another vegas buffet

So we did 4 buffets in 24hrs. For lunch today, we went to another buffet, this time at the Cosmopolitan. We can see the hotel very clearly from the room, but walking there took 15mins, having to walk through the Bellagio then to a thankfully covered walkway.

The Cosmo is modern and very pretty. My friend J told me that they advertise themselves using the slogan the right amount of wrong, and there is that feel.

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What I liked about the buffet was the food was different from the buffetofbuffets one, because it didn’t come from the same group of companies. There was a kale salad, of course. Different varieties of cauliflower. A brussels sprout salad that was really good, so good that I had it with the main course. Roast was prime rib and a sirloin, both of which I enjoyed. Skipped the asian and italian food sections.

Dessert was also small bites which I sampled lightly. The highlight in terms of dessert was ice cream. I had berry frozen yoghurt, salted caramel peanut and thai tea. The salted caramel peanut was very good, salty enough for me and the peanut butter came through. The surprise delight was thai tea, or their version of the type of tea found in asia–strong black tea with sweet condensed milk. The creamy and sweet milk came first, then the tea afterwards.

Went back to the hotel after lunch and even though we had intentions to go to downtown, we ended up staying inside the hotel for the rest of the day. Helped a little bit with conference setup, mostly hung around the registration desk talking to people. Dinner with friends at the mexican place inside the hotel. Back to the room by 8pm and caught up with mkr videos.

ate at 3 buffets, walked 13km

tl;dr: spent the day eating, walked 13km in between going from one buffet to another.

Since we activated the buffet of buffets pass at 6.27pm last night, we have until that time today to fit as many buffets as possible. We figured we can do breakfast, lunch and dinner today and planned it out accordingly.

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Breakfast was at Flamingo, just across the street from our hotel. At 8am it was already very hot outside. A showed me how to crush up watermelon and add to iced tea, which was delicious. I had honey roasted ham, sausage, bacon, egg white omelette, and kale salad. Strange to have kale salad for breakfast, it was very tasty. There were blueberries, strawberries, quinoa, cheese and a sweet dressing. I went back for seconds. Also had small bites of a smores pie and cheesecake. Tried to be picky about what to get and stayed away from carbs.

The morning was spent walking south from Flamingo. Past our hotel, then to Planet Hollywood, eventually to MGM Grand. Escaped the heat by visiting the shops too–coke, m&m both have large presence. Caught a lot of common pokémons, and battled in gyms. Distance walked over 3km, including walking around inside casinos.

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At the MGM Grand we crossed the road to New York New York and explored inside. Walked back north via that side of the road, our destination was Spice Market inside Planet Hollywood, perfect timing for lunch. My immediate requirement was a large soft drink, it was hot work walking in the 40ºC sun. They had one of those machines where you can make your own soft drink so I mixed a vanilla, lemon and lime diet pepsi, then followed with root beer.

The buffet has a nice variety of food. Breakfast (brunch) items were still available and there was Mexican, Asian, Middle-Eastern. Started with shrimps and middle-eastern dips. The roast counter had lamb shish kebab, tandoori chicken and courgette on a skewer. The lamb went quickly and I had to wait till the next batch was ready, which was great because it came fresh off the grill and was nicely medium rare.

Dessert is the usual small cakes and tarts, the cheesecake was good. The ice cream was soft serve and melty so I only had one tiny spoonful then gave up.

Again, full but not stuffed. Between being careful what to get, lots of walking and the heat, having so many buffets didn’t seem excessive.

Walked back to Bally’s, stopping off at cvs to get two large 3l jugs of water. Rested in the room for a bit, to allow phones and cameras and people to recharge.

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Plan for dinner was the bacchanal buffet at Caesar’s Palace. There was an additional charge for this on top of the pass, and we could see why. There were so many different sections with enormous selection of food. Just the asisn food section is the same size as entire buffets at other places. The cold seafood section had oyster, clam, crab and alaskan king crab. I was lucky, when it was my turn at the alaskan king crab, the server just brought out a new tray. 10 legs gave a lot of meat, much more than at Paris yesterday.

I skipped the Asian and Italian food sections. The roast meat counter had 3-4 types of beef, turkey and bacon. I asked for small slices of wagyu hangar steak, prime rib and tri-tip and the slices were anything but small! There was also, to my utter delight, roast bone marrow. I think I had 6 portions, forget about cholesterol.

Dessert was again small portions of cakes, tarts, pannacotta, mousse, macaron and ice cream. By then I was pretty full and also full of alcohol. I ordered the all-you-can-drink package and had a mimosa, half a white sangria and 2 glasses of red wine already.

We entered the buffet around 4-4.30pm and there was no wait. By the time we left, around 6.30pm, the queue was extremely long. I can see why, the food is excellent and I’d go back there again.

So, we completed 4 buffets in 24hrs. Definitely worth it. With weekend and 4th of July weekend the price was $75 instead of the usual $50 and the upcharge at Caesars more than usual (can’t remember the exact price). Overall, I’d say around $120 per person for 4 buffets. Considering breakfast buffets are something like $30-40, we probably got over $200 value. But it’s not just about money, the food was enjoyable too. Normally when visiting buffets, there’s a pressure to stuff ourselves and eat too much; with the pass I was able to just get what I really want to eat and not feel guilty because I stopped eating. Highly recommend looking into the pass for anyone who like food.

According to A’s app, we walked over 13km all day. That definitely helped digest all the food.

What else apart from eating? We also saw the robot bartender at work, visited the conservatory and stayed for the fountain show at the Bellagio. When I signed up for the rewards card at the hotel I got a drinks coupon so I redeemed it for a vodka lime soda. The casino at the hotel was too noisy, too crowded and too bright. We sat at the foodcourt for a while and chatted with a few friends who had come in. Nice end to the night.

vegas day 01

Very, very early start. Up at 6am, having a bagel at 6.30am and all loaded and on the way at 7am. The motivation is under 4hrs’ drive to Vegas. We listened to a novella on the way, perfect timing.

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The conference hotel is Bally’s, which is opposite Caesar’s and Bellagio and next to Paris on the Strip. In other words, a very central location. It’s also a weekend so traffic was very busy, making it harder to get around with a trailer. We stopped at one of the hotel entrances to ask the way and were directed around the block (including going on the Strip) to the hotel loading dock. Unfortunately it wasn’t the right loading dock and we had to circle around another time to finally get to the right one.

It was a small loading dock and a hotel supervisor had to come help us reverse the trailer into place. There were 2 hotel workers helping us unload but I was the one who was inside the trailer, untying the rope and moving all the boxes to the back so they could take them. Thirsty and hot work.

Ran a few more errands after that–returned the trailer, found an ATM, at a couple of tacos (first food since 6.30am). Back at the hotel at 4pm to check-in. I received an email in the morning to use self check-in via QR code and was so glad I opted for it. There was a long queue for normal check-in but using the kiosk took 5mins. I scanned the QR code, scanned my passport, added A’s name and the machine printed 2 keys. I also got instructions on how to get to the room, and it was very much needed. Had to walk through the casino, find a sandwich shop, and find the right lift. The room is at the end of the corridor so a long walk.

Dumped my backpack and headed down to the lobby to meet A. Had to get one of our volunteers to help retrieve my suitcase. Finally all settled around 5.30pm.

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A had come across the buffet of buffets, a 24hr pass that allows holders to dine at the buffets at 6 different hotels within the Caesar group. It was $75 which is decent value. We’re planning on trying to fit 4 buffets–dinner tonight, and breakfast, lunch and dinner tomorrow. For round 1 we went to Paris. There were alaskan king crab, shrimp, prime rib, turkey, pasta, sushi, asian, crepes, dessert. The king crab legs were small and served cut in half. 10 half-legs gave just 1-2 tbsp of meat. The prime rib was very good, tender and tasty even though the gravy was far too salty.

Walked around a little bit after dinner. Glad to be back in the room soon because of the crowds, the noise, and the blinking lights.

ON dining

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Met sis and mm for lunch at ON dining. I’ve been wanting to get mm to try the food there. Great fine dining but not too stuffy.

I had king crab, pea and burrata to start. Sis had hamachi and mm had beef tartare. I thought the crab was good, and there was a freshness with the pea. Not a great deal of burrata though.

We all went for the veal tendeloin for mains. Very, very good. Love veal and it was cooked perfectly. I find veal hard to cook well, so I’ll always try to order it when I’m eating out.

They have one of the best cheese celllars around so we shared one portion of cheese: brie, comté and roquefort. Warm bread and a glass of wine with the meal too.

I’m not sure if mm enjoyed it. She’s even more stressed than I’ve been. May be it wasn’t such a good idea to drag her out, I don’t know.

beer in a bowl

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Running home renovation errands with mum. Went to the electrical shop to confirm oven and ask about fridge. To the curtain shop to choose blinds. We’re getting there, cm by cm.

Finished relatively early, so we went to tung po seafood restaurant. The famous one where every food and travel writer and presenter around the world visits. The chef used to work at a five-star hotel and opened the place in an unlikely location, the top floor of a dirty, grubby wet market. Busy all the time and fresh food. We had prawns with salted eggs, clams with black bean sauce, pork ribs with mayonaise. The seafood was fresh, still swimming in the tank just before cooking. The pork was a bit weird, more mayo than I remember. The beer is served in a bowl.

The meal reminds me of Anthony Bourdain. RIP. Here’s his No Reservation visit a few years ago. The food and décor has not changed.

eating

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Too much eating out recently. On the one hand I’m relieved I don’t need to cook, on the other hand I’m not 100% enjoying eating out. Thankfully it’s mostly quick meals, with the exception of mm and I going for hotpot at the place at the wet market. Zero stars for location, ambience and decoration. The previous time we went, the seafood was really good but this time was a disappointment. We probably won’t be going back till winter.

Aside from discovering a new korean place, the taiwanese noodle place has good lunch sets. Mum had the signature beef noodles and I had the set with braised meat and a small bowl of beef noodles. Came with a drink too. I can add a small amount and upgrade to bubble tea, and I tried the mint bubble tea that gis likes so much.

When I do cook, I’m trying to finish up the food we brought over so we’re having lots of pasta with canned soup and noodles. For a change, we only have four pieces of salmon in the freezer. I can walk to the nearby market, it’s around 15-20mins walk back and all uphill so I can’t buy too much. The first stall I went to was a mistake, the vegetables were good but too expensive. I think I’ve found a more value for money stall. Keeping to frozen meat right now, will go back to fresh when we move back and I can go back to the regular butchers and fishmongers.

korean lunch set

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Mum and I went to loom at bathroom and kitchen tiles. First we had lunch at a new Korean place. Good lunch set, value for money. She ordered the bbq set and I had an oxtail noodle soup set. I ended up eating almost half her grilled meat anyway.

Saw a few tiles we like, there’s one especially that caught our eye. Pretty plain, off-white, very clean-looking.

birthday

Somehow it feels like a normal day, I had to look at the calendar to realise it’s a saturday. Days bleed into each other nowadays.

Mum and I went to central to the electrical appliances shop to look at ovens, fridges and washing machines. They also have air-conditioners. I saw a double door fridge that I like, will need to get someone in to measure the stairs and kitchen space.

Lunch was simple noodle soup. There’s some superstition that says must have noodles on birthday to ensure longevity, probably because noodles represent longevity. Anyway, suited our purposes. Popped back to my flat to check mail.

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Met sis and gis for tea buffet at the Conrad. Nice atmosphere, small atrium café with not too many tables, and we got a corner table to boot. Debated whether to get the free flow drinks but decided against it. In terms of food, there was more than enough to satisfy the most hungry: salad, dimsum, noodles (more noodles, I had laksa), satay, cheese, fruit, waffle, pastry, ice cream. When I called round the hotels to book, I asked if they offered anything for birthday and the answers were disappointing. The Marriott and Conrad both said they can bring a cake from the buffet selection and ice “happy birthday” on it. I was like, nope. I did the birthday cake myself, took a piece of chestnut cake–one of my favourite–and sis brought a candle. We did a low key birthday celebration, that was fine.

After tea, they all went home. I met up with mm for an hour for a glass of wine. She couldn’t join tea buffet, and she has a family dinner. The dinner as it happens is in the same area as the Conrad so it was convenient.

I was still very full, so didn’t need dinner. Only afterwards did I see a missed text from sis at around 7.30pm asking me to join her and R for dinner. Hahaha, I was already home by 7.30pm.

tiny sushi

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There’s a restaurant in the touristy area of Asakusa in Tokyo called Sushiya no Nohachi すし屋の野八 that looks really great. It has a gimmick, they serve tiny sushi.

The tiny sushi is made from one grain of rice by the owner’s son and chef in response to a customer’s challenge in 2002, the plate has two types of tuna plus surf clam, sea bream, uni, octopus, egg. It takes around 7.5mins to make, longer than normal-sized sushi, obviously because of how fiddly it is. It comes free (presumably on demand) with a regular-sized sushi course ranging from ¥7500 to ¥12600 (USD70-120).

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The real treat at the restaurant is the edomaezushi 江戸前寿司, which traditionally comes from an earlier era before refridgeration. This means the perishable ingredients has to be marinated, boiled, or preserved between sheets of kelp. There’s a technique called sakurajime, or tightening the fish’s texture by using cherry blossom leaves. The restaurant’s fish primarily comes from Tsukiji, local farms, and its uni comes from Hokkaido. The omakase 12-course look fantastic. There’s the usual, extremely fresh, suspects. The prawn, a must-have of Edo-style, is ginormous.

Honestly, everything looks so wonderful. The gimmick is tiny sushi but the real star is the fresh, seasonal sushi made with plenty of skill and passion.

bbmm relaxing afternoon tea

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We had dinner plans with friends and decided to meet up in the afternoon to go walking around. The builders have started drilling the external walls and this week they’re replacing the sewage system so we can’t use the loo–all the more reason to find an excuse to go out. Didn’t really go that far, explored some small shops in a converted warehouse. Amazing variety of shops, from clothing to food to toiletries to electrical appliances. There was a shop selling one specialist food product and opposite it was another shop selling treadmills and yoga stuff. Pretty cool.

We were feeling snackish but didn’t want to spoil our appetite so we found a small Japanese-styled café. Its at the top floor of another warehouse building, together with cargo lift and back stairs that go up to the top floor. Quite charming and relaxing inside. We could relax at the deep sofas there and they had Japanese magazines for browsing too. Food was average, we both had chorizo-stuffed chicken wings and lemon tea. They make the tea using oolong tea, which is more unusual. Couldn’t taste any difference to regular lemon tea though.

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They had a charming selection of teas in colourful tins for sale too. I like the one on top left, with a London-themed tin and the tea is lemon pie tea. That could be interesting.

Dinner was good. Our ex-colleagues/friends are doing well. We got talking about opening our own consultancy again.

snake soup

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Took my niece out for snake soup, because she wanted to try it and she asked me to take her. Sis won’t because she’s much more of an ethical/healthy type of eater, well actually she’s more squeamish. Rob won’t because he’s vegetarian lol. There are a few choices of restaurants but I picked one that is near my niece, has a good reputation and is a sit-down restaurant. Some other places I go to are holes-in-wall at markets and I wanted my niece to have a better experience first.

Snake soup is on many, many people’s bucket list. To be honest, it’s not so special although it’s not something I have all the time. I guess it’s like people don’t go out for clam chowder all the time. So, everything you want to know about snake soup:

  • it’s a soup made with snake meat, bones, chicken, mushroom, ginger, herbs and simmered for hours–since snake meat doesn’t have too much flavour it’s like a very rich chicken soup
  • the snake meat is shredded to thin slivers and looks quite similar to chicken, it can be distinguished in the soup because it’s slightly more brown and is a little bit tougher
  • snake soup has been around since the 3rd century and was a luxury dish enjoyed by the wealthy
  • it’s becoming more rare nowadays because special training is required to handle the snakes, most businesses are family-run

The place we went to has been around for almost 130 years and is currently run by the fourth generation family. It’s been in its current location since 1989. So, very traditional although it’s probably the one to take tourists and people who are trying snake for the first time.

And still a luxury. The soup is made from hours and hours of cooking and has additional ingredients to make it richer and sweeter. Equivalent to over £10 per bowl. I also had a bowl of rice with sausage and gis had rice with salted eggs.

The most pressing question, did she like it? Yes she did. She said it was unexpectedly good. She loves rich, almost gloopy soups and this one was exactly to her taste. The snake meat itself was pretty innocuous. May be next time I’ll take her to the really local one at the market.

bangkok eating out

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More Bangkok prep. We booked sunday lunch buffet at the colonnade restaurant at the sukhothai hotel. It’s supposed to have one of the best buffets in the city. Just look at the pics from gourmetbangkok. There’s all manners of seafood, roasts, sushi & sashimi, Thai food, cheese and dessert.

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Apparently they have weekly specials and some diners have enjoyed kangaroo buritto and foie gras. Price is ฿3000 (around US$95), which is on the pricey side for a buffet but we thought we’d splurge out. They have an option of adding ฿1900 for unlimited champagne, which translates to $60. So we’d each have to drink at least one bottle equivalent, and we’d still be out of pocket. It’s a no brainer to decide against it. We can spend the ฿1900 on massages, or go to one of Bangkok’s many rooftop bars. Our hotel is supposed to have one, but not sure if it’s open because the hotel is still in the soft opening stage.

Other than the buffet, we haven’t booked anywhere else. The plan is eat wherever and whenever. Hopefully there will be lots of local and street food. Even food courts are supposed to have good food, so we’re not worried, and we don’t need to spend our effort finding fine dining or Michelin starred restaurants.

Talking about Michelin stars, the first Michelin guide to Bangkok was published in December. 3 two-star restaurants, one of those is Gaggan, which serves modern Indian food. The other 2 are French or European cuisine. Of the one-stars, there’s L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon and a number of French or European restaurants. Pretty disappointed in the Michelin inspectors actually. I mean, I like L’Atelier and all, but I’m not going to go all the way to Bangkok to eat there. There are 6 one-stars serving Thai food, including David Thompson’s Nahm.

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The one surprise (in that there was only one) is the star for Jay Fai, a streetfood vendor famous for crab omelette and crab curry. The place isn’t exactly street food, in that the restaurant is located in a shop house and not a cart on the pavement. It’s run by 72 year old Supinya Junsuta, who is better known as the eponymous Jay Fai. She cooks her dishes wearing full make up, a beanie and ski goggles to protect against the fiery heat of her woks. Before it received its Michelin star, it was already famous as a go-to eatery. After Michelin, queues of 2-3 hours formed around the block. Now Jay Fai wants to give up her Michelin star because of the attention.

Many people come just to see and take pictures and not necessarily to eat

And she’s had to buy more, and higher quality, ingredients to keep up with the demand, not necessarily increasing her revenue. The constant interruption from journalists and people wanting selfies is taking a toll on her too. Even though it may be fun to visit, and I bet the food is good, we decided to skip it because of the long wait. There’ll be other good food, equally tasty too.

sushi train, escape room

Met sis, gis, my cousin and his kids for lunch at a sushi restaurant sis suggested. It used to be a conveyor belt restaurant, but now it’s a sushi train. We order via a tablet, the food is prepared in the kitchen and sent to us on a miniature train. We take the plate and push a button to send the empty train back. It’s very, very cool. Much better than conveyor belt because the food is fresher and we can actually pick what we want instead of sitting around hoping for something good to arrive. The kids loved it.

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After lunch, sis had booked us all to go to an escape room game at a place called Lost. The coolness of the day continued. We played a game called Alcatraz, where we were split into 3 teams and locked in 3 cells: Red, Green & Blue. We had to work together, solve puzzles and escape from the cells. The puzzles, in retrospect, were pretty straightforward, but in the moment when everything was unknown and we were all trying to scream at each other, it felt more stressed. Plus there’s always the time limit–45mins. We all managed to escape our cells but ran out of time to solve the last puzzle to escape from the room itself. A huge amount of fun and something I’d do again in a heartbeat. The kids say it’s one of the best they’ve played.

Everyone had separate plans so I ended up sitting in a Mcdonalds for 2hrs drinking one small coke zero and reading on my ipad. This branch is pretty good, not very crowded. I was waiting for mm to finish to meet her to help her with shopping. Her family is having a gathering this weekend and doing a New Year’s version of Christmas Secret Santa. The budget is local$200, but the difficulty is the gift has to be suitable for her parents (in their 70s) as well as her nieces and nephew (teen and pre-teen). I gave her a magnetic noughts-and-crosses game I’d originally bought for my nieces and she got a box of nice biscuits and a bottle of sparkling grape juice. Under budget too.

We weren’t that hungry so dinner was just noodles. Went to HMV to have a beer and chat for a bit until time to go home.

india club on the strand

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This was one of Marina O’Loughlin’s last reviews for the guardian and found its way to londonist too. I’m talking about The India Club restaurant at the Hotel Strand Continental.

The Hotel Strand Continental, despite its location on the Strand, is nothing to write home about. It’s looks rundown from the outside, and the entrance is next to what used to be a newsagent/Indian shop and is now apparently Gregg’s. I must have walked past it a couple of thousand times because of its proximity to King’s. But I never ever gave it a second thought. I asked mm and other KCL friends and no one remembers it.

Oh what a missed opportunity. The restaurant has been there since 1946, when it was founded by Krishna Menon, the first Indian ambassador to the UK. Its poximity to India House, both King’s and LSE, Fleet Street, and so many chambers means it’s a favourite for academics, judges, lawyers, journalists and embassy staff. The prices seem to be from 1946 too. The menu is a plastic sheet and full of familiar south Indian fare: masala puri chaat, lamb bhuna, butter chicken, masala dosa. Nothing to write home about, not instagram worthy, and they may or may not make their own naan. But BYOB and £15 per head average. Ms O’Loughlin said she’d go back again and again, not because of the food, but:

out of deep affection. I love it in the same way I’m drawn to the novels of Anita Brookner or EM Forster; to small films set in run-down Roman apartment blocks and gloomy Indian call centres; to side streets in unknown cities where old milliners and haberdashers miraculously survive, their windows shielded by sepia-coloured film.

It’s no Dishoom, but seems more the vibe and atmosphere that Dishoom wants to emulate and “modernise.” And the fact that it’s not modern seems to be the charm. £15 in central London? Right next to our beloved college? Definitely a must-visit when we finally make it back to London. I hope that it’ll still be there because it’s in danger of being swallowed by greedy property developers. There’s a petition and a project to get English Heritage listed status for the building. Good luck to them.

family visiting | chow mein sandwich

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Met my aunt and cousin for lunch. They’re the Rhode Island relatives; I hadn’t seen my aunt in absolutely ages and I don’t remember her daughter at all. I think when I last saw them last my cousin was still a kid. She’s now all grown up and very tall.

Went to the peking duck and shark’s fin place, which we all agreed is a family favourite. Everyone has memories of going there with my grandparents as hosts. Whenever someone comes for a visit from the US and Canada, that’s where we all go.

My aunt and uncle have a restaurant (or restaurants, I’m not sure) in RI, their parents had a fabulous fried chicken place that I have vague and fond memories of. My cousin showed us a video of their signature dish, the chow mein sandwich. I asked her to send me the video but she hadn’t gotten round to it yet, so here’s a stock pic. My aunt says the dish was responsible for paying for their house and college education for my cousins. It’s been around for decades, so can be considered a precurser of the ramen burger that was the craze a while ago. But where the ramen burger is all hipster pretentiousness, the chow mein sandwich is more down-to-earth. The ramen burger has noodles as the bun, whereas the chow mein sandwich is

crunchy noodles soaked in a super salty, meaty, brown gravy until they’re no longer all that crunchy, then combined with ground pork, onion, celery, and a gelatinous brown gravy that tastes better than it sounds, and slapped sloppily between either half of a cheap hamburger bun

A little investigation, together with a very interesting article at the New England Historical Society reveals that the chow mein sandwich originated at the town of Fall River, Massachusetts which is less than 30mins’ drive from where my RI relatives live, in the Providence area. The sandwich is also unique to that part of southeastern MA and RI.

What’s intriguing is that the chow mein sandwich is attributed to Frederick Wong who started the Oriental Chow Mein Company in 1938. Their Hoo-Mee chow mein mix is what goes into the dish. Frederick’s son Albert and daughter-in-law Barbara took over the family business and the chow mein sandwich mantle. I wonder if they are related to my uncle, who is also a Wong.

There’s so much of my family’s history in that part of the world–my grandmother was born in Newport in 1916 so there’s history going back 100 years–I really want to know more about them. Need to plan and scheme.

the theatre of food

This was the first semi-final of Bake-Off Crème de la Crème (ie the professionals). One of the tasks was to live plate a dessert in front of the judges. Not only must the dessert taste good, they were also marked on the theatrical element. A lot of prep, planning and teamwork went into creating this experience.

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The idea of plating a dessert on the table originated at Alinea. Of course. I should have guessed either them or one of Heston’s. It was the last course of of a 20-course menu. With meals starting at US$175 and going up to US$385 for the kitchen table–per person, before wine and must be pre-paid like theatre tickets–diners expect a lot. And with Grant Achatz, I bet they do.

Someone on reddit was posting about showing a pic of this to their SO and complaining about how people are supposed to eat it. SO replied:

You’re supposed to eat this with your eyes.

Food? Art? Foodart? Art food? That’s bordering on very deep.

ramen

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Had a meeting in the morning, don’t want to jinx it by giving too much away.

I finished around noon, so I was on the lookout for a quick lunch. Wandered around and the candidates were the usual diners, one that has pasta and a glass of wine, or this ramen shot that usually has a big crowd outside waiting. When I went to the ramen shop, it was just 12.05pm and there were counter seats. So ramen it was. The name of the shop is Yokohama ramen, but I don’t think there is anything special about Yokohama.

Watched the chefs make the ramen and they were authentic enough. The ramen were from Japan and the broth made from pork bones. I had one with the charsiu in cubes as opposed to the usual sliced. Overall, enjoyed the meal. When I left, there were already more than 10 people queuing outside.

lunch at jinjuu

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Met with sis and gis for lunch at jinjuu. Korean place with ayce starters and we can choose one main dish. They gave us one of each of the starters and then we can order extra. Sort of fusion korean food: beetroot cured salmon, dumping soup, chicken skewer, grilled corn with sweet spicy sauce, kimchi arancini, grilled prawn. The salmon was too tart, too much vinegar in the cure. The dumpling was good, with a little bit of theatre as the broth was poured in from a teapot. i thought the chicken was tastless but gis liked it. I liked the corn but since they didn’t like it I ended up eating their portions so I didn’t have to order extra. The arancini and prawn were the two better starters.

For mains I chose barley bibimbap and I had may be 3 spoonfuls. The taste was okay, but nothing spectacular, underseasoned. The greatest thing about every bibimbap is the crust, and this one had zero crust. I didn’t mind that it was all vegetarian but the execution was disappointing. Sis had ramen and she said it was boring. Gis had a rice doughnut filled with bulgogi beef that she said was okay. Mum had the best main dish, of fried chicken.

Dessert was one plate of a mixture of ice cream, sorbet, and two cones. The ice cream was meh, the sorbet was okay, it was all a melting puddle when it reached our table.

For an additional charge sis and I had the 2hr freeflow drinks package. I started with a spicy kimchi mary which was a bloody mary with kimchi flavours and pepper flakes stuck to the outside of the glass. The flakes were useless and I could barely taste the kimchi. Not bad as a bloody mary. I moved to prosecco and ended up drinking quite a few glasses. They ran out of prosecco and for my last glass they gave me champagne, moët too. I liked the prosecco better.

Jinjuu is in london too and Jay Rayner described it as

glossy

and the brainchild of celebrity korean-american chef Judy Joo. It seems that neither Mr Rayner nor Fay Maschler of the Evening Standard were that impressed with the london branch.

Expensive too. Brunch for 4 people came to local$2200, or US$280. Okay, two of us added drinks but actually the drinks was the best value because we took full advantage. I don’t shy away from expensive meals, if they are good. I just don’t feel like this was value for money at all.

The silver lining I could muster is I was too full to have dinner so I can argue the cost covered meals for one whole day. Not very convincing, right?

bbmm tea, beer, dinner

Met mm after her appointment. Lots of catching up, just a couple of cups of tea. Then went walking for a bit, went to a gift shop so I can get some small presents then to a clothing store where she got a t-shirt. I was looking at some cargo pants and when I put it back my finger caught the metal hanger. At first it was an annoyance, then it started bleeding quite heavily. The staff reacted quickly and put 2 plasters over it. It’s like a paper cut but much deeper.

On the way to the restaurant for dinner we came across a small craft beer store with a blackboard outside that said free tasting. They were featuring beers by Singapore brewlander brewery and we got to chat with their brewer John Wei. He started as a home brewer and only started producing commercially a few months ago. The beer is actually brewed at premises he rented in Cambodia. The first beer we tried was a light, floral brew that is supposed to be perfect for the hot, humid tropical summer. We also tried their saison beer and liked both.

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For dinner we went to a japanese ayce place. I think I was there with my parents a long time ago but haven’t been there with mm. The usual ordering method by ticking various pieces of paper of sashimi, sushi, grilled, deep fried etc. The sashimi selection was good, although not fantastic. They had a special offer of complimentary uni which was well received. Drinks including sake, beer, soft drinks were buffet style so we can fill our own sake jug. I tried half a glass of Orion beer and it wasn’t as good as the brewlander so I stuck to sake and tea.

kcl group lunch

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One of the kcl group is here for a quick visit. She is now in India, having been to 8 countries over the years (her husband is in the diplomatic services). Everyone is a lot older now, although physically the change is subtle, all are recognisable.

Had lunch at a chiu chow restaurant. We were one of only 2 tables there so we had a great time. Good food too, ordered the set for 12 people. Assorted starters, soup, pepper prawn, black cod, whole chicken, really great vegetable with soup, fried rice, sugar & vinegar crispy noodles and a dessert of deep fried taro strips which are then covered in sugar.

Met mm afterwards, looked at fridges, bought some dvds then camped out for almost 3 hours at dan ryan’s. Two glasses of wine, complimentary olives and a hummous plate snack. Proper dinner was at the supermarket foodcourt of chirashi.

mum birthday

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Mum’s birthday! We went out for an errand, had tea at mcdonalds. I left mum with her cheesecake and met sis for an hour at a wine tasting event. It’s an english sparkling wine company that is expanding and they had 4 different wines for tasting. I focused on the drinking and eating some of the canapés while sis was busy socialising. I did some small talk but found the posing, invisible social jostling and marketing speak way too fake for my liking.

Picked mum up from marks where she went after she fnished at mcdonalds. Dinner was at Jimmy’s Kitchen, an old colonial era restaurant. Except for my niece who opted for pasta, we all had the set menu. I had tuna tartare as starter, mum and sis had roast beef salad which sat on top of a chewy, hard cold yorkshire pudding. For mains sis and mum had rainbow trout and I had slow cooked lamb shoulder.

Sis ordered a baked alaska for dessert and they wrote happy birthday on the plate. Nice meal, predictable food.

trip research: food

For our nagoya-takeyama-kanazawa trip (read the first post, there are beautiful pics) there will be the usual sushi, sashimi, seafood, ramen, izakaya food but on top of that the region has speciality food that we will want to try.

hida beef

hidabeef

Kobe and matsuzaka beef are famous all over the world for their tenderness, marbling and, well, high prices. Hida beef, or hida-gyu, is lesser known but have the same high quality taste and marbling. In order to be labelled hida-gyu, the meat must come from black-haired Japanese wagyu cattle bred in the Gifu prefecture and fattened for at least 14 months. The meat must be certified to be graded 3, 4 or 5 by the Japan Meat Grading Association. They take their meat grading very seriously in Japan.

Gifu cattle first started being reared as meat as opposed to use for work in the 1980s. Hida beef has won numerous awards in the Wagyu Beef Olympics. Yep, they do take their beef seriously in Japan.

The onsen hotel in Takayama where we will spend 2 nights includes the typical kaiseki dinner. The dishes page has numerous pics of hida beef and we think we’ll be able to enjoy at least one meal with hida beef shabu shabu or grilled. I’m sure we’ll want to try it more than once ao I’ve been doing research on other restaurants in the area that also offer hida beef and have a list.

There are also street stalls selling hida gyu-man or hida beef buns. These will be nice snacks. Or we may even be crazy enough to buy some to bring home.

hitsumabushi

hitsumabushi

Nagoya is one of the top regions for producing river eel. Hitsumabushi is a style of unagi-don that is ubiquitious to the nagoya region. The difference is in the preparation: the eel is grilled vs in other regions it’s steamed then grilled. I can just imagine how much more smoky flavour there is in the grilled eel.

The most well known hitsumabushi restaurant in nagoya is atsuta horaiken; they have been preparing eel over charcoal grill for 140 years. And being Japanese, they have suggestions on how to savour the meal:

  1. taste the eel as is
  2. taste the eel with condiments served (spring onions, ginger, nori)
  3. add green tea
  4. eat as you like — ie whichever favourite from the last 3 methods

Unagi has gotten expensive over the years, especially wild river eel which is fattier and more tasty than ocean eel. We’re thinking this will be dinner on our first night.

gold leaf ice cream

goldice

Kanazawa produces 99% of Japan’s gold leaves. The latest craze is wrapping soft serve ice cream in gold leaf.

Seems more of a gimmick. To me, edible gold is one of the Stupidest.Ideas.Ever because it’s literally flushing money down the loo. Gold leaf ice cream is around ¥1000, or US$9. Normal soft ice cream is probably 1/4 or 1/3 the price.

But we may still give it a try, if only for the instagram moment.

p.s. again, not my pics. Google image. No copyright infringement intended.

tabletop bbq

bbq15

Met mm and her brother’s family for bbq. This is a style of bbq we’ve never tried before–table top bbq. We’re all sat around a wooden bench and they brought a rectangular charcoal grill which sat on top of some bricks. The charcoal was already lit and ready for grilling immediately.

All you can eat for 3 hours. The ingredients are in an indoor pantry area, the meat in a large fridge unit and vegetables on shelves. Most food was skewered so the grilling was super easy and efficient. Much safer than the traditional bbq pit and so much faster; there was no wait for the food to cook unlike the pit bbq. We had king prawns, clams that cooked in a claypot, steak, ribs, tongue, chicken wings, fish balls, courgettes, mushroom, pumpkin, enoki mushrooms in aluminium foil. I got a bucket of beer.

Liking this style of bbq a lot, would want to try again.

bbmm day out

Day out with mm, she brought Ryan (after jumpstarting) and drove out to saikung. It being a public holiday the area was crowded so after one turn around the streets we decided to park at the car park instead.

Nice short walk along the shore front. It was low tide so some people had ventured to the rocks opposite the promenade. There were boats, fishing people selling seafood from their boats, people with their annoying dogs, kite fliers, a small craft market–the usual stuff.

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We had dinner at a nice thai restaurant. Whole fish in tom yum soup, green curry lamb, gai lan. The first time either one of us had come across thai lamb curry, it was good. Very coconut-y, not spicy at all. If anything, a tad too sweet. The fish in tom yum was great, especially the tanginess and spice of the soup. Quite a popular restaurant, it was full and lots of families there too.

While walking around afterwards we spied a supermarket with a poster that says they sell Tesco goods. Immediately crossed the road. Wow, lots and lots of Tesco goodies. And extremely reasonably priced too, cheaper than the supermarket and almost 759 level of pricing. We ended up buying a lot, I got museli for mum, canned tomatoes, olive oil, grapeseed oil and halloumi. If we had space I would have bought some wine too. It’s a bit far away, but if we’re there for a day out next time, we are sure to revisit this special supermarket.

ex-colleagues dinner

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Yesterday we met up with the ex-office girls for dinner at a thai place. There was a slight panic when we were told we can only have the table for 1.5hrs, but in the end it was an empty threat–there was no one in the queue after 1.5hrs so no need to return the table. Nice food, the place has the same name as a dingy, crowded place I’ve been a few times, wonder if they are the same.

Satay, spicy chicken feet salad, green curry chicken, pad thai, pineapple fried rice. We had beer and the girls had lime soda. I’d actually gone out earlier to run errands and attempt to pokehunt. Errands took quicker than expected, coudln’t lot into pogo and it rained very hard so I spent more than an hour at a happy hour place nearby and had 2 beers already. Too much beer!

The girls brought a nice green tea cake for dessert. Perfect small size for 5 people. Great to catch up.

family day, happy hour

Bank stuff in the morning with Sis. Mum went to get a table for dim sum lunch. After lunch we went to visit Papa. It’s turned warm and humid and people were burning stuff so there was smoke all over the place. The taxi queue back to the station was very long, fortunately the wait wasn’t that bad.

Since we were out and there was time, Sis and I went to the probate office to file an amendment. Typical bureaucracy: queue up at one counter, queue up at another, then another, form filling, more queuing.

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We needed to sit down afterwards and went to a new restaurant-bistro type place at the spot that used to be grappas. They had two-for-one happy hour plus a small plates counter. We had wine: barbera d’asti for me and malbec for sis. The small plates counter was good: sandwiches, olives, artichoke-pepper, lots of cheese, two types of charcuterie, fruit and a nice selection of relish and chutneys. For some reason I totally adore chutneys and can eat it on its own. They also had a blackberry chutney that I also liked.

There was an app that kept track of happy hour places but they change to quickly the app can’t keep up. Stone Nullah Tavern that used to have $1 drinks that doubles in price every 20mins is now all-you-can-drink for a set price. The old reliable bars like Canny Man are pretty consistent, with 30-40% deals. Passion near the office was good, they do two-for-one but perhaps due to the inexperience of the staff they allow two people to share one deal vs most places the offer is per order. Increasingly, there is a tendency to serve snacks. The french place we were going to go to serves a small plate of parma ham and HMV has small plates too, though I haven’t been there for a while.

bbmm lunch

simplylife20170410

Late lunch with mm, she had an appointment nearby so I walked down to the simplylife at festival walk. I’d already had lunch at home so we shared the meal. Spinach & mushroom pizza was nice, thin crispy crust and good flavour from the chanterelles. They initially brought us a chicken pizza and when we flagged a server down they realised it was for the table next to ours.

They have a really great selection of breads and cakes. It’s the same place I got the raspberry truffle cake and chestnut cake for mm’s birthday last week. Today we had a chocolate jaffa tart. Their chocolate pastries are good! The ganache was rich and the sweetness was balanced by real mandarin pieces. I found some frozen chocolate shortcrust pastry in the freezer the other day, I hope I can still use it, make chocolate tart.

Anyway, she wanted to go home to rest so we walked around the mall a little then she took the train. I stopped quickly at the supermarket and got tomatoes and carrots. I have an oxtail in the freezer, I want to use it this week.

birthday

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Sis treated us to lunch at ON dining. It’s busy at lunchtime, good to see that business is good.

For starters I had pork knuckle carpaccio, which is pork terrine sliced very thin with an emulsion of egg and herbs topping. Mum and sis got an amuse bouche of soup since they didn’t order starters; gis had onsen egg with black truffle sauce.

Mains Sis and I had pigeon with foie gras. Perfectly cooked pigeon, delicious. Gis had beef and mum had hake.

I got a surprise birthday cake, their raspberry & yuzu that was on the menu. Mum got the same cake for dessert. Sis and I both ordered cheese so we got a large cheeseboard of comté plus six strong, oozy, yummy, cheese.

Met mm after lunch. We were going to have drinks but I thought we could get haircut since that was our original plan for saturday. Even better, because sam said he was pretty booked on saturday.

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Early dinner at frites. It’s rugby sevens weekend and friday and we didn’t have a reservation. If we sat at a table we’d have to give it back by 7.30pm, but we were free to sit at the bar for as long as we wanted. So I picked the bar. We shared a plate of fried camembert and a pot of mussels. I had a beer and mm had a glass of red wine. Really lovely. The manager gave us each a complimentary shot of tequila for birthday, and I got a discount card too.

It was a nice birthday. Everybody made an effort and I felt blessed and loved. I just wish I felt better and more cheerful inside.

mm birthday

mmbdaycakes

It’s mm’s birthday. We were going to go have haircuts but it seemed our hairdresser is closed today for public holiday. She also seemed to be not answering my telepathic pleas to decide on when and where to meet.

So finally we fixed a time. I detoured to simplylife and bought 2 slices of cake: raspberry truffle and chestnut. They turned out to be very, very nice.

mmbdaysteak

Walked a little, then settled on dinner at the hotel near her. Semi-buffet. Salad bar was pretty good: salad, charcuterie, oysters, crab legs, mussels and a nice poached salmon that ran out way too quickly. For mains we shared the 400g rib-eye that came with shoestring fries and waldorf salad. The server tried to flambé the steak with a tiny shot glass of Jack Daniel’s and it was a pretty sorry sight. The steak was average, mm says I cook them better.

lunch with great-aunt

auck061star

My great-aunt from canada called out of the blue this morning. She’s visiting for a week. Turned out she went on a last minute cruise with some friends. Now the coincidence is, they were on the Star and boarded in Auckland on the 18th!!! That’s exactly the leg after ours and we actually got to Auckland just in time to see it sail off that day. I showed her this pic I took as the bus was turning into britomart and she was there on the ship. If only we’d known. Their itineray was changed too, but at least the azipods kept on working. Theirs was a 19-day cruise that took them back to Sydney then to cairns, darwin, bali and singapore.

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We treated her and her friend to lunch at the traditional restaurant spring deer. Shark’s fin soup, peking duck, minced pork and pastry parcels. Way too much to eat, we took the duck carcass and leftovers home. Lovely to see her and we enjoyed the food. Not too expensive, local$ 1600, around UD200, for 4 people. I remember going to this restaurant with my grandparents, it looks the same and the food is the same high quality. Okay, it’s controversial to have shark’s fin soup nowadays, we don’t really make it a habit. The soup was mainly a chicken soup with depth of flavour; shark’s fin itself is bland.

masterchef desserts

Getting quite tired with the bingewatching. Last night the last episode didn’t finish till 2.30am and since it was a Heston episode we stayed up to watch it. Then today sitting in front of the tv from 11am. The grand final was 10pm-midnight, so an ‘early’ night. All finished now. Very pleased we managed to catch it, it was a fantastic season.

mystique pear

The memorable dishes were the ones at the pressure (elimination) test. They get a famous chef to bring one of their fancy creations, or get a Nobu to make them make a plate of sushi. The standouts were Christy Tania’s Mystique and the pear, walnut crumb, nest dessert by Dave Verheul which the contestants had to decipher from just a critic’s review.

choctop

The deceptively simple looking ice cream cone from gelato messina caught our eye. Not because of how complex it was to construct, but because it’s now on our list of places to try in Sydney. Good thing they have several branches around the CBD. I also learned that what we call choc ice they call choc top. Anyway, they have a lot of choices, may be we’ll need to go twice. And again in Melbourne.

bbmm day together

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Met mm and our ex-colleague opera for lunch. Nice dim sum restaurant. Modern and looks quite new. Fancy looking dim sums with cute designs and some gimmicks like serving bird-shaped pineapple pastries inside s miniature birdcage. The buns were made using different coloured pastry and we could see a chef putting on the eyes and ears by hand. Luckily it’s not a matter of style over substance and the food itself tasted good too. They advertise no msg, have a substantial vegetarian menu and even happy hour. Definitely not a traditional dim sum place.

Long lunch. Afterwards mm and I went to the computer / electronics street to poke around. I wanted to get a universal remote for mum’s tv and found several stalls that actually repair remotes. Next time I’ll bring the broken one to see if they can repair it. We spent something like an hour at a shop because mm wanted to buy lightbulbs. Normal people like me would just get lightbulbs whenever and wherever, but she wanted to ask a million questions, compare prices, bargain and have all the bulbs checked. We shop so differently. She also bought a new iphone cover but couldn’t find her other target purchase, a shredder.

Dinner was at our favourite ayce japanese place. Very crowded, and even though I had 3 sakes, it didn’t have any effect on me, I think they over-warmed it and evaporated the alcohol. Sashimi, sushi, tempura, yakitori, our table was full of food.

Took her to the teacher’s union shop and we did see a shredder that fit her requirement. She had her eye on a coffee grinder and lots of stationery too. Will need to get mum to come along to use her card.

errands with mum, japanese dinner

unisushi

Went to collect rent with mum. So stupid, why do we have to go in person? No one heard of autopay?

Went to the supermarket to order christmas turkey. Yes, there’s only the two of us and before only 3 with dad. But don’t think those are normal sized turkeys, they’re more like large chicken. And cooked too. We freeze most of it, I take the carcass for stock.

Walked through the park with mum, it’s now a omanyte nest so pretty fruitful. We were looking for something to eat at teatime and walked past the luxurious AYCE japanese place we like, and made a reservation for dinner. Of course it was only 4pm. Sat for a while at a pizza place (shared one slice) then went back to sit at the park. The jap place was completely full! The sashimi were very fresh and they also had uni. The best dish for us were plain congee (with dried scallops) and movenpick ice cream.

nano day 14 | 3070 words 43357 total

nanoicon

Went with mum to the clinic in the afternoon and ended up having shabu shabu dinner. This was an ayce place and we could choose soup base and quality of beef. Usually with mum or mm I pick the second cheapest option, which comes with freeflow soft drinks. I splashed out today and picked the third cheapest option, of Australian beef. It turned out to be a great choice, the meat was tender and not fatty. The kind waitress gave us lean meat when we said we prefer it over fatty meat. She seemed surprise that I keep thanking her whenever she came to clear our plates or give us extra meat. Are manners that lacking in our society? Anyway another benefit was freefow Asahi in additional to soft drinks. May be this third cheapest is an option for next time I go with mm.

Wrote a little after lunch before we went out but the bulk of today’s writing was done after we got home from dinner. Wanted to get 3000 words for the day. The MCs are enjoying their alone time too much but I made one of the suspects call them up and arrange a meeting, so more to come and we can get back on track with the mystery in the next chapter.

Wrist update: under control. Foam rollering and wearing the brace to bed are effective remedies.

nano day 03 | 392 words 7780 total | office bbmm

maskingtapecraft

In the office today, started a new project, not much time to slack off. Wrote one paragraph in the morning, that was it.

Met mm after work to visit a craft exhibition. All sorts of masking tape in different colours and patterns. The idea is to decorate plain objects like cups, books, picture frame with these tapes. I got something like 20 rolls for my niece as birthday present next week.

Sake and umeshu tasting at the supermarket, bought more bottles.

Dinner was at the food section of a wet market. It’s a housing estate we’d never heard of before, let alone visited. Found it online, good reviews. Definitely one of those unassuming neighbourhood places. Lots of customers, reasonably clean. All you can eat seafood hotpot. The clams, fish and prawns were okay, nothing to write home about. The crabs though were fantastic so we focused on that. Small flower crabs, fiddly to eat. We were there until 12am, one of the last tables to leave. The friendly ladies there gave us two large crabs that weren’t part of the buffet. We were too full by then so we cooked them and sneaked them inside a plastic bag to take home.

Caught the last train to mm’s stop and she drove me home. By the time I showered it was almost 2am. Wrote another small paragraph. Not worried about nano, I knew today would not be productive so banked wordcount the past 2 days.

pokehalloween, day of errands, iced chocolate reward

pokemonhalloween

Thursday is office day, but I didn’t need to go in today. But I still left early because I had a lot planned for the day.

There is a pokemon go halloween event. Massive spawnings of gastly family, drowzee family and cubone family literally everywhere. The tracker map is back and if the map is zoomed out there are so many spawnings that they’re all clustered together.

I took over the gym up the road only to realise I had a few hours to go to claim my bonus, hahaha. Someone kicked me out soon after. By then I was on my way to the nearby housing estate for breakfast. I’d only been playing about an hour and my phone already needed charging. Another 30mins or so walking around morse park and more gastlys and drowzees and I caught my first marowak. Bus to signal hill, with a detour at k11 to charge both phone and ext battery. Signal hill gave more than just the halloween spawns, good varieties but nothing too exciting.

klnparkfountain

Lunch of scotch egg from marks and seasonal japanese beer from 7-eleven. Sat at the downtown park, with first very efficient sniping of the gym at one of the fountains. Quite hot but okay to sit outside, tolerable pollution today. They turned the fountain on while I was there, it was peaceful to watch it for a few minutes.

A good morning’s work. A huge amount of pokemons caught and also candy increase. Double candies means 6 per pokemon caught, I’m now at almost 300 gastly candies.

Dropped off a document at the bank, then walked back to the office. It’s almost november and still it’s 30ºC. Did a little work, surfed around the internet and continued reading my book. I’m not billing today so I’m not actually working, just charging my phone and enjoying the aircon.

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We left quite late, almost 7pm. Dinner at 8pm at pokka café, mm had udon and I had korean fried chicken and topoki. We joined the restaurant group’s membership and one of the perks is one voucher per month of a free drink with meal. Considering they are a coffee specialist, their coffee is pretty good. But mm didn’t want coffee so we asked if we can order iced chocolate. Wow. I almost never order chocolate drinks because I find them too sweet or too sickly rich. This was different. Rich, but not overly so. Not too sweet. Very smooth. Came in a jug which we can pour over ice ourselves (or ask for a second glass and share). Good enough to be a dessert. This will be our monthly indulgence for the next 11 months.

I bought a few incubators in the morning and by the time I got home after a long day, I hatched two 10km eggs. Eevee and Electabuzz, sigh.

bank, lunch, home shopping

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More bank stuff today. Plus life insurance stuff too so mum came with us. The rep who helped us, the same young woman who helped us last time, was as helpful and proactive as before. She even anticipated our questions. Very grateful for the positive experience. Yes, we will need to go back 1 or 2 times, but that’s the nature of probate, can’t be helped.

Lunch at hmv. The set lunch was extremely good value. Starter two ways: quinoa salad and lentil soup. Sis and I had barramundi with tomato sauce and mum had chicken with mushroom. Also came with a lemongrass drink. Even with sevice charge it was less than local$100 (used to be less than £10 but now just over, fx). Their happy hour used to be 25%, they have a special promotion at 50% for regular wines, beers and cocktails. Worth trying. The place is huge and the restaurant is rarely full, not many people are buying anything either, I wonder if they even make a profit. I hope so.

Went back to the sportswear popup outlet with mum to look for casual shoes for her. The crocs that had her size and good design was too pink so we decided against it.

Some more home shopping at the teacher’s union shop: shower gel, handwash, olive oil then bus home. It’ll be a busy week, this is just the first of 4 consecutive days I have to go out.

office, bbmm hh

Office day. I finished writing the employee handbook.

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Lunch with sis, we had to go to the bank to sign even more forms but the staff there were very helpful. We went to le relais since she had a voucher, but end up couldn’t get it to work. No matter. The light lunch was salad and a small plate of their regular steak and fries. Came with ice cream or sorbet and could upgrade to lemon tart or profiteroles. I had lemon tart. Quite a good deal. A couple of glasses of wine too.

After work mm and I ended up at stone nullah tavern. They don’t have their $1 starter happy hour anymore, now for a fixed price (around 2 glasses of wine) it’s free flow wine, beer, basic cocktails betwen 5-7pm. Plus bacon and fried chicken. We ate enough chicken that we didn’t need to have dinner.

Tram to sogo for mm to hand in a credit card application. Walked around and spent the rest of the evening at the japanese wine stands, trying sake and umeshu. Tried so much that we got quite tipsy! I bought 8 bottles of various sakes and umeshus, happy with my selection. They even deliver so I’ll get them next weekend.

kcl88 group dinner

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KCL88 group dinner. This is a group I haven’t seen for a long, long time. One of the members very kindly did all the organising and made the reservation at Chez Moi, a french private kitchen. No corkage so we all brought lots of wine. Some people brought brandy and whisky too.

I shared with Dixon, so we could try more of the menu. Foie gras and scallops for starter, then a mussel, saffron and leek soup and sorbet. For mains we had two steaks, a rib-eye and a sirloin. We ordered rare, the rib-eye came medium rare and the sirloin was more medium. Still tasty. Dessert were walnut tart and pancake french toast. Long evening, lots of very loud talking and a great time. Way too much wine, I stopped after a while. Had a sip of brandy and whisky. It was a Singleton, and it’s a shame I didn’t finish it, didn’t feel like more alcohol.

It was midnight when we finished. Certainly a case of time flies when you’re having fun. Five of us shared a taxi, poor Dixon had a bit too much to drink and a couple of the guys got him home and settled. Wonderful friends.

errands, chicken and beer

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Errands after work: bank, cancel internet and book holiday with mm. Our first choice dates didn’t have flights but the helpful agent helped us get alternative dates and the hotel we wanted. Time to do research.

Dinner was at a korean chicken and beer place. The chicken wasn’t really that great, frozen and lacking in flavour. The sauces were good. The beer was expensive.

Walked to v-park for vulpix and also got a few others. Bus home.

bbmm computer and dinner

Went with mm after work to the computer centre to get her mbp repaired. Her hard disk is almost dead and last time at the genius bar it was taken out of the body completely. So the aim was to a) get the HD into an ext casing and see if it still works; b) install a new HD into the mbp. Got quotes from a couple of places and went to the first one. The technician was very helpful and knowledgeable, we wandered around the mall for an hour whilst they did the repair. I bought a new screencover for the iphone, the old cover had cracked.

As usual, mm had a million questions but the technician was very patient. Almost 8pm when we left. I was pretty tired and hungry by then.

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Went to a nearby building and first looked at a korean restaurant then decided to go to the thai place one floor down. Had beer, chicken wings, grilled squid, whole grey mullet, cabbage greens and roti. The squid, greens and roti were good, the chicken wings and fish less so.

Walked to a nearby gym and got our golds. Didn’t even know there is a park at that location.

bbmm tomahawk steak, signal hill

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Met mm for dinner. We’d bought a tomahawk steak voucher a while ago at 50% off. It’s a huge 1.2kg steak that the restaurant recommended for 3-4 people. We were like, really? We polished off 1kg steak at Hawksmoor and Bear just the two of us. A 1.2kg steak with bone yields may be 800g of meat, for 4 people that’s a measly 200g.

The steak came charred on the outside and pretty raw inside. They gave us a hot stone so we could cook it to our liking. Had to change the stone a couple of times because we took our time eating. The steak itself was okay. Quite a bit of sinew and inedible bits. Not bad in terms of taste. Came with chips, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes and gravy. Everything got cold far too quickly. They charged us 10% of the full price for service, not the discounted voucher price. I guess the hot stone and cutting up the steak for us count as additional service.

Was quite tempted to take the bone home for stock but I mentally went through the pots and pans at home and decided I don’t have a pan big enough. Will need a saw to chop up the bone and it was too much trouble. Shame, because I can imagine how great the stock will be.

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We had early dinner because we wanted to go to signal hill, a busy pokémon hotspot. Guess who we ran into? Our friend and fellow hunter D. He showed us all the local tricks, as he’s an old hand at signal hill. The top of the hill is reached by some very steep steps but very pretty, can see a long way. The moon was out too. Afterwards he took us to a nearby shopping mall with benches and seats for resting in air-conditioned comfort. Best thing, there were many plug and usb points for recharging our phones.

a day of two burgers

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Met sis to deal with Papa’s stuff. Lunch at Beef & Liberty’s. I had the bacon cheeseburger and substituted salad for fries. Sis had sweet potato fries so I grabbed a few. Really great burger. Ordered medium rare and it came nice and red inside. I don’t usually eat onions but the caramelised onion jam was the star of the dish. We felt like wine, which surprisingly went well with the burger.

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Met mm for early dinner and ended up at a Japanese café. Also had burger. Definitely a few notches below the lunchtime one. They didn’t ask how I’d like the burger cooked and it came dry and well done. The onion wasn’t caramelised so I gave them to mm. The potato chunks had no colour and no colour = no flavour. It filled me up, which was the only good thing. Just as well, we went pokéhunting at the nearby park and it was a couple of hours of walking and rushing from one side of the park to the other.

pokehunting, happy hour, steak dinner

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Met up with mm to go pokéhunting. The shopping centre we went to didn’t have many good pokémons but it was nice to just sit and relax. Our friend D whatsapped us that he’s ready to hunt. We met up first at Hullet House, which used to be the marine police headquarters and now converted to a hotel. The colonial building has been restored and it looks very pretty, both during the day and at nightfall.

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The bar had happy hour which included local craft beers. Definitely a colonial atmosphere and a nice place to meet and chat.

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D took us to some hotspots: the back of ToysRUs, the far corner of a rooftop car park. Got a few draginis and a golduck. We had dinner at a casual Italian place. I had the wagyu beef set: scallop salad, pumpkin soup, A5 wagyu steak, petit fours. The steak was…okay. Very thin and not rare enough.

After dinner we walked to a place D said he found Pikachus but there weren’t any. It’s next to my bus stop home so it was at least convenient.

lunch and dinner

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Went with Mum to renew her teachers union subscription, had lunch at one of the restaurants opposite. The building has plenty of restaurants: korean chicken, japanese buffet. We thought we’d try crystal jade, a noodles and xiaolongbao specialist. Usually long queues but surprisingly quiet for a sunday lunchtime.

We had starters of pickled cucumber and crispy eels. It’s a clever way of presenting cucumbers, rolled up with almost all the middle tasteless part removed. Haven’t had eels for a long time, it’s good.

The xiaolongbao is supposed to be comparable to din tai fung and they were good. The noodles are handmade and also good but the portion too small. Overall, a good place for lunch.

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Went to the market to buy fruit & veg. Bought some clams too, for dinner. Simple: clam salad.

sherry cocktail, vietnamese dinner

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Went over to the flat to get some stuff done. Had an hour or so to kill before dinner so I stopped at a tapas place offering $35 happy hour cocktails and bottle beers. Had a cocktail called pasito: pedro ximenez, triple sec, lime juice, mint. Not bad, can taste the sweetness of the sherry tempered by the lime, could do with a little more lime.

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Dinner was with my old friend Dr W, we were in the same year at king’s and had lost touch. Reconnecting friends is one of the better things about social media. She lives near me so we met at the shopping centre nearby, at a new vietnamese place. Had 2 starters: sugar cane prawns and vietnamese spring rolls; mains were coconut duck curry and vegetables. The curry came with french bread and wasn’t too spicy. Very nice.

pancake cake, hotpot dinner

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Dinner at mm’s brother’s place with his family, sort of at the last moment. It all started when mm showed me a pic of a pancake cake she made at a baking class. Looked nice. She said did I want to try it? So I got invited to dinner. Just a family meal of hot pot, a happy affair with lots of food and lots of fun. I brought some pre-dinner snacks and a bottle of grenache rosé. Cake for dessert, it was light and could taste the raspberry filling.

We were all playing pokémon, just sitting at their flat there were plenty to catch. It’s good to play with the kids. Currently I’ve caught around 30 different pokémons. There are none at home so I don’t bother playing, I try to play when I’m out and about. When mm and I were walking to the train station after dinner, we saw tons of people playing too. If someone suddenly stops and a few seconds later starts swiping at their screen, we know exactly what they’re up to.

italian lunch and snacks

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A couple of eating out places. First was an Italian casual bar restaurant in the food hall. This was in the location of the tapas bar and the restaurant seems so new that I can’t find it listed in the directory. We shared a cold meat starter and I had pesto gnocchi. Nicely cooked gnocchi, and we all agreed the portions could be bigger. Shared a pannacotta and lemon tart for dessert. Sis and I also had a glass each of their house red.

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I went back to my flat to check mail and open windows for ventilation. No potential tenants yet, sigh. Was meeting mm and our friend B for drinks, I was early so I stopped by the new Calbee plus store. Aside from rows upon rows of Japanese snacks in brightly coloured packaging, they serve chips for eating in-store. Chips with soft ice cream too. More hype than substance, I won’t try it again. If I’m hungry in that area, there’s a starbucks opposite where I can get muffins.

I did get some snacks, they had a few good special offers.

jap buffet, errands

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Mum and i went to a new ayce Jap place. More expensive than our usual but we agreed, it’s worth coming back even if it means we don’t eat out as often. The sashimi was super fresh and lots more choices. Our first round I didn’t even order salmon because there were hamachi, geoduck, scallop, two types of clams, two types of prawns and two different white fish. Uni sushi, the best grilled ox tongue, small sweet potatoes and lots more.

Dessert was the only slight disappointment even though it was fine. Ice cream, macaroons, panna cotta.

Then we went to the bank, the supermarket and finally home by dinner. Too full for dinner, which was fruit.

nycdc trip day 11: spotted pig, matilda, high line

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Laundry in the morning. About 10mins’ walk towards 14th street ACE stop. Good to take a rest. Visited Myers of Keswick, which sold British goodies like Marmite, brown sauce and pork pies. But no Walkers. Everything three times the price of the UK.

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Lunch at the Spotted Pig. There is no excuse for not going, since it’s 5 mins’ walk away. Beautiful building, all red bricks and plants everywhere.

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I got there just before 12pm when it opened. No reservation so people were milling around. I asked for a bar seat and ordered the burger and their bitter. Their burger is supposed to be the best in town. USD25, not bad price either, for a Michelin-starred place. And it was a great burger: medium rare as I requested, the roquefort really added to the flavour and the shoestring fries had rosemary and garlic in it. I forgave them for not having mayonnaise.

Back to Broadway for Matilda. Saw it in London and wanted to see it again (um, not only because it’s a challenge item in 101.1001). I should have realised that matinée in July = 50 million kids. There were 3 queues to get into the theatre and they all went around the block. I waited near the entrance to allow everyone to get in first, since I knew I had an aisle seat. I was probably the last person in. Luckily the people next to me were fantastic, not part of a group. The group behind was loud and talked throughout the performance, teenagers who should know better. The group in front of me was younger and instead of talking, there was copious fidgeting and standing up. Still, it didn’t detract from the show. I had sort of forgotten the story, and now after a second viewing it’s much more memorable. Lovely songs and performances by all.

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Walked a long, long way to 30th and 12th towards the entrance of the High Line. By the time I got there I was really tired, so I was glad that section had shade from nearby construction. The High Line is a park located on an abandoned elevated railway track and extends all the way to 13th Street. Mostly wildflowers, which added to the charm. Some sections of the track were still visible.

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Left the High Line at Chelsea Market, wasn’t sure where to go for dinner. The seafood, wine and cheese shop made the decision for me: get food to cook myself. Made a nice 4 course dinner: topneck & littleneck clams; kale & spot prawns with kale; small cheeseboard; blackberry & sorbet. Opened the bottle of wine Carleen gave me.