Sunday, February 27, 2011

Hong Kong - Sushi Toku

Continuing on my quest for new alternative lunch spots in the TST area to amuse myself with, here's another to add to the list.  Thanks J for playing along, hope you found it worthwhile!

The concept at Sushi Toku is not unlike my usual hangout Sushi Hiro, although the Toku staff are a lot more professional and friendly, leaving us alone at lunch hour to jabber away and not reading the menus placed before us for a while.  When we finally got down to business, both of us eyed the set of Minced Toro belly on rice with a side of udon.   

Minced Toro Belly on Rice with Udon
The Toro was well minced to not become too greasy, and given a fresh dimension from generous garnish of spring onions and sprinkles of toasted sesame.  My only complaint was the pickled ginger which was a little too old and therefore had too much heat.  The winner was the rice.  From my sole visit here, I thought they used a much better grain than Sushi Hiro, better formed and with a nice bite.  A couple more visits should verify that.

Aside from the main event, there are also sides of a salad and cold tofu with the set.  Salad was fresh with a tangy Wafu dressing.  Tofu was smooth and given taste with a good soy and spring onions.  The udon was not as good after my experience at Mochi Cafe but still competent and provides a bit of warmth after a refreshingly chilled lunch.

While Sushi Hiro offers fruit and choice of coffee/tea, Toku makes you choose.  I'm not fussed since i usually pass on the orange or watermelon wedges anyway.  It's not like lunch sets provide the premium fruits like Momo peaches or Musk melons.  So Sumiyaki coffee is a much better choice.  Coffee here is decent, and pressed through a machine, in contrast to the filter coffee at Sushi Hiro.

Overall, a decent alternative in the area.  Could be worthwhile going for dinner if it passes muster again a second time.  If you go, don't be tricked by the arrows pointing you up the stairs unless you fancy a workout.  The lifts next door do as well to take you up there without breaking sweat.

Shop B, 2/F, Cameron Plaza
23-25A Cameron Road
Tsim Sha Tsui
Tel: +852-2301 3555

Hong Kong - Mochi Cafe 萬豚屋

Sometimes, all we need is a little comfort.  Food included.  On a cold and wet day, there's nothing more comforting than a piping hot bowl of noodles.  Udon in this case.  Hand-pulled udon.

I guess there's a little cult status with this little joint tucked away in what is to me, an obscure part of TST, and across from the Kenjo on Hart Avenue.  Puts it in good company, I suppose, although I haven't chomped there.

Everything at Mochi Cafe is centered around their udon.  There are 3 soup bases to choose from - Tonkotsu (soup based garnered from hours of putting pork bones on the boil for hours and hours), a spicy miso Tonkotsu and Curry.  The other variable is the sides of pork (braised; deep fried with bread crumbs or sesame), beef, eel, etc. A wide enough selection to make it possible to eat here often enough but not so wide as to make it difficult for the small kitchen.

豬骨湯底豚肉烏冬 Udon in Tonkotsu broth with braised pork
On my first visit, I had the classic Tonkotsu broth with braised pork.  Served in a stone pot so that it is still bubbling for a couple of minutes at the table, it is hearty at sight.  A thick bubbling soup, with chunks of braised pork peeking from under the surface alongside a raw egg that's just been cracked into it before serving, then garnished with a generous handful of Japanese alfalfa.  The main event of the Udon however is coyly ticked under all that paraphernalia.

The udon was what won it for me.  Despite the heat, it managed to keep its springy texture throughout the whole experience.  There was no lumpiness or overt flour taste.  This was good on its own.  As the weather warms up, a serving of chilled udon would be fantastic.

The Tonkotsu broth was decent enough, with a meaty fragrance and sweetness from the bones.  The raw egg when stirred into the broth adds substance and taste.  Instead of the usual vegetables served in udon soups, the use of raw alfalfa adds crunch but without interfering too much with each spoonful since it isn't too fibrous.  With the exception of the braised pork which was overly chunky, a tad bland and tough, this was an enjoyable bowl of noodles.

So on my second visit (within the same week, mind you), I tried the curry udon with Sukiyaki-thin slices of beef.  The heartiness factor here goes up a notch, and like most Japanese curries, there's enough spice but no heat so that even the faint-hearted can enjoy.  And the thin slices of beef are much easier to enjoy than the pork chunks.  An overall "yums".  It's a nice alternative to the ramen frenzy.

Word of advice: since it's a small place, avoid the usual meal rush hours.  Go early or late so you don't have to queue.  On the 2 occasions I went for lunch, I was told to vacate my seat within an hour.  So I suppose that even if you had to queue, you shouldn't have to do so for more than an hour.  For me, it's probably worth up to a 20 minute wait, if you had to..

G/F, 19-23 Hart Avenue
Tsim Sha Tsui
Tel: +852-3598 6282

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Hong Kong - Classified

At the end of January, we welcomed a new resident to Happy Valley, adding to the food scene in our village.  Classified is not a newcomer to Hong Kong, but its concept is new to Happy Valley and brings us the al fresco casual dining that many have taken to.  However, on the night I went, it was just a tad uncomfortable since it was really chilly.  Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a way to close the doors, nor were there warmers out front.  So we don out overcoats, brave the only seat available in the house (near the door) and hoped that the food arrived fast enough.

Let's not forget that Classified has come to be synonymous artisan cheeses.  And they stock the stuff that cheese goes best with, wine and bread.  

Baked Camembert with Truffles
So we ordered the baked Camembert with Truffles to start.  Subtly scented with the garlic cloves and truffles, the aroma was enticing.  After baking, the creaminess was not overly runny but good enough to spread over the toasted sourdough.  However, because of the cold, we had to wolf this down so the bread wouldn't get too cold.  Perhaps an excuse since we were also quite hungry.  An excellent appetizer to get the juices going.

As my main, I ordered the spaghetti with spicy meatballs and tomato sauce.  Hearty dish to beat the chills, although there was just a tad too much heat from the spice to make it a little uncomfortable.  After all, you don't want to work up too much of a sweat and lose even more body heat!  Overall tasty enough but better if they took the heat factor down a notch.

There wasn't much of a choice for dessert.  The Black Forest Brownie tasted much better than it looked, forlorn and sitting exposed in a basket, to the elements. It was moist, dense and the cherries were a nice touch to break the monotony of the chocolate.  I have to say, this is one of the better brownies I've had recently.

Drinks however were a let down.  I ordered the Watermelon Agua Fresca, which is described to be fresh watermelon juice with a hint of lime and soda.  There was no "zing" to this at all, and I didn't get hints of anything.  Aside from the pretty pink color, it tasted pretty much like a very watered down watermelon juice drink.  They have a thing or 2 to learn from neighboring Gusto, where drinks are phenomenal.

Overall, I'm happy they came.  In life and food, who doesn't want options?

Shop B, G/F
13 Yuk Sau Street
Happy Valley
Tel: +852-2891 3454

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Hong Kong - Sapporo Ramen Miso No.1 札幌拉麵

One of the things I've re-discovered is catching up on reading at lunch.  So why not join the ranks of Japanese salarymen who eat with their Mangas over lunch!  These folks usually know where to get a bowl of decent noodles over lunch to continue their Manga hero adventures before they hit reality and go back to their daily grind.

I've been to Miso No. 1 twice in 2 months, and while it's not going to be the best bowl you get in Hong Kong, it is a comforting experience especially with the extended cold spells we have had to endure this winter.  And if it's Sapporo style, you would think they know a thing or 2 about insulating their customers from the chills.

House Specialty - Butter Ramen
The house specialty is really a bowl of miso ramen, with a dollop of butter over the top.  Who knows who stole from who, but this is akin to the French trying to make the sauces more velvety with butter and flour (sauce veloute).  No side of flour is served here but the butter does have the effect of creating a richer soup that's surprisingly not too greasy, although my healthy angel usually says I should only go with half a dollop.

While a tad salty, but then which ramen soup base isn't, the soup is extremely tasty and can be addictive and even more so on a cold day.  It also does a good job of cutting through the alkali in the noodles, which are adequately springy although the eggy fragrance is somewhat missing.  I generally like a thinner ramen from the South.  The Char Siu has been a combination of lean to lean with fatty bits.  So there will always be a couple of slices that are succulent and juicy, with effortless bite-through, but a couple of slices that are overly leathery for my liking.  Generous corn kernels, leeks and Wakame (kelp) add fibre and crunch ,adding to the overall experience.

Pumpkin Croquette
It's not a Tonkatsu place but what is surprisingly good is the pumpkin croquette.  Well deep-fried to a clean grease-free crisp on the outside, the mashed pumpkin encased within is creamy and slightly sweet.  Interspersed with a few crunchy vegetable bits on the inside, this is a great accompaniment to the ramen, and the good news is that it is one of the lunch combos available.

Gzoyas or Japanese Dumplings
Some people like to order the pan fried Gyozas here.  I'm ambivalent about them.  They're decent enough but I'm not a huge fan.  The fillings are tasty but I found the skins a little too chewy.  Perhaps I left them a little too long since I had to take a call on the occasion I ordered them.  If I could share them, I might order them again, but if I am with eating with my "Manga" only, then no.

Good enough place to visit if you work or live in the area, but it's not a place to rave and travel out of the way for.  There have been other ramen raves in the territory which I have yet to hit.  But then again, who wants to queue 2 hours just for a bowl of noodles.

G/F, 22 Granville Circuit
Granville Road
Tsim Sha Tsui
Tel: +852-2369 1978

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Singapore - Casa Tartufo

They are the newish kids on the block.  They aim to be and I quote: "..the reference for truffles in Southeast Asia, trading the finest ingredients from Italy, France and the rest of the world, in order to give our guests the best products at the best prices all year round."  Big ambitions indeed and why not.

Walking in at about 8.30 for dinner last Sunday, we were a little worried at first, since there were only 2 other tables occupied in the entire restaurant.  But we were warmly welcomed by the friendly and professional waiters (only males).  Unlike badly trained waiters who will pack you in only one area of the restaurant, we were lead to a quiet corner away from the other 2 tables.  

The restaurant is very dimly lit (unevenly so since some spots were brighter than others) but decked in dark wood and white table cloths, against lace curtains and sparse photos across a couple of the walls.  Simple but cosy.

Bread Basket
Perhaps our only complaint was the long wait for the bread to arrive since we were quite hungry.  It was a little game of who would blink first, and we lost.  So we had to ask the waiter for the bread, to which he replied with a smile: "We're baking a fresh loaf for you".  Ok, with that comeback, we just had to endure the hunger and smile back with a "ooh, yummy".  And in all honesty, it was worth the wait.  It is exactly the kind of loaf I like.  Aside from being freshly baked, this was just good bread - crusty on the outside, and soft and chewy on the inside.  And 2 plates of flavored butter.  The basil better beat what I think was truffle butter hands down.

Wagyu Beef Carpaccio, Rucola, Parmesan, Truffle
The starter was my favourite of the evening.  No cooking required, this was just simply a testament of their commitment.  Pricing aside, this was an aggregation of very fine produce, put together to deliver probably one of the better beef carpaccio dishes I've had in my "short" life.  Shavings of naturally tasty Wagyu, on a bed of peppery Rucola but without any bitter aftertaste, topped off with fragrant fresh Parmesan, then teased with a little truffle to give the dish an aromatic finish.  Lovely.

Classic Tajarin with Our Truffle sauce
This is not commonly found in Italian restaurants in Asia.  Tajarin is in simple terms, a fettucine that has been halved in width.  For Singaporeans, it is akin to "Mee Pok".  For HongKongers, it is akin to "foot meen" (阔面).  Here, the Tajarin was well coated with a truffle sauce that they call their own.  Although we did not verify, my guess is a blend of the 2 types of black truffles they had on offer - Perigord and Alba.  It was too good to have been a paste from a bottle, which is what I typically use for regular meals at home.  If you like your truffles, this is a simple dish where we can just enjoy the essence of truffle with no distraction.

Veal Chop Milanese in Grissini crust, Tomato and Rucola
Of course, no Italian restaurant is worth its pasta if it cannot execute this dish in perfection.  And it was pretty darn close here.  Well fried to a crispy outside but with no excess oil to be found, the veal on the inside was a nice combination of flattened meat with bone-in on the other side.  Well protected from the cooking process, the meat was still succulent.  Of course, the garnish of very good Rucola and sweet (and I do mean sweet) cherry tomatoes kept each bite fresh.  For the first time, I wish I had a few more tomatoes on my plate.

Banana Crêpe flambé, Madagascar Vanilla Ice-Cream
If I had to pick a nit somewhere, it was with dessert.  Because it was slightly charred from an over-enthusiastic blow torch table-side, there were bitter bits.  I would also have preferred the nuts to have been roasted to take away that raw taste that I dislike.  But properly executed, the banana-chocolate combination generously drenched in Triple Sec is a winning one.  Of course, the ice cream made from Madagascan vanilla beans brought it all home for us despite the flaws.

I like the potential with this place.  But there is a price on top of fine produce, no pun intended.  Aside from the veal chop which can feed 2 not-so-hungry people very comfortably, portions are a tad smaller than most Italian places here, which tend to be hearty.  If you can get past that, what you should enjoy is their commitment to quality.

Forum Shopping Mall, #01-17
583 Orchard Rd

Singapore 23884
Tel: +65 68364647

Friday, February 11, 2011

Singapore - a tale of 2 coffees

One of the nice things to do while on vacation is just do nothing but relax.  Leisurely mornings over a cuppa or a post-lunch wind down at a nice coffee bar.  No commuter rush, no conference calls, and even a significant decrease of the Blackberry ping that we've all sadly gotten used to.

Over 2 different times on 2 days, I wanted to just enjoy possibly the better, if not best coffees on the island.  I do not claim to have tried them all but these 2 have credibility since they also roast their own beans.  This is a big thing with me, since it really is about the freshness of the beans in your cup.  But that's where the similarities end.

Oriole is a cool cafe with a well stocked bar where you can have something stronger than coffee.  There's also a decent looking menu (although I didn't eat there).  There is even live music in the evenings, I am told.  Although I didn't have a meal proper, I did have the sticky pudding with ice cream, that I have to say was very decent.

Sticky Pudding with Ice Cream
The Pudding was warmed and drizzled with a light syrup and laced with very well soaked and plump raisins, and brought to cool with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  A tad sweet, but a perfect accompaniment to the main event.

Filter of Ethiopian Sidamo
The Ethiopian Sidamo was a tad spicier than my usual first choice of a Brazilian blend.  Although a little unsure when I ordered it, since I haven't had an Ethiopian blend that I really enjoy, this was very well done.  Aromatic from a good roast, the aftertaste was also surprisingly smooth despite the spicy note.  Easier down the palate than I thought it would be, this is just one of those cuppas I would remember.

On the other end of the rainbow, Cuppachoice is in the heart of Chinatown.  Their opening hours are reflective of their customer base, catering largely to the worker bees in the area, although I thought an opening time of 9.30am was a tad late.  

Chee Cheong Fun and Yam Cake
No worries, I walk across to the Chinatown Food Centre to see what everyone was having for breakfast.  Old habits die hard and I naturally gravitated towards my childhood stall to get Chee Cheong Fun (steamed rice rolls) and Yam Cake.  Drenched in a sweet sauce, soy and sesame oil, and given a little kick from a dash of chilli sauce on the side, there is something about the combination of the different flavours absorbed by the rice rolls and yam cake that brought back a lot of sweet memories.

Piccolo Latte by Cuppachoice
As I finish breakfast, I'm just in time to head back to Cuppachoice.  Daniel, the ever-patient and ever-passionate barista takes me through the offerings.  I actually wanted a filter coffee but got persuaded to try an Indian Monsoon blend.  I take a sip and say "not bad".  He goes: "Nope, too much foam" and decides the Guatamala blend is better for a piccolo latte, and substitutes my glass even before I'm half way through.  Such a perfectionist.  Hmm..  he was right.  The Guatamala blend was brighter.  I will be back to try the filter coffees since that is my preference, and hopefully Daniel will share a little more the next time I'm there.  Cliche as it may seem, he was genuine when he said: "I really love my job.".

With coffee places like this, there is hope for the coffee scene in Singapore.  I am excited and will try a couple of the other places like Papa Pahleta and Forty Hands the next time I'm in town.

Oriole Cafe & Bar 
96 Somerset Road 
#01-01 Pan Pacific Serviced Suites
Singapore 238163
Tel: +65-6238 8348

Cuppa Choice Cafe, Academy, Retail, Roastery
3 Temple Street
Singapore 058556
Tel: +65-62278892

Jia Ji Mei Shi 佳记美食  
Blk 335 Smith Street  
Chinatown Food Centre Complex

Monday, February 7, 2011

Singapore - Etoile French Japanese

The Siglap area is not known to be a high-end dining area.  It has been and still is a collection of decent mid-range eateries catering to the folks who live in the Upper East Coast area.  A village feel but a lot more laid back than Holland Village.  Perhaps the proximity to the beach in the East has something to do with the casual and relaxed feel of the area.  Certainly in the old days, many ventured East to the waters and the seafood restaurant row not far from here.  

Etoile is the newcomer to the area.  But it is different to anything we have in the area.  It's always a welcome change to introduce variety into the neighbourhood.  I can only hope that it does well enough to sustain its awkward position tucked away from the main road and right in the midst of what we've come to call Opera Estate, taking up an operatic address on Figaro Street.  (It's accessible through Jalan Tua Kong, and has taken over what used to be a coffee shop).

Bread Basket
The bread was decent but since I'm still in my sourdough phase, I wasn't wowed by it.  But those who like theirs soft, airy and fluffy would like this.  It was subtly oiled and herb-flavoured like a Focaccia would be.  I did prefer the Walnut version as the nuts were roasted and had a fragrant nutty flavour to it.

Scallop Carpaccio topped with Uni and Yuzu
The starter of Scallop Carpaccio was a very nice start to the meal.  Served chilled but not cold, it was sashimi fresh, sweet and crunchy.  The garnish of fresh sea urchin (Uni) and salmon roe (Ikura), then drizzled with Japanese Citron (Yuzu) essence on one side and sweet balsamic vinegar on the other was an explosion of many different tastes and textures, complementing rather than fighting for attention.

French Onion Soup
The soup was a slightly different take on the classic version, but enjoyable.  Rather than the consistency of broth, this was considerably thickened, resulting in a very robust, almost gravy-like beef and onion soup.  Personally, I prefer a consistency closer to broth, and a tad less salt.  Instead of topping it off with one whole slice of toast with Gruyere, the chef cleverly sized them down to croutons and melted the cheese over, so you can easily take a bit of everything with each spoonful.

Wagyu Beef with Pan fried Foie Gras
This course was my favourite of the evening for the simple reason that the beef was a truly exceptional piece of meat.  So well marbled that it was just short of melt-in-your-mouth, so that you can still taste the beef with a couple of nominal chews of the jaw.  Unfortunately, the piece of foie gras over the top was a tad overdone. However, it did go complement the beef texture wise, since you wouldn't want everything melting on the palate and leaving nothing to the imagination.  My only complaint with this dish was again the slightly heavy hand with the salt.

Apple Tart with Vanilla Ice Cream
For dessert, we had the apple tart.  Thankfully, it was very good since it took close to an hour to get to our table.  A well-cooked spiced apple seated atop a fluffy and buttery croissant-like pastry and served with Vanilla ice cream, then dusted with bits of crumble.  Nothing to fault, really.  

Food wise, there is little to fault at Etoile.  But there are many nits to work out eg. cover up wires from a bad interior decoration finish, don't advertise a discount if no one in the restaurant remembers until shown the message from Etoile's very own FaceBook page, don't make servers wear a grey polo shirt with the "Etoile" work scribbled on the back, and don't play Richard Clayderman.  It's just not that kind of place, at least the menu does not suggest so.  The other nit was training - the staff didn't know who the chef was when we asked.  And so he finally came back with "Joseph" and we went, "Joseph who?".  Took another journey to the kitchen for him to tell us he is "Joseph from Les Amis", to which we went, "really!?".  

But the biggest nit was still dessert.  How can a French Japanese place not serve dessert?  When we sat down to dinner, we were told that the oven had broken down and no desserts would be served, not even ice cream - go figure.  Then midway through our meal, our very nice server told us the oven was fixed and that we could order dessert.  We chose something else when we were told the tart would take an hour.  Then when our nice server came back to tell us that the chef was just pulling her leg and that it would take the usual time of 20 minutes, we changed our order to the tart.  Long and short, it did take a full hour and they should just be thankful the joke wasn't on us.  

Here's hoping the jokes stop here and that they manage to work things out.  I would go back just for the food. 

1 Figaro Street
Singapore 458322
T. 6445 5669

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Singapore - Man Fu Yuan 满福苑

As previously prophesied, reunion dinners cannot be solely about the food, especially if you eat on the actual day itself.  There's just too much volume in customer flows, for chefs to be able to deliver a perfect score.  Our family's dinner this year at the Intercontinental Hotel's Man Fu Yuan was no exception.  While there were definitely "misses", there were some memorable hits, aside from spending time with family once again, and enjoying dinner as one large extended family.  Of course, we also welcomed Dylan, our newest addition to the family - such a bundle of joy.

Sharks' Fin in a shark bone and cartillage broth
This was probably the best course of the evening.  I am usually hesitant about this because the broth is very difficult to get right.  The right balance of dissolved collagen from the bone and cartilage (so that it's milky but not like eating glue), the right amount of heat from the ginger and pepper to take out the fishiness of shark but not lose the taste of the sea in the process, and the right amount of sweetness from the herbs so as to give it a nice finish and aftertaste.  This bowl that I was served had the right combination and add to that a generous portion of sharks' fin, that was tasty from the broth, and added a nice bite to the soup, for an added dimension in texture .  It wasn't the prized dorsal but this was good enough since it also suggests to me that the whole shark was fished, and not just for the dorsal, which is terribly cruel.

好事当头 Stewed Abalone and Dried oysters with mushrooms and lettuce
This was by no means a wow, but I hadn't had this in a while and wanted to introduce it especially to non-Chinese readers.  The use of abalones and dried oysters during the lunar new year, and other festive occasions are a must since the play on the Chinese names for these signify good things.  As an example, oysters are pronounced "ho see" which in a slightly different tone, means good tidings!  And abalone, prized for the number of heads, is my educated guess for "leading the way" and therefore the dish "ho see tong tau" which literally means good tidings lead the way.  Rather clever.  If only the abalone was less chewy..

Raw fried glutinous rice
Cantonese like to fry their glutinous rice from the raw grains as it lends a firm bite to the grains when cooked.  Much like risotto being poured into broth and cooked from raw.  This method of cooking however requires a lot of skill so that the rice does not burn in the wok, and if fried to a dry and ungreasy finish, it's even more of a feat.  This sticky grain is also popular during the cold months as it's more filling than normal rice and so keeps people from getting hungry too fast.  This version was rather good and was only let down by the quality of the waxed sausages, which were much too sweet.

香煎年糕 Pan fried "Nin Go"
This is yet another new year treat.  Made from glutinous rice flour, this rice cake is subtly sweet from the palm sugar used, and as an added treat, pan fried after dunking in an egg wash, to give it an added fragrance.  If you want to make this from scratch, check out Wok With Nana and her Episode 10 on how to do this. Again, its name "nin go" is pronounced to also mean "year high" to mean improvements year on year.  Man Fu Yuan's version was surprisingly very good and my second favourite of the evening after the soup.  The consistency was perfect as it was a sticky but unchewy cake, that was surprisingly light and almost fluffy to the bite.  Add the egg wash and memories of my childhood came flooding back.

Although the other dishes were less than memorable (not that they were bad but they were just average and nothing to write home about), dinner was still enjoyable.  The time for reuniting as a family, enjoying what the culture loves best ie. eat, catching up with each others' lives and just spending an evening together as a family unit is what this holiday is all about, and the primary reason we've been celebrating it all these centuries.  May tradition live on.

80 Middle Road
2/F Intercontinental Hotel

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Happy Lunar New Year!

Not long after we stuffed ourselves silly over the Christmas season, we are doing it again during the Lunar New Year festivities.  Time zones aside, many Chinese, Koreans and others who live by the lunar calendar, will be celebrating the biggest event (after winter solstice) in the year.

Many of us will gather to have a "reunion dinner" with relatives.  Some of us will eat at home, and hotpot is a favourite, especially if you're in a cold area.  Others will head out and battle the crowds for mediocre mass-cooked food at restaurants booked well ahead of this day.  I'm in the latter category, and I will have to wait another 2 hours to sit down to dinner.

There are generally 2 seatings at most restaurants in Singapore.  While only a handful have fixed seatings throughout the year, the majority of "Toms, Dicks and Harrys" can do that this evening.  It's their annual claim to fame.  They don't even have to do a good job of it.  I'm keeping fingers crossed though.  My family is headed to Man Fu Yuan at the Intercontinental Hotel tonight.  I recall that it was decent some years ago.  I hope it still is...

Over the next few days, and it's a long weekend for all, there will be endless visitations with friends and relatives, and of course stuffing ourselves sillier over pineapple tarts, love letters, bak kwa (sweet barbecued pulled pork) and other stuff that we really shouldn't have too much of.  Follow this with lots more heavy duty lunches and dinners of abalone, dried oysters, and other delicacies with plays on auspicious Chinese words and of course in Singapore only, the YuSheng Lo Hei (tossed raw fish salad).  Maybe I should reschedule my annual medical... How long does fat and the bad cholesterol stay in one's body?

Celebrations wherever you are, will tend to centre around feasting.  It's how it's been from time immemorial.  It's how the human being is.  Not going hungry was a huge achievement.  It still is for those who go hungry in other parts of this world.  If you have access to this blog, you're probably already in a much better place than most.  Be thankful.  Spare a thought for those who are not so fortunate.  Even if we cannot do anything for them today, keeping them in our thoughts will ensure that the struggle for better lives is continued and not lost.  

For those in politically bad situations (aka Egypt) or bad weather or consequences thereof (US East Coast, Brisbane), our thoughts and prayers are with you.  

Here's wishing one and all a very happy, healthy and prosperous Year of the Rabbit!