Archive for April, 2010

Mario Comes to Town – HK Flower Lounge 香滿樓

Monday, April 26th, 2010

Our old friend Mario da Silva made the Bay area his last stop in his three-week trip to North America and we were glad to have dinner with him. We picked HK Flower Lounge 香滿樓 in Millbrae mainly because it was close to everybody. It’s also within walking distance from the Millbrae BART station.

For gathering like this, we were so busy catching up with each other and simply picked one of the set dinners. Food wasn’t nearly as important as the company.

We were here a couple of months ago and the quality of food and service wasn’t too good. Surprisingly, the food this time wasn’t bad and service was good. That was probably because Wallace knew the manager well. We will probably come back again.

HK Flower Lounge 香滿樓
51 Millbrae Ave
Millbrae, CA 94030
Tel: (650)692-6666

食碗麵至上機 – Macau Airport Restaurant 澳門機場餐廳

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

Just wanted a bowl of noodle but there was a minimum charge of mop 50. I had no choice but to order a beer to go with it.

黑沙環「西南」 – 金運美食

Saturday, April 17th, 2010

In Macau, “South West” 西南 is famous for its expensive shark’s fin dishes and Areia Preta 黑沙環 is a district of factories and low-income housing. You get the idea of what it means to be the “South West” in Areia Preta.

Kam Wan 金運美食 is a small two-story restaurant with fish tanks at the door. We got there by 8 pm and it was full. Lucky Vincent called earlier to reserve a room on the second floor. You must book a table before coming to this place.

Vincent and I went downstairs to the front to pick the catch of the day. While I was taking pictures, a fish tried to escape by jumping out of the bucket on its way to the kitchen. Too bad it was promptly put back to the bucket. That was a good sign that seafood here were lively.

The seafood – fish, whelk, mantis shrimp, and abalone – were all very fresh and of high quality. That was expected though. What was amazing was that even other hot dishes such as meat cake (肉餅), tofu, and pigeon were also excellent. No wonder why there are expensive cars parked around this restaurant all night.

The Mixed Fish Soup 雜魚湯 was cooked with a mixture of no less than ten different fishes and you can imagine its taste, simply 鮮甜.

This a good place to enjoy top quality seafood. Do bring a lot of cash though.

金運美食
澳門黑沙環第五街新美安大廈第一期地下
電話: (853)2848 3896

Porto Exterior in Porto Exterior 新口岸葡國餐

Saturday, April 17th, 2010

My other favorite Macau style Portuguese restaurant is Porto Exterior 新口岸葡國餐 in the Porto Exterior area. I had lunch there with my mother today; it’s only one block from Rio Hotel where I am staying this time. At 1 pm, the place was only half full and we sat down at a table by the window.

I had been eating so much meat on this trip and only ordered something light. Grilled Sardines were fresh and crispy. The fried rice looked and smelt good but I didn’t try it; I wanted to leave room in the stomach for the cabbage. I needed more vegetable.

The sauce of the Ox-trip pot was delicious; instead of mixing it with rice, I used the soft and crispy roll to absorb the sauce.

A nice good lunch at reasonable price in a convenient place.

Porto Exterior in Porto Exterior 新口岸葡國餐
澳門新口岸宋玉生廣場中裕大廈606H-606G
電話: (853)2873 0276、2870 3898

五蚊人仔食早餐 – 永和大王

Friday, April 16th, 2010

Yong He King 永和大王 is the McDonald’s of China. It’s everywhere and you can expect pretty much the same kind of service when you walk into one. I went to the one near People’s Park 人民廣場 to grab a quick bite before leaving for the airport. How was the food? You couldn’t really complain much for RMB 5.

Gourmet Noodle House 家有好麵

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

Didn’t feel like going anywhere after a day trip to Nanjing, I went out to have a bowl of noodle at the nearby Gourmet Noodle House 家有好麵. The place was clean and comfortable with swift and friendly service. The noodle was OK too. Will probably come again.

西湖歌舞幾時休 – 樓外樓

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

Every year after buying tea at Long Jing 龍井, I usually have lunch at Lou Wai Lou Restaurant 樓外樓 next to the famous West Lake. Lou Wai Lou which was established in 1848 is famous for its authentic Hangzhou cuisine and proximity to the lake. It’s food may not be the best in Hangzhou but the view is unbeatable.

I went there with 小張 the driver at around 1 pm which was the end of lunch time, so we had no problem finding a table on the second floor. We did not have a window-side table this time but the great view of West Lake was only a few steps away. From there, I could see the green line of willow trees along the beautiful “Su Dike” 蘇堤 on this cool and drizzling day.

There were so many dishes I wanted to taste; I ordered all my favorite knowing that some food would go to waste – sorry but I only do this once a year. 小張 had to drive and could not drink, so I only ordered one large bottle of ice cold Siwo Beer 西湖啤酒 which I did finish.

Appetizers were Bamboo Shoots and Preserved Duck. The bamboo shoots were fresh and crunchy with light sesame taste. Hangzhou Preserved Duck was tender with rich taste.

The Beggar’s Chicken here was the best I had had. It’s a chicken roasted in lotus leaves and then clay; inside of the chicken was stuff with beef, bamboo shoots and other ingredients. Moisture was sealed inside the lotus leaves so chicken meat was juicy and tender. I once hosted a closing dinner there fifteen years ago and a Frenchman who could afford to eat anything said that was the best chicken he had all his life.

A Hangzhou meal is not complete with “Dong Po” Pork and Honey Ham. Don’t be afraid of that piece of fat on top of the lean pork, that’s the best part and it does not feel greasy. You can forget about the lean part of the dish if you are full. The Honey Ham is something else; the lean ham tastes better than the tough fat skin and the lotus seeds covered with honey sauce are excellent.

West Lake Water Shield soup is a typical clear soup in Hangzhou; it perfect for cleaning the system after eating all the meat.

Guess what? The food tasted so good we finished everything except the large piece of ham. Will come again next year.

Climbing the Lion Peak 龍井問茶

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

Once a year I go to Hangzhou in April for new Long Jing tea of the year. Tea produced in Long Jing Village at Lion Peak 獅峰龍井村 is considered to be the best and that’s where I usually go. Unlike “black tea” such as Pu Er that improves over time, green tea such as Long Jing is best when it’s fresh. That’s why most green tea drinkers look for “new” tea in the Spring.

Is there guarantee that the tea one buys in the village is really locally grown? No. Actually local tea there is so scarce and precious that it is usually reserved for insiders and government officials. What one can buy there is likely to be tea produced in surrounding areas and shipped there for marketing reason. Even when you see the “Lion Peak Long Jing” (獅峰龍井) sticker on the packaging, don’t believe that.

Then why do I still go there every year? Good question and the answer is simple. I have bought new tea in the past in Shanghai at higher price and in Hong Kong at much higher price and found that they were pretty similar. For same quality of tea, it is still the cheapest at the Long Jing Village.

When you go there the first time, the tea farmers will tell you that tea this year costs RMB 2,500 per 500 gm and that some Taiwanese who came on the previous day was paying RMB 3,000. If you are insistent, you can usually negotiate the price down to a fraction of that, i.e. 300-800, depending on tea quality, market condition and most importantly how much you are buying. That’s why I like to go to the same farmer who will not waste time on the B.S. and get right to the point. In fact, this tea farmer’s daughter-in-law, a graduate of Zhejiang University, would first retrieve the price I paid last year on her computer before price discussion.

If you take a taxi there, the taxi driver will be very happy because he will go back later to get a commission on what you have bought. Don’t worry that the tea farmer will make less profit – she will build that in the price you pay when she sees a taxi. Note that I use “she” for the tea farmer, at Long Jing Village the wife is the “marketer” while the husband is the “laborer” who takes care of production.

The following is a video of my trip to the village.

Alternative video link: http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XMTcwMTgwMjI4.html

Affordable O-Toro – Tenya 天家

Sunday, April 11th, 2010

It was still drizzling at 6pm, I took an umbrella and walked over to Tenya 天家 on Tai Cang Lu again. At this time on a Sunday, the place was pretty empty and I picked a table at the corner to minimize of chance of sitting next to smokers.

Standard for me was a small bottle of cold sake and a green salad. This time, instead of their set dinner, I asked for an order of O-Toro Sashimi (5 pieces). I was glad I did. The O-Toro was so fat and well prepared that I finished them in minutes. The only reason I did not order another dish was that my mouth was already full of rich fish oil.

Still not full, I had the hotpot with Zuwai crab and cod fish. The crab legs tasted OK but a little bit too soft for my liking. Next time I would order the King Taraba crab instead. To finish off, I added some udon to the hotpot.

At 7pm, the restaurant was already two-thirds full. I asked for the check and paid with credit card. This place never cheated me before so I didn’t bother to take out my reading glasses to examine the amount before signing. When I got back to the hotel, I saw the amount on the credit card slip to be RMB 198 (I was expecting something around RMB 400 including the 10% service charge automatically added). They had to like me so much to give me a 50% discount or simply had made a mistake.

What would you do? Would you go back to find out what had happened or just let it go?

Rice Noodle for the Masses – 吉昌桂林米粉

Sunday, April 11th, 2010

It was raining all morning and I didn’t feel like going anywhere. Had a few oranges for breakfast, I was a little hungry by 2pm. It was still drizzling; walked across the street from the hotel to this little rice noodle shop 吉昌桂林米粉.

The large bowl of steaming Braised Large Intestine Rice Noodle 紅燒大腸米粉 arrived in a couple of minutes. The soup was rich and texture of rice noodle was 爽夾彈牙, just like what I had in Guilin.

For RMB 12, how can you complain.