31.8.10

One of my aims in life...

If i remember correctly, at the age of 13 i made a list of things that i wanted to achieve in life. I can't remember all the things in that list but i am sure that one of them was publishing my own book. As years went by, that dream never became reality. Despite of that, I still haven't given up the idea of having my own book (doesn't matter if i don't get to publish it) even if that means compiling and sewing the pages one by one all by myself.

I was so excited when i saw the blog post about the Nuffnang August Blogger Challenge in Nuffnang’s blog. The challenge was to answer this simple question “If the old saying is true, and everyone has one book in them, what would YOUR book be?” I was immediately very excited and i had all these sorts of ideas coming into my mind – personal photography book, cooking book, arts & crafts book, etc...but for some reason i couldn’t really focus on a particular category.

I wanted a book that i could relate to and that would be some sort of inspiration to those who read it. Thus, I tried focusing on questions like “what are the things that i enjoy doing?” “what are the things that i like?” “what are the things that make my day?” It was then that i realised that my life is always filled with so many little things that i do, that i see, that i hear, that i come across on a daily basis which all served as inspiration to what i do and what i am. Little things that inspired me but that i never had the chance to write them down, little things like a word, a quote or even a picture that made my day. These are the little things that sometimes kept me going and inspired me to pursue what i like. Thus, i decided that my book would focus on these little things, hoping that they would bring the same joy and some inspiration to those who read it.

My book would be titled “My Misc. – sometimes life is about the little things that make your day and would contain some of my photography (of pretty and inspirational things that i encounter), photos of food that i enjoy eating, things that i like baking/cooking and some little craft ideas that i enjoy doing. There won’t be a particular order in which i want the contents of my book to be but my aim is that every time someone opens the book, there will be something in that page that would touch or inspire them.

I hope MY BOOK is creative enough to win one of the three chances to turn my book into reality through Blurb. Thanks for the opportunity, Nuffnang and Blurb! All the best to everyone who is participating in this competition too!

Here are a few sample pages, hope you will enjoy them and feel free to let me know what you think! Thanks.


26.8.10

HK: OWL Our Wonderland

I immediately loved OWL Our Wonderland (5/F, Tern Plaza, 5 Cameron Road, Tsim Sha Tsui)from the very moment that i stepped out of the elevator - although i did struggle a bit to choose between this place and another Japanese restaurant (Japanese restaurants are my weakness, i have to confess). What i liked about Our Wonderland was its unique and fun decor - white walls with random drawings and graffitis here and there. They are so fun to look at that i think my head couldn't keep still during the whole meal.
Starters and some of the drawings
We decided to go for the Dinner Set for Two because it was pretty good value for money (HK$288 - AU$41.15)  and it had a few dishes that we wanted to try.
As starters, we got some Homemade Foccacia (accompanied with some balsamic vinegar and olive oil) and a bowl of Cream Chowder each. The foccacia didn't taste fresh and the chowder didn't have much taste. Next up was the entree which was Smoked Duck Breast Salad, it was alright but there was quite a bit of fat in the duck that i couldn't help but trim off some of it.
The service felt a bit rushed because we got our Seafood Homemade Ink Noodles in Tomato Sauce before we even finished our entree. The pasta dish was average since the noodles were a bit overcooked and the dish as a whole tasted a bit dry. The Mango and Crab Meat pizza, on the other hand, was something quite unique and different (especially when the other 2 choices were Hawaiian and Margarita Pizza), so i decided to give it a go. The pizza came out pipping hot and that melted cheese was so inviting. The thin crust was good and though the combination was rather unusual and 'very-Asian', i still liked it a lot! *maybe because i am Asian?
Seafood Homemade Ink Noodles in Tomato Sauce
Mango & Crab Meat Pizza
OWL Our Wonderland is definitely a place for people who would like to have a relaxed dinner surrounded by some cool graffiti and soothing background music. The food is alright but its decor is definitely something that would make me want to go there again.

24.8.10

SMB Canberra Food Blog turns 1!

Dear all readers,
SMB - Canberra Food Blog turns 1 today!
Thank you for all your support.

21.8.10

HK: 紅蔥頭 Cafe MED

Cafe MED (Shop 1M-1T, G/F, Tung Choi Street, Mong Kok) is just located at the sides of one of the busiest and most popular markets in Hong Kong: The Ladies' Market. It's a place where you can find a lot of different things such as souvenirs, clothing, stationary, watches, fake designer bags, DVDs...you get the point. Tip: Don't get there before 12pm as most of the stalls won't be open.
Sis and I decided to have dinner at Cafe MED because it looked quite cute on the outside and the menu looked more attractive than the other five or six restaurants ahead. The simple restaurant has a red-ish tone and a few small cute pictures hanging on walls. Judging by the prices (less than HK$100 per head - AUS14.30), i knew that i wouldn't be getting authentic Italian/French food but the Hong Kong version of Italian/French cuisine. It is a modified version which tends to be sweeter to suit the palate of many Hong Kongers. I just treat it as a unique 'cuisine'...something unique to Hong Kong!
I decided to order the Duck Breast in Tomato Sauce with Angel Hair and sis ordered a Smoked Salmon and Mushroom in Truffle Cream Sauce with Angel Hair. My main came with a Minestrone soup which was quite sweet for my liking and ended up not finishing it.
We also got a Baked Potato Skin as an entree. The potato was baked with cheese and looked very appertizing when it arrived. The only downside was that the potato used was not fresh because it tasted quite powdery and dry.
The portions were quite generous but somehow there was always more pasta than anything else. I think there was only five slices of duck breast in my pasta and two slices of smoked salmon in my sis' pasta. 
I liked the Salmon Pasta more than the Duck Breast Pasta maybe because the Truffle Cream Sauce tasted way better than the Tomato Sauce. It didn't taste like a 'normal' tomato sauce but one that has been sweetened and modified with soya sauce - if that makes sense. But then again, it's the Hong Kong version of Italian/French cuisine =P

The atmosphere was relaxed, the staff was friendly and the food was alright. If you would like to try the unique Hong Kong version of Italian/French cuisine, Cafe MED can be a choice on your next visit to Hong Kong!

19.8.10

HK: 翠華餐廳 Tsui Wah Restaurant

After the first round of shopping in Hong Kong, Mom and I decided to take a break and have lunch at Tsui Wah Restaurant (77-78 Parkes Street, Jordan). Tsui Wah used to be a very small tea house that was first  opened in 1967 and have now become a corporate group with 18 restaurants across Hong Kong and Shanghai. Mom told me that she used to come here after school and it was a popular destination for many Hong Kong celebrities.
Tsui Wah Restaurant is a Cha Chaan Teng; this is a common term used to describe Chinese Tea Restaurants found in Hong Kong that serves affordable meals from Hong Kong cuisine or Hong Kong-style Western cuisine. Tsui Wah has a simple yellow-themed decor and what stands out for me is the yellow and white jigsaw puzzle wall and the cute coffee cup. 
Mom ordered a Tender Pork Ribs with Vermicelli in Tom Yam Gong Soup (HKS32 - AU$4.50) and i ordered a Hainanese Chicken Rice (HK$50 - AU$7.15). The Tom Yam Gong soup tasted nice and it even came with prawns and fish cakes. The ribs were tender and loved chewing on the soft bones.  
I enjoyed my Hainanese Chicken and i think it was a pretty good value for money. The portion was pretty generous and the chicken was tender, soft and very tasty. The hot chilli sauce and the ginger sauce complemented well with the chicken and i also liked the picked vegetables (the ones that are marinated in vinegar). The meal also came with a bowl or rice and a traditional Chinese soup (not the msg kind!).
It was a lovely well-spent lunch with Mom and definitely got my energy bar 'maxed up' for the second round of shopping!



14.8.10

HK: Afternoon Tea - Steak Expert & Match Too Cafe

One of the things that i love about HK is that you can eat anytime and anywhere you want! Afternoon teas are very common here and it's not all about cakes and coffee. It is offered in most restaurants and cafes and you can choose from pasta, rice, fried food, you name it...
The afternoon tea menu tends to be cheaper and perhaps smaller but the food is usually as good as the food from the lunch menu. Here are two different places that we went for afternoon tea: Steak Expert and Match-too.

Steak Expert
(2/F, In's Point, 530-538 Nathan Road, Mong Kok)
Steak Expert has quite a few franchises all around HK and has been around for as long as i can remember. I remember coming here with mom and siblings when i was little and we'd share a steak or two with some sides. I always got excited when the steak came on a sizzling plate and i eagerly waited for the moment when the waiter would gently pour the sauce over it and "Shiiiiiiiiiiiz". It was quite fascinating! (don't know why).
In regards to the food, honestly, i was never a fan of it. Their steaks always tasted as if they were soaked in bicarbonate of soda and the other dishes didn't have much of a taste in them. This time we decided to give steak another chance by ordering the most expensive steak meal (HK$ 438 - AUD$63) that came with a Superior Rib Eye Steak, bread roll, soup of the day and a drink. To my surprise the steak was quite nice: juicy and tender. The moral of the story? You get what you paid for.
Soup of the day & bread roll
Premium Rib Eye, you don't even need to dip the steak in the sauce.

We also ordered some French Escargot and a bowl of Ramen with Beef Slices from the afternoon tea menu. As expected they didn't taste really good. The escargots were really salty and weird; the noodles were overcooked and the beef slices didn't taste like beef at all. 
French Escargot
Ramen with Beef Slices
Steak Expert is a place that you get what you have paid for. I don't recommend ordering any steaks that are below HK$200, to be safe, go for the most expensive. The things on the afternoon menu are cheap, but i don't think i will be back for them. The service was attentive and helpful though.

Match Too Cafe
(Shop 403, 4/F, Langham Place, 8 Argyle Street, Mong Kok, Hong Kong, Mong Kok)
Heel and Sandal
Match Too Cafe is located inside the unique Langham Place and has a rather cute logo containing one high heel and one sandal. The place is small but it has comfortable arm chairs *thumbs up. We ordered a Korean Kimchi & Seafood Soup Rice served in a stone bowl meal and a Vietnamese deep fried chicken wings with fries meal. 'Meal' being 'with a drink' and I ordered a HK-syle Ice Lemon Tea. The cup is so adorable and it even features the cafe's name.
HK-Style Ice Lemon Tea
A while after the drinks arrived, we got our food. The Korean Kimchi & Seafood Soup Rice served in a stone bowl was done well and the amount of seafood was quite generous, considering that the whole meal was only (HK$40+ - AUD$6) - probably my favorite of the two meals. The Vietnamese deep fried chicken wings with chips was alright but nothing WOW, and the only thing that made the dish 'Vietnamese' was the dipping sauce.
Korean Kimchi & Seafood Soup Rice served in a stone bowl meal
Vietnamese deep fried chicken wings with fries

Match Too Cafe is a good place to relax especially after a hectic shopping trip. The food is quite decent and inexpensive. It will probably be the place that i would go for an afternoon tea if i had to choose between this and Steak Expert.


5.8.10

HK: 金華冰廳 Kam Wah Cafe

"They are famous for their egg tarts and pineapple buns" - mom tells me, pointing to a cafe. The next thing i realize, is that we are inside Kam Wah Cafe (G/F, 47 Bute Street, Prince Edward) waiting to be seated. By now, mom and all the members of my family are used to me taking photos of food whenever we go out to eat. It is almost like a ritual now. They even suggest places to go so that i can blog about them later.
Kam Wah Cafe has been around for a few decades (at least 30-40 years) according to mom, and they serve famous egg tarts, pineapple buns and good HK-style milk tea. It is located in the busy streets of Hong Kong and i guess their big blue name plaque helps one to find the place.
Left: Other HK style cakes and pastries; Right: a tray full of freshly baked Pineapple Buns!*drools
On all the occasions that i visited Kam Wah Cafe, the place was always full. Thus, if you are going there by yourself, don't find it weird if they put you in the same table with someone else. If you are thinking to take away some of their famous egg tarts and pineapple buns instead, expect a queue as well. Freshly baked pineapple buns and egg tarts come out quite often...maybe every 10-15 minutes (from what i've noticed).

As soon as we got seated, we knew what to get: pineapple buns (波羅包), egg tarts, 猪仔包 (some kind of bun) and HK-style milk tea. The egg tarts were quite disappointing, to be honest. It didn't have the WOW-factor that i was expecting but they were not bad. The freshly baked pineapple buns, on the other hand, were hands down! The crust was awesome and the bun was soft. NOTE: It is highly recommended to have the pineapple bun with a slab of cold butter! Definitely the highlight of the afternoon tea together with the Milk Tea. The blend of tea was nice and the use of 'Black & White Evaporated Milk' makes the milk tea very flavoursome with a super 'smooth' texture.
The highly-acclaimed Egg Tarts
The awesome Pineapple Bun w/o butter.
猪仔包 was ordered for granny since she doesn't like eating 'unhealthy' food - it just tastes like plain bread, if you must know its taste.
Deliciously smooth and flavoursome HK-style Milk Tea

Kam Wah Cafe is small, crammed and busy, but you can truly experience a typical HK-style afternoon tea. The food is inexpensive and the service is fast, definitely worth a visit for its Pineapple buns and the Milk tea. What was cool? Seeing the same 'old uncle' coming out every 10-15 minutes with a tray of freshly baked goodies and shouting 'Please Suu-cue-suu me'!

1.8.10

HK: Yummy Delight

Yummy Delight (Shop 326-327, 3/F, Plaza Hollywood, 3 Lung Poon Street, Diamond Hill), what a weird English name for 甘味讚岐手打烏冬 Restaurant. Its Chinese/Japanese name actually says what this Japanese restaurant specialises in: hand-made Udon! I love hand-made noodles in general, they tend to have a nicer texture when made and cooked perfectly! Let's see how their hand-made udon taste...
Yummy Delight is a newly opened restaurant that is nicely decorated with cute lamps and Japanese-inspired fabric hanging from the ceiling - I like nicely decorated restaurants! The place is cute and does make you want to go in!
We ordered a few Udon dishes, nigiris, sashimis and a salad. We got the Mixed Mushrooms Hand-made udon soup, Grilled Beef Ribs Hand-made udon soup combination and the popular Pork Ribs Hand-made udon soup. The udon had a nice 'springy' texture and you can definitely notice the difference from the packaged udon. The mixed mushrooms hand-made udon was quite light whereas the other two had a stronger flavour. The Beef Ribs were not as nice because it was marinated with a substantial amount of bicarbonate of soda, which took the beef flavour away. The Pork ribs, on the other hand, were better and it was my favourite udon combination.
Left: Grilled Beef ribs hand-made udon soup combination; Right: Mixed mushrooms hand-made udon soup
Pork ribs hand-made udon soup
Next, was the fancy entry of the nigiris and sashimis that we ordered. First up was the Tobiko and Ikura nigiri, followed by the Flame Seared Tuna nigiri and Flame Seared Salmon belly nigiri. The Tobiko and Ikura nigiris were okay but i kinda liked the flame seared fish nigiris more. I think I've been having this 'thing' for flame seared fish lately...you should try flame-seared salmon belly (if possible), they are awesome and packed with 'good fats' that melt in your mouth! yummm~ *they didn't have TORO! so sad...
Tobiko & Ikura Nigiri
Front: Flame seared tuna nigiri; Back: Flame seared salmon belly nigiri
Next up was the sashimi clan: Red Clam Sashimi, Salmon Sashimi (no photos for these at the moment, they are in the other SD card) and very thinly sliced Sea Bass Sashimi! Oh, and we got a Tuna Sashimi Salad as well. The Red clam wasn't really fresh because the meat felt a bit tough, the salmon was okay but i liked the sea bass sashimi the most. The Tuna Sashimi Salad didn't taste particularly good...you can tell the difference in grade between THE Tuna Sashimi and the Tuna Sashimi used in Salads =P
Sea Bass Sashimi
Tuna Sashimi Salad
Lovely decorations and lovely dinner with a few hits and misses. Since the place specializes in hand-made udon, don't expect it to offer the best grade of sashimi or the best sushi. The hand-made udon, however, is nice. Focus on popular dishes and you should be alright =)

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