That Awkward Moment When

Funny story – I went to the library today, just like I’d intended to since the start of the year. So I finally made time for it, and set off after lunch. Along the way, I started reflecting on a whole bunch of things, and was feeling grateful for this and that.

For example, I feel grateful for being literate. I feel so blessed to have been born at a time and place where girls have access to education. I feel fortunate that my parents encouraged me to do my best in school, and they fostered my love for reading and bought hundreds of books over the years without any question. (Indeed, I was brought up in a society where pushed their children to strive for academic excellence, and some may have pushed their children a bit too far, but that’s an argument for another day.)

In my gratitude-induced haze I stopped to appreciate the beauty around me.

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Today’s weather was gorgeous – didn’t really feel like winter. Clear skies, lots of sunshine.

The English section of the library wasn’t very large, but I must have spent at least half an hour just walking along the aisles, taking in the various titles and devising a strategy of sorts. In the end, I staggered to the seating area with a literal armful of hardcovers.

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So one of my resolutions for 2017 was to read more, but all these in one sitting is probably overkill. And impossible.

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After reading a couple of the books and casually flipping through the pages of some others (turns out “Wardrobe Solutions” was really outdated), I shortlisted these few titles to borrow. Edwin and I really like Impressionist art, so I thought that we could read about them over the Lunar New Year holidays. As I brought the books to the self check-out machine, it dawned on me.

I left my library card at home.

After a minute of internal screaming, being in a library and all, I dejectedly put the books back on the shelves and left. Honestly, it was a face palm moment, but what was I to do? Oh well, I’ll probably head back next week, and in the meantime I still have books of my own that I haven’t read. Should probably get started on those first…

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Hong Kong Disneyland CNY 2017 in 17 Pictures

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The first sign (literally) of Chinese New Year is a depiction of a familiar mouse in festive colours.

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At the time I was there, Mickey and Minnie were greeting guests in their usual attire. It was the following day that the characters were decked out in all their New Year finery. T.T

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No shortage of auspicious couplets at the park! In case you’re wondering, here are their respective meanings, from left to right:

年年有餘 (nián nián yǒu yú) ~ abundance through the years
笑口常開 (xiào kǒu cháng kāi) ~ lots of laughter
歡樂年年 (huān lè nián nián) ~ happiness every year
金玉滿堂 (jīn yù mǎn táng) ~ a hall filled with gold and jade i.e. prosperity

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More auspicious couplets! From left to right:

好意吉祥 (hǎo yì jí xiáng) ~ good intentions and luck
雞鳴盛世 (jī míng shèng shì) ~ prosperity in the year of the Rooster

The translations were done by yours truly to the best of my ability, some were more literal than others. Chinese/Mandarin isn’t my strongest language, and it’s something I want to work on this year. If you think there’s a more accurate translation, let me know in the comments! 🙂

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The central decoration featuring Hei Hei from Moana. It was a fairly popular attraction and there was a queue to take pictures of it. When it was my turn, this adorable little tyke ran into my shot and refused to leave. She then asked her mother to take a picture of her. Kids these days…

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After a few seconds her mother managed to drag her away, and the woman behind me in the queue offered to help me take a picture. (I was on a solo trip on a weekday, hence my usual photographer a.k.a. Edwin was unavailable).

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Gorgeous spring blossoms.

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The turn-of-the-century Victorian-inspired Main Street looked rather different with the addition of the Lunar New Year decorations. It’s become… Chinatown.

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Castle among the hills.

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There was a performance in Main Street, and quite the crowd too.

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Lots of New Year merchandise up for grabs.

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The latest Tsum Tsum dolls? Mickey and gang all dressed up in chicken suits. Maybe they moonlight as mascots for fast food chain restaurants serving fried chicken?

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The cookie tin is too cute for words. And Donald and Daisy are one step closer to becoming turducken.

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Some of the red packet envelopes really caught my eye. I’d buy some, but I’ve got waaay too many at the moment.

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Main Street in the rain.

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The Chinese New Year-themed cookie tins were selling like hotcakes. It’s not hard to see why – they’d make lovely gifts.

That’s all for now. I’ve got more snapshots of Disneyland, but they’ll have to wait for a later post. Goodnight folks, and happy CNY to all!

Anniversary Lunch at Robuchon au Dome, Macau

Back in October, Edwin and I travelled to Macau to celebrate our wedding anniversary. We had a fantastic stay at the Parisian Macao, where we watched “Thriller“. The next day, we headed to the Grand Lisboa hotel for the main event – lunch at the fabulous Robuchon au Dome.

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Located on the 43rd floor, it’s got quite a view. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t great that day. The Hong Kong Observatory kept predicting that a typhoon was on its way, and for a while we were worried that we wouldn’t be able to take the ferry. (It did hit Hong Kong the following day, but we were already safely home then, thank goodness.)

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Complimentary bread basket, with some of the best bread I’ve ever eaten.

Next up is the part where I kick myself in the shins for not taking a photo of the menu for reference. The menu changes seasonally, so I can’t check their website either. But hey, you might get a kick (pun intended) out of my less-than-stellar descriptions. So here goes…

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What you see here is our amuse-bouche, which is really Fancy French for “to entertain the mouth”. Something to tickle the palate, if you will. It’s got foie gras at the bottom, chicken broth in the middle, and something called corn mousseline on top. The whole thing’s got a gel/mousse texture to it (now I sound like I’m describing a hair-styling product), so to add some contrast there’s a popcorn kernel with gold leaf on it. Just in case the lavish gold surroundings haven’t already screamed “FANCY” loudly enough.

Oh, and the dish was really delicious, by the way. The little green dots were pea puree, I’m guessing? Kudos to the chef and his/her steady hands.

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My starter was this little beauty. Thin slices of many things (iberico ham, mushrooms, radishes, toast, more foie gras) sitting on a bed of white beans. And three dots of balsamic dressing to accompany the few sprigs of green. Overall, a pleasant dish, but I was hoping for a bit more “wow”.

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Edwin’s starter was definitely better. Crab meat wrapped in sliced avocado (already a win right there), crispy squid ink tuile, mini fruit cubes. And yes, it tasted as good as it looked.

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Shellfish bisque with crispy shrimp. And foam, because you paid for air. Loved the crispy rice.

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Pumpkin soup. I’m sure there’s a fancier name for this, but I can’t find it. Anyway, can I direct your attention to the pumpkin picture on the top left corner? You know, in case you didn’t know what you were consuming. Also, if you scroll back up, you’ll see that the amuse-bouche was served on a plate with a picture of corn.

So the question is… What do they do with these plates when pumpkin or corn isn’t in season? Just put them in storage until next year? Is that why they charge so much? Does the cost of our meals include the cost of storing off-season serving ware?

Oops that was a lot of questions. Moving on…

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My main course was duck with… stewed grapes? Whatever it was, the dish was excellent. Perfectly cooked meat, juicy and flavourful, and it was served with the best mashed potatoes in the world (not pictured, but you know what mashed potatoes look like). I don’t know what Robuchon puts in their mashed spuds, but it’s insanely good. Like, wake-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night-and-crave kind of good.

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!!! I found the description for this one! “Le Spaghetti – Maine lobster spaghetti with spiced coral emulsion” Guess a few dishes make it into the next season, like the fan favourites of a TV show. Lobster and spaghetti, with more foam. To be fair, it’s really fun to “play” with the foam before eating it. I may be dining at a three Michelin-starred restaurant, but I’m not above playing with my food.

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After our main course was finished, the staff brought out this gorgeous Napoleon, one of their signature desserts. There’s never too much sweetness when celebrating an anniversary!

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Four years and counting! ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

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Earlier during our meal, I got really excited upon seeing the bread trolley. And then I realised there was a trolley for everything. Butter, cheese, and now dessert. Unfortunately, each guest was only allowed to pick two desserts off the trolley. Y’all know that if I had my way, I’d probably take the whole trolley home with me.

Between us two, we ended up picking two ice-creams (one chocolate and one strawberry), a mango cake (the yellow sphere in the foreground) and a chocolate cake (the little bars on the left).

But wait, there’s more!

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There’s also a mignardise trolley to accompany your cup of coffee/tea. Once again, two each. These are les petits bonbons, so they were like mini desserts, but I’m not going to complain about a second round. We had a marshmallow, nougat, dark chocolate sticks, and a mini canele.

Although the portions seemed small, we were incredibly full even before we finished our desserts. The food wasn’t perfect, but I’d say even the weakest dish was a solid 8/10. (The mashed potatoes were 10/10, that goes without saying.) From the amuse-bouche to the mignardise, every dish was of great quality. Oh, and the service! Well-paced, attentive, polite to a fault.

Not going to lie, it was an expensive meal. But for a special occasion, it was well worth the splurge. Now I wonder where we’re going to spend our next anniversary. After all, five is a bit of a milestone year, no?

Robuchon au Dome
43/F, Grand Lisboa, Avenida da Lisboa, Praia Grande
http://www.joel-robuchon.com/en/restaurants-macao-robuchonaudome.php

Beirut Restaurant & Bar

I fell in love with Middle Eastern cuisine while travelling in Dubai back in 2014. Even Edwin, who is usually uninterested in food, was pleasantly surprised by how much he enjoyed it. So now, one of my many food quests is to find good and affordable Middle Eastern restaurants in Hong Kong!

We chanced upon Beirut’s poster while walking around in Lan Kwai Fong looking for a lunch spot. It wasn’t situated on the ground floor like a lot of other restaurants and bars, so we had to take a lift up and walk through a dusty old corridor. For a while we were wondering if there really was a restaurant at the end. It’s strange how there are all these old and seemingly abandoned buildings right in the middle of Central.

Anyway, once we got in, we were greeted by gorgeous interiors and an extremely friendly lady (manager/owner/?), who told us a bit more about the restaurant. Apparently they were previously situated elsewhere and now they’d moved into a better location.

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Our starters. Roasted eggplant dip on the left and hummus on the right. Yum!

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The flatbread that came with the dips.

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Unfortunately the main course was rather polarising. The lamb shawarma was tough and dry. I could smell the aromatics that went into the dish, but there’s just no way to save overcooked meat.

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On the other hand, the chicken shawarma was amazing. Juicy, tender, flavourful… Maybe the lamb was a dud? Anyway, I would definitely go back for the chicken.

The lunch sets didn’t come with dessert, and we were rather full by then, in any case. Perhaps in the future we’ll go back to try their baklava. 🙂

Beirut Restaurant & Bar
1/F, Block A Winner Building
27 – 39 D’Aguilar Street
Lan Kwai Fong, Hong Kong
Tel: 2804 6611

Green Waffle Diner

Hello again! Just wanted to share a super quick post about Green Waffle Diner. I dined there for the first time last month, and since then I’ve been back one more time as the dining experience was really enjoyable. Just can’t say no to waffles and ice-cream!

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The Eggs Benedict was one of the dishes offered for the lunch set, and I was in the mood for breakfast foods (like always) so this was my choice. It was nice, pretty standard stuff, but what really impressed me were the home fries. Those little cubes of potato were awesome. Crispy on the outside, hot and fluffy on the inside… simply perfect!

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The set lunch came with half a waffle. With a name like “Green Waffle”, would you expect anything else for dessert? Also, if you post a picture of your food on Instagram and use #greenwafflediner, you get a free scoop of ice-cream to go with your waffle. Free ice-cream is always a win!

P.S. I don’t have the exact address because all I can find online is the old one. It’s now in Hysan Place, Causeway Bay, on the 13th floor, if I remember correctly. Hope that helps!

Wheel of Flavour at Uptop Bistro and Bar

Over the Christmas holidays, Sonia (my colleague) and I went to Uptop Bistro and Bar, situated at Popway Hotel, to try out the Ferris Wheel afternoon tea. The weather was uncharacteristically warm, which suited the summery feel of themed afternoon tea.

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At HKD338 (~US$43.60) for two persons, this was quite the spread!

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The desserts on the right included trifle and mini cupcakes (with gorgeous Tiffany-blue frosting). The trifle caught me by surprise – I don’t usually like trifle, but this was really good. The cupcake was a bit too sweet, but still, I’ll never say no to dessert!

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Clockwise from top left: golden fried chicken, crispy popcorn prawns, satay chicken skewers, homemade scones, smoked salmon canape, pan-seared tuna canape, crispy potato-encrusted prawns.

As usual, I preferred the savoury elements of the afternoon tea.  Crispy prawns? Yes. Salmon and tuna canapes? Yes. Fried chicken? Yes, yes, yes please!

As for the scones, which I consider to be “neutral” i.e. in between sweet and savoury, the scones themselves were fine. It’s just that they were served with jam and cream cheese. Cream cheese. CREAM CHEESE. Alright I’m going to stop shouting and let that sink in.

Cream cheese?!?! Where’s the clotted cream? If you’re going to go through the trouble of baking decent scones and planning a London-themed afternoon tea (which is the other one that Uptop Bistro offers), get your condiments right.

Jam was nice though.

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Clockwise from top: macarons, marshmallow brownie, chocolate bonbons, apple salted caramel cake, three-layer chocolate cake.

The macarons were lovely, although Sonia and I couldn’t quite figure out the flavour of the top one. Vanilla? Caramel? Plain sugar?

The cakes were just as pleasant, though none of them really stood out. I do like the sizes – large enough to savour the taste but not too much to leave one with a sickly feeling afterwards.

Given that this was a collaboration with MediLase, a beauty centre that specialises in hair removal, we were each given a voucher after our meal. I was just there for the food, and it was worth it even without the voucher, to be honest.

Afternoon teas are quite an indulgence in general, and the next time won’t be so soon for me. Still, it won’t stop me from researching the next place to try out. Ah… life of the always hungry…

Cereal in a Teacup

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While I work on another post, here’s a “filler” story about how I came to be having my breakfast cereal in a teacup yesterday morning. Last week, I tried the Disney Tsum Tsum hot chocolate, and I prepared it like how I would with Milo powder, i.e. just add hot water. It came out looking much darker than expected, so I added some fresh milk, and the end result was underwhelming. It wasn’t terrible, just meh.

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Yesterday, I decided to try it again, and this time, I got Edwin to read the instructions (since they were in Japanese, which I haven’t gotten around to learning). Apparently, I was supposed to dissolve the powder in hot milk instead of hot water. D’oh!

So one cup of milk went into the microwave. And then the microwave started making weird noises and I wasn’t entire sure, but I thought I saw and heard sparks. STOP MICROWAVE. Oh God, our microwave is ancient. It was a hand-me-down from a friend, and when he had it, it was already a secondhand microwave. I estimate it to be at least nine years old. Maybe it’s time to let it die.

Anyway, I didn’t want to let the milk go to waste. Ten seconds in a wonky microwave wouldn’t make it radioactive or something like that, right? Maybe I’ll develop superpowers. I hope I get telekinesis. Or teleportation. Preferably no telepathy. I don’t really want to know what people are thinking.

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Since lukewarm milk isn’t conducive for hot chocolate, I ended up having cereal instead. That’s the long story of how it all happened. But at least it ends here. Unless I develop superpowers…