Sunday, 17 June 2012

The best waffles (格仔餅) in Mong Kok, or even Hong Kong?

So today I want to talk about my favourite Hong Kong style waffle aka 格仔餅 shop. I have surveyed pretty much all the shops in the Prince Edward/Mong Kok region, only to run flying back to this one. For those who do not know what Hong Kong style waffles or 格仔餅 are I shall explain!格仔餅 literally means "grid cakes" or "grid biscuits" and are usually made by street hawkers and eaten warm on the street. Hong Kongers live a very fast paced lifestyle, and people don't always have time to sit down and eat. So it is very common to see people eating while walking, shopping, and chatting with friends. This is also another reason why I always gain weight when i'm in Hong Kong (due to the highly captivating aromas that surround me, not to mention the sight of everyone munching away) . The waffles (which are different to eggettes, the waffles that look like a collection off balls stuck together) look like traditional waffles but they come in circles with the grid parts divided into four quarters. The waffles are then  spread with butter, peanut butter and then sprinkled with sugar, and then folded in half and served hot. They are a delicious treat especially in winter. These waffles are more floppy than Belgian waffles, and more bouncy/springyin texture. They usually range in $7-$20.
So the shop that I will be reviewing today, lies on Mong Kok Road, on the block in between Fa Yuen Street (fashion heaven! Blogpost soon!) and Tung Choi Street (also known as goldfish street due to the fact that it is full of goldfish shops (duh!) and pet shops full of cute puppies and kittens!). It is directly opposite the road from Fa Yuen Street Market and is exactly where the crossing is. 

Apart from making the best waffles in the area, they also make fresh smoothies and juices. My favourite here is the coconut sago drink which is only $8 and is a perfect way to cool down during a hot day while shopping at Fa Yuen Street.

Service is quite slow and it usually takes a while to wait for your food as there is usually only one lady making the waffles, although the shop is quite big and also has another side selling siu mai, fishballs and other various typical savoury street food.

The price is very good! It is one of the cheapest in the area, with the average waffle price being $10+. I have yet to try the other more exotic flavours, as I prefer the original. I have this thing where once I find something that I like I always choose the same thing over and over again! 

One time, I tried the eggettes (in chocolate and original flavour mixed together). Sadly they were extremely disappointing and lacked that eggy taste that they were supposed to have. It feels as if the mixture was watered down too much, so I would go for the waffles here. They make the best eggettes in  Tsim Sha Tsui on Nathan Road. 

Voila! Le waffle! The waffle itself is crispy on the outside yet soft and moist in the inside (which I think is the best). Although, I think that the waffle lacks eggyness, the lady always generously drowns the waffle in butter and peanut butter without putting too much sugar (just the way I love it!)

And for some reason, everytime I eat a waffle here, I always manage to get peanut butter on my clothes. I guess this is just proof that they put enough sauce!

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

3 days in LA - Day 2 (Warning : may inflict an increase of appetite)

What better way to start the day than with some good old breakfast food? And what better way to have good old breakfast food than have true American brunch at IHOP?! IHOP aka International House of Pancakes (which I beg to differ, is not really International at all, since we do not have it in Hong Kong!  ) is a place which I suppose serves all day breakfast! 

I don't know if I have mentioned this before, but I am actually a pescatarian meaning that I do not eat any meat (chicken, beef, pork or lamb) but I still eat fish and seafood (partly because of my unhealthy addiction of sushi). Because of this, Cindy and her family ordered this vegetarian savoury crepe for me. The crepe was wrapped around cheese and spinach and was covered in melted cheese. It was truly delicious, and the fact that it was wrapped with a thin crepe (instead of an omelette) made it not as heavy as it looked.

They also ordered a beef and cheese omelette which also came with a stack of pancakes. One thing that I noticed when reading the menu was that the amount of calories in each dish was displayed next to the price. A very good feature of American restaurants as I generally like to know how much i'm consuming and whether I should eat something or not despite how delicious it looks.

Although this was a good feature, the fact that every dish had about 800-1200 calories really put me off the food. The crepes had about 800, the omelette had about 1100. The worst part was that I knew that if I wanted to at least maintain my weight, my body needed only about 1400 calories (and if i wanted to lose weight my body needed about 1200!) so I basically did not have to eat for the rest of the day! Normally if I ate a lot in Hong Kong and I couldn't go to the gym, I would walk an absurd distance halfway across town instead of taking the MTR (subway) just to burn some calories and explore the town a little, but being in California where it was impossible to go anywhere without a car, it simply was not possible. :(

Since we also ordered a plate of sausages, bacon, egg and hashbrowns (which I did not eat as there was meat touching everything ) that also came with ANOTHER stack of pancakes. What really excited me was how they had 4 different kinds of sauces to pour over the pancakes! "Old Fashioned", "Butter Pecan", Strawberry and Blueberry. So I had two pancakes and tried each sauce over each half of a pancake. I must say though, "Old Fashioned" and "Butter Pecan" tasted rather similar... I couldn't really taste the difference (maybe because they are both brown?) :P

After shopping my tits off at the nearest CVS pharamacy and then continuing at a nearby mall, Cindy decided to take me to "Boba" or what we in Hong Kong call Bubble tea! I was surprised that it was so popular in America! Though I have to admit that the area that Cindy lived in was mainly full of Asians.  The menu too was full of typical asian snacks that I have back in Hong Kong : Shaved ice, thick toast, not to mention "boba"/bubble tea (and you could choose to have aloe, sago, mochi etc.). This made me really feel at home!

Another thing I noticed is that in this area, not only were there a lot of asians, but there were a lot of Cantonese speakers!  So I really felt as if I was still in Hong Kong! With people in the cinema and in restaurants jabbering away. Mwahahah I understand what everyone is saying! Latinos speaking Spanish, I  understand you too.

The lighting in California is always amazing. Even in the "parking lot"

We then made our way to Old town pasadena. An outdoor shopping area full of shops and restaurants. Naturally we decided to sweep through all the classic places, Forever 21, H&M, Zara etc.

After a long day of just buying everything in sight, we decided it was time for more food. Being the incredibly indecisive people we are, we kept asking each other what we wanted to eat. I am a huge fan of Japanese food (particularly sushi!) while Cindy hated raw food but loved meat. So we narrowed it down to Cheesecake factory or this Japanese restaurant that we were standing in front of. Since Cindy didn't want to walk all the way to the Cheesecake factory  we decided to eat at the Japanese Restaurant called Kabuki.

I must say that it fully satisfied my sushi craving (but only for the day, since I get sushi cravings every day! Every meal even!).

The meal started off with some salad or miso soup. I chose the miso soup as I felt like it fit the mood much more. Sadly I must say that it was rather disappointing as the tofu bits were minuscule and looked really spongy and weird.

The sushi however was amazing!  It was really comparable to the delicious ones in Hong Kong. The salmon looked almost fake for some reason, but it was really good nonetheless. I didn't know what some of the fish was as I usually just order salmon (as it is my absolute favourite), but they were delicious. The rolls were average, but maybe thats because I prefer traditional nigiri sushi.

Cindy on the other hand ordered this roast scallop with fried onion and bacon. I tried a little bit and it sure tasted good! However one of the downers of this place was the service - which was very poor. The waiters were slow and tended to forget things. For example we dropped a fork on the floor and they took about 10 minutes to get us a new one. Cindy also wanted to ask after she ordered the scallops whether they would be fully cooked, again we got ignored for so long that the food arrived before we could get anyone's attention! So it was a shame that the service ruined the overall experience at this restaurant. (The man sitting on the table next to ours even recommended that we "throw a shoe" at the waiters! haha!)

Sunday, 10 June 2012

3 days in Los Angeles - Day 1

Right after my exams, I was actually supposed to go to Koh Samui with my friends and enjoy the insane full moon party, however, I ended up not going....and going to LA instead!

Since my mum is a flight attendant, she frequently flies around the globe to exotic destinations (while I sit at home crying in the corner). 2 years ago, she decided to bring me with her to Auckland, where we had 3 days to explore the city and it was a really fantastic experience for me as I got to sit in the cockpit for take off and landing, and it was also my first time in the southern hemisphere! (I blogged about my visit back then) Since then, I have been constantly begging my mum to take me to some other cool place anytime she wanted to. Colombo, Chennai, Dubai, Kuala Lumpur, Mumbai, anywhere in Australia, Riyadh! I just love to visit new places that I have not visited before!

After my exams ended, my mum found out that she got a flight to Los Angeles. Despite the fact that I had been to LA before, I just thought, hey, why not! I'm bored, i'm free and it's definitely better than sitting at home!

I kind of ate a potato already.. oops! I'm a terrible foodporn photographer. I start eating my food the second it arrives, and almost always forget about photographing it first!!!! 
The meal was exquisite as always. God i'm such a foodie. I was on quite a strict diet during my exams, getting ready for my graduation dinner and summer, but i blew it all away on this trip!!! It started off with the traditional Cathay Pacific special, Beluga caviar and Balik Salmon "Tsar Nicolaj". My favourite! Then I had a tomato soup (which I forgot to photograph), which had this very fruity tomato taste with a pang of basil, and the main course which was  Mushroom and walnut agnoletti in cream sauce which was maybe heated for too long as the pasta wrap was hard and dry at bits. Slightly disappointing, yet the flavour was still top notch.

While on the plane, I tried to sleep in order to adjust to the local time and not succumb to jetlag when I arrived for my short stay. I must say that it worked brilliantly! 

11 Hours later, I was in America! The land of fattening food, huge portions, a plethora of cars and mean airport security staff, not to mention tedious immigration with lines for days. Thank god a lady was nice enough to let me through the staff channel with my mum! Oh the benefits of being underaged!

After a quick shower, and packing a small bag, my friend Cindy soon arrived to pick me up at my hotel. She lives in San Marino, 40 minutes away from where I was which was quite close to the airport. For dinner, she decided to take me to an "Italian" (American) restaurant in Old town Pasadena (which I knew nothing of until the next day) called Buca de Beppo. It was very weird when they lead us to our table through the kitchen of the HUGE restaurant as it is not very often that you are taken to the kitchen while going to your table. I found later from Cindy that they do this to prove to their customers that the food is cooked in a safe and clean environment. HA! i'd like to see that happen in a $10 noodle shop in Hong Kong. I'd probably run out screaming!

It was really entertaining as whenever it was someone's Birthday, a whole horde of people would run out singing a song about pasta and pizza! And they were SO loud that you couldn't even hear the person talking next to you. A little annoying at times, but it sure created a very lively atmosphere! Also, as expected, the portions were huge! We ordered an appetizer of calamari, a cheese pizza, and one bowl of meatsauce pasta and the other of shrimp pasta, and we were 4 and a half asians plus half a caucasian, and we STILL needed to doggy bag quite a lot of the pasta!

Clutching our swollen bellies, we decided to go to the cinema to watch a movie. My first time watching a movie in America! (haha!) Although we were so full, the fragrant smell of popcorn wafting through the cinema was enough to entice us to buy something small for a little nibble despite how full we were. However, Cindy was smart enough to accidentally order a large popcorn and a large soda, and the result? A bucket of popcorn bigger than my head/Cindy's torso and a litre of coke. Seriously! Why is this even LEGAL?! Like unless it's like a group of 5 buying this, this should be illegal! Instead I see people scoffing down entire buckets by themselves! What is this madness?! Me and Cindy only managed to barely eat a third of the popcorn and less than half the coke. So as a warning to everyone, do NOT buy large ANYTHING in America, as you will be wasting food or gaining weight! (I felt so bad throwing away so much pop corn! And the guy wouldnt let us change to a small when our jaws drop after  he put the coke and popcorn on the counter!)

Surprisingly, I managed to stay awake during the whole film. I am usually the person who falls asleep at the cinema, especially during a night time showing. We watched The Dictator. Maybe that was why. It was so funny that it kept me awake.. not to mention my amazing anti jetlag routine on the plane!

Another thing that I noted that really annoyed me was that just to watch this 17+ movie, I got carded 3 times! Thats more than when I go to bars and clubs or buy alcohol in Hong Kong (where I just DON'T get carded). All I had was my Hong Kong ID so people sure were confused when they carded me  :
1) When I bought the ticket
2) When I showed the ticket when I was going into the cinema
3) When I sat down before the movie started and people were movie hopping.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Summer Begins! A new chapter begins!

Hey guys! Look who's back! Yes, I have been absolutely dreadful at keeping up with this blog. I know. But now, I am determined to do a better job. So welcome to my travel and food blog with hints of fashion-y things! :) I finally completed the IB diploma and graduated from highschool and so this summer, I have all the time in the world to blog to my heart's content!

I've decided to orient my blog to food, travel and obviously shopping. Since I have so much time now, I eat out and relax much more, and so why not share it with everyone? I will also be heading off to the UK in September for university. I don't know which university I will be going to yet, but if my exam results turn out to be what they were predicted to be, then I should be going off to UCL in London to study Russian! That sure will spice up the blog!

Stay tuned to hear more about this vagabond's tale!