Friday, September 23, 2011

5-star Hotel Dining Experience

If you think that dining experience at 5-star hotels are always 5-star, wrong!

I’m a health club member of Island Shangri-la and I swim there almost everyday. I receive some dining coupons recently and thought I should take my friends there because the poolside restaurant environment is really nice. Unfortunately that was the only strength they had. Food and services had no way to impress.

The table I booked was completely empty when we arrived. They offered us another table which had only two settings while I booked for four. We had to wait for 30 minutes to have the table fully set.

The food was unreasonably expensive, comparing to their quality. The $240 sea bass was next to rotten. I assume any professional chef should be able to tell that fish was not fresh enough to be served on any dining table. Pomelo salad, Phad Thai, chicken, spring rolls were just so so. The wanton in Tom Yam soup was not bad but $155 for only 6 wantons was just too expensive.

They didn’t re-fill water though the four of us were completely dry. They also didn’t remove/replace used/empty dishes. Our table was such a mess. Any high street fast food shop in Hong Kong could provide better services. In fact we were the only group of guests that evening, apart from the single gentlemen who enjoyed his cigar more than food. What are the excuses for poor services and poor food?

Pomelo Salad ($180)
Wan Ton in Tom Yam Soup ($155)

Spring Rolls ($85)
Thought this is the cheapest on the menu
Chicken in Leaves ($85)
Stir Fried Noodle ($165)
Any Thai restaurant in Hong Kong can produce something more delicious than this.
The next-to-rotten Sea Bass ($240)
The strong sauce couldn't hide the unfreshness of the fish!
Mango with Sticky Rice and Ice Cream
I gave it a 'marginal pass'. One of my guests who was Thai Chinese didn't agree with me. She graded it 'failed'.
Perhaps this was the only strength of the restaurant. We oversaw the pool and the Bank of China while eating. As the restaurant was almost empty, I was free to borrow another table to take this photo. As the table we ate was in such a mess.
After all, my Thai Chinese friend said she never eat fishes in Thai restaurants as she's from Bangkok and she knows that Thai chefs are generally no good in cooking fishes. I thought she didn't tell me this out of courtesy while I picked the dishes.

Waterside Terrace

8/F Island Shangri-La, Hong Kong

HK$1,083 (incl. 10% service fee)(US$138.8)

Hong Kong Food Blog - Poor Hotel Food

Monday, September 12, 2011

Snowy Moon Cake

Today is Mid Autumn Festival – August 15 in Chinese calendar. Well the most popular festival food is of course Moon Cake. This year I really want to try snowy moon cake. Though this new breed of moon cake was invented some years ago, I didn’t try it until this year.

The other day I passed by Wing Wah, a famous Hong Kong Chinese bakery, and bought a pack of their icy moon cake. Icy and snowy, same thing. As its creator Taipan calls it snowy moon cake, I’ll call it snowy moon cake.

Traditional moon cake is made of lotus seed paste and salty egg yolks, but snowy moon cake has only the shape of a moon cake but the ingredients are completely different. There are many choices of flavours but my favourite is mango. Unfortunately the saleswoman gave me a pack of coffee. It’s quite expensive, I must say. Two 1-inch cakes cost HK$40 (US$5.13) which means HK$20 for one cake which is only good for couple of bites. If it is not a festival food, I would never buy such an expensive cake.

The Moon and Seven Stars – is another traditional moon cake being interpreted by snowy moon cake. One big (the moon) being accompanied by seven small (stars) cakes - is usually very expensive. My brother received a gift pack of Maxim’s snowy moon cake this year and I was glad to have a chance to share a tiny piece of all the eight flavours.

燕窩綠豆蓉 Bird’s Nest Green Bean Paste
1. 藍莓芝士 blueberry and cheese
2. 芒果脆脆 mango dip
3. 楊枝甘露 pomelo and grape fruit
4. 抺茶甘栗 green tea and chestnut
5. 滑滑奶黃 milky egg
6. 天使白朱古力脆脆 angel dip (white chocolate)
7. 魔鬼脆脆 devil dip (black chocolate)

Another highlight of the Mid Autumn Festival is lanterns. The star fruit and rabbit lanterns are the most traditional that almost every Chinese kid (including adults when they were kids) must have played round with. See my star fruit lantern below.

Hong Kong Food Blog - Snowy Moon Cake

Friday, September 2, 2011

Spicy Belly Soup 胡椒豬肚湯

Who else is suffering from bloating?

I’m here to give you a dietary solution. Chinese is very good at dealing with health issue through daily diet. Spicy soup to deal with bloating is a perfect example. This is really clever, because even if it won’t work, we still got something delicious to eat. However spicy soup in clearing bloating always works. I see great results every time I drink it.

If you’ve read my post about ‘why I set up this blog’, you’ll know that I used to suffer from bloating quite badly. Though it’s been improving since I practice intermittent fasting, it is still bothering me occasionally. Recently I feel really bad and I remember this traditional Chinese dietary wisdom. It is cheap and delicious though with a little preparation work.

Spicy Pork Belly Soup Ingredients
 - 1 pork belly (HK$20)
 - 1 pack of pickled vegetable (HK$7)
 - Some white pepper

The Spicy Soup ingredients are really simple, but it involves quite a bit of work in cleaning up the pork’s belly, which is actually the stomach of a pig. Therefore the best is to place an advance order and ask the pork seller to do the cleaning work for you. Today I just think of it and want to do it immediately, so I have to clean it myself. Here are the steps.

How to clean a pork belly
1. Remove all fats.
2. Drain the belly and flush out as much dirt as possible.
3. Cut open the belly and scratch away the dirt with a knife.
4. Rub with some organic dish drops; you can use salt and flour as an alternative.
5. Drain well until it is not smelly at all.
Cooking procedures
1. Par boil the pork belly in boiling water for a few minutes.
2. Cut the belly into small pieces.
3. Rinse the pickled vegetables in water to avoid the soup being too salty or too sour.
4. Grind some white pepper. The hotter the better in clearing the gas in our digestive system. Depending on the heat you can put on, use as much as you want. As for myself, I like to have my throat feeling on fire while drinking.
5. Boil 6 bowls of water.
6. Add the belly, pickled vegetable and pepper. Turn heat down after boiling.
7. Cook for one hour with low heat. **I use Amway, so low heat is fine. You may use slightly higher heat if you use other utensils. Keep simmering.
8. Turn to high heat for the last 5 minute before serving.

Spicy Belly Soup 胡椒豬肚湯

If you think that there is too much work, you can simply enjoy this soup from any Chiu Chow restaurant. But since they are serving the general public, their taste is relatively mild. If you want to have the ‘throat on fire’ feeling, it’s better to cook it yourself. I usually cook a big pot and consume for 2-3 days and see my bloating problem gradually improve.

For more healthy Chinese cooking ideas, visit my chef friend Nicholas Zhou’s website.

Hong Kong Food Blog - Spicy Belly Soup 胡椒豬肚湯