have a booking to be sure, coz the place is not big and spaces are limited.

The restaurant may not be easily found within the garden, but actually it is located just behind the waterfall, be patient and you can get there without hassle. The garden itself is only a few minutes walk from the Diamond Hill MTR station.

Address in Chinese: 鑽石山鳳德道60號南蓮園池龍門樓
Address in English: Long Men Lou, Nan Lian Garden, 60 Fung Tak Road, Diamond Hill
Tel: 3658 9388

* The garden is also commonly called "Chi Lin Jen Yuen" (志蓮淨苑) by local folks, but in case you really can't find the place and need to ask a local folk who does not speak English well, mentioning "Chi Lin Jen Yuen" will probably help.

Officially no photography is allowed within the restaurants, so I can't take pictures for all the dishes ordered, but generally most of them are good, though the price may be a little above average, but considering the environment, it is expected that the cost may be higher than those outside of the garden.

Thursday, 16 July 2009 19:07:58 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Sunday, 12 July 2009

Starting July 7, 2009, Registered retailers in Hong Kong will charge customers not less than HKD 0.5 for each shopping bag with handles if they demand it, these retailers are mostly department stores, supermarts and other bigger retail outlets.

http://sc.info.gov.hk/gb/news.gov.hk/en/category/environment/090524/html/090524en04002.htm

While some people get away with it by getting plastic bags with no handles, most local residents do bring their own eco-friendly shopping bags. I admit that this can cause some inconvenience, but for the cause of protecting the environment (protecting ourselves - human - actually, as the earth will survive after all), I believe that if under situation where bringing a bag is not feasible, paying 50 cents is acceptable too.

Talking about environment protection, not sure if many are aware of a UN report telling us that Livestock is a major threat to environment, and it generates more greenhouse gas emissions than the transportation sector!

http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2006/1000448/index.html

While becoming a total vegetarian is not easy, enjoying a nice vegetarian meal more often can now serve one more purposes: Save the planet, and thus saving us.

Sunday, 12 July 2009 18:33:27 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)

There is another interesting place to visit if you are a fan of Xiao Long Bao (小籠包), Wing Lai Yuen - Yeung's Kitchen 詠藜園楊家菜 is located at Hung Hom, in a food plaza known as 黃埔美食坊, this food plaza used to be extremely popular but I feel that the magic has diminished, Wing Lai Yuen is the only special one there I would go for, the rest are either average or has branches elsewhere.

Is Wing Lai Yuen's Xiao Long Bao (小籠包) as great as those of Crystal Jade or Modern China Restaurant? Personally I think not, though they are still very good. But Wing Lai Yuen offers something else which attracts a lot of people, 擔擔麵 Dan Dan Noodles is a special Sichuan cuisine, the special thing about it are the use of spicy sauce, and the peanut flavors (there is a non-spicy version of it if you cannot take it). Although I am not a fan of Dan Dan Noodle, its popularity and word of mouth reputation make me believe that it fits the savor of many people, especially those who loves spicy food.

 

Xiao Long Bao (小籠包)

 

擔擔麵 Dan Dan Noodles, I suggest that you ordering one to see if it tastes great for you, it is extremely popular!

 

Wor tip 煱貼 (Potsticker)

Wing Lai Yuen offers a lot more than what I mentioned, especially Sichuan style and Yeung's Imperial style cuisines, but if these do not really ring a bell for you, I would not suggest that you travel all the way to Hung Hom just to try out Wing Lai Yuen, but it can be an excellent (or perhaps an absolute) choice if you happen to be there in the vicinity. It is a very special high quality restaurant with very reasonable pricing.

Wing Lai Yuen - Yeung's Kitchen 詠藜園楊家菜

Address in Chinese: 紅磡德安街7號黃埔新天地黃埔花園8期106-107號舖
Address in English: Shop 106-107, Site 8, Wonderful Worlds Of Whampoa, 7 Tak On Street, Hung Hom, Hong Kong 
Tel: 2320 6430

Google Map: http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msa=0&msid=114499201820180881946.000463d25b524e2ce06d1

Sunday, 12 July 2009 13:21:42 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)