Saturday, October 01, 2016

Singapore Hawker Center Dilemma (SHCD)

Everyone who has been to Singapore knows that the various hawker centers throughout the city are the places to go for great meals without spending much.  Some centers have some well known stalls that attract long lines, especially the ones that have received one michelin star.  But really it is hard to get bad food in any of them.  Here comes the dilemma though, at least for me, it is really hard to get just one or two dishes as there are such a good variety of things to eat.  So you end up with a bunch of things and eating way too much.

For example, I went to the Chinatown food street (touristy and pricier then most hawker center, but very solid) after work on my first day during a recent trip and started with the oyster pancake.  Then I couldn't resist these chicken wings.  After the chicken wings I was pretty full, but then, I saw the Bak kut teh stall and thought a bowl of soup would be nice after that really long flight and a day of work.  I needed to walked it off but taking a stroll isn't exactly fun in 90 degree weather.

Maybe this wasn't so much of a dilemma and more of a mild regret (a very mild one since I enjoyed all of the food).  Maybe the dilemma is that after a great spicy / greasy / delicious meal washed down with a couple of tiger beers, are you ready to use public toilet?

Saturday, September 17, 2016

moon cake

It is the mid-autumn festival this week.  Traditionally people gift and eat moon cake, a flaky and lardy pastry usually filled with some sort of sweet paste and sometimes duck egg yolk.  The store bought ones is typically decorative and comes in nice boxes.  These things are almost always too sweet for me.

My grandma used to make a version filled with ground pork.  I don't know if anyone in my family actually knows how to make them now.  So even if I am home around this time of the year I probably wouldn't get to eat them.  For some unknown reason, I was compelled to make these myself this year.  I didn't search very long until I find this recipe.  It looks similar to my grandma's except maybe thicker.  The recipe was quite easy to follow because of the nice photos.

Like almost all things in life, you don't really appreciate them until they are gone.  These moon cakes were quite good, but it is not possible for them to be as good as the ones I remembered, even if they are.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Life matters

Of course black lives matter, all life matters.

Nothing is more serious than anyone taking another person's life.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Get off the sidewalk asshole

To those fucking assholes that rides their bikes on the sidewalk, it is called side'walk', for pedestrians to walk on, not side'ride', not for assholes to ride their bicycles on.

I am really stupid

A few years ago when the economy of China was growing at a fast pace, I heard and read about how China will take over the US as the #1 economic power in the world etc, and how that could be bad news for us here.

Now that China has slowed down a bit, then we get stocks plunging here and people worried about their investment etc.

I get it that China is a big market and their growth and consumption will effect what we do here.  But I really don't understand how a fast growing China is not good, and a slow growing China is also bad?  So which is it that we want to see, does anyone know?  

Sunday, March 01, 2015

brutal winter

I know Toronto winter is supposedly mild compared to a lot of other places in Canada, but this past couple of months have been pretty epic.  It is my sixth winter here and it is the first time that I have seen ice that far out into the lake.

Friday, January 30, 2015

squid soup

One of the most iconic Taiwanese dish that is often overlooked by visitors and even locals is the squid soup (魷魚羹).  I am guilty of this negligence as well, since I have not seek out this dish during my last three trips back home, and it was one of my favorite thing to eat growing up.  During my latest trip there last week, I needed to rectified that error in judgement.  At a family dinner, one of my aunts happened to brought up that this squid soup place down the lane from my childhood home is still around and being run by the same family (for ~30 years !), but moved around the corner from its original location (it used to be on lane 210, section 3 of Roosevelt Rd. in Taipei, now it is on section 3, Tingzhou St., the shop is called 耕莘魷魚羹).  Clearly I had to go.

The Taiwanese squid soup is a soup made from a light seafood based stock (like a dashi) and thickened with corn or sweet potato starch.  The squid is typically this big, thick and brownish kind often sold dried and soaked in water before cooking.  You sometimes find julienne bamboo shoots, napa cabbage and daiko radish in the soup.  The soup is topped with fresh basil leafs and sha cha sauce (or satay sauce, 沙茶醬).  At this place, they also give you a small dish of a very unique dipping sauce that is kinda like satay sauce, but slightly tart and also a little bit sweet and fruity.

This bowl is not only a thing of beauty, it also tasted just like I remembered (it is fantastic, nostalgia or not).  This is a cliche, but many childhood memories rushed back to my head as I ate this.  At NTD 65 a bowl (it was NTD35 30 years ago ...  yes, I am getting old), it is a bargain not only by the standard of north American food, but also quite a deal locally.  Prices of squid, I was told, has gone up quite a bit recently here, and many shops have become stingy with it, you would be lucky to find 5 pieces in a bowl of soup.  While I was too busy eating to count, the serving here is definitely generous, as it has always been.

The same smiling and very polite lady still runs the shop, with the help of her son.  One other thing worth mentioning is that not only the soup is excellent, the shop is also very very clean, which is not always the case for these type of casual eateries or stalls.  While she didn't recognize me, she knows of my family and the building that we use to live in when I mentioned it to her.  I am really happy that I got a chance to visit and eat at this place, I will definitely be back here whenever I can.  

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Taipei layover

I had to be in Singapore last week for work.  With the EVA Air flight from YYZ to TPE that landed on Saturday morning, I had a choice to stop in Taipei for 24 hours or go straight to SIN, it was an easy choice to make.  The idea here was to eat, and see the family, in no particular order.

The first thing my wife wanted to eat after being away for 3.5 months and 15 hours trapped in a giant metal tube with wings was a traditional taiwanese breakfast: hot soy milk, taiwanese pancake with egg (蛋餅), and stuffed glutinous rice ball (飯糰).  I was too busy eating so don't have any pictorial evidence of this.

A couple of hours later, we went to my favorite breakfast/lunch spot in the entire city.  I have posted about this place before, a noodle / fish ball soup place next to my old high school.  Busy as ever on a chilly saturday morning, a meal here never disappoints.   If we ever move back to Taipei, I would look into moving into the neighborhood so I can eat breakfast here all the time, although I have a feeling I can't afford the apartments around here. 


Sometimes it is fun to be a tourist in a city you (sort of) know.  So after lunch we went to a famous shop selling a Taiwanese specialty pastry.  This very nicely appointed space which is always mobbed sells this pineapple filled pastry (鳳梨酥) that can be found at a lot of places in Taiwan, but theirs is supposed to be one of the best.  This operation is a bit unusual, everyone who walks into the door is welcome to sit at a table, and a nice cup of tea and one of these pastry is brought to each person, free of charge.  It seems that most folks who came here usually purchase at least one box of it to take home, freeloading is not the norm.  Clearly the business model works because the place has been around for a while and is now a tourist destination (we were told by our uber driver, and a couple of camera toting Japanese girls sat next to us at the shop).


After the tea and pastry (I wanted to be a freeloader, but my wife bought two boxes ...), we walked around a neighborhood near the smaller Taipei city airport (TSA).  There were a few nice boutiques selling Japanese made clothing, furniture etc, but what was interesting was that a few piece of empty plots were converted into urban vegetable gardens.  Each person who registered gets what look like a 12' x 4' piece of land to grow vegetable and flower.  Most of the urban farmers we saw tending to their miniature farms were older folks.  I think it is not only a great way to find a good use for unused public land, but it is also good for some retired folks to get outdoors and exercise a bit.  A interesting tidbit from this urban farm was that there were a lot of CDs hanging on hooks over the vegetables, my best guess is that they were there to scare away birds or bugs. 

(My wife and her friend Sophie ate waffles at a near by coffee shop while I did some work on the laptop)

On to spicy hotpot dinner with the family, again too busy eating and catching up so no pictures.  Then ~4 hours of zzz later it was off to the airport again.  I can't think of a more pleasant and fun layover than this.