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Monthly Archives: August 2011

Summer Recap in under 7 minutes

Here is a video I created for my high school presentations as a part of the Gilman Scholar follow-up project.

Enjoy!

 
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Posted by on August 19, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Where is the “good” in goodbye?

As you probably deduced from my last post, I am back in Tucson.

So what have I been up to?

I arrived in Tucson at 9:50 PM on Saturday. (All of my flights were surprisingly on time)

Then, on Monday, I worked the morning shift at my part-time job…from 6 to 11 AM.

On Friday, I became a couple hundred dollars poorer after I picked up my books for the upcoming semester (I’ll be a junior!)

This post concludes my travel blog to Hong Kong. I never imagined that this humble blog would have over 3,200 views by its conclusion.

Busiest day: June 17, 2011 (179 views)

Most Popular Post: Michelin star dim sum: Tim Ho Wan (46 views)

Top Search Terms For Finding This Blog:

Funniest Search Terms for Finding This Blog:

  • umbrella weapon
  • making pork jerky
  • apricot fruit black outer shell white inside
  • dumbledore daft or dangerous

I want to thank each and every one of you for taking the time to read my posts and hope that all of you will get a chance to experience Hong Kong for yourself one day.

This summer has been an incredible journey, and although the school year hasn’t even started yet, I’m already excited for next summer’s plans.

I have tentative plans to visit my roommate in Morocco.

Who knows?

I just might blog about it.

 
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Posted by on August 15, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

The harsh reality has descended: I’m coming home

August 6th, Saturday

June 11th to August 6th, 2011

1 month and 26 days

56 days of being a Dream Careers intern in Hong Kong

1,344 hours of getting to know this amazing city

80,640 minutes of living in a city that never sleeps.

4,838,400 seconds of sharing amazing experiences with friends.

Has all come to an end.

But when I look back on it:

I’ve had an amazing internship with MobileFoxx.

I’ve been to temples.

I’ve had eaten cake from one of the best bakeries in the world.

I’ve hiked a distance longer than half a marathon.

I’ve had Michelin-starred dim sum.

I’ve visited with family.

And now, another journey begins.

In 24 hours, I will wake up in a different country in a different time zone.

In 24 hours, I will return to an entirely different place with different people, different friends, and a different life.

Try as I may, I have to accept that this journey has truly come to an end and reality now beckons.

I know that the end of something great is coming to an end, yet I want to hold on a bit longer, just so it can hurt a little bit more, so I won’t have to face the harsh reality.

Thank you Hong Kong for an amazing summer; know that you will be sorely missed.

 
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Posted by on August 6, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Last dinner in Hong Kong: Moroccan cuisine

My last meal in Hong Kong was the perfect finishing to an amazing trip.

My roommate and her parents were kind enough to invite me to a Moroccan restaurant for dinner.

After consulting Google map, I got to Central by MTR.

As usual, I got lost trying to follow the directions of Google map when getting to the restaurant.  Unfortunately, the layout of Central has a lot of dead ends, small side streets, and forking of roads, so I was even more disoriented than usual.

Throughout my trip, whenever I was going to a new location, I always anticipated getting lost. I like to think of it as the Hong Kong diet. You walk so much while getting lost that you get quite the workout, especially when you’re lost in the peak of the afternoon heat at 3:00. 

Luckily, my roommate knows the extent of my navigation abilities (it’s amazing how well you can get to know a person in 7 weeks) and had the foresight to call me when I was 5 minutes late.

Through a combination of her directions and taking a taxi, I was able to miraculously arrive at the restaurant, La Kasbah, a bit late…48 minutes to be exact. Luckily, her family was extremely understanding of my lack of navigation skills.

Fyi, being late was not a recurring theme during my Hong Kong trip. If anything, I was always embarrassingly early to an event with the fear that I would get lost and arrive late.

Her family was also very understanding of my raspy voice. I should also mention at this time that for reasons unbeknownst to me, I lost my voice the day before. Thus, my voice was still in recovery mode and had an attractive grating sound that was very pleasant to hear. I can only imagine the pain that I inflicted on the ears of my dinner companions.

I was started off with tomato soup. It was wonderfully soothing against my sore throat.

To accompany the soup, my friend’s mother brought me a small box of Moroccan fried pastries. They had a strong honey flavor and were delicious.

We also had a wonderful eggplant dish that went well with the unauthentic Moroccan bread.

We also had tuna pastries, with quail eggs that were also quite tasty.

For our main course, we had three dishes that were served family style.

Couscous kasbah, served with roasted lamb shank, merguez and vegetables

This was my first time having couscous and I really enjoyed it. It reminded me of a mixture of rice and quinoa.

Lamb tagine with prunes and potatoes

Chicken tagine with preserved lemon confit, artichoke and green olives

My plate:

*Disclaimer: I was informed by my roommate and her family that many of the dishes we had were not authentic Moroccan cuisine.

For dessert, we had an assortment of Moroccan pastries.

Although we enjoyed a lot of delicious food, my favorite thing about the meal was Moroccan tea.

I’m told that the tea is prepared using a special process with Chinese green tea, mint, and sugar. It was delicious and very refreshing. I would have to say that I liked the Moroccan tea much better than the famous Hong Kong bubble tea.

When my roommate and her family walked me to the MTR station, it dawned on me that this was my last real meal in Hong Kong. I’m not in the least bit regretful that I didn’t have a traditional Chinese meal before leaving. On the contrary, I thought it was the perfect ending to my trip.

I came to Hong Kong with the intent of experiencing something new.

Throughout this trip, I have been fortunate enough to meet many wonderful people.

For me to be able to enjoy a new cuisine in the company of someone (and her family) who I became friends with in Hong Kong was truly a magnificent culmination of my 8 week trip.

And…

I’ve also been invited to go to Morocco (where my roommate is from) to try real Moroccan food, which I imagine is just incredible.

Perhaps this last day in Hong Kong isn’t a sad goodbye.

Perhaps it’s just the ending to a wonderful journey and the start of another adventure.

 
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Posted by on August 6, 2011 in Daily life, Food

 

Macau Day 2: 3.5 egg tarts in 24 hours

Sunday, July 31st

After sleeping on our thin mattress pads for 7 weeks, the amazing soft and springy beds at the Landmark Macau provided for an amazing night’s sleep. I debated not getting out of bed, but we had brunch on the 22nd floor at 10:30 at The Club Noble Lounge.

We had an amazing buffet waiting for us:

The buffet had an amazing array of food to choose from with options ranging from congee to smoked salmon to a yogurt bar.

We also enjoyed some chocolate mousse birthday cake in honor of the birthday of one of our staff members.

After checking out of the hotel at noon, we explored the city.

First, we went to the Grand Lisboa, which is is the tallest building in Macau. Although it had a rather gaudy exterior, the inside was more tastefully decorated.

Afterwards, we went to Rua de Sao Antonio which is an area just below the famous ruins of St. Paul’s that is famous for small shops and snack stalls.

 

I fell in love with the little street stalls because ALL of them offered samples.

While walking on the Rua do Cunha up to the Ruins of St Paul’s (議事亭前地)  we were hit by the wonderful nutty smell that was coming from the freshly baked almond cookies that were coming out of the ovens.

Macau almond cookies are one of my all-time favorite desserts. The cookie practically melts in your mouth and the coarse texture of almond flour and sugar is quite amazing.

The best thing about the cookie samples in Macau? Most of them are whole cookies and the people urge you to take a sample each time you walk past them. If you factor walking past the shops to get to the ruins of St. Paul and the return trip, that’s a lot of almond cookie consumption.

In addition to the almond cookies, copious amounts of the following samples were also consumed:

Pork floss seaweed eggrolls

 

Peanut sesame candy

 

Meat jerky (There were possibly even more stalls offering meat jerky than there were offering sesame cookies, so I probably ate close to a pound in samples. The samples were all very generously sized)

I was definitely in a food coma by the time we exited the square because I also managed to eat a few of these: dan ta (egg tart)

With a filling of creme-brulee consistency and a slightly charred top, the Portuguese egg tarts are unbelievably good. The crisp texture of the buttery shell and the creamy filling make for an unbelievably delicious treat.

They were so delicious that I managed to eat 3.5 within 24 hours. (The first ones I had were at the Venetian yesterday)

Afterwards, I went with a friend back to the Venetian so she could spend her Rewards dollars before we left.

Coffee mocha gelato was consumed in the nice air-conditoning. (We had a buy one get one free deal with our Venetian entertainment pass)

 

Getting on the return ferry was yet another adventure because the shuttle bus was running very late. Thus, we ran through the ferry terminal like headless chickens. Despite running to the wrong gate (Gate 7 rather than Gate 2), we were still able to get to the boarding area on time.

Unsurprisingly, I had a lack of appetite at dinner due to the copious amounts of samples (mainly almond cookies) that were sitting in my stomach like a brick.

 
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Posted by on August 5, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

All good things must come to an end

Tuesday, August 2nd

Today marked the end of my amazing summer internship with MobileFoxx.

Although I initially thought that the 9 hour work day would be unbearably long, but truthfully, it went by really fast.

I liked that the work day started at 9 (I usually work the 6 AM shift at my part-time job in the US) and we have a reasonable lunch break (I have a 15 minute lunch break at my part-time job).

Although it was challenging, I also really liked (and appreciated) the opportunity to strengthen my written Chinese skills.

I enjoyed the projects that I worked on, and I couldn’t ask for better colleagues.

I was really touched (and surprised) that they got a cake for my last day.

I was excited when they let me slice the cake.

The cake was delicious; sponge cake with generous amounts of whipped cream and strawberries.

I’m surely going to miss all of my wonderful colleagues, but I’ll always have this amazing card to remember them by.

Can you believe that sheer amazing-ness of it?

MobileFoxx, thank you for an amazing summer internship!

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on August 4, 2011 in Daily life, Internship

 

Macau: Cirque de Soleil

Saturday, July 30

**Sorry for the delay in posts; with the end of my internship and getting sick, I’m a bit behind. Look for a lot of updates in the next few days!

This weekend was bittersweet; it was our last weekend in Hong Kong, but it was also the weekend of our highly anticipated Macau trip.

The trip got off to a rocky start when our transportation to the ferry (tour bus) got lost when driving to HK City University. With the late arrival time and heavy traffic, we arrived exactly 15 minutes before the departure time stated on the ticket.

15 minutes to clear security and get to the boarding area before the gate was closed off.

The lines were long.

I was wearing a dress and flipflops.

But somehow, I, along with the majority of the group, were able to make the ferry.

About an hour later, we got our first glimpses of Macau.

As soon as the ferry stopped, it was back to running for my friend and I.

Let me give you a little background information.

********************************************************************************

Before going to Macau, the two of us decided that we wanted to see the Cirque de Soleil Zaia show which was at the Venetian Hotel. 

After browsing some travel sites to see some reviews of the show (almost all were very complimentary), we stumbled across a comment that advised people to buy the “Venetian Entertainment Package” which include the Zaia ticket, among other things, for a great price.

After some research, we were shocked at the deal.

Considering that the “Rewards Dollars” is essentially 200 dollars cash that you can spend in many areas of the Venetian Resort (i.e. restaurants, giftshops, clothing stores) you’re really only spending 398 HK. 

The biggest pull of the deal for us was the fact that a B-Reserve Zaia ticket by itself is 588 HK if you buy it off the website.

So basically, we were getting a free photo200 Rewards dollars, Iceworld ticket, anddinner for 10 HK. 

Amazing, right?

After talking with a representative over the phone, she suggested that we buy the pass at the resort after we arrived to assure that there would be Zaia tickets available that day (since that was the main reason why we were buying the package after all).

****************************************************

Back to the Macau Day One recap…..

With the goal of making the 5:00 Zaia show, our 5-people Zaia group dashed off to the Venetian shuttle. (All major hotels in Macau have free shuttle service from the ferry to their hotel. This is essentially free transportation because almost every major place in Macau is near a hotel. So if you know where you’re going, you can essentially get around Macau for free by taking the hotel shuttle).

So, my friends and I ran from the ferry terminal to get to the Venetian bus with the intent of making the 5:00 Zaia show. Our group of Zaia-going interns ended up having 5 people in total.

After a short 20 minute ride, we arrived at the resort.

After finding Cotai Travel Agency, we were able to buy the entertainment passes.

The first thing we did was get our Zaia tickets. Unfortunately, the 5:00 show was already sold out, but we were able to get tickets to the 8:00 showing.

Then, we headed off to Ice World (the tickets are usually 100HK each)

Ice World was amazing! It felt like we were there for an hour, but in reality, we were only in there for about half an hour. It was freezing cold despite the warm jackets they gave us.

My hands were killing me near the end, because they were always out holding my camera.

They also had a bar that was made entirely of ice. Even the bar stools were made of ice!

After we took our complimentary pictures in the hotel lobby, we had our set dinners at Fago Sambo.

I ordered chicken tikka masala

After dinner, I spent all of my 200 voucher money at Koi Kei Bakery.

We also got the highly anticipated Portuguese egg tarts from the same bakery. (It’s really famous for their almond cookies and their egg tarts).

They were quite possibly the most amazing thing that I’ve ever eaten. I’ve never really liked egg tarts…until now. These egg tarts had an amazing crust that was sturdy, yet flaky and light.

The custard was amazing; it had the taste of creme brulee with the caramelized crust and the filling was velvety and smooth.

It was so delicious that I’ve decided the background of my credit card is going to be a Portuguese egg tart as soon as I get home. You might think I’m joking, but I’m serious.

These were so delicious that I managed to eat 3.5 of them in a 16 hour period; they were that good.

After our amazing dinner, we were off to see Zaia.

Zaia was really good! I have never been to a Cirque du Soleil show, but I can see why it is so popular. At the Venetian, the performers used the entire theater in their performance!

Zaia appeared to be about space, earth and exploring new horizons. It was highly entertaining and I was surprised when the show ended because it seemed like it had just started. Although this was my first Cirque de Soleil experience, I really enjoyed it.

After the show, we walked around the Venetian some more before we took the complimentary shuttle back to the ferry.

We attempted to find the shuttle for the Landmark Oriental (the hotel where we’re all staying at). Unfortunately, the shuttle didn’t seem to run very regularly. Luckily, we found out that our hotel was right across the street from the Starworld Hotel. Thus, we rode the Starworld Hotel shuttle and then walked to our hotel.

We took full advantage of the amazingly soft beds and got a good nights sleep in anticipation of our 2nd day in Macau.

 
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Posted by on August 4, 2011 in Sponsored Event, Travel

 

Michelin star delights: Xiao Long Bao at Din Tai Fung

My first Michelin-starred experience at Tim Ho Wan (dim sum) proved to be so amazing that I decided to try yet another Michelin-starred restaurant. This time, I decided to go for xiao long bao 小笼包, Shanghai steamed soup dumplings.

The makings of a good xiao long bao are simple: delicate dumpling wrapper, rich broth, and flavorful meat filling. There’s one restaurant that claims fame for this soupy dumpling: Din Tai Fung

The New York Times hailed the restaurant as one of the 10 best restaurants in the world in 1993. The Michelin Guide rated the chain’s Tsim Sha Tsui location with 1 Michelin Star. Din Tai Fung, which specializes in  the Chinese soup dumpling, first started in Taiwan in 1958 as an oil company. It became famous in 1980 when the founder, Yang Bingyi, and his wife decided to make these soup dumplings to survive the drastic business conditions. Now, there are Din Tai Fung restaurants all over Asia (even in cities such as Ningbo), and even in the United States with locations in places such as Los Angeles.

Located on the 3rd floor of the Silvercord Building in Hong Kong’s Tsim Sha Tsui side, Din Tai Fung occupies a large area.

There was a long line when I got to the restaurant. After taking a number from the podium in the front of the restaurant, I was asked how many were in my party (just me). After hearing that I was a party of 1, the restaurant staff asked if I would mind sharing a table with other people (answer: no). As a result, I only had to wait 10 minutes before I was seated. Talk about efficiency!

I was seated at a round table with three other groups of 2.

At each seat (or per party) there was a teapot. [Fyi: Din Tai Fung charges a 6 HKD tea fee regardless if you drink the tea or not)

I ordered one order of their original pork xiao long bao (48 HKD). I appreciated the staff being respectful of my one small order and not trying to force me to order any other dishes.

After a short wait of 10 minutes, my anticipated order arrived.

Din Tai Fung claims that every bun has exactly 18 folds. But really, when presented with a steamer full of hot dumplings, who has the time to count?

To help customers fully enjoy the xiao long bao experience at Din Tai Fung, instructions are laid out on each table on the traditional way to eat it.

A dish of thinly sliced ginger was provided in a little sauce bowl to allow customers to customize their dipping sauces.

  

The suggested ratio of soy sauce & black vinegar is 3:1, but I really like how the acidity of the vinegar cuts through the richness of the broth, so I used a ratio of black vinegar and soy sauce 2:1.

Here’s a simple how-to guide to eating the little morsels:

Step 1: Gently grab the top of the dumpling with your chopsticks and slowly peel the dumpling away from the basket. You want to make sure that the dumpling doesn’t break and release the delicious broth all over the basket.

Step 2: With a spoon ready in your other hand, quickly but gently transfer the dumpling to the crook of the spoon.

Step 3: Hold the spoon over your bowl (as an extra precaution for leakage). Then use your chopsticks to gently puncture a small hole into the dumpling and allow the soup inside the dumpling to run out onto your spoon.

 

Step 4: After drinking the delicious soup from the spoon, you then dip the dumpling into the sauce, and place the dumpling in your mouth.

From a technical standpoint, the dumplings were the perfect example of exceptional technique. The dumplings were all fully intact when lifted out of the basket and were easily 50%broth by volume. They had a skin that was thin to the point of being translucent and a shape that drooped and jiggled as a result of barely being able to contain the liquid held inside.

Although the taste was good, I thought that they weren’t worth the price. In addition to the non-negotiable 6 HK tea fee, they also add a 10% service charge to your bill. Thus, my 48 HK order of 6 xiao long bao came out to be 59.40 HK after the service charge and tea fee were added. That’s almost 10 HK for each dumpling! (To put this into perspective, many bakeries sell egg tarts 2 for 5 HK, so that translates into almost 24 egg tarts!)

Additionally, I felt that the other than the expert technique that was employed, the taste didn’t wow me as much as the dim sum I had at Tim Ho Wan.

Sorry Din Tai Fung, your xiao long bao were good, but weren’t worth the price tag. The next time I’m craving a Michelin-starred meal, I’ll be heading to Tim Ho Wan. This way, I’ll be able to get an entire meal of dim sum rather than 1 measly basket of xiao long bao.

 
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Posted by on August 1, 2011 in Food

 
 
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