April 20, 2015

Hong Kong

The family escaped to Hong Kong after Easter.  Because it's our first time all together, excitement was in the air.  After all these years and numerous visits, the diversity of HK never fails to still get me giddy too.

We stayed in Excelsior Hotel in Causeway Bay, a very convenient location.  Sadly, this affordable and comfortable hotel may be torn down soon and replaced by a commercial building.  It's sad. I've stayed here often over the past 10 years. 

The first meal was at nearby Crystal Jade, World Trade Center. The noodle soup is much less tasty now; a bit disappointing.  We still love their Xiao Long Bao. It's still delish. 

My children and I love Log-On which can be found at the Basement 1 of Times Square.  We can spend hours there, and still find reason to come back one more time before leaving HK. One reason is for their selection of pens. 

FRIXION heaven

and where to write on

ribbon printer...

...that can make these!

Another favorite nearby haunt is the Sogo Department Store. It's has something for everyone. 

FJALLRAVEN Kanken backpacks I couldn't resist.

And Sogo carries Godiva at the basement beside their Japanese grocery. 

They had great Easter goodies!

And since it's almost summertime, they offer ice cream. 

But the ice cream I cannot miss when in Sogo is Milk Top, just beside the basement escalator.

Best flavors are Fresh Milk and Cream Cheese.
My kids also love their home-made pudding. We brought home more to the hotel room to indulge in.

When in Causeway Bay, I always get my supply of preserved fruits and Chinese candies. And this is where I go. The Shanghai Yiu Fung Store. It's at 3 Foo Ming Street, very near Times Square. They have endless choices, and you can get a free taste while you choose.  This company is known as the 話梅王, best in preserved plum candies.  (

And what is Hong Kong without a trip to Disneyland!

Sadly, the Cinderella castle was "under renovation". 

But there many other Disney sights to enjoy.

This trip, we ventured to Gordon Ramsay's Bread Street in Lan Kwai Fong. 
My friend had to book a reservation as early as February to get us seats. 

The place is chic casual and had a warm welcoming feel.

We ordered their Daily Roast which was my favorite - lamb.  It was cooked and seasoned just right and it was deliciously tender.  It's a big order, good for 2.

The Chicken Caesar was also very good. It had generous slices of cheese.

My daughter, who always prefers fish, loved their Pan-Fried Sea Bream.

And this is their big serving of Shepherd's Pie made with lamb, potatoes, and cheese.
It's good to enjoy with the bread they serve.

There were many other favorite haunts I missed to document, as I was very busy attending to my children on this trip.  Hopefully, I get a chance to go back soon.

Due to popular requests, I am adding my best-loved Causeway Bay haunts to this post.

1. DELICIOUS KITCHEN 美味廚 is at Shop B Ground Floor, 9-11 Cleveland Street

This restaurant has been there since the 90's.  The favorite of locals and tourists alike is their pork rib steamed rice with vegetables 排骨菜飯! Very tender and tasty! And the vegetable rice that comes with it is really savory!  Also try the beef tendon variation. I like their sauteed bamboo shoots, too.

2. AEON grocery store is at nearby #9 Kingston Street.

It has good Japanese goodies and houses the Daiso Japan outlet. Daiso products are priced at HKD12 each!

3. OCEAN EMPIRE SHOP 海皇粥店 is at 15-23 Sugar Street (perpendicular to Yee Wo St).

Congee is the ultimate comfort food! I love it, and this old haunt is my favorite for congee and twisted doughnut 油條. They're very good together especially for breakfast or for a late night snack. I also find their fried turnip pudding in X. O. sauce delectable. 
They have several shops around HK. Check out their website .

4. HO HUNG KEE 何洪記 at the 12/F Hysan Place 500 Hennessy Road

This restaurant is rated 1 Michelin star. They are known for their wonton noodle soup and congee. A must-try also is their steamed fish head; it's very tasty! 
This location is more spacious and more new. And it doesn't hurt that Hysan Place houses Eslite at floors 8 to 10 (for books, stationery, and specialty food items).

5. TAI HING 太興 at the G/F Cigna Tower, 470-484 Jaffe Road

The best for roasts! My favorite is the roast goose with plum sauce. They also have char siew, soy chicken, and roast pork.  You can order a combination with the complete rice meal at affordable prices. Also try their sweet & sour pork and the chilled original milk tea.

6.  TSUI WAH RESTAURANT  翠華餐廳  at 483-499 Jaffe Road

Just across the street from Tai Hing is this long-time popular cha chaan teng (tea restaurant).  Cha chaan teng is popular all around HK, and they are known for their fast service, long hours, and affordable prices.  I recommend these:  milk tea with Holland's Black and White evaporated milk, crispy bun with condensed milk, hainanese chicken rice, and the fish balls with flat rice noodles in fish soup.  My mouth is watering as I write this!


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April 3, 2015

Flower Arrangements at West Gallery

Last Saturday, I attended the opening of Elaine Roberto Navas' show called Flower Arrangements. Her works are beautiful and moving. 

At first glance, you will be attracted by the beautiful colors made with strong thick strokes, rendering the semi-wilted flowers still pretty. 

And then I saw this piece--
This work evoked such strong feelings in me, I couldn't look away. The placement of the vase, it's depth, the red roses-- all making me think of love and grief at the same time. Maybe it is my recent sudden loss of a loved one making me extra-sensitive to the elegance of these dying blooms. This piece is enthralling and it made me tear up. 

It was not until a few minutes later, after chatting with Elaine and telling her of my feelings, did I find out that these are all flowers from a crypt she visits. That's when it all fell into place for me and my tears fell.  Cut flowers have a special spiritual significance in death because of their own fleeting existence. The beauty and life you want to desperately hold on to, despite knowing how in time, the inevitable can't be avoided. With the flowers we offer for the dead, we give our respect and appreciation and we petition for peace and purity for our beloved's soul.  "Flower Arrangements" is Elaine's tribute and prayer. 

Elaine is such a prolific artist. Her show is not to be missed. It's on til April 25. West Gallery is at 48 West Avenue, Quezon City.

I post here the official show write-up by Ms. Lena Cobangbang. 

Flower Arrangements

Excavations from the Shanidar Cave in Northern Iraq in the 1950s by the team of American archaeologist Dr. Ralph Solecki has revealed from the several burial sites found there that the arrangement and placement of flowers around the dead is humankind’s oldest tribute, the oldest form of memorialization, the oldest act of mourning, deeming as well the subject of human burial as the world’s oldest form of religious activity.                                                                                            
Further, soil samples from these dug graves, upon closer study by French paleobotanist Arlette Leroi-Gourhan, showed at least 8 species of wild flowers from found pollens and flower arrangements, leading her to conclude that someone from 62,000 years ago had roamed the mountainside in the mournful task of collecting flowers for the funeral tribute.                                      
Whether this was done as motivated by the protocols of a ritual or from the practical function of hiding the stench of decomposition of a dead body, these no doubt provided for a means to convey what was inexpressible for such loss, seeding man’s capacity for sentiment and symbolic language, or the first footfalls into sublimating the vicissitudes of mortality. As a flower is cut from its stem, its life is hastened, picked at the peak of its blooming, it foreshadows its inevitable demise, reverberating in this allegorical pageantry the transitory cycle of existence, none more eerily evinced in the juxtaposition of the abject body with the object of beauty, the putrid and the pulchritude.                     
In Elaine’s hands, these floral arrangements are painted so with robustness, each furrow, each spindly stem, each rumpled petal so fleshed out, bearing the weight of their plodding slide to withering expiration.  Painted in the stilted median of past their prime and their slow crawl to their shriveling shell, these articles of tribute, are equally memorialized, or are they rather painted to placate as the more lasting offering for the unknown departed for whom these flowers were originally meant for? Or is their transformation into painted pictures allegories themselves as to how we perceive and respond to nature and the conception of art itself? That to show the limits of things as idealized forms only then can we grasp at the abstractness of phenomena such as tragedy, beauty, awe, wonder, and all other unquantifiable portents of consciousness.                                                    

with Mariano Ching, Jonathan Ching, Yasmin Sison-Ching, and Ms. Elaine Navas

at Gallery 1 of West Gallery

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April 2, 2015

All-Filipino Grocery Finds

I do the family grocery-run every other weekend. I enjoy this chore. It's a concrete way I provide for my family. And it's a distraction and a stress-reliever, mindlessly roaming around rows and rows of goods and products we consume in our everyday life. 

Last week, I found these great new condiments in SM Hypermart Pasig. They're great finds as no one enjoys eating with dipping sauces more than us Filipinos!

Mama Sita's ( has sauces and mixes that have been staples of Filipino cooking for a long time. It's good to see they also produce these premium condiments now. The Coconut Nectar Vinegar is made from organic coconut sap or tuba, and aged for a year. The Anghang-Sarap Spiced Tuba Vinegar has a zest just the way we Pinoys like it, with all the yummy garlic, onions and chili in it. 

Their website is worth a visit, especially for those who enjoy cooking and eating. It has recipes to most of our all-time Filipino favorites like sinigang, adobo, paksiw, etc. When I worked abroad for a few years, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine how much I would miss these kinds of cooking. 

I also found these Datu Puti Premium Selections products. 

Nutriasia ( produces some of our favorite ketchup brands and the Mang Tomas Sarsa. Their Datu Puti Premium Selections line is very new, I can't even find them on their website. They have Natural Cane Vinegar and Brewed Soy Sauce which come in nice tall bottles. I also found their ToyoChili a great sawsawan (dipping sauce). 

Lorenzana Food Corporation ( is the manufacturer of my all-time favorite condiment- Lorins Patis (fish sauce). So I was so excited to find their Lorins Premium Extra Virgin Anchovy Extract. 

I hope they produce these in smaller bottles soon, so I can bring one to leave in our office pantry to enjoy with my packed lunches and share with my office mates. It's a very tasty dipping sauce!

Visit their website for great recipes using our favorites-- Patis and Bagoong!

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