Friday, February 27, 2015


This blog has gone too long without some bright blooms to liven up the space.  I recently had two dozen roses delivered to my mom.  New York has been having a really hard winter and I thought she (and probably my dad and grandma too) needed some cheering up. 
It was also a belated Valentine's Day present and Chinese New Year celebratory gift, but really does anyone ever need a reason to give or receive flowers?

My grandma - she declared these the most beautiful flowers she has ever seen.

 My mom - doesn't she look so chic in her glasses?

Also, last week, with the hustle and bustle of the Chinese New Year, I splurged on a spray of pink stargazer lilies.  At the time they looked like nothing much, with just a few buds on long leafy stems.  But now, wow!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A Quick Trip to Taiwan

Happy Chinese New Year everyone!  It's the year of the ram/goat/sheep/lamb.  Why are there so many words for this animal in English? In Chinese it's all one word.

Anyway, the blog has been quiet lately because I have just been trying to enjoy life.  Specifically, life without work.  We had a four day long weekend last week thanks to the public holidays.

Not content to leave well enough alone, Michael and I headed out to Taiwan for a whirlwind trip on Friday, returning Saturday. While there I had the pleasure of seeing my sister, her boyfriend, my aunt and cousin.  We also ate a most delicious and appetite-opening round of spicy hotpot. 
One of the highlights of the trip was that the Grand Hyatt Taipei gave us a complimentary upgrade to a jaw-dropping gorgeous corner suite with windows on three sides showing sweeping views of Taipei.  We were both elated and depressed (the depression stemmed from the size of the hotel room compared to our apartment).

There were cute little porcelain and ceramic pieces scattered throughout the unit.
We were right next to 101.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day! Shoes, Fruit, A Plant and Some Hotpot at Katte Shabushabu

This post is a little delayed but I hope you all had a wonderful Valentine's Day!

In the past I've always approached Valentine's Day of two minds - on the one hand it strikes me as a holiday created by big corporate Hallmark types eager to milk every opportunity to raid the shallow pockets of the poor everyman… on the other hand, I do love the products that it summons forth, such as flowers, candy, and perhaps most importantly, lots of unfettered affection and attention.

But honestly, who cares if this is some holiday invented by the scheming Mad Men archetypes eager to make a buck!  If it means we all pause for a second and show our loved one(s) that they are special to us, then so be it.  I'm not one to turn down a present giving or receiving opportunity.  Let's celebrate!

That said, I still refuse to buy flowers in Hong Kong and I encourage Michael to protest it.  In a typical Hong Kong shameless money grab the florists perfectly calibrate supply and demand and jack up the prices of flowers three to five fold for this special occasion.  Free market capitalists, be careful what you wish for… Bah!

My present for Michael, amidst the creative supplies required for a neat packaging job:
The end product.  Handmade note in an origami paper card!
What was the gift?  Blue Sperry boat shoes.  The man needed a pair of shoes without laces and he's not really the Tod's driving loafer type.  I have to admit he didn't love his present, but I kind of expected that.  Michael is impossible to shop for and doesn't like anything.  Now I just give him stuff I would like for him to wear and let him complain. Once the shoes are broken in and comfortable and he can slip and slide right into and out of them, they will become his shoes of choice and then all will be well.

What did he get me?  A pink flowering plant (now settled in my office), a wide variety of fruit (wax apple, cherries, a pound of mandarin oranges, and some grapes) and a date for hotpot.  That's right.  He completely does not understand the tastiness and pleasure of hotpot (he remains an unenlightened being) but he will go with me because he knows my love for it borders on the maniacal.  I guess this is love.

We went to Katte Shabushabu in Causeway Bay - it was really fantastic.  The restaurant is not easy to find though - it is located down this alleyway!  See the sign all the way at the back?  Blink and you will miss it.
The ingredients seemed very fresh and there was no MSG in any of the soup broths.  Everything tasted very clean and pure.  I ate way too much.
 You could tell it was date night by all the couples sitting side by side at the bar:
 The yakitori menu is written out beautifully in Chinese and English on a black mirrored wall that patrons face as they eat:
 The menu comes with instructions:
 My plate of Japanese kurobuta pork and fresh variety of vegetables.  Yum!
 I chose the red snapper broth.  Michael chose the sukiyaki broth.

Everyone gets their own pot.  Everyone gets a sesame dip and a ponzu dip.
 I chose the claim soup.  Michael chose the miso soup.
 I chose the glass noodles.
 Michael chose the udon - here is his after cooking:
 The remnants of our meal - when I finally called it quits and gave up on the vegetables.
Our dessert:

 The restaurant had mostly cleared out by the time we were done.  This gives you an idea of the slightly zig zag layout.
Katte, we will definitely be back.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Brunch at Sohofama

I went to a girls brunch at Sohofama this weekend.  Sohofama is on Bridges Street in the PMQ complex. This particular restaurant was created in collaboration with G.O.D., a store selling goods with a local (particularly vintage) Hong Kong theme.

We opted to sit outside.  The setting was really cute, with fresh herbs and wood furniture everywhere.
One of the girls was incredibly generous and brought rose champagne.  We sat and idled al fresco for over three hours.  This is how brunch is done!

The mint next to where we sat:

The group:

The drunken egg with a goji berry to start:
 The drunken chicken:
 The xiaolongbao:
 The salt egg yolk shrimp, the moo shu pork with pancakes and the stir fried pork with kiwi
 The mapotofu (spicy tofu):
 The braised eggplant:

The pan fried steamed pork buns:

At the end of the meal we opted for carrot cake (not an item listed on the menu!)
 and peanut mochi dessert along with delicious coconut milk pudding:
The remnants of a most satisfying weekend brunch:
The last brunch club meeting of the year of the horse!  I'm glad we all got to get together before the Chinese New Year.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Eye Infection… Again

I am so frustrated!!!

I obviously quite enjoy my life here in Hong Kong, but one of the greatest downsides has to be the awful and constantly deteriorating state of the air quality here.

I keep getting eye infections.  It's getting to the point where I'm not sure if I can wear contact lenses on a daily basis anymore.  I don't think there is any way I could wear mascara or eyeliner or eyeshadow here.  My eyes can barely hold up under the pollution onslaught; there would be no way they could ward off the deleterious effects of makeup.

I keep getting the "squishy eyeball" effect (sorry if this is TMI) where my eye becomes so irritated by the particles in the air that it turns into this slightly gelatinous goo.

It feels like something is trapped in my eye but when I push at my eyeball I realize nothing is caught in there - it is actually my eye, swollen and kind of gelatinous, that is bulging outward and irritating my eyelid, thus causing to me believe that I have something in my eye.

Seriously freaky.

And it's scary to think how bad the air quality is for it to have this effect on my eyes.  It is even scarier to think about what this really means for the people of Hong Kong… for the state of our environment today… for our earth and its future inhabitants.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

A Friend's Birthday Dinner at Pirata

I recently went to my friend's birthday dinner at Pirata, a new Italian restaurant in Wan Chai.  It was pretty good!  The best part of the whole dining experience?  The price!  It was really reasonable (for Hong Kong) considering the amount of food we got.  The service was a little bit rough, but it's a brand new restaurant and it's Hong Kong so I'm not all that surprised.  (Not even sure it's worth noting).

The restaurant was very, very dim, largely because it was only lit from above with the ambient light of various vintage hanging lamps.

The menu was a piece of paper tacked onto a very large heavy wood board.

The burrata cheese on a bed of rocket and parma ham was nice but slightly bland in flavor.  It just tasted… kind of salty.
 I quite liked the heirloom tomato and mozzarella salad, which had a nice light tart dressing.
 I very much enjoyed the perfectly mixed simple mixed greens salad.  Served in a dark, deep wooden bowl, this did not photograph well.  I really liked it though, and could probably have eaten the entire bowl's contents by myself.
 The pork meatballs were very tasty - the pork may explain their very moist and slightly fattier mouthfeel.  The tomato sauce was so good I dipped bread in it.
 The lasagna was okay.  It was surprisingly cheesy (not in a bad way necessarily, more like a… liquid and melty mess kind of a way).  There was not much else in the lasagna except a thin sprinkling of ground beef.  It was served piping hot and I appreciated the carbs after the cold salads, but this one didn't seem very special.
 A panini with pork, cheese, and red peppers.
 My pasta - egg fusili with tomato and cheese.  I was misled by the pasta description.  I should have gone with the duck ragu or the taglietelle with the shrimp and zucchini.  Doh.  I had food envy.
 The table ordered various desserts.  I'm not much of a chocolate girl so I just took some pictures.  I missed taking a picture of the tiramisu, which someone said had come recommended to her.  It was served in a cute little glass mason jar.  It looked less like tiramisu though, and more like pudding or a custard.  My friend said it had a salty caramel twist.

 I did however save room for the gorgeous birthday cake which my friend brought in for the birthday girl (the cake was not provided by Pirata).  It was a coconut pandan cake.  I was SO excited to hear that it not only had coconut (which, if you are a reader of this blog, you know…. you know), but PANDAN??  I've only discovered pandan in the last year and I'd never considered combining it with coconut.  My mind was blown.
My beautiful and incredibly generous portion (slice may be an understatement) of cake.
 A work of art!
Overall, I think Pirata was a good choice for a birthday dinner.  The space is quite nice and the overall noise level low, making it quite atmospheric.  I think this dinner was a little too cheese-heavy for me but overall it was quite tasty and the price was right.