Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Birthday Tandem 2011

My dad and I share the same birthday. Some years we celebrate at the same time and place (most of my childhood), other years the same night but different venues (Beurre Blanc and Republiq, for example) and other years entirely different parties (Martini's and Opus this year). Though we are always there for each other at each one, at some point :)
The day of my birthday, I received an anonymous bouquet of a dozen gorgeous roses. And not in the traditional red, but one of my favourite colours! The delivery guy replied "It's not in my place to say." when asked who they were from, and the only hint was the card below saying "See you tonight". How exciting!
I even had a friend or two hint about it, asking me if I'd gotten any presents today. Cheeky mi loves! I really couldn't place who they were from.

My dad celebrated on the night of our actual birthday at Martini's. I invited a few friends, and we came along for the ride as well. It was a great night full of champagne, tequila and live music! We had dinner in Old Manila at The Peninsula before that. We love it there! I had a separate vegetarian menu.
My mom recently chopped most of her hair off, and she is looking amazing!
How cute, these two!
I chose to celebrate at a much later date a few weeks after, so that our friends that have moved away to university all around the world would be back.

I had my usual birthday dinner with close friends at New Bombay this year. It's one of my favourite restaurants, especially now because they have such a huge vegetarian selection! Masaraaaap!

Opus was the perfect venue, we arrived to great music and a lively crowd. I was so happy!
Such a great way to celebrate! I invited a much smaller amount of people in comparison to my last few birthday parties because... Well just because. I wanted a night where I could talk to everyone there, and I was surrounded by people I was good friends with. I'm so grateful for the friends that are there for me and how much fun we always have!

Thank you to everyone that made our birthdays amazing this year!

Photos by Ike Gube.

PS. Yes, it was eventually revealed to me who the charming man was that sent the roses... Let's just say that I ended up a very happy girl!

Hong Kong Food Trails Day 2: The Movement

Based on my judgements on food today, my brother has started to believe that I'm secretly trying to convert them all into 'my way of life'. He calls it the movement. He noticed that slowly the ratio of vegetarian dishes to dishes with meat has started to tip in my favour. Hahaha!

In all fairness, he has been saying that he's enjoying because he'd have never tried these non-carnivorous dishes otherwise, and discovered he liked them.
We ended up skipping breakfast, and going straight into an early lunch. Early, in Singson time (not including me) meaning around noon (which is normal time for me). I took the family to House of Jasmine in Harbour City, as it was one of the restaurants on my list. The list being restaurant names collected from trusted websites, blogs and friends.

I forgot to take photos of the outdoor seating area, but it was so lovely!

Pickles and peanuts were served at the centre of the table, which I learned from a few other bloggers that you actually get charged for once you touch! But we didn't mind. We were all pretty peckish already.
You order by ticking or placing numbers in the check boxes in a pad of paper containing all their menu items. I was in charge of doing this, and I think it turned out pretty well! Everyone was real happy :) All of the photos are in order of when they served it. It was a constant pick up and put down of finished and new plates!

Braised chicken feet in abalone sauce. We also ordered steamed chicken feet in X.O. chili sauce, which was served in a bamboo steamer and I forgot to take a photo of. Everyone much preferred the latter version.
Crispy fried tofu with salt and pepper. This was delicious. Amazing. We ordered more of this again afterwards. It was all sorts of soft and crispy and crunchy and kick-y. Kick-y, like the mix of the salt and pepper and spice.
Crispy barbecued suckling pig.
Flour rolls with soya. This was just alright. Nothing impressive or surprising.
Of course some hakao and siomai, we ended up ordering these again as well.
Some vegetable dumplings for me :) These were great! It had that same sticky chewy yummy skin that I love so much from hakao.
Jellyfish with sesame sauce. My family said that this was really good and hit the spot. Apparently my tita has been dreaming about having jellyfish for a while now.
Spring rolls. Interesting size and presentation... Kinda felt vase-ish though. Nobody commented on this, so I'm assuming it wasn't bad nor particularly good.
Pan-fried chicken wings with soy sauce and honey. Everyone loved this. Sweet and interesting, apparently. I feel like I would've really enjoyed this. I used to love a good chicken wing. Now it just makes me think of... dead chickens.
Some deep-fried sweet potatoes! Yum!
Now this next one... This was great. This was one of those dishes that my brother had a moment with. Something he would've never taken a second glance at on a menu but then found he quite enjoyed.

Fried turnip cakes in X.O. chili sauce. Again, turnip cakes are something some bloggers had mentioned were a must-try, especially with the outsides toasted slightly.
Some variety of fried rice that escapes me right now. Can't remember what was in it at all.
A carnivore's graveyard plate of bones.
Giant single-serve shrimp dumplings, haha.
Yang chow fried rice. We've noticed that they serve the rice last in these places... Almost like a final way of filling up whatever room you have left from all the other food. Very unlike the Pinoy way of eating ulam at kanin!
Phewf, tummies all a-burstin' after this!

We walked all that off (I wish) going shopping, then decided on some afternoon tea (kababayans read: merienda!) at The Peninsula Lobby. My tita would frequent the beautiful lobby often years ago, always ordering some Horlick's and chatting away with family and friends. She wanted to reminisce.
Cheesecake with vanilla ice cream.
Horlick's! Our family favourite. Though we all agree that the way they do it in Toastbox back home is much better. This was a lot thinner and more subtle in taste while Toastbox is not at all shy with theirs.
I had some brandy-spiked eggnog. This was strong. I've always wanted to try eggnog, but I don't even count this because all I could taste was the booze haha! It was good though! Our 'tea' turned into 'cocktails' - amongst us we had wine, beer and brandy.

This may or may not have been the reason that dinner was so hilarious.
A jumbo pork hotdog for the kids.
Salmon finger sandwiches.
I had a vanilla creme brûlée but cannot for the life of me find a photo of it. Maybe the brandy kicked in and I didn't even bother taking one. Just kidding, the brandy didn't really hit. We ran into some family friends that are staying here as well! Was nice to see them.

We went to dinner straight after at the Chuk Yuen Seafood Restaurant. This was another one on my list, but was coincidentally also the restaurant that the concierge booked my brother at with a table for 20. His only specifications were "good Chinese food", "nearby" and "table of 20". This was the third restaurant they tried and finally found had room for reservation of a party that large.
We had the most hilarious waiter that decided to take out as much meat from our food as possible and within reason. Crab and sweet corn soup became just sweet corn soup. Yum! Definitely something from my childhood.
Everyone else had some roasted pigeon.
I, again, ordered fried tofu with spicy salt. This time it came a lot lighter in taste and in bigger portions, with a vinegarish sauce to the side that was amazing. We all loved this. Another one of my brother's #themovement dishes. I think that deserves a hashtag.
Mapo tofu, normally with some ground beef or pork, but now without it... Again, all on the waiter's initiative haha! This was originally my dad's order.
Beef with broccoli. This lead to a hefty discussion about pronouncing it in the Western way of 'broc-lee' vs. the Filipino way of 'bro-CO-lee', then further local verbal quirks.

This dinner was hilarious. The highlight of my trip so far. Laughter to the point of tears. You really had to be there.
Young bean shoot leaves, recommended by the waiter when I asked for the best vegetable dish. Everyone really enjoyed this, it was a favourite.
Four out of six dishes on the table were vegetarian at this point. And thus the beginning of the discovery of my apparent conspiracy now known as #themovement.
Steamed fish. I forget what kind. It started with a G.
Steamed shrimps with soya.
Yang chow fried rice.
Fried noodles with soya - delicious! Sweet, a little bit salty, with a nice bite to them. I love food that is so simple like this.
The waiter couldn't keep his hands off my niece. She was like a deer in headlights every time he would kinda sneak up from behind them and just start... Rolling her cheeks. She didn't know what to do, we were crying from laughing so hard!

But it was a little creepy, I'll admit.
Supper with The Singsons. More hilarious than any comedy sitcom.
It was great to meet up with some other Singsons that were in town! Good food, good company, a perfect supper.

Hope you all are having as craving-fulfilling a day as we are!