Thursday, January 29, 2009

Hong Kong's Love for All Things Japanese

I still have a lot to blog about from my Hong Kong trip!

Like fashion, food in Hong Kong is very much influenced by Japan. There are a lot of fresh fruits and food imported from Japan. At the same time, there are also outposts of Japanase restaurants/chains in HK.

In HK, there are numerous Japanese Supermarket/Department Store Chains. We went to Sogo in Causeway Bay, Jusco in Tai Koo and APITA in Tai Koo during our trip. One of the reasons why food is imported from Japan is because of the known quality issues and deception in Mainland China. Most Hong Kong people, like my cousins, believe quality is much better for products from Japan. On top of that, products from Japan are less prone to being fake; for example, there are cases of dyes being used to make a food product look like something else in Mainland.

Here are some of the interesting goods you'll find in these Japanese stores in HK:

  • Grilled corn from Hokkaido

  • Giant grapes - their skins are rather thick, so you just eat the inside. They're really sweet, and the skin tastes like an intense concord grape.

  • Fresh cod roe (spicy or mild)

  • Fish cakes made with scallions and cod roe. These are really good. They're made fresh in Japan and shipped to HK.

  • Seaweed salad

  • Takyoki (Octopus Balls) made onsite. I've had these before in the US, and the ones I got from HK (specifically Gindaco in APITA in Tai Koo) were soooo much better! The crispy exterior was lightly kissed with a sweet grilled flavor sauce, and inside was warm, airy and creamy. The ones I had in the US were dense and not crunchy at all.

  • I don't know what these are called, but I've had a variety of these before (filled with red bean instead). This was nice but not my cup of tea. It was almost like a sweet vanilla butter cream.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Happy Chinese New Year!

It's the year of the Ox...and the year of our wedding!

This is the last year I'll be receiving "lai see" (red envelopes). It's a tradition to give/receive money in red envelopes for Chinese New Year. However, if you're married, you stop receiving in some cases and start giving.

I wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous new year.

Friday, January 23, 2009

A Perfect Way to Stay Warm this Winter (Part III)

If a nice hot bowl of chili won't warm you up, I don't know what will. I'm not a big fan of Rachel Ray, but I found her 30 minute recipe for Turkey Chili, and it was good. Unfortunately, the recipe isn't on Food Network's website anymore, so I'm really glad I printed a copy of it when I found it.

The chili was really easy to make...minimal chopping involved, and everything took (true to her show) 30 minutes. One thing that really kept me warm (and sweating) while eating this bowl of chili was the adobo chili peppers in this recipe. It called for only one, but it was more than hot enough. If you want the recipe, let me know!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Perfect Way to Stay Warm this Winter (Part II)

I have been spending the past couple of days in Boston, and we just got hit with 6 inches of snow! I must say that I was very impressed with the town - every one was prepared...all the streets were nicely plowed , joggers continued their way and virtually all people went out as normal with their snow boots.

Well, a very rich and indulgent way to stay warm in all this snow is a nice cup of hot chocolate. We recently got some from Mariebelle, a chocolatier in NYC. I had never made hot chocolate at home, so I was really surprised to see how serious this was (it's not Swiss Miss!) It was very easy - instructions were on the can. We added some hot milk and it was done in no time. I was expecting the hot chocolate to be sweet, but it wasn't all that sweet, which was perfect for my taste.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Perfect Way to Stay Warm this Winter

It's been really cold these past couple of days in NY, and I've got a perfect way to stay warm. Shabu shabu! It is not only the perfect way to stay warm, but also a fun way to enjoy a meal with your friends & family (without all the stress of cooking for your loved ones).

With shabu shabu, you basically cook anything you want in a pot of simmering broth. The pot is shared, so it's a great way to entertain your guests and have fun while you're doing it. The last time we had shabu shabu, we used our cousin's electric pot, but traditionally, portable gas stove is used. Utensil wise, you'll need what they call spiders for scooping up your cooked food, chopsticks and soup spoons.

What you usually need in a shabu shabu are a variety of greens, meat (make sure your meat is thinly sliced so it would cook faster), seafood, mushroom and vermicelli. We had some tasty wontons there as well when we had it months ago. You'll also need a sauce to dip what you've cooked - we mixed some soy sauce and sesame seed oil with a raw egg from Japan. I know the raw egg part sounds weird, but my cousin swore that it was good. Just take a look at the color of the yolk!

To start a shabu shabu, bring a pot of broth to a boil (we like to add tofu with the broth). Turn it down to a simmer. Add anything you like! Scoop them up with a spider when they're done and dip in sauce.

Oh, take a look the delicious pork we had that night. This is Japan Yamagata Pork. Isn't the marbling beautiful. Yes, I'm speaking like a pork eater. It was sweet and had just the right amount of fat and porkiness (pork taste).

If I need warm thoughts, I usually think of shabu shabu. Stay warm every one!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Second Look at My Gown

So I had told you in my previous post that I saw my wedding dress finally, 3 months after it arrived. After I tried it on, it made me believe more on what I said about my wedding gown shopping experience. You truly don't know what your dress will really look like until it comes in your size.

The sample gown I tried on was a size 10, so there was more material and volume on it. I was hoping I was wrong in my post, but the moment I put on my gown, I knew I was right.

Oh well. Maybe my veil will make up for it.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

I Survived!

I finally went to see my wedding dress, which came in almost 3 months ago. I brought my mom and sister with me, the two toughest women in my life, and I survived!

I wasn't worried about my sister at all; it was my mom I was worried about. I did not take her gown shopping with me, so she had not seen my dress yet. She said all of the things I expected (and more). I knew her initial silence when she saw the dress was not good. She had issues about the "smallness" of the gown (it wasn't grand enough), the material, workmanship, etc. Fortunately, my sister stepped in to support me...thanks sis!

In the end, I thought it went better than expected. I didn't pull my hair out, nor did I cry.

Oh yeah, thank you to my lovely and patient fiance, who drove us around searching for mother of the bride and bridesmaid dresses. :-*

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Martha Registry Love

It's been quite a busy holiday for me and my fiance. We designed the invitations (hopefully they come out okay), shopped for wedding rings, planned the honeymoon and started tackling the registry. I had never thought of registering for China, but it became very tempting after I saw Martha Stewart's Collection by Wedgwood.

Martha's designs are modern yet classic. They're made in England and set at a lower price point (probably because her China line isn't rimmed with platinum or sterling silver). I also love that you can mix and match between different collections. For example, you can pair a plate from their Bouquet collection below...

...with one from their Ribbon Stripe line below. Trust me, I tried out this combination in the store, and it works.

Here are other eye catching ones:

All images from

Monday, January 5, 2009

Slight Change Coming

I'm back...with some news.

I swear this was not one of my new year resolutions - I'll be cutting back on the number of posts I write on this blog over the next couple of months up 'til June. Unfortunately, I have to choose between studying and wedding planning, and blogging just isn't as much of a priority.

Although I won't be blogging as often as daily like I have done, I will be blogging nevertheless. I hope you have enjoyed reading this blog so far and will continue to do so in the future!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

It's time to pop the champagne! Happy New Year every one!

I'll be taking a couple of days off for this special occasion. The truth is, I have A LOT of wedding stuff to do...invitations, honeymoon planning, registry, MOB dress shopping, ring shopping, etc.

Wishing you all a joyous new year,

- Martha