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  1. Today I went to nearby Causeway Bay for lunch. The original idea was to get a hair cut in my lunch break, but it turns out the place I used to frequent does not longer exist. This happens quite frequently: a job is doing well, so landlord decides to double or triple the rent. A lot of restaurants - even very successful ones - drop out of business this way. Anyway, since I was in Causeway Bay anyway I decided to drop in my favorite Sichuan place called "Yu". I opted for the tasting menu, augmented by a bowl of spicy pork dumplings. I do tolerate spicy food, but I prefer to have a glass of cold soy milk with this type of meal. Cold chicken in spicy sauce (super ma la) ... From left to right: smacked cucumber, beef tripe (very garlicky) and tree fungus with corinander. Sour soup with potato noodles. Nice ! Pork dumplings in spicy oil. These are very good. Small portion though ... The whole ensemble ... It was very good. I enjoy the "Ma La" effect and having your tongue and lips still tingling on the way back to the office ...
  2. Good morning from Central! It’s a beautiful day again. To give you an idea how housing looks like in Discovery Bay, I took a picture of our house. We occupy the ground floor and have a little terrace in the back. Unfortunately, we don’t own a little golf cart, but busses run frequently between the two “centers” of the town. Next to the ferry pier lies the “South Plaza”. It consists of a supermarket, plenty of restaurants, shops for daily necessities and public services (such as doctors etc.). Restaurants include Japanese, Korean, Thai, Cantonese, Soup&Dumpling, Italian, Mexican, French, Spanish, Turkish, Subway, McDonalds, an English pub and some "mixed" style comfort food places (Pizza, Burger, Steak ...). There are public sitting installments, so at night you can grab a beer at the local convenience store of have some take-out food and enjoy it there. It’s very pleasant, as cyou can have watch your kid playing on the plaza with others while mingling with their parents. View from the ferry ... This morning the usual green tea with a croissant. Might be the blogging, but I do feel more hungry theses days
  3. What I realized it that if you have a profound interest and appreciation of food and cooking, it is very easy to connect to people from other cultures. The moment your counterpart realizes that you are interested and even have some knowledge on details of "their" food they take it as a genuine interest in their culture and somewhat also in themselves (which is true in way). I like interacting with business partner from many countries over dinner, simply by selecting dishes together, discussing details of preparation and finally enjoying the food together. I opens doors ... (and amongst all our production sites and business colleagues I am known as "the guy who takes pictures of every dish he eats" - literally)
  4. Yes, it is upcale - by the location alone. Though I find that due to the high prices for "western" food items in general, the difference between upscale and regular is not that high. We can have a look into a more "local" supermarket, but I believe you get a much better view on local food acquisitions tomorrow, when I take you to the wet market (Shek Tong Tsui market) ...
  5. Most everything that I encounter is in English. That being said, going out to the more "native" areas of Hong Kong - starting with Kowloon and then up to the New Territories - you will find a lot of shops & establishments that cater for the local clientele only. Those are run in Cantonese. And yes, a significant part of the (older) population speak little English at best. Mandarin does not help you with that particular group of people either, unless you are able to write (traditional characters). Then you can communicate in written statements ... In Central, on Hong Kong island in general as well as the parts of the peninsula that's geared towards shopping and amusement navigating with English only works pretty well. In my job, English in the lingua franca. I do deal with many different production environment in several countries and doing that in English is the only way. Even with our head office in Germany communication run mostly in English. During my studies I spend one semester in Taiwan and learned some Mandarin beforehand. I thought to reactivate that knowledge and signed up for Mandarin classes, but had to find out that my ability and willingness to study hard in between classes at home was rather limited. I like to tell people that it's hard because I am a scientist and my brain is just wired the other way around, making it sooo difficult to pick up languages; the truth is I am just lazy (or - put in a more euphemestic context - prioritize other activities in my spare time). Instead of doing the conversational routine as per the textbook, we are now translating recipes and I am getting both some practical value as well as an intrinsic motivation to continue ...
  6. My Japanese friend keeps all her rice in the fridge. I guess having a warm and moist environment is not the best for keeping rice in perfect condition (though I do keep in at rt in our - dry - apartment and could not detect any off taste ...
  7. I know ... I do spend far to much time there as well. Money too
  8. Catalan diner tonight: “Mongetes amb choriço” or “Beans with chorizo”. Beans soaked, then cooked in the rice cooker (brown rice setting, two cycles) with sofregit, pork belly and smoked polish sausage (in lieu of another smoked pork product). Fried pieces of choriço added with their oil and cooked together for a couple of minutes more to harmonize the flavors. Served with bread, a couple of tapas and home-made chicken croquettes. Typically I would have a nice red with that, but at >30 oC, a chilled Riesling did the job much better. “Riesling No. 1” by Markus Schneider, Ellerstadt. My last bottle …
  9. Today's weather didn't keep. A view from my office window over the Victoria harbor ... On my way back to the ferry pier I have to cross the IFC (Internnational Finance Center) with its shopping mall. Kid's entertainment ... A local chain called city'super has a store just next ot the exit I need to take. Very convenient (you may need to enlarge the pictures to compare prices) Fruit section with giant melon ... Soy milk & tofu ... City'super usually has some promotion going on. Right now it's Korean weeks ... Caviar & salmon section (I never buy here ...) Cheese (only when special offers discount the stuff by 50% or more) Sushi & Sashimi (excellent and affordable) Fresh fish (decent) Oysters. You can buy them and eat them at the counter behind ... Prepared shellfish and lobster ... Meat. All imported. And Wagyu, of course ... Sake section. I buy here very often ... Beer section. With special focus on local beers ... HK condiments (need to enlarge). Panorama view. Baking section. Excellent choices .... Kimchi and other Tsukemono ... Rice. Baked goods. I purchased the Uji Matcha Danish and the Edamame Pesto bun. The latter was not good ... Poultry. More meat ... Wine. Yeah !!! (just faaar to expensive) And cold cuts. Out of the IFC, and on my way to the ferry I have a nice view over the Kowloon skyline ... The ferry pier in central. The beer bay is as popular as it is dangerous. Why not another beer at tropical outside temperatures with neighbours and friends before heading home ? It has gotten late now and then ... Even more dangerous is the snack bar next to it. Chicken skewers with sweet soy sauce and drunken tummies are a very troublesome combination. The ferry ... And in order to maintain a timely ferry schedule I buy my beer at City'super
  10. @Anna N, research well done. Great article, thanks !
  11. It is very convenient indeed. You can even sleep on the ferry ... And no worries for rough sea: for typhoons / black rain there is a comprehensive forecast system. Both phenomena are announced on a scale of increasing severity, and if typhoon warning is expected to change from level 3 to level 8 or heavy rain is going up from amber to black rain, public transport (including ferries, subways, busses) is suspended. This is done with a pre-warning time of about three hours so you can make it home in time.
  12. Hong Kong has one of the broadest wealth distribution in the world. On one side you have the highest squaremeter rental costs anywhere on this planet, at the same time the current minimum wage was just raised to 35 HKD/hour, which is about 4.5 USD. This means HK needs quite a high volume of low cost dining options. And while we come back to quite a mix of basic & very fine food in the next days I’d like to show you what the average local HK family probably eats. There are a couple of local fast food chains that cater to the local taste and provide inexpensive and tasty meals. Amongst places like Fairwood and Café de Corail, the chain MX is especially popular. It belongs to the largest catering group Maxim’s, that runs high-end dining establishments like the Peking Garden (with excellent Peking duck), Dim Sum places like Maxim’s City Hall (where I take you next week) and Maxim’s bakeries, well-known for their birthday cakes. At the low end is the inexpensive MX, where I headed today. You can order electronically & pay via “Octopus” (a pay-as-you-go card that is linked to the public transport system, but functions also as an electronic wallet). Then get your receipt, queue and try to find a place to sit. To elaborate on the “sai chaan” theme I ordered one of HK’s comfort food choices par excellence: Baked pork chop rice (焗豬扒飯). It’s a deep-fried pork shop smothered in a sweet’n’sour gravy with pineapple, peas, onions, then placed over boiled rice and broiled. Cheese is sometimes added. It’s savoury, sweet and filling. Together with a lime soda for 49 HKD, a bit more than 6 USD. I skipped dessert, but this place is a popular choice for all thinks coconut, mango and durian. I think all of their options would have more calories than the pork chop, though. Maybe another day …
  13. Good morning from Discovery Bay ! Again some background first: Discovery Bay is an artificial village. Supposedly it started as a project for a golf course in the eightees, which subsequently went bankrupt. An investor bought the land and developed it into some sort of residential resort. It is extremely popular with “younger” expat families due to an aboundance of Kindergartens and primary schools, playgrounds (literally every 500 m) and no cars. In DB only busses and golf carts are allowed, the latter limited to 500. As DB is located on an outer island (Lantau), prices per sqm are cheaper than in Central, which is offset by larger apartments. Many people here commute to Central, the financial & business district on Hong Kong island and so do I. It takes 30 min by ferry and it is 100% traffic jam free –very convenient in a chronically overcrowded city. As written, DB is the teasers it is “a nice place to live (for a while)” … I live a couple of hundred meters away from the ferry pier; it's a pleasant 7 minute stroll (except during typhoon or black rain). This morning the weather was fantastic, at around 33 oC. Humidiy is quite high. Luckily the ferry has a very efficient a/c … Hong Kong could probably best described as an archipelago distributed around the peninsula of Kowloon. Lieke DB there are many bays featuring little beaches and green Hinterland. The ferry is quite comfy, albeit in rush hour rather full. You are guaranteed to have a seat though. It costs 40 HKD one way ... As you might have already noticed, I do like to have a nice lunch and a nice dinner, so on usual days I skip breakfast. What I always have on the 30 min ferry ride to Central is a bottle of cold strong green tea. Today I was feeling like a having a little snack, so I bought a sweet roll with bacon and egg. Hong Kong people would either have congee wioth fried dough sticks or the popular “western” breakfast options as depicted below. They fall in the category “sai chaan”, a term coined for a happy cross-over cuisine that developed in Hong Kong and could best be described as the original Hong Kong-style Western kitchen. The macaroni noodles (upper left) are especially popular – they are even a breakfast option at the local McDonald’s! Arriving in Central, it's another 8-10 min walk from the pier, mostly through a/c shopping centers. I work in Jardine House, here in the background with the round windows. It has a local nickname, that I won't mention as I work there myself
  14. When we met some 14 years ago, none of us could speak the others language. So we communicated in English. We went together to Japan shortly after and ever since then all our "joint aquistions" (books, magazines, DVDs) have been in English as well, so that became the language of our household. As we were living most of the time in Germany afterwards, my wife has acquired German language skills up to the point where she is very comfortable talking/writing to members of my family and has no issues navigating her way through Germany. I do understand quite some Catalan, but my active vocabulary is still limited. Ever since our son Arnau was born, we adopted the "one parent - one language" policy, and she speaks only Catalan to him and me only German, which in turn also helped us with a lot of new vocabulary simply by listening to the other partner talking. However, we moved to HK when he was about two years old, and his Kindergarten is of course in English, so by now he understands German and Catalan perfectly, but always answers in English ...
  15. The mixer bowl was specifically in the fridge for making the Leberkaese. If you want to emulsify the fat properly, everything has to be chilled, otherwise you risk to break the emulsion (and then you end up with leberkaese-flaovured meatloaf instead).