Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Girls' Dinner -- HotPot at Budaoweng

I have just one word for you: YUM!

My love for hotpot knows no bounds.  And the hotpot at Budaoweng is great.  Located on top of a mall in Times Square, you walk in to a nice big tank full of fresh slinking and creeping crawlies.  Delicious.

 Everything is very clean.  Everyone gets a little bowl of their special sauce.
 To which you add a delicious array of sauces.  We ordered the cilantro and red vinegar, which costs extra.
 The menu has a lot of special seafood options.  Tip: these are pricier!

Their menu is easy to read in English and Chinese and with colorful pictures.

Four girls went and selected the mixed soup base.  We ordered crispy fish skin, fresh shrimp, a huge basket of fresh Japanese mixed vegetables...
 daikon (white radish), beef, tofu, frozen tofu...
 cuttlefish paste (theirs is really good, I think I like it better than Megan's Kitchen).
 The shrimp on a bed of ice.  Sometimes their tentacles move a little, so don't be freaked out!
 The marbled beef, yum.  This is the small plate.
 The table from above.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Jaywalking and ID Checks

As some of you may know, ever since my run in with the law last year and the aftermath, I am super paranoid when I approach this particular crosswalk in Hong Kong.  The other day, during my morning walk to work, I noticed another shakedown by the police.  They love to idle at this intersection and catch/entrap/ticket unsuspecting pedestrians.

What I didn't know previously though was that there was a horrific accident at this intersection where a person was run over by a huge double decker bus because he stepped out into the intersection at the last minute, against the light.  That's a sobering thought.

I also learned recently that everyone is supposed to carry their identification with them in Hong Kong at all times.  Police often stop "suspicious looking" people in Central and ask to see their identification.  Apparently there are also a lot of ID checks at routine traffic stops in Sai Kung and Clearwater Bay.  So I guess the excuse of not having your ID with you when you get stopped for jaywalking won't really work.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Dinner and the Orchestra - Paradise Dynasty and Chen Qi Gang

Last week I went to the Roman Festivals concert at the HK Philharmonic in the Hong Kong Cultural Center with a friend.  I was intrigued by the debut of the piece Tuan Luan by the Chinese composer, Chen Qi Gang, a musician who was permitted to leave China to pursue music in Paris in the late 1980s.

Before the performance, my friend and I went to eat at Paradise Dynasty.  Too bad I didn't get a picture of their soup dumplings, because that stuff is gooooood!  They had a jar of freshly julienned ginger on the table and plenty of tart black vinegar.

We ordered the wood ear mushrooms marinated and tossed in a slightly spicy vinaigrette, a plate of lightly sauteed baby cabbage, a bamboo steamer of soup dumplings, and the ultimate, a bowl of red hot simmering fish.  I am already thinking of my return.

The white fish was thinly sliced and delicate and tender and the glass noodles perfectly cooked.  The only thing I didn't love was the tofu skin, but I guess it adds some substance and heft to the dish.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Burger Night

We rarely cook anymore, which is really a shame.  Last week though we Michael fired up the grill and made cheeseburgers  - lean Australian beef patties topped with brie and marinated jalapeno slices, perfectly medium rare, on ciabatta buns.

I paired it with a simple green salad and homemade balsamic vinaigrette, and put sparkling water in champagne flutes for kicks.  It was so yum!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Hong Kong Airport - Raffles Medical Clinic

So this is not a super glamorous topic but, in a pinch, it is very good information to know.

There is a medical clinic in the Hong Kong international airport! 

On a rarely sighted level 6, on a mezzanine level one floor above the arrival hall on level 5 and one level below the check in counters on level 7, there is a medical clinic sponsored by Raffles Group, open 24 hours a day every day, with a doctor on site from 7 am until midnight.

Their main clientele seems to be pilots and flight attendants, but when I was there I saw a few ordinary transiting passengers as well.  Granted, you have to pay out of pocket and hope to be reimbursed by your insurance company later, but sometimes you really need medical attention before you're about to leave, or just when you've landed, in an airport!

Incredibly I found myself in need of their services in a very bad way about a month ago.  I woke up around 5:30 am in pain and discomfort and was seriously stressed.  I was on my way to Japan on a 9:30 am flight.  When would I be able to find a doctor and get prescription medicine?  I googled for 24 hour pharmacies in Hong Kong - none available.  I called up the 24 hour pharmacy department at a public hospital - needed a doctor's appointment with prescription first.  In desperation, I googled clinics and doctors in Niseko, Japan - an additional twenty minutes by bus, after an already exhausting, full day of transit, to reach a hospital where doctors didn't really speak English.  None of these options looked good. 

I finally thought to look for pharmacies in the airports themselves.  I stumbled upon Raffles Medical and the rest was history.  I am so, so grateful for this clinic.  I got to the airport around 7:50 am, waited less than 20 minutes, saw the doctor, received prescription medicine (which was dispensed directly from the pharmacy on site) and was well on my way to checking into my flight before 9 am.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Sergio Rossi Sample Sale - Shoooooooes (Swoon)

Sample sales are so dangerous because they're designed to ensure with 100% accuracy that you lose your head.  Those slash marks in red!  Those colored stickers indicating huge markdowns!  The random display of lots of formerly expensive beautiful things that are now so much more attainable, even if still not practical!  Yes, I had a Carrie Bradshaw moment last week.

It's no wonder I ended up walking out of the Sergio Rossi sample sale with two pairs of high heels, when I never even wear high heels! (But I'm turning over a new leaf and all of that is changing.  Really.)

My only regret is that I went too late and all the super skinny pencil heel stilettos and pumps in my size had been snatched up.  What do you know, size 36-36.5 is very popular in Hong Kong.  Doh.

The sale was in Causeway Bay and the markdowns were pretty good, ranging from 30% to over 70%.  And the women were actually quite nice and well behaved - having experienced my share of the New York retail jungle, I was a bit surprised at how tame this one was.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Attempting to Fly (Gracefully) with Aerial Silk, aka Aerial Contortion

I recently tried a class at the Aerial Arts Academy in Hong Kong at the encouragement and introduction of a colleague and friend.  We were both beginners to the aerial silk technique and went not really knowing at all what to expect.

I've seen images of this circus art, mainly through Cirque du Soleil, and a quick google images search before my class confirmed my vision.  We went to a small studio in Central right near my apartment.

I have to say, it is a pretty tough workout.  It is like a mix of TRX (suspension training) and pole dancing (being able to launch yourself up and spin and, at times, be horizontal to the floor).

I have so much newfound respect for the lithe performers who manage to make it look so effortless in their beautiful costumes and tiny leotards.  I was red faced and sweating pretty quickly into the class.

This was my silk, before I unraveled it and started to play.

I did manage to learn a few basics though - like the foot lock, and even managed a few times to do it while suspended in mid-air (really not easy, it requires quite a bit of foot dexterity)!

I first learned how to do this pose, which was easier than it looks (though I can't promise I was as graceful):
image courtesy of Robyn Fryer on Pinterest
Then tried to do a side lean in a single foot lock, which was harder - mainly I was struggling to stay horizontal (the key was to push down my hips).   This is what the pose looks like:

image courtesy of Katie Navarro on Pinterest
I'm keen to go back and try again!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Paris - Eats at Rue Charlot

Ohhhh I loved this place.  We sat in their enclosed sidewalk and basked (or overheated, after a while) in the sunny Sunday morning as we gobbled down these amazing, amazing dishes.

Look at these XXL snails!  Michael and his brother shared these.
 My steamed artichoke with mustard vinaigrette.
 My warm honeyed goat cheese salad.
 The humongous cheeseburger and obligatory skinny frites that Michael and his brother both ordered.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Paris - Eats at Chez Julien

While in Paris, I really enjoyed our dining experiences at Chez Julien.
First of all, it didn't hurt that the restaurant felt like a jewelry box.
 Surrounded by a ceiling like that, with the gilded mirrors and lush white roses and red velvet banquette seats, I kept expecting a twirling dancer to emerge while we sat and ate.

I apologize in advance for the utterly terrible quality of the photos of our food.  The restaurant was designed for romance and ambience, not for tourists over-eagerly documenting every dish they sampled.  I'm sure our maitre'd was secretly horrified: those stupid Americans!
Michael and his brother ordered some funky craft beers.
 We started with a vinegar tomato salad topped with a warm runny egg,
 asparagus with parma ham,
 and fried shrimp fritters paired with a zesty side salad.
 I opted for the grilled sea bass on a bed of caramelized onions and rice, topped with micro greens.
Michael opted for the steak and fries with mustard.
 Michael's brother opted for the duck, cooked to a tender pink, with lightly roasted vegetables.  I think this was the best option of the night.
 After dinner, we went for a rousing game of darts at a Scottish pub nearby:
 Michael, gleefully beginning to mark down points against his brother...