|Coz it sucked.|
And I love the 'original' Mandarin Oriental.
Afternoon tea at MO Bar, Landmark Mandarin Oriental.
A scone wannabee that turned out to be more like a tasteless, springy muffin with too much fat rubbed in. Um, they definitely don't share the same cake shop...
Like all good 'traditional' afternoon teas in Hong Kong, this came in three-tiers. Except this stand stood on the ground rather than the table. Pretty cool, but unfortunately being cool doesn't make your food taste any nicer. Speaking of cool, the hard surfaces in the 'hip' interior didn't do noise levels any favours either.
The pannacotta on the right, however, was right on the money. Tart berry coulis, light jelly at the bottom and vanilla bean-packed cream in the middle. The only thing worth eating again.
Service was sloppy and uninspiring and coffee was weak. I don't need to spell it out right? Ok fine, B.A.D. (but it was packed! Another HK phenomenon I will never fathom).
Landmark Mandarin Oriental Hotel
+852 2132 0188
|I make that sound like it's derogatory. Why do "That is SO New York" or "That is SO Parisian" sound instantaneously better? |
Many people are critical of large cities, accusing them as uniform, lacking in individuality, losing its charm in favour or multinational hooha, and so on. To some extent, this is true - starting first and foremost with the almighty golden arches, then to Starbucks and even Krispy Kreme. But then again, like its inhabitants, constantly finds itself in the battle between assertion of individuality and societal acceptance. (Dear anthropologists, psychologists and sociologists, please excuse my naive use of terminology)
Nonetheless it is within this struggle, or perhaps with this struggle as a backdrop, that there breeds another identity that is unique to that city.
What makes Hong Kong Hong Kong? I'd be here till next year if I were to go on with this ethnographic analysis, but there is one kind of cuisine that is "SO Hong Kong", actually, make that "SO Hong Kong, right now".
HKers are increasingly skeptical of 'authentic' Chinese cuisine in HK, as many are now frequent travellers to China and have tasted 'the real thing'. They usually come home with exotic stories about how they saw a snake skinned alive before their eyes, or how the chicken tasted real, unlike the fleshy chilled crap we're being fed from supermarkets. Actually, I'm one of them, but the thing is, do all these people realise that as a result, HK is steering away from what is traditionally believed to be 'authenticity', and doing just as well?
At WunSha's Kitchen, we were served a mushroom sautée in a Korean stonepot (dolsot), soy sauce chicken infused with tea, five spice poached pork with xo sauce, raw turnip and cucumber, and almond sweet soup with white fungi in a baby papaya. All of these were pretty fantastic, though hardly traditonal.
L-R: five spice poached pork with cucumber; beef and asparagus stir-fry in crisp cases; almond sweet soup. All from WunSha's Kitchen.
Borgo, one of the earliest in this 'genre', has an awesome signature dish of vinegar marinated fish (fish depends on what's good that day), served cold - shock and horror in the Cantonese kitchen. But it's awesome. Did I just say awesome twice? (now it's thrice...)
And that, is nothing to be ashamed of.
33 Wun Sha St
+852 2890 1230
GB01-02 Tai Hong St (aka Soho East - man I detest that name)
Lei Yu Mun
|Happy Chinese New Year!|
Like a lot of people on holiday, I've been on a healthy diet of festive junk food and cinema. We kicked off on Wednesday night, Chinese New Year's eve, with L change the world, the last part of the Death Note trilogy.
It was produced by Warner Bros., so much more moola was poured into this one that the first (that I incidentally caught on cable the weekend before) - better backdrops, plane jumping scenes, Macbooks for all... luckily all this didn't allow the movie to stray from its cultish core.
This was probably my favourite of all the movies I saw this holiday season. I surprised myself when I realised I prefer this over The Diving Bell and The Butterfly, which has the usual 'essential' elements that are bound to have me hooked (French, literary - in some way - either about writers or was a book - this was both, and artsy). But for some reason - probably the harsh reality of it, the fact that it was a true story, that he really wrote a book with a single blinking eye, made it too horrifying for me to love. Was it too... tragic? I'm not entirely sure why, really.
The Diving Bell and The Butterfly was Friday. On Thu I stayed at home and popped a couple of VCDs on, the first was Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette - a 2-hour long music video of beautiful landscapes, ravishing costumes, mouthwatering pastries, sprinkled with a speck of history and almost minimal dialogue. Then it was Little Miss Sunshine, which despite all the hype and awards, seemed pretty ho-hum to me. Sure, it touches upon a lot of societal abnormalities of today, but I can't say I enjoy it. I can see it being a goo d text for high school English though. So many themes at play... morality, mortality, family, society... y...y...
And finally today, it was CJ7, touted to be the first HK-BJ blockbuster of 2008, starring the comedian Chow Sing Chee. I was warned that it was (and I pretty much expected it to be) crap, despite this, or maybe because of this, I came out fairly neutral about it. Actually, I didn't feel anything - it's not the kind of movie where you should feel anything anyway. So to this end, I think they've succeeded.
Not much more to see, apart from My Blueberry Nights (I wonder if it's still at cinemas?) and Juno, which is coming the week after Valentine's...
Ah, Valentine's. But that's another story.
Grafitti and derelict, archaic, semi torn-down buildings. Classic.Berlin was a.w.e.s.o.m.e!
Didn't get subzero temps, it was surprising warm (prob averaged about 0-8 celsius), while closer to home it was freezing. BA lost my luggage at Heathrow, surprise surprise, but anyway, that's not of much interest to you, I'm sure.
What may interest are a few things...
1. Currywurst wasn't that bad - it's just a sausage doused in very sweet ketchup and light sprinkled - yes - with curry powder, like icing sugar on a tart. Man, I was almost hoping I'd have an ewww story...
2. It's kinda sad, but I have to admit, Brad Pitt knows his food. Bandol Sur Mer rocked. We were so full already, but when we (or rather, my boss) saw the slab of steak sitting in the ingredients tray, he knew he had to get it. I'm glad he did, coz I got a couple of bites too haha. It's a teeny weeny shoebox of a place - not much decor to speak of, but the amazing thing is that they haven't even had their 1st anniversary, yet the fitout makes it look like all the staff were born there.
3. Bill Clinton knows his food too. Gugelhof was great! I don't even like boudin noir (blood sausage), but theirs was great - full of cinnamony spices. We had choucroute and the pork (loin?) was awfully tender, flavoursome and presentable too - baby pink and glistening like a lightly perspiring young face under the spring sun. And the sauerkraut - I have to confess that I already love this stuff - I even eat the overly sour ones - straight out of the jar - but this sauerkraut was goooood, and even those little waxy boiled potatoes on the side were nice. Wonder if Hillary would cry over the choucroute at Gugelhof? I almost did.
4. I forgot to bring my camera and my phone charger, so I couldn't take photos of any of the abovementioned things. Sorry. Couldn't get photos until the last 3 days of the trip when they found me a charger, so I could at least take photos with my phone...
Bandol Sur Mer
+49 30 673 020 51
Knaackstr. 37 (corner Kollwitzplatz)
+49 30 442 92 29
|Happy New Year!|
Before I could say "2007 is going way too quickly", it's gone. As usual, so much has happened, possibly more last year as I've been trying to embark on my 'working life' and ease (more like squeeze) into Hong Kong.
So, last year, I decided on impulse that I would chose to go to Berlin over Barcelona and semi-committed by communicating this casually to my boss (dumb, dumb thing to do, boss and casual do not make such great bedfellows).
I can't say I'm regretting, but I'm reading the BCN draft and it pretty much says: churros, blue cheese, sangria, pedro garcia, churros, tarts, chocolate, bossa nova and churros.
In stark contrast, my Berlin draft reads: street art, concrete, techno, communist history, and wordsthataresolongidon'tknowhowtoreadthem. Actually, I am liking the pared back rawness of Berlin, but it makes me wonder why I dismissed BCN so readily in the first place.
Churros and bossa nova are a lot more 'me' than currywurst and techno. Oh well, at least I get subzero temperatures.