Sunday, March 30, 2008

Element Fresh

This was our first visit to Element Fresh at Portman since its refurbishment. The place looks similar to its old self and there is now a second floor lounge where I assume one can have drinks. The candle lights and dimmed lighting made the place a lot more romantic than I expected, too bad the tables are so cramped together.

Now back to the food. We had a chicken quesadilla (RMB49) to share and it was unbelievably good! Slices of chicken were nicely cooked and with the melted cheddar infused it was to die for.

My husband's oven-roasted lemon chicken looked really good and the portion was hearty. He said it was really good and he even liked the celeriac mashed potatoes.

My macaroni with mozzarella and Parmesan (RMB58) with extra grilled chicken (RMB26) was very delicious also. I think it could be cheesier and perhaps a bit of Emmental to add more depth to the taste. It's pretty good as it is but I'm a mac and cheese addict that's all.

Element Fresh
Shop 112, Portman Centre, 1376 Nanjing Rd. West, Shanghai. Tel: 6279-8682

Otto Gourmet Cafe

We are back to Otto again (see previous visits here and here). We tend to have second thought about going there because of its expensive wine list but since I'm not drinking it didn't seem as painful.

We were served bread and dips right away, the dips were different than what we had previously and my favourite basil dip was gone! Why?
On this visit we decided to try a few things from the tapas menu since we were not overly hungry. Here we have the paella (RMB38). We didn't really expect much from a tapas paella but the dish tasted nothing resembling paella at all. Instead we had what can be described as a fishy runny risotto. Not very good at all.
We had a bit more luck with the meatballs (RMB38). Made of lamb the meatballs were nicely seasoned with a hint of cumin seeds. A good dish to pick at.
Another disappointing dish: spinach pie (RMB38). The so-called mini pies were actually just tiny bits of spinach smears folded in filo pastry. We thought the effort was pathetic and sloppy.
Our parma ham pizza (RMB78) redeemed some points for the otherwise rather disappointing dinner so far. The crust was nice and crispy and they kept the dish simple with good quality ham.Dinner for two came to RMB298. We saw on the menu about Asia Miles points collection but were turned away because one has to spend RMB300 in order to qualify. We asked perhaps we could get charged RMB300 anyway and the answer was no once again. Pretty anal!

Otto Gourmet Cafe
85 Fumin Rd. (nr. Julu Rd.), Shanghai. Tel: 6248-9186

Miss Ginger

L and I had another visit to Tai Kang Road, this time to collect our tailor-made cashmere stuff and inevitably we had more things made. Ouch!

This time we decided to give Miss Ginger a try. This particular branch boosts a Vietnamese touch on the menu and being a fan of the cuisine I was more than excited.

On top of its regular cafe menu there's a small additional snack menu which include items such as satays, steamed rice rolls, lemongrass beef and etc....not entirely Vietnamese but they are certainly good additions to the menu. We decided to try the rice rolls with shrimps, which tasted pretty up to par and we loved the dip.

On the other hand the chicken satays were a little scary. I didn't like the look of the sauce at all but I tried one anyway. I'm not sure whether it was my imagination or not but bits of the meat tasted too smooth and it made me believe that it might not be cooked through. Scary thought and we left the rest untouched.

We also had laksa (I don't know why but I forgot to take a picture once again) and it was not bad. I have decided that I don't like laksa that much anyway because of the pungent fish sauce in the soup base.

We had a good time despite the average food. Service was good and we liked the outdoor seating.

Lane 248, House 47, Tai Kang Rd. (nr. Sinan Rd.), Shanghai. Tel: 5465-7355

Friday, March 28, 2008

Shanghai Uncle

We went to Shanghai Uncle for its famous spareribs but to our disappointment it was sold out once again. We scrambled the menu to get some meat dishes and we picked out a beef cube with garlic stir-fry. It was a good pick after all. The beef was very succulent and juicy; we never like garlic to begin with but the dish was not very garlicky surprisingly.

Our sweet and sour pork had a nice sauce and consistency but the pork was too fatty.

The stir-fried beans were nice and spicy.

Kung po chicken with macadamia nuts. I think we prefer the traditional cashew nuts but we enjoyed the dish a lot nonetheless.

We also ordered some handmade noodles with vegetables and they turned out to be excellent also. Usually we'd go for fried rice but we decided that Shanghaiese fried rice is not half as good as the Cantonese counterpart.

Shanghai Uncle
2/F, 211 Tian Yao Qiao Rd. (nr. Metro Centre), Shanghai. Tel: 6464-6430

Simply Thai

A quick lunch at Simply Thai, this time at the Hongqiao branch.

Money bags: meat wrapped in pastry and deep fried. They were OK, not enough fillings and too much pastry.

Stir-fried beef with peppers. We both enjoyed the dish very much. I burnt my tongue very badly with one particularly spicy pepper. Ouch!

We also ordered a green chicken curry and 2 portions of steamed rice. Lunch came close to RMB200 for the two of us. Conclusion: I think the branch in XinTianDi has the best food.

Simply Thai
No.28, Lane 3338 Hongmei Rd., Shanghai. Tel: 6465-8955

Sweetcorn dude!

I finally got to meet the famous steak guy - actually I think it's a female - check out the eye lashes and lipstick!

My favourite has to be the sweetcorn dude. He was a friendly sweetcorn too he freaked me out a bit when he came running trying to hand me a flyer.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

face essence report

O Hui Original Energy 100 (about US$90)

I picked up a number of O Hui products while I was in Seoul a while ago and this moisture boost essence was one of them. The texture is somewhat like water with a slight oily feel to it. I used 4 to 5 drops morning and night in the summer months. To be honestly I didn't really feel any boost in terms of moisture and it didn't really repair my skin condition. It kept my face from being dry but then it was humid in the summer months anyway. Won't be buying another one.

Shiseido Revital Night Essence (around HK$600)

I like all of the Shisedo Revital products. Period. I used this essence together with the line's toner, emulsion, lotion and night cream and my skin condition and elasticity improved drastically over the course of 2 weeks. When I woke up each morning my face shined with radiance. Highly recommended.

Aquamoist by Juju Comestics (HK$100)
An essence used only at night, it's main ingredient is hydraulic acid. It has a very thick consistency so one to two drops is more then enough. It does preserve moisture overnight but only if you put another essence underneath first. Pretty good value for what you get.

Cellex-C essence set (HK$780)
I bought the set because I wanted to give hydra 5 B complex a try. The set has two serums: the high-potency serum is for day and night and the hydra 5 B is for night time only.
The high potency serum is brown in color and had a very pungent smell...kind of like rotten orange peel (not that I know what rotten orange peel smells like). I gagged at times in the morning, especially when I had a hangover.

The hydra 5 B complex feels like a liquid gel and it doesn't smell at all. The set didn't really help my skin drastically and the smell of the brown serum was very over-powering. I am glad they are all gone.

Cell Shock Cellular Ampoules
I forgot how much the set is but it comes with 8 small bottles and each lasts a little more than a week. I love the tangling feeling, somehow it feels like it's penetrating. I use one when I need a booster and it does help correct problematic skin condition. I bring one with me when I go diving and my face never gets dry. Magic!

Tonkichi Tonkatsu Seafood

Tonkichi has been in the same spot for the last 10 years at least and it's still extremely popular so it must be doing something right.

The signature dish tonkatsu and prawn combo (around HK$138).

Another close-up. The meat and prawns were very juicy and the batter was fluffy and crispy. Couldn't be better!

My katsudon with pork fillets (you can pick between chops or fillets) (around HK$120). I loved every bite of it...the meat was so lean and juicy and the egg mixture was cooked just right. They even got the consistency of the rice and sauce ratio perfect I couldn't get enough of it.
I must take my husband there next time!

Tonkichi Tonkatsu Seafood
P412 World Trade Centre, 280 Gloucester Rd., Causeway Bay, Hong Kong. Tel: 2577-6617

Kaya Korean Restaurant

Kaya looks so trendy from the outside I was surprised my dad suggested to go there. :-)

The place was packed and despite having booked a table we had to share a a large table with another party of 8 in a room. Good thing they weren't too noisy!

Our kimchi spread. Nothing particularly outstanding and we had to ask for refills.

Beef BBQ. We also got beef ribs, pork and sirloin steak. Everything came at once and people started putting them on the same grill all at the same time. Arrrgggg! Anyhow the quality of the meats were not bad and the beef ribs were very nice in particular.

We also shared some spicy tofu soup and ginseng chicken soup. Both were average.

The finale: beef noodles. The beef looked good but unfortunately the dish sucked.

The noodles were very soggy and they are not even half as nice as the ones in Sorabol. What a disappointment! To make it worse the soup base wasn't very tasty at all. Won't be coming back again.
Dinner for 5 came to just over HK$1400 with no drinks. I think it's Sorabol next time for sure.

Kaya Korean Restaurant
6/F, 8 Russell St., Causeway Bay, Hong Kong. Tel: 2838-9550

Shek O Chinese and Thailand Seafood Restaurant

Shek O was so sunny and peaceful on this Feb Sunday afternoon. We first picked a beach front establishment Paradiso for lunch but we found the menu so limiting (3 pizzas or the 5-item buffet) we decided to have a drink instead and move somewhere else. The service turned out to be so slow and unorganised we were glad we didn't order food. Good luck to the owner!

We settled in one of the Thai restaurants on the main road instead. We didn't have high expectation as they all seemed pretty Chinese but the food turned out to be not bad.

Our appetizer combo with the usual prawn cakes, fish cakes, spring rolls and chicken wraps. They were not particularly bad nor good.

Larb gai: spicy minced chicken salad. It was very very spicy and one of our favourites.

Green curry pork. The sauce was very nice but I didn't really like the pork. It could be just me as the rest of them loved it. I think I was having one of those weird meat moments again - my hormones have been acting up...

Stir-fried morning glory - a very Chinese dish but it was pretty good nonetheless.

The pad Thai was very average unfortunately. It wasn't a bad meal overall though and it was infinitely better than what we would have gotten in Paradiso.

I think the meal for 4 with loads of beer came to around HK$600.
Shek O Chinese and Thailand Seafood Restaurant
303 Shek O Village, Hong Kong. Tel: 2809-4426

The Flying Pan

A favourite haunt for late clubbers or early risers, the Flying Pan opens 24 hours a day and knocks out hearty breakfast dishes non-stop.

The traditional fry up (around HK$80). Nice quantity with honest ingredients.
I was greedy and decided to have the kitchen sink omelette (around HK$115). It was way more than I ever needed. The omelette was filled with chunks of everything you will find in your sink: sausages, ham, onions, peppers, spinach, cheese, you name it! Adequately greasy, it's a good cure for hangovers - too bad we were just jet lagged and therefore found it a little too heavy.The Frying Pan
3/F, 81-85 Lockhart Rd. (nr Luard Rd.), Wanchai, Hong Kong. Tel: 2528-9997

Heron Island

Heron Island is on the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef. The island has only one resort and on top of the diving around the island it's also a bird sanctuary. We expected a quiet tranquil island and little did we know what was coming.

The island is surrounded by beautiful white sand and it's a hatching ground for sea turtles. Too bad we didn't catch any hatching this time but we did see a nest with sand moving on the top. We waited for over an hour and still no signs of little turtles though. :-(

Birds are everywhere on the island and they are very very noisy 24/7. You could definitely smell them too and I was a little worried about bird flu to be honest.
One of the beaches is full of rays, gracefully gliding in the shallow water.

You definitely have to watch where you are going before you jump in.

Since it rained and rained with gale force winds blowing all week we amused ourselves with bird watching. An Eastern Reef Egret.

Bar Shouldered Dove.

I believe this is a heron....rather nasty creature. This particular one pecked at a little chick.

The infamous Mutton Bird. There are about 20,000 to 30,000 of them on the island. They return to their nests in the evening and begin to cry all night. The spooky cries sound like a sheep being strangled...very freaky and very Hitchcock .
Black Noddy Tern - there are close to 120,000 of them on the island. They were everywhere. This one is regurgitating food to its chick.

A Noddy Tern chick.

They all seem oblivious of human.
Our chopper ride out. I was very nervous because of the strong wind.

Another island and reef nearby.

I think we will stick with the South Pacific islands next time. Heron (and other Australian beach resorts) is expensive for what you get. While our room was comfortable we didn't really feel pampered; the service was very mediocre and food was average. Despite being the only resort on the island we didn't feel alone....we were constantly surrounded by kids and people. All in all it was very average and we will think twice about visiting other GBR places.