March 12th, 2011

Poke

Brown Restaurant




If you are in the vicinity of Happy Valley, waiting for your foot massage appointment (quite a few in the area) or looking for some dessert, check out Brown Restaurant. I wouldn't quite call it a restaurant as websites state but rather a cafe as the space is not that big and has more of a cafe ambience instead of a restaurant. Alcohol, coffee, teas, hot chocolate or desserts are available.

Desserts served are on the rich and heavy side, quite delightful and great for sharing. We ordered two though we weren't exactly hungry but still finished it up. It is quite a nice place to chill out with friends, just choose a seat away from the 'smoking section' if the smoke bothers you.


Brown Restaurant
G/F, 18A Sing Woo Road
Happy Valley
Hong Kong
+(852) 2891 8558



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Dim Sum




Dim Sum is apparently quite known in Hong Kong however the prices aren't the cheapest. However, if you are looking for some old school decent dim sum, this place might interest you.

The decor is super antique looking with a lot of wood carved booths. Old school, I would say but minus the push-carts. Apparently, it gets packed during lunch time but when we went during dinner, we didn't have to wait for a table. The fried paus (pictured above) were good and actually, most of the fried stuff were. I personally find that most dim sum places in Hong Kong are around the same standard but perhaps varying in prices? Which are your favorite dim sum food haunts over in Hong Kong?

Dim Sum
G/F, 63 Sing Woo Road
Happy Valley
Hong Kong
+ (852) 2834 8893


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Hanagushi




It's kinda weird that we visit Hong Kong and decide to eat at not one (curry place) but two Japanese places! I suppose, there is only so much dim sum one can eat but there's never too much Jappie food - for me at least!

We ambled over to Hanagushi over at Lan Kwai Fong to meet up with our two friends. It's known for their yakitori but we didn't fancy having that so we all went for the set/bento boxes which panned out fine.

I went for the chirashi which is one of my favorite bento sets to order with the additional order of ikura and it didn't disappoint. It consisted of fresh large slices of salmon (I hate it when restaurants serve puny looking pieces) and I would say it was comparable to my favorite Chirashi served at Tampopo.

Stuffed but craving for desserts, I ordered the green tea ice cream and some soy tofu chilled dessert and finished most of it. Nothing like rounding up a good meal with a great dessert!

Hanagushi
1/F Ho Lee Commercial Building
17-22 Lan Kwa Fong Street
Central
Hong Kong
+ (852) 2521 0868



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A tribute to Japan

The last 24 hours must have been insanely devastating for Japan. I don't think anyone here can truly understand.

We live in Singapore, a bubble, sheltered and many do not know the world outside. We enjoy political stability, aren't at risks of any natural disasters except flash floods which are perhaps rather miniscule compared to that of Australia, the country is prospering and we are safe in a low crime rate city. We complain endlessly about everything negative about the country but don't quite realize, how truly, lucky we are.

Caught up in my own personal agendas, I was initially concerned over the impact on my business trip to State side since I was scheduled to fly via Narita (which was cancelled a couple of hours ago). Then, I stopped bothering on whether I was going or not or when I was flying etc. Because it didn't matter. Whatever turned out, it was meant to be.

I listened and read the comments made by people around me and felt rather disgusted by some of them. Some made a joke out of it or took it lightly or didn't even seem to be bothered. It is quite shocking how selfish we humans can be. We only worry and care about ourselves, and what is going on in our lives and our immediate concern. The concept of, Why worry about something that I can't control about? Perhaps, at least empathize. Because, some day, somehow, you never know, if it can happen to anyone of us.

"The vicissitudes of life.
Sad, to become finally
A bamboo shoot."


Nicholas D. Kristof, a columnist of The New York Times, wrote an excellent article which I've posted below -


Sympathy for Japan, and Admiration
By NICHOLAS KRISTOF


Our hearts are all with the Japanese today, after the terrible earthquake there – the worst ever recorded in Japan. But, having covered the 1995 Kobe earthquake (which killed more than 6,000 people and left 300,000 homeless) when I lived in Japan as Tokyo bureau chief for The New York Times, I have to add: Watch Japan in the coming days and weeks, and I bet we can also learn some lessons.

It’s not that Japan’s government handles earthquakes particularly well. The government utterly mismanaged the rescue efforts after the 1995 quake, and its regulatory apparatus disgraced itself by impounding Tylenol and search dogs sent by other countries. In those first few frantic days, when people were still alive under the rubble, some died unnecessarily because of the government’s incompetence.

But the Japanese people themselves were truly noble in their perseverance and stoicism and orderliness. There’s a common Japanese word, “gaman,” that doesn’t really have an English equivalent, but is something like “toughing it out.” And that’s what the people of Kobe did, with a courage, unity and common purpose that left me awed.


Japan’s orderliness and civility often impressed me during my years living in Japan, but never more so than after the Kobe quake. Pretty much the entire port of Kobe was destroyed, with shop windows broken all across the city. I looked all over for a case of looting, or violent jostling over rescue supplies. Finally, I was delighted to find a store owner who told me that he’d been robbed by two men. Somewhat melodramatically, I asked him something like: And were you surprised that fellow Japanese would take advantage of a natural disaster and turn to crime? He looked surprised and responded, as I recall: Who said anything about Japanese. They were foreigners.

Japan has an underclass, the burakumin, and also treats ethnic Koreans with disdain. But compared to other countries, Japan has little extreme poverty and a greater sense of common purpose. The middle class is unusually broad, and corporate tycoons traditionally were embarrassed to be seen as being paid too much. That sense of common purpose is part of the country’s social fabric, and it is especially visible after a natural disaster or crisis.

I don’t want to overdo that. Japan’s civility masks problems with bullying from schools to the work place, gangs like the yakuza rake in profits from illegal activity, and politicians and construction tycoons exchanging favors so as to loot the taxpayer. But it was striking in the aftermath of the Kobe earthquake to see even the yakuza set up counters to give away supplies to earthquake survivors. And Japan’s social fabric never tore. Barely even creased.

This stoicism is built into the Japanese language. People always say “shikata ga nai” – it can’t be helped. And one of the most common things to say to someone else is “ganbatte kudasai” – tough it out, be strong. Natural disasters are seen as part of Japan’s “unmei,” or fate – a term that is written by combining the characters for movement and life. I remember reading an ancient account, I believe from 16th century Jesuit visitors, of an earthquake devastating a village, and then within hours the peasants began rebuilding their homes.

Uncomplaining, collective resilience is steeped into the Japanese soul. We sent our eldest son to Japanese school briefly, and I’ll never forget seeing all the little kids having to go to school in shorts even in the dead of winter. The idea was that it built character. I thought it just gave kids colds. But it was one more effort to instill “gaman.” And it’s “gaman” that helped Japan recovered from World War II and tolerated the “lost decade” after the bubble economy burst in about 1990. Indeed, it might be better if Japanese complained a bit more – perhaps then their politicians would be more responsive.

One factor may also have to do with our relationship with nature. Americans see themselves as in confrontation with nature, taming it. In contrast, the Japanese conception is that humans are simply one part of nature, riding its tides — including many, many earthquakes throughout history. The Kanto earthquake of 1923 killed more than 100,000 people. The Japanese word for nature, shizen, is a modern one, dating back only a bit more than 100 years, because traditionally there was no need to express the concept. In an essay in the Times after the Kobe quake, I made some of these same points and ended with a 17th century haiku from one of Japan’s greatest poets, Basho:

The vicissitudes of life.
Sad, to become finally
A bamboo shoot.

I find something noble and courageous in Japan’s resilience and perseverance, and it will be on display in the coming days. This will also be a time when the tight knit of Japan’s social fabric, its toughness and resilience, shine through. And my hunch is that the Japanese will, by and large, work together — something of a contrast to the polarization and bickering and dog-eat-dog model of politics now on display from Wisconsin to Washington. So maybe we can learn just a little bit from Japan. In short, our hearts go out to Japan, and we extend our deepest sympathy for the tragic quake. But also, our deepest admiration.



~ Taken from his blog on New York Times

With this article, I know that Japan will survive this. And come out, stronger and better.

♥ Help Japan recover






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