Thursday, October 21, 2010

Table side at the Verandah

Having Jonathan in the F&B industry certainly has it perks.  With a week day off, we got a dinner reservation at the Verandah at Repulse Bay.

The Verandah at the Repulse Bay is a place where you can surround yourself with old world hospitality and classic cuisine.  Arrived early, we had our before dinner drinks at the bamboo themed bar, an Absolute Grasshopper seems to fit the bill.

We went into the dining room filled with candle lights, shiny silvers and the pianist playing.  The hallway was filled with table-side service trolley rolling back and forth like a mini highway, carrying Roasted Lamp Rack, Smoked Salmon, after dinner drinks, made to order steak tartar and their famous Caesar salad.  Most of their must have dishes were table side service.  With lots of goodies to choose from, we decided to go tartar style.  We first have the scallop and Ebi Shrimp Tartar, light and sweet with a hint of truffles.  Then comes the dozen French Oyster over ice, salty and creamy.  Our trolley arrived with all the ingredients to make our steak tartar.  It took the waiter almost 15mins mixing one or two ingredient at a time, it was such an experience that I was mesmerized.  Only a few place in HK will do these type of time consuming stuff.  Then came my Caesar Salad trolley, Romain freshly tossed with extra spicy dressing to my request, croutons were crisp and accompany with smoked organic Irish Salmon, define!

Call me old soul but I was completely tickled.  The classic sometimes gives you a sense of comfort and grounds you to the core.  It was not a fancy fusion dinner which kept you guessing, but it sure makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside.  We spent the rest of the evening talking about kids and life so far and it was definitely a perfect setting to bring back old memories.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Fusion Dessert Competition with US Eggs

American Egg Board hosted this competition today at Kwai Fong L'Atelier Du Gout Hong Kong.  It is a professional kitchen that you can rent out for events, cooking demo and Corporate function.  It was an eye opening experience, the equipment was state of the art, decor was simple but chic but it was a little far and Kwai Fong is not a place that people are willing to drive to.  The competition itself was pretty exciting.  There were 8 competitor, most of them trained from Hotels around HK.  It was an eye opening experience to see some of the dessert made in front of you.  For an amateur like me, I finally found out how some of these stuff is done.  It also gave me confirmation that pastry is really not my forte.  It requires so much attention to detail and steady hands.  I better stick with my cooking and bake some simple cupcakes on my pass time.  This competition also taught me there is a difference between formally trained chef versus self trained chef.  Their technique and attitude are so different.  It is really making me think twice to go back to cooking school.  There is always a part of me that is not confident about my execution just because I am not formally trained.  I do still think after your education, experience is what sets you apart but having the foundation is also important.  Well, another thing on my list of things to do in life!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010 for improvement

Last Saturday, we were looking for a meet up place in Causeway Bay for lunch with some friends and the kids.  Everytime I think of Causeway Bay, I think of the mounts of people, traffic and Jonathan getting into a fight with people who cut in front of him.  Where is a good place that is child friendly and relatively not as crowded?  Maybe Time Square?  Well, we thought of SML, always wanted to try it, decor seems nice and open.  We called at about 10am and got a reservation for 4 adult and 2 kids. 

When we arrived, the whole front of the restaurant was setup with 3 long table of 20 people for birthday parties.  Then at the back, close to the kitchen is where we were seated.  Quite roomy but very noisy.  The menu were very extensive, but not sure if they specialize on any cuisine.  I thought it was Spanish but there were lots of other stuff on the menu too.  We quickly ordered some pasta, salad, Paella, finger foods and some drinks for the kids.  As we sat and talked, it got more and more uncomfortable.  The restaurant was so busy and people were running around us.  I felt like I was in a fast food joint like Cafe De Coral.  Then our food start arriving.  When we ask what that was, the server had no idea even though she was the expediter.  Then two other dishes arrived at our table and it did not belong to us.  I thought the food was ok but the atmosphere made everything seems cheap.  At the end, we all became so restless that we ate quickly and left. 

The bill end up to be about $1000, it was not cheap but I felt cheap after dining in that restaurant.  

Pineapple Bun in Sai Kung

Sai Kung Bakery Café
Man in Charge: Ricky
Location: Shop 6-7, G/F, Kam Po Court,
2 Sai Kung Hoi Pong Square, Sai Kung, N.T.
Phone: 27923861
Famous for: Pineapple Bun and Egg Tart

Roaming around Sai Kung after taking my daughter to soccer practice, I cannot help but notice this bakery tucked into a corner behind the seafood restaurants roll. I enjoy taking my daughter there because she can safely run around without cars and I can relax with a cup of coffee and a huge Pineapple Bun. When I finally sat down with Ricky, I realize this little cafe is a classic example of how a local eatery in HK came about and why people love them so much.

If you are here during the weekends, you will see a huge line outside this café waiting for these infamous Pineapple buns fresh out of the oven every 20 minutes. Selling on an average 300 buns a day, the line outside the café did not come easy. It was lots of trial and error for 8 years along with the brains of the old-timer pastry chefs who keep trying using the best of ingredients to create this phenomenon.

In Ricky’s opinion, a true Pineapple bun should have a sweet crust that is crunchy, and a bun that is soft and moist. If consumed warm, the combination of the crunchy and chewiness is just why this bun is HK people all time favourite bun. Although Ricky said his bun is not necessarily the best in HK, he said they take pride in using the best ingredients from around the world along with the experience of top pastry chefs who used to work for high-end cake shop in HK. The one special thing about his buns is that they keep producing them through out the day and each batch is fresh and hot, you cannot beat that.

Being the first European Bakery open in 2002, cakes and breads were their specialty. SARS came shortly after their opening and thanks to Tung Chee Hwa, then Chief Executive of HK granted Sai Kung to have out door seating permits in promoting tourism in the area. Not only Sai Kung was not affected by SARS, it is the place for a breath of fresh air. As local customer base grew, so did the demand for variety of products. Pineapple buns were introduced despite objection from a few partners. Baking it on site through out the day with top quality ingredient slowly caught on by word of mouth. Now, it became one of my routines every time I come to Sai Kung. Next time you visit Sai Kung, besides from the seafood, make sure you leave room for these extra large buns and also give the egg tart a try! They are to die for as well.

Egg Waffles: Gai Dahn Tsai: 雞蛋仔

In 1949, The People’s Republic of China was established under the new Communist Party. Hundreds and Thousands of people fled into Hong Kong each month. The drastic increase of population along with low resources of food supply and strict price control by the government drives the creativity of merchants to make good use of all their products in their store.

The batter of the waffles came about when merchants were trying to find ways to utilize broken fresh eggs. With the influence of the British colony, waffle recipe was modified to local taste. They added flour, sugar, evaporated milk, then poured the mixture into a custom made honey comb shaped cast iron mold. On top of a charcoal burning flame, a golden crust, crispy yet chewy cake like snack was born. As the snack evolves, little egg shaped like iron mold was created for this special snack, hence the name “Gai Dahn Tsai”, a direct translation for little egg tartlets. It became an irresistible cheap street snacks unique to Hong Kong. Back in the days, Gai Dan Tsai was sold by hawker street vendors but nowadays, you will find it in mini snack stalls on busy streets of Hong Kong.

According to the locals, a good Gai Dahn Tsai should have a fragrant egg flavor, very crispy on the outside with a chewy semi-hollow center. Pulling out from a rustic brown paper bag, the individual bite size pieces of little egg shaped waffles should break apart easily. Lots of different flavours are available these days, but to truly experience this snack, I recommend the original flavor. For that extra sweet tooth, try the waffle version sandwiched with peanut butter, condense milk along with some coconut sesame sugar.


Mr. Liu, owner of Lee Keung Kee Egg waffle shop was soft spoken and humble about his food stall that basically dominate the egg waffle market in HK. Growing up as one of the10 sibling of a street hawker family in the 50s, he followed his family’s foot step and do what they do best and started his own food stall back in the 80s selling egg waffles. Combining his mother’s recipe along with his new ideas and his vision of constantly improving his product, he now owns 8 busy food stalls around HK that always have a line outside his stall. Liu said, the key to his success is the drive to keep this product on its best competitive edge. Still tasting his waffles everyday, the unique factor of why this egg waffles is so addictive lies in the batter. The right amount of egg, along with minimal distracting, the waffle should be crispy on the outer layer, one side hollow and the other side filled with soft and just cooked cake that is al dente. You should always consume the waffle within the minute that it came out from the grill. That is certainly not difficult considering, the light and crisp element of the waffle. Back in the 50s, these egg waffles are sold by the egglet for a cent. Using a charcoal burning stove with two extra large heavy cast iron mold, they crank out these little egglets and made it a business.

This recipe is easy to prepare and especially good for breakfast. If you don’t have the traditional egg shaped iron mold, an electric waffle machine will do the trick.
Preheat waffle machine or egg shaped iron to medium heat about 300°F
1. Flour ⅔ cup
2. Cornstarch 3 ½ tbsp
3. Baking powder 1 tsp
4. Sugar ⅔ cup
5. Evaporated Milk ¼ cup
6. Water ½ cup
7. Large eggs 2
8. Vege oil or melted butter 2 tbsp
9. Vanilla Extract (Optional) 1 tsp
10. Custard Powder (Optional) 2 tbsp
11. Cooking Spray or Melted Butter to Coat Pan

Combine 4,5,6,7,8,9 in mixing bowl.
Add 1,2,3,10 in the egg mixture and whisk until smooth without lumps.
Coat Waffle maker with 11.
Pour batter into pan until ¾ full.
Cover and turn pan upside down and cook until waffle is golden and come off the pan.
Cool Waffles on wire rack for 5 minutes and serve warm.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Turkey Croissants with Dried Cranberry and Garlic Mayo

We made this yesterday for a client of mind and I thought this is such an easy recipe and delicious at the same time.

Sliced Deli Turkey of your choice
1/2 Cup Dried Cranberries roughly chopped
1/2 Cup Mayo
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Lemon Juice
4 Croissants cut in half to create a pocket for filling

Mix Cranberries with Mayo, Garlic Powder and Lemon juice.
Spread mixture onto Croissants and put turkey on top.  Add your favourite veges or cheese if you like and serve. Delicious, easy and pretty.  Perfect for kids party

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Homemade Oven Baked Fries

4 Idaho Potatoes
2 tsp Garlic Powder,
1 tsp Paprika,
3 tbs Olive Oil,
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 tbs Truffle Oil
1 tbs fresh herbs of your choice

Pre-heat oven at 375-400F  or 200C
Cut Potatoes into thin fries.
In a large mixing bowl, mix spices and olive oil with potatoes
Spread Potatoes onto two greased sheet pans and make sure they don’t stick together.
Bake about 30 minutes until golden brown, turn fries with metal spatula and bake again until both sides is crispy.
After Fries are cooked, return crispy fries into mixing bowl. Add Truffle oil and Fresh herbs, tossed lightly and serve hot.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Eat Drink and Be Merry!: Monday Pawn Night

Eat Drink and Be Merry!: Monday Pawn Night

Monday Pawn Night

First Monday Pawn BBQ for $88 was a huge hit and I think Pawn was very happy with their new idea.  We were all very impressed with the BBQ selection, although lack of Veges, the meat quality and the free flow bar caused a unbelievable commotion to the crowd.  Not to mention, every corner I turn, we seems to bump into people we know.  Definitely an unexpected surprise! Pawn promise their Sunday brunch will be similar setting with roof top fresh air, A nice view with beautiful people and quality food at a reasonable price.  Count me in! 

I love my profession

A fulfilling day that verify my existing and the path I choose.  It has been almost two years that we moved to HK.  From not having a vision of what I want to do besides for being a mom, I have come a long way.  Until today, I finally realize my true profession is being a chef, creating simple delicious dishes and cater to people who appreciates them.  Sometimes I think if I can do it, anyone can, but after having some really bad meals and pay top dollars for it, I realize, a gift of creating flavors that is well balanced and delicious is a valuable gift and should not be ignored.  Sometimes when you eat a piece of chocolate cake and you just wish the cake is just a little more chocolate-dy or a dish that you just wish it is a bit more flavorful, that is the feeling I often felt about many restaurants. 

To me a good meal is about balance and a good catered meal or a good dining experience is a balancing act between menu engineering, service, execution, flavor sand quality of food.  We have gone to restaurants where the service was excellent, but the menu is just not that pleasing.  Or the food is wonderful but the service is just horrible that leave a bad taste in your mouth.  Having the right amount of service to pair with the theme of your restaurant is a delicate balancing act. 

Cooking in Denver and moving to Hong Kong trying to entertain is not an easy transition.  I must say, I was lost for a while.  Dishes that was popular in the US does not mean people will like it in HK.
Hong Kong has a unique mix of population.  You have the bargain hunter looking for best deals, cheap eats and always a discount.  Old timer that always swap stories about classics dishes and well traveled experience.  The Investment Banker and Finance group that knows how to spend and indulge themselves on their limited free time.  And lets not forget the international expat communities that strive for a little familiarities of their home town. The lists goes on.  How is it possible to have something that will please everyone? 

The diversity of population gave me a chance to test my limits.  One day I could be cooking for a group of expat and the next day I have to cater to the local Chinese.  Just when I think I master one dish, it is time to create something else to please a different request.  One can see its a challenge, but I can also spot opportunities.  One thing for sure, no matter which group of people you serve, when I spot a happy fulfilled crowd, I know I have done it again!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


I haven't wrote for a long time! Things are always changing. Last time I wrote was when I was running, having a good time socializing and staying fit. 4 months later, I am pregnant again, one size bigger and trying to think if I can handle being a mom for two kids.

Cayenne is now 17 months, she is running, making small talks, coping me and watching my every move. Grandma always complain that she is not talking but within the last several weeks, she has become more expressive with her words. Although sometimes I don't know what she is talking about, it seems to make perfect sense when she does say anything. Now that she is looking to learn, I have to give her more opportunity to meet new things. But at the same time, when is too much and too fast for her? Is there such thing as over doing it with your kids? Some people try to expose them to everything, they said, they need to let them try everything so that they can choose one thing that is their favourite. I seems to be very lay back in that department. What is the different between taking them to a baby gym and teach them how to play and run around with kids then going down to your local playground to let her run around with other kids? It amazes me that there seems to be a baby class for everything.

One thing I regret is not to take my time when I came out of College. I started working right away. Now I realize, once you start working, you will never have the time to explore on your own. It is the same I feel about Cayenne. If I start pushing her to learn so much and so early, when will she have time to really play her hearts out and really be a baby, a child. I want her to live a little, she does not have to be responsible now, when she gets older, it will come but right now, I just want her to feel her world around her raw and simple. Let her use her language and imagination to discover her likes and dislikes. Life will only get harder.