Old-school HK style “Cafe Virtue”

View from the opposite street; Mai Tak Cafe

I usually arrive at the office pretty early, so today, I’ve decided to walk around the industrial area for “treasure hunting”. Look what I’ve found — it’s Mai Tak Cafe across the street!
p.s. “Mai Tak” means virtue in Chinese

So I crossed the street and walked to the takeaway counter. But before that, I was attracted by the 80’s Canton pop songs that played through an outdoor speaker (tiny white square near the window) and that’s when I then noticed the front door that led me up the stairs to this old-school Hong Kong-style cafe!! Super cool, don’t you think?

After a quick look I went back to the ground floor, followed the queue and bought myself freshly made Egg Sandwich with Hot Coffee (HK$16). To be honest, I must say my breakfast was yummy but actually quite ordinary, but I would return for my hope that this kind of places won’t get replaced by restaurant groups that lack personality and human warmth. We’re having too many of those already.

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Quick update:

I brought my friend here again this morning and actually sat down for a proper breakfast. We ordered the same thing – English Breakfast with Fish Fillet, Fried Egg and Hash Brown with toast, plus a cup of Milk Tea added with Condensed Milk (HK$24)!

It was a sizable amount of comfort food, and with that sweet, smooth, absolutely luscious drink that rounds up the meal (forget about the calories for a sec), what more can I ask for?

Mai Tak Cafe
M/F, Mai Tak Industrial Building, 221 Wai Yip Street, Kwun Tong, Hong Kong
T. +852 2344 2512

– Judith


SdVA – Delightful press events…

… that preview up-and-coming events, restaurant menus, fine wine products and more.

Over that 1.5 years with Spirito diVino Asia I’d been invited to numerous press events, and in fact quite a number of them are still coming up even I’m only a small potato in the blogging community right now. Thanks for the support and trust!!!
25 May, 2013@ Domani Ristorante
Press lunch for Made in Italy 2013: Quality & Lifestyle
1. Capesante: pan-fried scallops, butter snow peas, orange dressing
2. Crema di Zucca: pumpkin soup, parmesan ice-cream and amaretto reduction
3. Orata: pan-fried seabream, sauteed spinach and clams
(other options — Lasagna: open-faced lasagna, stracchino cheese, bacon, spring onion and fava beans / Stinco d’agnello: lamb shank, spicy carrots in ginger bread)
4. Zuppa al Cioccolato: cold chocolate soup, milk ice-cream, coffee waffle, vanilla oil

7 October, 2013@ Harbour View Ballroom II, Four Seasons Hotel
Press preview of Castiglion del Bosco‘s Year of Horse limited edition of 888 bottles, collaborated with Chinese artist Tian Shuhan
1. Baked Crab Shell Stuffed with Fresh Crab Meat and Black Truffle (with CdBianco 2012)
2. Double-boiled Sea Whelk with Matsutake Mushrooms and Brassica (with Campo del Drago 2007)
3. Roast Chilean Sea Bass Fillet with Sweet Soy Sauce, Braised Australian Wagyu Beef Cheek in Gravy (with Campo del Drago 1999)
4. Caramelised William Pear with Fromage Blanc Creme, Lemon Verbena Gelato (with San Michele 2008)
5. Petits Fours (with Grappa del Drago)
*AMAZING dishes — the William Pear is one of my most-coveted desserts ever*

8 October, 2013@ Mimura Japanese Restaurant
Press preview of Tokushima specialties — “gifts from the beauty of nature”
1. Deep-fried Awaodori Chicken with Italian balsamic vinegar and Shanghai hairy crab roe
2. Soba-gome with Awaodori Chicken
3. Oden (Japanese hotchpotch with Daikon and chicken ball)
4. Awaodori Chicken wing with aged tangerine peel
5. Torikara with Awaodori
6. Simmered Japanese Eggplant by Dried Awa Shrimp
7. Naruto-Tai Okaki Age
8. Tempura Naruto Kintoki Potato
and A LOT more dishes… let’s not forget the sake Dassai 23, by the way!

– Judith

Traditional food — Egg Rolls

Since the busy high school life I’ve developed a “habit” — to work in front of a pile of papers ( now keyboard and a computer screen), always with something at my fingertips to snack on since I’m notorious for dozing off and falling into deep sleep very easily.

On the days when I feel like eating cleaner, you’ll see me munching on an apple, an oatmeal energy bar or carrot/celery sticks; on the days when I feel like treating myself with guilty pleasures, my mouth will be full of cookies, LOTS OF chips, and one of my childhood favorites if they happen to be around the house.

Finally we’re getting into the topic of the night — EGG ROLLS!

Tin; Duck Shing Ho Egg Roll Co.

You’re right, this amazing tin of homemade egg rolls is sitting in front of me right now. It’s a Chinese New Year gift from Ed for my family, from the popular Duck Shing Ho.

Close-up of Egg Roll; Duck Shing Ho Egg Roll Co.

Every time I crack the lid open I smile at the comforting scent. Look at the egg rolls… they are semi-sweet, thick and somewhere in between being crunchy and fluffy. When you see the layers, “delicious!” is on your mind and you’ll start to appreciate the effort and craftsmanship behind these classic treats.

Speaking of craftsmanship, Duck Shing Ho first started its business in the 1960s selling agricultural products (i.e. food grain and oil) before transforming into an egg roll manufacturer with the rise of supermarkets in 1973. They homemade and sell freshly-baked egg rolls everyday.

Wise choice made. It stands proud and strong until today. Ed said he had to call and pre-order back in September 2013 (!) or else he’d have to line up in THIS queue of some 300 people early at 9:30am (see here: http://stomachen.blogspot.hk/2013/03/blog-post.html) for egg rolls fresh from the oven, limited in numbers.

It has no preservatives and recommends consumption within 3 months. But seriously? Three weeks is more than enough.

Trivial fact: It sells egg roll crumbs too, and they do go out of stock as well 🙂

Duck Shing Ho(德成號)
G/F, 64 Java Road, North Point, Hong Kong
tel. +852 2570 5529 / 2571 5049

– Judith

Gallop into the Chinese Year of Horse!


Yes, this post does come a little late, but it is completely fine because the celebration does last for the first month of the Lunar calender 🙂

Basically, every family is always the busiest on the first two days of Lunar (Chinese) New Year. As in all the past years, we woke up early in the morning, got dressed and prepared a pot of steaming hot Chinese tea for the greetings before visiting grandparents with other relatives.

Parents exchanging Lai-see and blessings
This is a photo of my parents exchanging lai-see after wishing each other good fortune and serving tea. And before this I have to do the same, but kneel in front of them (we respect the Chinese tradition at these moments). It’s after that we went to our grandparents’ place. Father’s side always comes first, so it’s only on the second day we visited my other grandparents.

Four Seasons Pun Choi on first Lunar New Year day
We had this “Big Bowl Feast” as soon as everyone arrived. It was our first meal of the new year and this one from Four Seasons (not the hotel) came particularly in gigantic size because my cousin whose friend works there could maximize its volume whilst giving us a nice discount 😉 usually they are big, but not THIS big.

In it, you could easily find abalones, Chinese mushrooms, hair seaweed, prawns, dried oysters, squid, fish bladder, geese, chicken, barbecued pork, pork rind, taro, white radish and more.

On the second morning we devoured the same “Big Bowl Feast” again, with all my relatives from my mom’s side. In addition, my grandma has prepared as usual a huge casserole of soup with luxurious ingredients such as fish maw, shark fins, abalone and sea cucumber, and also Shrimp and Pork Wonton (Dumplings) to accommodate approximately 20 people.

Ed's family dinner at midnight
On the same night I visited Ed’s family at his grandmother’s place. I’ve had the third “Big Bowl Feast” at 8pm of which I did not take photograph of, and then this enormous meal at 12am that served some 20 pax from his family.

Were we full? ABSOLUTELY, AND WE WERE MORE THAN STUFFED but it didn’t stop us from visiting the “Kweilin Street Night Market” in Sham Shui Po on the third midnight. It was accessible only on the first four nights of Lunar New Year because it’s the time when Food & Environmental Hygiene Department staff got their days off, letting unlicensed hawkers to thrive.

We bought Indian Deep-Fried Bhature (HK$20), and spent near 45 minutes queuing up to get a Middle Eastern Pita Bread (HK$20) cooked in traditional brick oven and Barbecued Chicken Wing (HK$20). There were also local street food such as Fishballs, Cheung Fun (Rice Noodle Rolls) and literally Puppy Noodles, but the lines seemed endless that we had to give up on them. I guess the market must have gone on till like 3am or even later. Such a fun experience.

Coconut Milk Cake and Turnip Cake; Kweilin Street Night Market
Turnip Cake and Coconut Milk Cakes are the rest of the highlights to celebrate this festival. The company I work at has given each of us a list of choices from Wah Lai Yuen, the first to create Coconut Milk Cakes back in 1950.

From the left, it is Bird’s Nest & Red Dates Coconut Milk Cake, just perfect for ladies who concern about health and beauty (we feel less guilty even though we know that such tiny amount of bird’s nest won’t do anything). It is, similar to the Brown Sugar Coconut Milk Cake as in the simplest and most basic form, made mainly of glutinous rice flour, rice flour and coconut milk, while it is the type of sugar that determines the colour. As for Turnip Cake on the right, major ingredients include shredded white radish and rice flour while Chinese rose wine, preserved sausages, dried shrimps and scallops are mixed in for a distinctive aroma and texture.

You can either cook Turnip Cake by pan-frying or steaming, whereas for the Coconut Milk Cake, I’ve tried a NEW way of cooking it other than the traditional pan-frying method!

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Traditional method:
1. Cut coconut milk cake into thin pieces (about 1cm thick), let them sit in room temperature to soften
2. Preheat your non-stick pan with low to medium heat, drizzle some olive oil (not too much, because the cake itself will release oil when heated)
3. Dip each piece into a bowl of beaten egg to prevent them from gluing to each other
4. Serve when it has reached the ideal chewy consistency (poke with chopsticks to check)

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New (GUILT-FREE) method:
1. Cut coconut milk cake into thin slices, let them sit in room temperature to soften
2. Cut spring roll sheets into 4 quarters, tightly wrap it around each slice of cake and secure the ends with egg wash
3. Preheat your non-stick pan with low to medium heat, drizzle some olive oil; again, don’t put too much oil
4. Serve when the spring roll sheets get crispy and golden brown (by then the cake inside should be ready too, because they are very thin thus cook up quickly)

Healthy Matoon Tea from Thailand

Obviously I have eaten too much and to start detoxing, my most ideal way is to drink tea! My favourite tea has always been Robiff Oolong Tea from Japan (from that I recall how the two Japanese host families I lived with for a week back in 2003, both kept the large-sized bottles of the tea in their fridge to serve after dinner), and my recent love that is readily available in my kitchen is Matoom Tea from Thailand. Find out more about it in Cravings in Bangkok! (2) 🙂

Certain kinds of food are a MUST for Lunar New Year due to the resemblance between their Cantonese pronunciation of the food and words of blessings:
e.g. Hair Seaweed >> 髮菜 >> 發財 ( good fortune)
e.g. Dried Oyster >> 蠔豉 >> 好事 (good affairs) / 好市 (good market)
e.g. Shrimp >> 蝦 >> 哈 (“ha” as in laughter, meaning happiness)

– Judith

Late post on Mooncakes

Mid-Autumn is one of my childhood favourite festivals because my family, with a bunch of cousins who are of similar ages, always gathered for barbecue at night. We, whilst looking up to adore the pristine full moon, would share barbecue food of course, mooncakes, fruits and other snacks, while the kids (us) would run around with lanterns in our hands or sit down together to play with candles.

Traditionally, mooncakes are delicacies with sweetened lotus seed paste with one or two egg yolk placed in the centre, wrapped with an enticing golden brown crust that is usually made of lard (occasionally vegetable oil) and stamped with the logo of that particular bakery group that produces them. There are newer ones such as Snowskin Mooncake and Custard Mooncake, but they still retain that iconic stamped look.

Yet the main purpose of writing this post is not to elaborate how many different kinds we have on the market, but to thank one of my best friends Hilary (make-up artist, check her blog: http://hilaryho.com.hk/). She knew her boyfriend likes to eat Custard Mooncakes, so she made them following the recipe from Spring Moon the Chinese restaurant in Peninsula Hotel, and generously shared with my family four pieces! I’m super blessed!

Custard and traditional mooncakes

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