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Mammoth in a Mall

I'm a little late with this, the exhibition has been over for a couple of weeks, but I felt I had to mention it because this towering mammoth structure in a shopping mall is quite...well, unbelievable.

The IFC Mall, by some stroke of genius (or madness), mounted a massive exhibit on Lyuba, a baby woolly mammoth that lived about 42,000 years ago. Lyuba was found by reindeer herders in 2007 almost completely intact - save for her toenails, tail and one ear - lying frozen on a river bank. 

I learnt that mammoths lived in the Pleistocene period beginning about 2.6 million years ago and ending about 12,000 years ago. Most of the world's woolly mammoths had died by about 10,000 years ago. 

Kudos to IFC for trying to convert a mall into a museum - the exhibit attracted tons and tons of people, and there were endless lines forming just to get a closer look at Lyuba. I found it a funny sight to see this mammoth from 42,000 years ago in a modern-day mall, juxtapositioned between Bobbi Brown and Origins.

I think Lyuba might just have been blown out of her mind. 


Wet Market Shopping

One of the beauties of living in Asia is that there's always easy access to a wet market. For fresh meats, fish, fruit and vegetables, a Chinese wet market is never far away. Perhaps it's the Asian way, but that's how people prefer to shop for their groceries - at the wet market - to ensure the freshest ingredients. 

I didn't start out doing my groceries at the wet market, I much preferred the air-conditioned comfort of the supermarket, and didn't quite like getting my feet wet walking around in the dirty puddles which are everywhere in wet markets. But since being in Hong Kong, I've taken quite a shine to it over the years, so much so that I'm quite in love with it.

For me, the wet market perfectly captures the heart and energy of this city.  It's so local, with shop-keepers shouting out in Cantonese, friends and strangers yelling "Zo San!" (good morning), the chimes from excited chatter, the honks from trucks warning you to jump out of the way in the narrow lanes. This is the Hong Kong I imagined before I moved here - a city I have an affinity to, a place to immerse in the local culture, speak Cantonese, and laugh at the superbly witty Cantonese jokes that only a local can deliver.

It's the hustle and bustle of the market that I like so much - you can feel the pulse of this city, of its people, beating to its own hurried drum. I love it, it's so alive, so Cantonese, so Hong Kong. It can be daunting trying to haggle and shout to get your goods, but it's all part of the life that I've come to know here.

The wet market closest to where we live is the one on Gage Street, at the cross-road of Lyndhurst Terrace, and a quick 5 minute stroll from our place. Here's a look at this place which has become familiar ground to me.

My go-to ladies for Chinese vegetables:

My salads man, who doesn't speak English and has his daughter translate since most of his customers are English-speaking. She wears smoky eyes and black nail polish every single day. 

Eggs! From Holland, to the USA and Thailand - they don't get any fresher than these.

Noodles galore:

Really good roast meat - siew yuk, char siew, soy sauce chicken, etc - Anthony Bourdain ate here and featured this place in his show.

Meats and fish in the heart of the wet market, right next to the florist and a French restaurant!


The Gage Street wet market:


Lunch at Bo Innovation

A good friend from out of town was here and because she had heard sooo much about 2-Michelin star restaurant Bo Innovation, we went there for lunch earlier this week.

My last trip to Bo Innovation was some years back, when the whole Michelin star business hadn't yet happened. Back then, it already had a robust reputation for being, well...innovative in its cuisine, thanks to its infamous Demon Chef.

We had the 8-course degustation menu, and every dish was accompanied by the waiter giving operating instructions on how to eat the dish. Ahhh molecular food - when did eating become so complicated?

We started off with Dead Garden, which was really good and by far my favorite dish. It resembled a little garden, with the 'dirt' made up of air-dried morel mushrooms, and a mixture of green onions and lime making up the rest of the dish. 

The molecular Xiao Long Bao followed, which was a different take on the usual xiao long bao. It took me by surprise because I hadn't expected so much liquid inside - the skin is kind of gelatinous and when I bit into it, the broth inside did a mighty explosion and because I kind of had my mouth slightly agape, it was uh...kind of messy. The overall taste was more strange than awesome.

Then it was the Har Meen (prawn noodles), which was served with a raw prawn on the side. Finding raw prawn gross, we (being suitably contrite at the power of the Michelin stars) very apologetically sent the prawns back to the kitchen and asked for them to be cooked. I liked the cooked prawn that came back, it actually tasted lightly seasoned and succulent. Apart from that though, the dish was just average.

Next came the cod, which was made with saffron miso. It looked so pretty, like a delicate Japanese dessert, and it kind of tasted like that - distinctively Japanese but sweet. In fact, too sweet. It felt like eating a dessert but with a fish texture. Eeeew.

Then it was the Iberico, wrapped with vermicelli, with a cucumber gazpacho on the side. Strange bed-fellows, and it didn't taste particularly great. It wasn't at all bad, but it's a dish that I'll just shrug my shoulders at.

Next up was the beef with black truffle, soy and cheong fun. Having not learnt our lesson, we once again sent the beef back to the kitchen because it looked so rare. This time, we got some withering looks. The cheong fun accompaniment was an interesting touch but the cheong fun itself didn't taste like anything special. The beef was pretty good though. In the excitement of sending our dish back to the kitchen, I forgot to take photos so we shall remain photo-less here.

Then it was dessert, which had two parts - the first being the more 'traditional' dish - crispy pastry drizzled with honey (much like those served at Chinese restaurants, but of course more refined). I'm not sure what they did with those gingko nuts but it was something that after biting into it, we had to take a moment to try and recall what this familiar taste was before we went 'oh, gingko nuts!'

The second dessert was what we kept seeing the other tables get served, and our interest was definitely piqued. It's brought out to your table and then the waiter fans it to life - you'll see white smoke emanating, with the scent of incense. Which sounds magical but actually the scent was like joss sticks in a temple, so it was kind of heavy and smothering. These were chocolates which had a joss-stick aftertaste - not great.

Our conclusion was that the fusion cuisine here is fused, but not quite fine enough. It didn't quite feel like really really fine dining, but it certainly felt fusion. 


ART HK 12 

We went to ART HK over the weekend - it's now in its fifth year and I don't know why we've never been before. It's the largest art event in Asia and widely acknowledged as an important platform for networking in the international art community, bringing together leading collectors, curators, artists and galleries from across Asia and the rest of the world.

There was a very extensive display of art, and as I was walking through the halls, I was thinking poor, poor curators. It must be a nightmare to curate this exhibition. The sheer amount of art, and the massive displays and installations, I can't help but think the curators must have harnessed in hundreds of gnomes to work through the night for months on end. Even the logistics is unthinkable - how do you move such art around?

I really enjoyed the exhibition, save for my aching feet (I concede that I simply cannot walk for hours on end anymore). Being surrounded by so much creativity and art, much of which is bizarre and subject to personal interpretation, reminds my little mind to be magnified - that there are so many different possibilities, so many different ways to view the world, so many different ways to pull things together and make it something great. 

This is one of my favorite pieces - I like it because the idea is so simple, and constructed with such simplistic materials. These are plastic pieces coated with enamel with metal nails on wood. 

Here's the first piece that caught my son's eye - he said 'What's this?'

And then he saw this and shouted 'Where're the eyes?'

He was curious about this one - made of a used shipping container and constructed to emulate a diamond, with constantly changing light emanating from within.

He was mesmerised by this and stood still for a full 5 minutes watching it: a massive floor to ceiling Venus fly trap that opened and shut every few seconds.

This one's interesting - it's a hanging sculpture made of hair. Up close though, it looks like the tufts of hair that gets caught in brooms, all melded up with dust and dirt - yikes!

Some other pieces that caught my eye:


What's the time now, Mr Wolf?

We recently did a little switcheroo with my son's dinner time. Instead of him having dinner at 6.30pm, we moved it up to 5.30pm. 

He's still in the terrible twos phase, which means we get tantrums pretty much all the time, and when he's just eaten a full dinner and then goes on a crying fit, he ends up throwing up. So we figured if we switched dinner to an earlier time, he'll have more time to digest his food, and perhaps it'll sit better in his system.

He comes home from nursery around 4.45pm, and he would usually want something to eat. So he has a slice of bread, some fruit and half a glass of milk. Dinner's then at 6.30pm, which is usually carbs heavy - pasta or rice-based with meat and vegetables. 

After dinner's over, he gets to watch TV. I followed the general recommendation of no TV before age 2, and after that, TV only on a limited basis. We've been through the stage where he won't eat dinner unless the TV is on, but I've been very firm on no TV during dinner, only after. We've fought our battles and he's finally gotten the hang of it now. When dinner's over, it's just in time to catch the tail end of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and then Jake and the Neverland Pirates on cable.

Now that we've switched dinner to 5.30pm though, he's done by a little past 6pm, we play around and then he gets to watch TV around 6.30pm, which is a whole new program - Special Agent Oso. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse comes on after that, and this is when his little brain gets confused. He'll say, 'Oh I want to have dinner. I haven't had my dinner yet.' Or, 'I've not had my soup.' (the Chinese boy in him, who likes drinking Chinese soup every day). And we'll go, 'No, you've already had your dinner, and you've already had your soup.' And he'll give us a strange look and then ask for his dinner again.

It's funny how little minds work at this little age. You don't know how to tell the time, so you can't quite have a sense of time - which I guess can be really weird and even disconcerting, come to think of it - not knowing what time it is all day. So he makes sense of his day by the routines that go on. And we've messed it up a bit by changing his dinner time, so he's kind of like 'Huh? What just happened?'

This has been going on for a few days, but I think it's finally sunk in. He's stopped asking for his dinner during Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, but now asks for the slice of bread and milk. And sometimes his fruit too.