'Black as Hell, Strong as Death' vs. 'Espresso Yourself!'

The stairs leading to a new cafe in the GOD ('Goods Of Desire' - more on this in another post) store in Causeway Bay. Love the line - coffee should be black as hell, strong as death (anyone who knows me personally is aware of my penchant for strong joe - 'chewable coffee' as I call it). Definitely the kind gritty urban cafe I'd like to visit. But then they totally ruin the effect the next step up - be a coffee drinking individual - espresso yourself! It seems the copywriter was worried that he'd gone too far with strong as death etc. and then wildly overcompensated; espresso yourself! seems better suited for a coffee, potpourri, & scrapbooking shop in Indiana, specializing in delightful 'flavored coffees' like Hazelnutty...

Plate Lunch - Eat 'til You Sleep

I was asked today what a 'plate lunch' is, which I mentioned in my last post. Plate lunches are an institution in Hawaii; there is no US mainland equivalent that I'm aware of. Anyway its a generic term, but the basics are the same: usually a styrofoam container containing one scoop white rice, one scoop macaroni salad (dressed only in mayo - you are expected to dash tobasco on this to liven it up), and at least one main item. Pictured below is one of my favorites, chicken katsu, based on the Japanese dish (I'd usually hit this with some tobasco as well). My other preferred sins: the chili dog plate (the best came from the Rainbow Drive-in; a hot dog drowned in chili, no bun); pork gisantes' (a portuguese tomato sauce based stew), and huli huli (spit roasted) chicken or kalua (roasted) pork.

Most plate lunch places give you more than enough to eat, and most locals take pride in polishing it all off. In fact one place had a great tag line, 'eat til you sleep'. Our favorite place was Keneke's, on the way to Waimanalo beach on Oahu. They have a bizarre mix of local and Christian weight lifting decor (really), and arguably the best pork gisantes in Hawaii. I used to order what I called the 'tri-pork' plate: pork adobo, kalua pork, and pork gisantes together; nothing like it. And yes I would definitely have to sleep it off afterwards...

Ice Milk Tea - HK's Nectar of the Gods

I've decided to write about a few of the things I truly enjoy about living here, and one cannot write about HK without first mentioning its greatest asset - the food. Of course as (arguably) the most international city in Asia, almost every cuisine is well represented here (even authentic Mexican & texmex - not American 'pseudo-mexican' where everything's buried under a 1/2 inch of cheddar). Due to its colonial and economically diverse past, HK also has its own unique creations and traditions; and one of the best is milk tea. Milk tea - and its hot weather incarnation, ice milk tea - is based on English breakfast (oolong) tea, but much stronger, usually strained through mesh, with heavy infusions of condensed milk and sugar. The result is similar to Vietnamese coffee (itself based on strong, espresso-like french roast coffee) not as strong but just as addictive. Hong Kong 'diners' and tea shops can be found throughout the city, and many locals start the day with a milk tea and sweet bun - or vaguely english breakfast of eggs and toast, though with HK additions like ramen with satay beef. Like 'plate lunch' in Hawaii, milk tea is one of those unique HK things I know I'll miss if/when we leave, as its just not the same anywhere else...

God Makes You Try Pop Pop Pizza

Looks like Pizza Hut has brought in the Big Man himself to get his flock (or these rapturous HK ladies at least) to partake of their latest contraption pizza, the ‘Pop Pop’. Have to say it would take divine intervention to get me to try this abomination: sausage buds (with squirt bottle mayo), garlic shrimp, hot dog chunks, pineapple, and what appears to be twisty cheddar/mozzarella nuggets. Love the enticing platters in the background showing the various ingredients on cheeseboards with garnishes - just like in a real Pizza Hut kitchen! Not sure where the Popping occurs though. Perhaps its the sound of your stomach wall rupturing as God forces you to eat a monstrous slice of ‘pizza’ that weighs more than you do...

The Pizza Gods Are NOT Smiling

A new addition to the ranks of unnecessary food innovations - the ‘pretzel pizza’. Seems the folks at Auntie Anne’s Pretzelwerks weren’t content with unsettlingly phallic ‘hotdogs in pretzel dough’ (see epicureans on the go - 26/11/2010). Now they’ve scandalized the Pizza Gods themselves with their latest travesty. And lo the Pizza Gods are not smiling. They are perhaps relieved that the ‘pretzel pizza’ is at least flat, and not pretzelized somehow (or worse pocket-shaped , the ultimate abomination). But they cannot be happy with another mutation. Why must companies constantly crank stuff like this out? Who craves a pretzel dough pizza? Why can’t they just stick to what works? And what of the Pretzel Gods? Are they smiling? No, they are weeping, dear friends. Weeping.

Real Kebab Adventure!

From our friends at Istanbul Express. I have to say I’ve never eaten there, so I can’t attest to the taste etc, and honestly would love to have one - or as the Brits say, “I fancy a kebab”. But I’m not sure I want to make an ‘adventure’ out of it. If I wanted to do that, I’d take it upon myself to find out what those pillars of ‘meat’ are actually made of...

The Hardest Scratch-Resistant Coating Since the Formation of the Swiss Alps!

From the Star Ferry - Again with the new innovation. Seems our friends at Stoneline have done it again - terracota +induction?! They have apparently achieved, nay surpassed the Holy Grail of scratch resistance - the hardness of the original Swiss Alps! And we all know how scratch resistant the newly formed Alps were...

Waste of Fire-Wielding Talent?

A billboard ad for a local duck specialty restaurant. Seems like a waste of the man’s impressive mutant fire-wielding powers, but then again that looks like one perfectly roasted duck...

Understand Classical: Witch-hatted Garlic Cloves Signify Roast Pig's Knuckles

Another selection from the previously mentioned menu. Nothing says classic Beijing cuisine like roast pig’s knuckles, and nothing signifies classic pig’s knuckles quite like a pair of witch-hatted cloves of garlic. Obvious really...

Even if the Trend is Changing, the Same is to Adhere to Taste - The Trendy Options

A bold, farsighted quote from the ‘trendy’ menu section of a Beijing area restaurant. I’m guessing they are trying to say something like new recipes still need to taste good. I could get the characters properly translated, but why spoil the mystique? And as quotes go, it’s far more thought provoking this way. Although I can’t say it made their entrees taste any better...

A Bucket of 12 Inch Gummi Nightcrawler Bait - Yummi!

From the quickie mart store in Beijing. As someone who hates Gummi bears and other similar candy, I can’t speak to how long these things have been around, but I can speak to the uniquely unappetizing thought of eating a 12 inch long Gummi nightcrawler worm from a bucket. I didn’t check to see if they were packed in moist dirt like real nightcrawlers, though that would add undeniable authenticity...

Perhaps I’m not alone in my disgust, seeing as they had a veritable tower of the stuff sitting untouched for a week (on sale for 1/2 off to boot). The mind boggles at what the good folks at Gummi Works will think of next: how about a bucket of Gummi Small Intestines? 36 feet of chewilicious gummy joy! Or maybe a bucket of Gummi Meal Worms or Gummi Chum, to expand on their bait-as-candy motif...

Dreamy Pie Vs. O!Karto

Two products available in the window of a nearby gas station’s food mart. I was just going to post about the relative merits of dreamy pies: so dreamy, so pie-y. But then I noticed the O!Karto faux french fries. So O!-y, so karto-y... So I now have a conundrum: dreamy pie or O!Kartos? And then I saw the Lay’s Kyushi Seaweed potato chips beside them (hard to read I know). Decisions, decisions... oh who am I kidding - gotta go with dreamy pie! Though I would advise caution regarding Lott’s less popular dark chocolate option, Nightmare Cake...

A King's Foursome with Mr. Bacon, Mr. Cheese, and Mr. Pineapple

Seems Burger King is now promoting outright adultery, tempting the ladies with the foul triumvirate of Misters Bacon, Cheese, and Pineapple(?). What woman can resist a foursome with these formidable paramours? What woman wouldn’t want three snazzy new tattoos declaring her rather crowded dalliance to the world? Have to say though that the tattoos should at least have a passing reference to well, bacon, cheese and pineapple, no? And don’t know what flowers and hearts have to do with any of them. But I guess in the grip of a four time cheatin’ heart, an already vulnerable gal may agree to anything. I just hope they don’t make her choose one over the other. My money’s on Mr. Bacon...

Garoupa Cheesy Volcano: Embrace the Affection

Just when I think Pizza Hut can’t possibly outdo their previous abomination, they deliver again (no pun intended). Now you can ‘embrace the affection’ and heat up your holiday romance with a ring of molten cheese volcano pods, the perfect counterpoint to the garoupa fish chunks nestled on the ‘mothership’ pizza. And the exclusive logo - that’s some quality work right there, managing to tie ‘volcano’, cheese, and romance (note the swoopy calligraphy elements and elegant font) into one package. The only thing missing is a nod to the delicious garoupa nuggets...



The Legends of McRib

A screenshot from a sports website(?). Seems the infamous McRib sandwich is making a comeback, and false tales of it’s lightning inducing (as opposed to its actual vomit-inducing) prowess are hittin’ the airwaves. I have to admit to trying one of these years (decades?) ago when it first came out, and it was one of the most disgusting, disquieting things i’ve ever eaten - which is saying something. It was a vaguely meatish lump stamped into a vaguely rib-rack shape - sans bones of course, slathered with ‘bbq’ sauce and onion bits. If ever there was a soylent green product on the market, this is it. For those of you who don’t know what soylent green is... its’ people! soylent green is people!

Double the Flavour Twistin' FUN with Extra Cheddar Dipping Sauce

Yet another mutant Pizza Hut creation. I assume they have these in the US, though the ‘Thousand Island Dressing’ option isn’t available. Yes, there is a Japanese pizza variant that substitutes thousand island for tomato sauce. Tastes worse than it sounds, if that’s possible. Anyway this it the latest in the amoebic budding crust motif, where you get a wheel of extra nuggets to pull from the mothership. And if having cheddar cheese (or pig in a blanket/mini dog) stuffing isn’t enough, there’s a handy cheddar dipping sauce to drive the point home. Apparently you can never have too much cheese, or too many calories...

Beard Papa's - World's Best Cream Puffs?

A cream puff outfit originating in Japan. Honestly who else would name a cream puff franchise - or anything for that matter - ‘beard papas?. Anyway they’ve been doing well for themselves, with a few branches here in HK; in fact I saw a branch in San Francisco last time we visited. I had seen their signs here but wanted to actually try one before I laid into them over the preposterous name. And I have to give them credit; yes it is a very silly name, and yes they have world class cream puffs. We went conservative and tried the original with chocolate. Far better than I expected, in fact the best cream puff/profiterole I’ve had here, or anywhere outside of Italy really. So they can keep the slightly creepy mascot and the odd name; just as long as they don’t change the recipe...

StarzBites?

PIzza Hut's latest mutant pizza idea - seems cheese injected into a hollow tube crust wasn't pushing the envelope far enough. Now we have StarzBites! I haven't seen one of these abominations in person, but apparently its a crust with 18 individual 'bites' attached like spokes, each stuffed with a 2-tone cheese stick (note the z-shaped flourish on top - nice touch - very starzy). The actual pizza is topped with scallops, peaches, pineapple, 'embedded' sausage slices, 'intertwining' mozzarella and cheddar cheeses, and 'innovative' miracle island sauce (thousand island dressing being a common alternative to tomato sauce here in HK and in Japan). Hell who wouldn't want to partake of such a multi-faceted, multi-dimensional treat, if only to be a part of history? I'm feeling more starzy just by looking at it. As for the name, what else are you going to call it? Spokeybites? Sporez?


This is The Place

If you've ever wondered where the place is - the original location that spawned the now time-worn expression - well now you have your answer. Apparently its been in a strip mall in Malaysia all this time. Who knew? Its also an 'overtime cafe & lounge', so if you've just pulled an extra shift at work, just swing by Borneo for a quick bite or pick me up...

Chocoseum - Mona Lisa's Smile in Stamped Chocolate

A surreal brand of cookies from South Korea. Just the thing to satisfy one’s all-too-common craving for small chocolate biscuit cookies stamped to resemble famous iconic paintings. In fact just writing about it makes me want to visit the ‘Chocoseum’ post-haste! I wonder if they have Munch’s ‘The Scream’...

Eau de Pizza Hut

For all you Pizza Hutters(?) who secretly wished you could smell just like your favorite mutant pizza. No, really. Just looky here:



From an official fluff press release:

“Taking a cue from Internet nerd culture, Canada’s Pizza Hut has launched a marketing campaign based on a joke from its Facebook page: the creation of Pizza Hut perfume. The joke turned into a reality when the food chain’s advertising agency thought it would be a great way to commemorate its milestone of reaching 100,000 Facebook fans.

But sadly, Eau de Pizza Hut, a scent “boasting top notes of freshly baked, hand-tossed dough,” (my italics) will only be shipped to a few of said fans. ”For now, we’ve only produced 110 bottles of Eau de Pizza Hut,” said Beverley D’Cruz, marketing and product development director for Pizza Hut Canada. ”But who knows what the future has in store,” she added. Until then, the rest of us will have to smell like Pizza Hut pizza the old-fashioned way.”

Which I suppose means rubbing a spare slice all over your face and chest? Oh to be one of those lucky 110, or their girlfriends. Assuming they have girlfriends. Well if they don’t now, they most certainly will after splashing on some of this instant chick magnet. After all, what sexy lady can ignore ‘top notes of hand-tossed dough’?

Barbeque Shapes - Cheddar Too!

A quick post - seems Arnott’s couldn’t decide on a proper name, so they just went with ‘shapes’. Not sure if that’s just incredibly lazy or intentionally obscure on their part. Still some poor soul spent a good deal of time on the logotype, which also sucks have to say. If you get something to work with like this, couldn’t you try something interesting? At least several different… shapes?



Also the fact that they have hexagonal barbecue shapes and rectangular cheddar shapes makes no sense. Does anyone care? Is anyone blindly reaching into the box, then feeling relieved when they feel eight sides? Whew - thank god these aren’t those rectangular cheddars. Perhaps they use them to train chimps to sign?

Finally the moniker doesn’t exactly make you want to rush out and buy some. You know what I could go for right about now? Some shapes!

Bacon Sundae (510 cal) vs. Bacon Shake (1000+ cal)

A slight departure from our normal offerings. It seems Burger King (or BK Lounge as we used to call it back in the day) has gone all in (no I will not say ‘whole hog’ so don’t ask) with their new Bacon Sundae. And at only 510 calories, it actually clocks in lower than a sizable chunk of their usual menu! I have to say I’ve never had a hankering for a bacon/ice cream combo, but the Americans I polled guiltily admitted that they’d give it a shot.



Upon further investigation, I discovered that Jack in the Box already has a 1,081 calorie Bacon Shake, which they proudly released months earlier.



This is the kind of thing that makes it difficult to defend the US of A. It’s not even funny really, or at least ironic like a bacon tuxedo or bacon tree (yes those exist) or the annual Spam carving contest in Seattle. This is just wrong, both morally and dietarily...

Cheesy 7 - When 6 Just Won't Do

Yet another local Pizza Hut abomination. I assume this had something to do with the Hong Kong Sevens, (which to the uninitiated is a seven-a-side rugby tournament that’s become the premier sports/carousing event in HK). I suppose the local marketing gurus thought they’d hit gold with this tie-in. ‘Cheesy 7’ has a nice ring to it-unless you know American slang of course. In the US cheesy can also mean overdone and/or inauthentic. But what about the meticulously assembled ‘7’ composed of the namesake cheese wedges? Now that’s quality. Actually that’s a ton of work for the poor designer tasked with constructing a ‘realistic’ rendering in Photoshop, but I digress.

Still, who wouldn’t want 7 different kinds of cheese on their pizza? Nowadays mere ‘mozzarella and a dusting of parmesan’ just doesn’t cut it for avant-garde pizza aficionados. But adding 5 more, including cream cheese? Wham! Now you’re talking! You’re talking about 1500 calories a slice…

Cubic Pastry

Lately I’ve had a strange hankering for something cubic, preferably composed of dried and pressed pork shreddings. Looks like I’m in luck. Oh joy.

Sichuan Saliva Chicken

I think this speaks for itself; no need to dwell on what and/or whose saliva. That its listed under ‘appetizers’ makes it even more poignant. Unappetizers perhaps?