Friday, January 29, 2016

Shanghai Min, TST

I am a big lover of Shanghai food.  Some of my favorite dishes are probably the (1) spicy pork dumplings drenched in spicy oil and covered in pork floss (hung yau chau say), (2) the spicy noodles in a peanut sauce with a sprinkling of ground pork atop it (dan dan mian) and (3) the soup -filled pork dumplings (siu lung bao). 

When walking around Tsim Sha Tsui East looking for food, my husband suggested we try out Shanghai Min.  We've both not been there before, but we were looking for some warm foods to comfort us on this chilly evening.

UG2 Tsim Sha Tsui Centre
66 Mody Road
Tsim Sha Tsui

2369 - 8899

Monday - Sundays
11:30 - 3 pm
6 pm - 11 pm

*Reservations available*

We go there around 6pm, which was really lucky because the kitchen opened up at 6pm.  There were a handful of people who were there before us and they were waiting until 6pm to get their orders in.  So, taking note of the times when the restaurant is open for service is quite valuable!

This place seems like a classy place, but also quite casual.  The staff were quite professional…or more so than your usual canteen!  I liked how they worked fast, were quite efficient at clearing our table, and also made sure if we were doing all right (somewhere in the middle of our dinner).  That was quite thoughtful.  

The menu was beautiful!  I love menus with pictures of what the dishes are.  The pictures were quite true to what the actual dishes looked like, which is always great.

I'm not sure if the first little appetizer was complimentary, but it seems like it was apart of the meal…just like you pay for the tea that comes with your meal at most places.  But, the little appetizer that greeted us at our table before we ordered was a pickled radish dish.  It was pretty good…but I quite like sour, vinegary things…so, I'm quite bias!

The first dish we ordered was recommended by the restaurant.  It sort of reminded me of Beijing Duck because it was a bit of meat that you placed on a bun and ate.  This was a cube of pork with a layer of the most delicious tasting fat that I have ever eaten.  Who knew that fat could be so darn delicious.  But, it also came in the most wonderful sauce that I have ever tasted.  The combination of the meat, the sauce and the bun were really nice.

It was also fun to eat.  A mini Chinese burger…or sandwich.

The next dish we got was one of our Shanghai staples…the spicy pork dumplings.  These were all right.  They weren't as spectacular as some that I've had at other places, but they did have a really nice sauce that the dumplings were resting in.

The next dish was the cutest thing that I'd ever seen.  We each got a single serving of the recommended soup-filled pork dumpling.  It was topped with crab eggs, I believe.  It was also quite nice, but nothing spectacular.  I did enjoy it…though..and it was almost double the size of a normal siu long bao!

The last dish we got was the dan dan mian.  This was pretty good as well.  I enjoyed it because it was just the perfect warm dish I needed to satisfy my stomach for the night.  It was not as spicy as I had thought it would be, but it did have a really nice soup flavor.

For dessert, we got a red bean cake.  This was just the perfect thing to end the meal with.  It was lovely and crispy on the outside and warm and sweet on the inside.  I love red bean desserts.  I would totally recommend this as a way to end a dinner.  I'm not sure if this came recommended by the restaurant, but we had this before at several other Shanghai restaurants and this one was comparably quite nice too!

Overall, I really enjoyed the experience of dining at Shanghai Min.  The food was pretty good.  There were two dishes that I enjoyed more than the others, but, then again, we ordered food we usually order…so, of course, comparisons would be made!

This was a really nice place to eat at.  I think, when in the area…and in the mood for Shanghai food again…I would definitely go back.  Though, I think I would chance ordering some new dishes and expanding my taste-bud knowledge of Shanghai cuisine!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

DIY: Healthier Ramen

I've been heavy into watching competitive eating videos on Youtube…not sure why.  I guess watching them makes me live vicariously through them…I always feel full after seeing them eat a hundred pieces of KFC chicken!  Some of my favorite videos to watch have been by Yuka Kinoshita.  I just love this girl's positivity towards the taste of food…it makes me thing that everything in Japan must be delicious!

Watching her videos made me miss Japan a lot too!  It's just such a wonderful place to experience life!

But, thinking about all this…I decided to make myself some ramen…but healthier ramen…because it is a new year and I am trying to be more conscious of my health (the years are catching up with me).

Looking up some recipes online, a lot of people say that a healthier ramen means:

1.  Use less of the sauce packet

2.  Load your noodles with veggies

Sounded easy enough!

What I used:
1.  1 Packet of Shin Ramen
2.  A tomato
3.  A bit of enoki mushrooms
4.  A bit of lettuce

This was just a personal-sized ramen bowl for one.

What I did:
1.  I first boiled some water and threw in my enoki mushrooms.  5 minutes should suffice.

I always feel like I have to cook mushrooms longer than everything else.  Back when I lived in Japan, I would get mushrooms from the supermarket a lot.  Some times, when I didn't cook them well enough, I would find myself having major stomach problems (you know what I'm talking about…).  So, I boiled my enoki mushrooms for about 5 minutes.

2.  Then I threw in about 1/4 of the sauce packet and my noodles.  I let my noodles "cook" for about 1 minute.

3.  Then I threw in my lettuce and let them cook for about 30 seconds.  I like my lettuce to be crunchy, so I don't usually boil them for long. 

4.  Lastly, I threw in my tomatoes, sliced.  I also don't like my tomatoes to be too mushy, so I cooked them for about 30 seconds…

I think the timing of putting in each ingredient is quite important.  The mushrooms were fine being cooked for a longer period of time.  The noodles (as instructed by the packet) should cook for 3 - 4 minutes.  And my veggies, which I like to be quite crispy would cook the shortest amount of time.

5.  Afterwards, I drained most of the soup from my pot and poured everything out into my bowl.  I poured in some soup…which I realize you cannot really see in the photo below!

After making this, I thought it was quite similar to making hot pot.

It was good.  It had a nice little bit of spice from the sauce packet…it was lower in sodium for sure…and I could get in a reasonable amount of veggies.

Two thumbs up in my book.

Give it a try if you are trying to make a healthier ramen!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Shooting Pool in Yuen Long

Over the weekend, we discovered that there were pool tables in the Sir Denys Roberts Squash Courts near Long Ping MTR Station.

I've been looking for a pool place for ages…and a pinball place for ages…

But, discovering the pool tables right in Yuen Long was pretty awesome.  It was not only located in one of Hong Kong's public facilities, but it was also smoke-free!

How to get to the Sir Denys Roberts Squash Courts:
1.  From Long Ping MTR Station Exit B2, walk down to the street level

2.  Ma Wong Road should be running along the MTR track and Chun Yin Square will be on the left

3.  Walk along Ma Wong Road until you hit Ping Wui Street 

4.  Take a left on Ping Wui Street and you'll see the Squash Courts in a few seconds on the left

1 Ping Fai Path
Ping Wui Street
Yuen Long

2479 - 2950 or 2443 - 0143

The squash court has more than just a squash court.  There are also table tennis rooms, available activity room spaces, and American pool table rooms.  There were two pool rooms.  We paid 30 HKD for an hour, which was pretty darn good!  We also got the time slot of 10 am - 11 am, which was not that bad…a little pool after breakfast.

The tables were quite beaten up, but still usable.  I think this place must be popular with a lot of the kids in the area because the tables were really well loved.

The room was nice and spacious…and private…which was the great thing.  It totally reminded me of back in college.  There was a pool table at the basement of our dorm.  My friends and I would go down there and ease the stress of finals week with a few games.

I haven't shot pool for a few months…and before that a few years!  So, it was nice to get some games in and see how far I've strayed off the path of good aim and intuition!

After a few games, we walked around to check out the amenities of the squash courts.  Being only 11 am, all the rooms were filled…both pool rooms were booked, the table tennis rooms were booked…and people were using the activity rooms too.

How nice to see people booking and using the public facilities on a Saturday morning!

When walking into the entrance…the lobby area looks like below.  You have to checkin/register with the women behind the counter to get the pool balls and sticks.  They also have an automated announcement "bell" that lets you know when your time is up (so convenient).

It's quite easy to book the room, just go online and book it.  You can also head down to the squash court and use the kiosk to reserve the room.  Like most places in Hong Kong, you can use your Octopus Card to pay the fee.

I'm continually finding some pretty awesome things right in my own neighborhood (like a darts joint!).  Lately, I have been thinking about how convenient it is to live in Yuen Long…and now I'm branching out and finding all sorts of facilities where I can bum away a few hours of my weekend.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Wearable Blessings

I caught on late to this news, but the month of January (here in Hong Kong) is "Appreciate Hong Kong" month.  A benefit is that all of Hong Kong's museums are now free admission.  That doesn't quite matter to me because I have a museum pass…but it is a really great thing to know for those who would like to visit some of the museums around the city.

TOO BAD the art museum is under renovations!!!! though!!!

Today, we headed over to Shatin's Hong Kong Heritage Museum.  The exhibit that we were aiming to check out was the "Wearable Blessings" exhibit.  This exhibit is found on the first floor.

"Wearable Blessings" info:
From reading up on the exhibit online, I learned that the work that went into children's clothing was quite significant back in the olden times of China (as with most countries, though).  So, people used to believe heavily on superstitions that would protect their children and help them to live long, healthy lives.  These superstitions included wearing clothes with animals on them to protect them from harm…to accessories that would ward off evil spirits.

Exhibit runs until March 21, 2016

The "Full Moon" caps above were usually given to babies who survived the first month of life.  They were embroidered with flowers, which wished wealth, honor, and fortune upon those children who wore them.

The jacket above had a pair of phoenixes embroidered on them.  The symbolism of the two singing phoenixes was to wish the little girls who wore them a good and happy marriage.  The flowers embroidered around them again wished wealth and honor to the girl's future.

In the exhibit space, there was also a display with some of the modern/contemporary pieces of Chinese children's clothing.  I loved how inspiration front he past was taken into heavy consideration when these designers created these works of art!

Above is a baby carrier, which I've seen all over when I lived in China.  It's something that I always thought was quite beautifully handcrafted and such a useful tool to haul around a baby!

The unique thing about this baby carrier was the fact that there were bells attached to it.  The bells, when jingled, would chase away evil spirits and protect the baby.  I quite liked that sentiment.

The baby's bib above was used like any other bib…to protect food from messing up a child's clothing!  But, the interesting thing about bibs was that they were given to women as a dowry gift.  The bib would first be used as a doily for an oil lamp.  The museum information said that the word for lamp (deng) sounded like the word for "son" (ding).  So, it was a superstitious gesture to assure the woman would have a son in her future.

The cap below was absolutely beautiful.  The caps in the exhibit were all quite stunning actually.  This one, in particular, caught my eye because of the mirror detailing around the front of the cap.  The mirrors (as said the information board) were a common thing that was seen in the Western world.  So, this cap was made to be a fusion between Chinese and Western cultures.

The shoes below were covered with persimmon flower embroidery.  The word for persimmon sounded like the words for "thought"…"business"…"positivity.  So, these shoes were embroidered in such a way to wish the child wearer a good and stable career.

Perhaps the most interesting of all the things in this exhibit was the padlocks that were in the back of the space.  I always had seen them around in jewelry shops and also when I lived in China.  I thought they were just a nice little ornament…but they had a lot more meaning that I learned about while going through "Wearable Blessings."

These padlocks (an example seen below) were worn by children to wish them good luck and health.  Parents believed that they could lock their child's soul to the family and protect evil spirits from carrying them away.  They also believed that the lock would help their child to lock in on their studies.

Superstitions are always so interesting to learn about…and how they are used in clothing, especially, was quite fascinating.  I would definitely recommend a trip out to Shatin for anyone who is interested in learning more about the culture of children's clothing in China.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Hung Hom Promenade Walk

I was in the Hung Hom area, just checking out my old Hong Kong stomping grounds.  (This is where I first moved when I came to Hong Kong all those years ago.)  Hung Hom district is such a great area for food and living.  I just love the fond memories I have of walking the blocks around here. 

There are loads of different restaurants around every block.  The housing is pretty standard…there are all the conveniences of life just nearby…And the transportation to Tsim Sha Tsui (or anywhere in Kowloon), Central (or anywhere on Hong Kong island), and, even to Lantau Island, is just so convenient!

It actually sort of feels like a young college district too, since it is quite close to Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

After lunch, my friend and I went for a walk to burn off some calories…as you do.  We headed down to the Hung Hom Promenade, which is a great place to do a nightly summer jog…because it isn't too long.  So, if you are a beginner, the length, the flatness, and the lack of crowds is perfect.

Though it's been nearly five years, the promenade hasn't changed much.  It's still a lovely, flat, clean area to walk/run and enjoy the scenery.  It also looks out onto Kowloon Bay, when, in the evenings, you can see the Mega Box Mall in all its lit glory.

In the evenings, as well, when the Symphony of Lights is running, the Hung Hom promenade (nearer to the ferry pier) is a great place to enjoy the show.

The promenade extends from the Hung Hom ferry pier all the way back past some residential apartment complexes.  It's a pretty safe area in the evenings, but it seems quite abandoned in the day time.

The promenade reminds me of the seaside because of the scale-like tiling on the walkway.

The view over Kowloon Bay and also over Victoria Harbour are spectacular…

Along the promenade, there are multiple areas to sit, which is such a great thing!!!  It makes me want to pack a lunch next time and have a waterfront picnic.

Besides the calming of the lapping water, the green islands and also the bushes along the walkway make this place even more serene than some other promenades that I've walked.

It's pretty awesome to just get lost in your thoughts here…with all the fast-paced-ness of Hong Kong…it's really quite nice to find such a peaceful place in the city.

Walking along the promenade, there were also a few line fisher people who were trying to fish.  There were a few guys with buckets, bate, and fishing poles…I think they were out there more for the socialization than to really catch any fish.

There was also this woman who had dropped her hook and line down into one of the holes in the walkway to try to catch something.  I think she was more there for committing to do something interesting for the afternoon than to really catch any fish as well…!

It's really interesting to just sit and watch what these fisher people get up to.  It makes me think of how Hong Kong used to be made up of fishing villages... It also reminds me a lot of Seattle, where you can watch people crabbing down by the waterfront or fly fishing at the beaches.

Fun Fact:  Hung Hom's promenade is where the Cross-Harbour Swim begins.  It's a race that was really popular back in the early 1900s until 1979.  A few people have told me that the race was cancelled because the pollution in the Harbour got so bad.  But, the race was reinstated in 2011 and has been an annual shindig ever since!

We doubled back to the Hung Hom ferry pier, where there is a public restroom to use just in case!

There were some people fishing over here as well...

And we were lucky to catch a glimpse of the famous Hong Kong sampan skimming across the Harbour…

Because of my new initiative to begin 2016 with being more active…basically, walking more, I've really started enjoying discovering new places where I can just walk and let my mind wander.  It's even more fun to have someone to walk with me…

I'm a lover of walking…but having someone to chat with makes the time pass by more pleasantly!