A Hot Pot of Warmth

Winter has most certainly descended here in London now, and I am still getting used to waking up and walking to work in the cold. (Summer seems such a far dream now lol.πŸ‘‹) Nonetheless, my week began on a high after celebrating my birthday in the weekend. (Thank you for all of you who commented and liked my birthday post. ❀️❀️) But, honestly, the high did hit some bumps this week, but when is life truly a smooth sailing?

After work today, I was definitely craving for a hearty dinner and the first thing that came to my mind was a good, old hot pot. A hot pot is a Chinese cooking method where individuals cook raw ingredients such as meat and vegetables in a simmering pot of broth. It is a very prominent thing in family gatherings, and I grew up being used to my family surrounding a hot pot every winter.

The ingredients on the conveyor belt
All set!

My favourite hot pot place in London is a restaurant called Shuang Shuang in Chinatown (located above the ramen shop that I visited a couple of weeks ago). The restaurant is different to many traditional hot pot places in that every customers has one pot to themselves, instead of sharing one. And the raw ingredients are transported around through a conveyor belt, where the customers can pick up their selections like in a sushi bar. Not going to lie, initially I was quite sceptical the first time I visited the restaurant, but now this place has become one of my favourites in town. πŸ˜‹

Mixing a dipping sauce is my favourite thing to do in every hot pot lol πŸ˜‚
The House prawn ball – which is my favourite thing to order here.

A standard procedure of mine every hot pot is to create my own dipping sauce. My favourite is a hefty amount of sesame sauce topped with lots of spring onions and coriander, with a bit of chilli sauce. For me, a good dipping sauce is always the soul of a delicious hot pot! ❀️ And I did get carried away picking lots of food from the conveyor belt lol.

But I wont’t fall to a food coma yet until I finished the evening with my favourite ice creams. πŸ˜‹πŸ˜˜

Egg Custard Tart and Strawberry Pocky Stick Ice Creams

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!

It is a bit later than it should be, but I would like to wish everyone a happy mid-autumn festival! πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰ The mid-autumn festival is a Chinese festival that takes place during a full moon night somewhere between mid September to early October (due to the differences between the modern calendar and the Chinese lunar calendar). On this day, people celebrate the festival by hanging lanterns and eating a pastry called the moon cake. I have so many fond memories celebrating this festival with my family back when I was a child growing up in Hong Kong, so there was definitely a feeling of nostalgia when I dropped by Chinatown earlier today after leaving work.

Lanterns (top) and moon cakes (bottom)

Back then, my family and I would hang different lanterns around our house during the night. And being a child back then, I wasn’t fond of the traditional-styled lanterns, so would always end up picking all the cartoony or animated ones. πŸ˜…πŸ˜… (Looking back, it probably felt more like a mini comic-con than mid-autumn festival lol…) I remember one particular year when my family and I gathered around at the rooftop of our house and watched the full moon while surrounded by the lights of these lanterns. It was definitely a time in my life that I miss.

Whilst in Chinatown, I bought a packet of moon cakes from a Chinese bakery. Moon cake is a sweet pastry traditionally filled by lotus seed paste and salted duck egg yolks. This one I got though was not technically traditional as it lacked the salted yolks (which to be fair I was never a huge fan of anyway so there’s no love lost haha…πŸ˜…) and it was sesame-flavoured. Nonetheless, a bite of this moon cake really takes me back to those times. I really wish sometimes I can just be a child forever. Do you feel the same?

Day 1 in Glasgow: Road Trip in the Rain

In the Hobbit, Gandalf said to Bilbo Baggins, β€˜The world is not in your books and maps. It’s out there.’ There is something about travelling to different places that is vastly different and so much more exciting than simply seeing or hearing about them on TV and on the internet. Compare to the old me who preferred the comfort of staying at home, I now often find myself not being able to stay still on the same spot!

Hence, yesterday, my mum and I headed out for a brief 2-day trip to Glasgow by taking a bus from home. (It was quite last minute as we only decided for sure a few days ago.) The weather, however, was not on our side as the roads were all drenched by the heavy rain all day. But we still made sure that we made the most of it after we arrived.

In Glasgow… 🌧🌧

Marching our way through the rain β˜”οΈ , we dropped by Lychee Oriental for lunch. It is a renowned Chinese restaurant in the area run by Jimmy Lee who once appeared in the Great British Menu on BBC. The restaurant offer a nice two-course lunch every day for a very reasonable price of Β£11.90. No surprises here except it was a nice, rustic, homey meal that quickly filled us up for the day. (I personally quite liked the chicken satay and the fried noodles.)

Lunch in Lychee Oriental

The weather though really wasn’t appealing enough for us to stay any longer outside, so we decided to check into the hotel and rest a bit first before the evening.

easyHotel (on the right) where we stayed

We stayed at easyHotel which was a very cheap stay, costing under Β£44 for a twin room for one night. When we arrived though, we were still an hour too early for the official check-in time (3pm). This meant we ended up wondering some more in the rain before hiding inside the hotel opposite to it for the time to pass! πŸ˜‚

Though the room was generally pleasant and very clean, the shower was very tiny (there was no actual cubicle and the curtains kept sticking to me as I was showering πŸ˜…), and also annoyingly (which I only noticed after booking…) WiFi and even the TV are all extra charges. However, for those of you who may be just looking for a quick night of sleep, this is the ideal place for it!

Dinner in Ichiban

While I was napping, my mum was looking at the tourist information leaflet she got from the hotel reception and found this Japanese restaurant called Ichiban. We decided to head there for dinner, squeezing together under one umbrella β˜‚ (the rain was even worse at that time… πŸ˜“πŸ˜“) We ordered the signature ramen and a mixed sushi platter, plus some char siu (roasted pork) on the side. The ramen was good with a hefty portion and a good broth, and the sushi was also well-made. The char siu though we found was a touch too salty.

Yee Kwan Ice Creams πŸ˜‹πŸ˜‹

It would be unlike me (or rather us lol) that we didn’t have some desserts after meal. The restaurant also offers Yee Kwan ice creams on their menu (which I knew before from watching Dragons’ Den πŸ˜‚ ). We ordered the black sesame seed ice cream and pink guava & passion fruit sorbet. The sorbet was perfect with its lightness and sweetness with a slight tang, and the black sesame was very flavourful with the nuttiness from the seeds. (My mum was loving them both lol.) If you see these ice creams for sales anywhere, I would strongly recommend you to grab one! πŸ˜‹ πŸ˜‚

Afterwards, we headed back to the hotel just as the rain thankfully died down. My mum especially was ready for bed after a long day, but it seemed that our day was not over yet when we discovered there was no hot water in the shower… πŸ˜“βŒβŒ (P.S. we ended up moving to the room next door. πŸ˜›)

Dim Sum and Desserts

It had been so nice this week to catch up with many of my closest friends.😊 But, before I leave London for a couple of weeks, I met up with my best friend for one delicious food date. We (or rather I lol) decided to visit Yauatcha in Soho, a Chinese restaurant that specialises in contemporary dim sum as well as high-end patisserie.πŸ˜‹ Got to say I felt right at home here! πŸ˜‰

Seafood Black Truffle Dumplings
Lobster Dumplings with Tobiko (Flying Fish Roe)
Prawn and Tofu Skin Cheung Fun (Steamed Rice Rolls)
King Crab Xiaolongbao
Spicy Fried Soft Shell Crabs

I really enjoyed the Cheung Fan and the black truffle dumplings (though my friend who didn’t like the flavours of black truffle preferred the lobster dumplings and the Cheung Fan.πŸ˜‚) Not only were the dishes really delicious, but they also filled me with many memories from my childhood growing up in Hong Kong. The Cheung Fan (steamed rice rolls) in particular was a common street food I used to eat regularly back then after school.

Strawberry Zhu: Vanilla and Almond Sponge with Yuzu, Strawberry and Toasted Rice
Mango Lime Mallow: Mango Mousse and Coconut Sponge with Lime Marshmallow and Candied Ginger
Matcha Lychee Pot: Yogurt Panna Cotta with Lychee, Matcha and Watermelon

The desserts though were something that I was the most excited about coming into this place and they certainly did not disappoint. I had the Strawberry Zhu and the Matcha Lychee Pot. I was very impressed by the classic strawberry and cream combination in the former. The flavours worked very well and I particularly enjoyed the surprise of the strawberry-shaped chocolates which were also filled with a strawberry sauce.πŸ˜‹ (I didn’t realise they were not real strawberries until I bit into them.πŸ˜‚) The Matcha Lychee Pot was very light and refreshing, and almost remained me of a granola and yogurt pot but much more refined. The jelly component especially was very delightful to eat.

The only downside here was that this place was a bit expensive. Still, it didn’t stop us going for a frozen yogurt afterwards.πŸ˜‚

Hope you all have a fantastic weekend ahead of you! πŸ˜‰

Crazy Rich Asians

One thing that can really remind me of being back home in Hong Kong is a plentiful, delicious family gathering meal. This was something I used to have with my relatives every Saturday night when my grandparents used to cook up a feast in the kitchen for us all to enjoy. Now with my grandmother no longer with us and relatives scattered around places, the tradition slowly become less frequent. I wonder when will be the next time I can have this with my family again?

An Asian feast!
Inside the food hall

Yesterday’s evening, my friend and I decided to visit Bang Bang Oriental Food Hall. Though we didn’t have the best start when I was screwed over by the maps app on my phone that led me to somewhere 1 hour away from the actual location! 🀯 After a long bus ride, we were finally able to meet up and might have gotten too carried away with how much we ordered in the end! πŸ˜‚ (An Asian feast for two!) Even then, we only selected a very small sample from a handful of stalls this time, so I definitely will be coming back for more! πŸ˜‰ Meanwhile, let’s rank the dishes I had last night!

8. Boiled Prawn Dumplings

This one was a bit of a let-down . The otherwise perfect pastry was spoiled by the bland filling that was underwhelming in flavours and texture.

7. Xiao Long Bao

Xiao Long Bao is a Chinese classic that is known to be very hard to execute perfectly. Unfortunately the deliciously juicy pork filling was not matched by the overly thick pastry on the outside.

6. Handmade Noodles with Mince

I actually rather enjoyed this one and the noodles were rightfully the star of the show here. However, my friend thought the mince was too salty. πŸ˜… (I thought it was okay though lol…)

5. Korean Fried Chicken with Sweet Chilli Sauce

If you are a fan of any Korean TV shows, you would have seen this one before. This Korean street food favourite was very flavourful and delicious, though personally I think the sauce was on the heavy side.

4. Spicy Wontons in Red Chilli Oil

A beloved spicy classic! Always a joy to eat! 😁

3. Turnip Cake

Substance over style! πŸ‘ Crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. These were almost as good as the ones my grandmother πŸ‘΅ used to make. A taste of home!

2. Beef Kimbap

This was so good I couldn’t stop eating it! 🀀 Kimbap is basically the Korean adaptation of Japanese sushi rolls. Flavourful with a punch! πŸ€› I honestly can eat this all day!

1. Spicy Fried Fish Dumplings

This was a delicious surprise! The fried dumplings were perfectly crispy with a fish filling that very much reminded me of a street food called “fish ball” in Hong Kong (For those of you who don’t know what I mean, you can look it up in google πŸ˜‚), and they paired up perfectly with the spicy chilli sauce they were served with. Definitely one for a second round! πŸ˜‹

And how can I forget grabbing a bubble tea on my way out? πŸ˜‰