Monday, February 29, 2016

Birthday Celebration (12 Days)

This past weekend, I was honored to be able to attend a 12 Day Birthday Celebration.  The 12 Day Birthday Celebration was like a baby shower…only after the birth of the baby.  It's one of the traditions that some Hong Kongers hold on to, which is kind of a nice thing.

Basically, family and close family friends all go over to the newborn baby's parent's home…bearings gifts such as li sees (red pockets full of money for the baby), diapers, toys, wet wipes, etc.  Mostly, it seemed that everyone brought li sees.

Everyone then visits the baby and gives it their gifts.  The parents accept it on behalf of the baby.  And then everyone sits down to eat.  The particular 12 Day Celebration we went to had a bunch of food and snacks prepared by the grandparents.

Two of the really traditional dishes were:

1.  Vinegar/Ginger dish with pigs feet and eggs:  It's the black dish at the lower right-hand corner of the above photo.  This dish was called gee gurk.

FUN FACT:  Gee Gurk (in Cantonese) has the same pronunciation as the word for grandson.  So, this dish is significantly used as a sort of custom which wishes the new mother more sons to come in the future.

2.  Chicken Wine:  I am pretty sure that the alcohol was cooked out of this dish, but it is like Chicken Soup for the soul.  This dish was called gai jiao.

FUN FACT:  Women who give birth, traditionally, are supposed to stay in the home for a full month.  They eat certain foods, like Gee Gurk and Gai Jiao to help their bodies recover from pregnancy and giving birth.  The month at home is translated into CONFINEMENT (ha!)…but I bet it does feel like confinement because you have to stay at home all day caring for your baby…I'd get serious cabin fever.

The grandparents had a lovely bouquet of flowers.  I totally think that they brightened up the festive occasion even more!

The main gift, which I mentioned above, was li see (red pockets).

Li See amounts:

1.  I feel like most people give 20 HKD for every li see.  It's what I got when I was single and not married.  I feel like it's the average amount and the usual amount given…considering that you have to give MASSIVE AMOUNTS OF PEOPLE li sees during the Chinese New Year…that adds up!

2.  Some people give 50 HKD, which is more generous.

3. People that are even more generous give 100 HKD.

4.  And really generous people give 500 HKD.

These were given to me when I was single…mostly, people who are closest to you (like your parents or in-laws) give the bigger amounts, which is always appreciated!

But that was a little bit on my experience in receiving li sees.

This was my first 12 Day celebration on the birth of a baby during the Chinese New Year.  It was totally a festive occasion filled with lots of family and lots of love.  I really do learn a lot whilst living out here…

It's nice learning traditional things that I had not been exposed to before!

*A photo of the baby (bitty chubby hand)*

Friday, February 26, 2016

One Vegan Shop, Yuen Long

Another NEW YEAR resolution (which we really started a few months before December) was to eat better.  Whilst walking around Yuen Long, we discovered a really awesome shop called ONE VEGAN SHOP.  It is located in the Transport Plaza across the way from Yoho Mall.  

This shop has a lot of organic vegan products…though, we mostly go there to pick up snacks and such!

One Vegan Shop Info:
Shop No. 1, G/F Transport Plaza
2 - 6 Fung Cheung Road
Yuen Long, New Territories

3620 - 2212

I'm not really sure, but I've been there around 10:30 and it was open.  Online, the hours seem to be from 10 am - 8:30 pm daily.

NOTE:  The really awesome thing about this place (besides being located smack dab in Yuen Long…which is the most convenient for us) is that they offer online shopping.  The website is

Some things that One Vegan Shop carries:  Teas, baking goods, snack bars...  

Milk, juices…

Canned foods…mostly Indian…

Vegan mayo, chocolate spreads, almond butter spreads…nut spreads…

Pasta and ready-made pasta sauce, which we're a big fan of...

And some pretty awesome junk food options…

Though a lot of the foods we actually buy are exclusively for snacking purposes (puddings, gummies, granola bars, and CHOCOLATES)…there are a good amount of items for those who like cooking or baking vegan dishes.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Royal Plaza Hotel Sweets

It was another lazy Saturday…when the weather was beautifully warm…and we just didn't feel like heading down into the city to do anything special for afternoon tea.  So, we headed over to Yuen Long Plaza…to use some Starbucks gift certificates that we got over the Chinese New Year.

When we were walking around, we spotted a little kiosk that was set up by the Royal Plaza Hotel.  We decided to test out one of the tarts.

I've heard of the cakes from the Royal Plaza Hotel before.  One of my friends had bought a cake that looked like a bowl of noodles from this place for a friend's birthday.  When I saw the image on her phone, I had made a mental note to check out this place one day!  Who knew…with such good luck…that these cakes came to Yuen Long!

The kiosk was selling a bunch of treats that could be eaten for afternoon tea…and also for gifts during the Chinese New Year.

The prices aren't that bad!

The treat that we decided on was the Baked Chocolate Tart.  It looked like one of the more popular options in the kiosk.

They were also selling little ramen bowls with cookie char siu and a sunny side up egg in the front.  We picked up one of the mini bowls as a birthday present for my mother, who has been visiting these past few weeks with my dad.  This was another stroke of luck "feeling" that I had in just minutes after realizing that the Royal Plaza Hotel kiosk was in Yuen Long Plaza.

By the way…the cake was a chestnut flavored cake.  Though it was small…the taste was pretty good.  I think that the novelty of the look of the cake is probably what makes these really special though.  I'm not sure how long the kiosk will be at Yuen Long Plaza, but I'm totally thinking about picking up another cake as a thank you gift for someone special.  We'll see.  The price is pretty all right!  And the taste is also pretty all right!  The look, though, is priceless!

Some of the other cakes that were available…

After picking up our little Baked Chocolate Tart, we headed to Starbucks and actually got a seat!  ANOTHER STROKE OF LUCK…because it is hard to get a seat at the Yuen Long Plaza Starbucks…there are always loads of people there.

Spending the afternoon with a nice cup of coffee and eating sweets to give the appropriate sugar rush into the early evening…that's what I call a really great afternoon.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Amazing Finds: Lone Bee

I was walking around Yuen Long town, still up-keeping my New Year's Resolution of keeping myself moving, and I came upon the wonderful smell of some osmanthus bushes around the Yuen Long Swimming Pool.  I absolutely love the smell of osmanthus in the air.  It's also one of my favorite dessert dim sums to order at the dim sum houses.

Nearby the osmanthus bushes was where the beautiful flowers of spring caught my eye.  And then I realized that the area was filled with bees…busy collecting nectar from these beautiful orange flowers that were spiraling around the sitting areas.

I went to sit down a little ways away to just enjoy the view of the spring flowers…and realized that, where I was sitting, there was one lone bee that was just laying so absolutely still in front of my bench.  I was no where near the flowers…and no where near any other bees…that's when I realized that this lone bee had flown over here to pass away…

…or he was just tired and decided to rest as far away from the other bees as he could…which I can totally relate to.  There are days when it just gets too crowded to be around people.  And I just absolutely love finding places where I can have time to myself and space to myself…which is why walking around Yuen Long Park has been a good option for me to walk every other day…it's just peaceful and not loaded with crowds of people.

I'd like to think this bee was probably feeling quite overwhelmed with life and decided to just fly away from society to get some peace and quiet…

It was nice to just watch him…even though he might have been wanting some alone time…

Hopefully, he wasn't so bothered with me staring at him every so often...

Monday, February 15, 2016

Simply Life, Yuen Long

Another weekend…another taste test of a restaurant over at Yoho Mall in Yuen Long.  Today's blog post is all about Simply Life, which I've been to a few times in Kowloon Tong's Festival Walk Mall.  We decided to head over to Simply Life for lunch.  It's actually one of the more popular places to eat.  Everytime I pass it there are people in most of the seats.  I knew that the experience was going to be quite satisfying…and who doesn't want to feel like lunch isn't satisfying?

Simply Life is located right next to Applegreen.

The awesome something about the Yoho Mall Simply Life is that you can opt to sit out on the veranda.   And it truly is outdoors, which is something I TRULY APPRECIATE ABOUT restaurants!  It's lovely to be able to sit outdoors on days when the weather is lovely.  It makes the weekend feel more like the weekend…it makes life just more enjoyable.  Plus, it wasn't too sunny or too cold today, so we sat on the deck.

We both ordered off of the brunch menu, which was set at $118 HKD for a salad/soup, main, and a tea/coffee.

I like when menus are condensed to a few really awesome options.  Though…there are quite a bit of options, it's nice when they are just organized into a set.

I got the salad of the day, which was a garden salad with a grapefruit on top.  I also got a side of bread. Both were delicious.  The salad was refreshing, light, and small enough to not make me feel overly full.  The bread was lovely!  I think they make their own breads at the restaurant…because they do have a bread bar that we passed to get out onto the deck.  But, the crust was lovely and hard…while the inside was nice and doughy.  I really loved it.

My husband got the soup of the day, which was pumpkin and a side of bread as well.  This was quite a nice combination…now that I think about it.  The bread was perfect for dunking into the soup…which I only know because I had a little taste of it before he started eating.  The pumpkin soup was really nice.  It wasn't too hot and it wasn't too warm…it had a great flavor and tasted quite fresh.  It was really good.

For the main dishes, I got the fish fillet burger with a side of fries.  It also came with a roasted tomato and pickle as garnish, which made me think of how I used to order pickles on the side with my hot dogs at baseball games.  But, the bun was what I was actually curious about.  I had seen ads for Burger King and McDonalds…when they were offering their black bun burgers.  I think the color of the bun came from squid ink.  I'm not totally sure, but it didn't taste much different from any other bun.  I just really loved the look it of.

The burger was really good though.  The tartar sauce and fish fillet were really good…healthy-tasting even!

We also got a beef burger with guacamole.  This was really nice!  I loved the actual burger bit.  It tasted really fresh…if that could be a thing.  The guacamole was a nice touch as well.  And the cheese that was oozing out all over the burger was really nice.  I'm glad that I got to taste test this before my husband devoured it as well.

It's actually been quite awhile since we'd both had burgers.  It was nice to have them for lunch today!

For drinks, I got the iced tea, which came with orange slices.  This was totally refreshing.  Usually people add lemons to their iced tea…but this makes me want to try some iced tea with orange wedges at home.  It's a nice change of pace.

My husband said the coffee was light and pretty nice.

Funny story about the coffee…the waiter was slowly inching his way over to our table with our drinks in his hand.  When he finally got to the table he said, "I'm sorry.  I'm testing my stability."  I didn't get what he meant…unit lI looked at the coffee saucer and there were dribbles and puddles of coffee all over it.  

I liked that guy's commentary.  It made me really appreciate the great service that we got from everyone that we encountered at the restaurant.  They totally hired some really great people at the Yoho Mall Simply Life.

We got a corner seat, which was really nice.  Here was the view behind me.  I love the greenery.  I really love the environment that Yoho Mall has around the outside.

This was such a great lunch.  This is the third place we've tried at Yoho Mall and I'm totally invested in going here whenever I feel like eating out.  Again…I'm feeling quite grateful that this place opened up in Yuen Long!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Modern Shanghai

Gradually, over the winter, my favorite place has easily become Yoho Mall in Yuen Long.  I'm a resident of Yuen Long town, which used to be quite nice and relaxing…but since the opening of the Yoho Mall…I haven't felt the need to go down into Kowloon or Central to do any of my shopping.  I just head over to Yoho Mall and pop into the Zara.

I'm so grateful that this place opened up.  I'm even more grateful that there are some pretty fantastic restaurants in the mall.  We'd previously tried out Applegreen, which was pretty darn tasty…so we thought it'd be nice to try the Shanghai place (since we've been on a Shanghai food kick this winter).

Tonight, we tried out Modern Shanghai.  It's the Shanghai place that is tucked behind H&M and Zara.  If we hadn't walked to the absolute end of the mall…we wouldn't have noticed it.  But, the most notable thing about this place is the partially open kitchen.  YES, it is MOSTLY for SHOW, but it is nice to see how jiaozi and some of the dim sum dishes are made.  The guys behind the glass are also really nice and seem to be joking around most of the time.

Because the restaurant is called Modern Shanghai, I wasn't surprised by the really awesome decor and tableware.  I loved the dishes and how each table had one setting with a red bowl.  It's like the management really paid attention to detail.

The complimentary starter was a cold dish of pig ears and cucumbers.  I absolutely love cold cucumber starters.  I love how refreshing this was.  It was a good way to start off our menu selection.

The menu, by the way, had a lot of the Shanghai dishes that we were familiar with, which we decided to get.  I really do wish I knew more about Shanghai food sometimes…but everything looked wonderful in the photos.  The prices were also not that bad!

We got the dan dan mian, which was a spicy noodle in soup dish with bits of pork sprinkled around it. It's one of my favorite dishes to eat recently because it has been a bit nippy outside.  So, this dish really warms me up and it also gives me the little kick of spice that makes me feel like I've had a satisfying meal.

We also got our other favorite dish, which is a spicy pork dumpling.  I thought this one was pretty good.  I still prefer some other ones that I can get on the street, but this one was quite satisfying.  It definitely was less oily than some other ones that I've had, which I totally appreciated.  It also had a great little savory kick due to the amazing soy sauce it was sitting in.

For drinks we both got an iced lychee drink, which was really nice to have with our spicy dan dan mian.  Such a great combination to have.

And…because it is almost a tradition for us to get…we got the siu long bao dish.

It's always satisfying.  I haven't had a bad bunch in this city yet!  But, these really really nice.  I usually use my Chinese spoon to grab some of the vinegar, carefully use my chopsticks to pick up one siu long bao, and carefully place it into my vinegar covered Chinese spoon.  Then I carefully eat my wonderful siu long baos in one bite.  This way…I can preserve the amazing soup that is inside the siu long bao..and also not have a huge mess dripping down my face.

Does anyone else eat them like that too?

For dessert, we ordered some red bean and banana filled puffs.  These were quite light and nice.  They weren't overly sweet.  The sweetness was only from the bananas.  I really enjoyed this light dessert after all the amazing flavors that we had devoured before.

In the end, I really enjoyed Modern Shanghai.  It was such a beautiful restaurant with amazing service.  It wasn't that crowded, but we did have dinner around 7pm.  I really loved the food.  I really dug the vibe.  I really had a great overall experience!  I'm definitely coming back here…probably after I try some other places in Yoho Mall!