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24 Carat gold gilded peach
For the Chinese, a peach symbolises longevity. The God of Longevity has always been depicted with a Chinese peach in his hand. Traditional Chinese birthday cakes (sau bao 壽包) are created in the shape of peaches. For my dad’s 60th birthday, I decided to make him a peach with 24 Carat gold.

I have never done gilding before but at the time I just happened to be designing a house that features gilded panels. So I thought I might as well give it a go. Here is how I made things up along the way:

Making a peach
Basic set up for making a peach out of modelling clay

Making core of the peach

Getting the modelling clay ready to make a peach

Peach made of modelling clay
I used Super Sculpey which is a modelling polymer clay that only hardens when baked. This allowed me time to mess about without wasting any material. I could always touch up and remake until I was happy with the form. Continue reading >>


The Riding House Café is the third project by the team behind Village East and The Garrison. We went on its official first day of opening. (Btw, 50% off food bill till May 2, 2011!)

It was an interesting cross between a bar, a pub and a restaurant.
This concept can be observed from the layout of the space as well as on the menu. On the left of the entrance is the restaurant (photo below), with the bar (2nd photo), wooden seating (like a pub) and a big shared dining area on the right.

Restaurant at the Riding House Cafe
Bar at at The Riding House Cafe
The menu was created to allow flexible ordering. Instead of the usual ‘starters’, we were presented with a selection of 17 small plates, which cost £3, £4 or £5, to choose from. I can imagine this is fantastic for customers at the pub, bar food to munch on with a glass of drink. Continue reading>>

Kimchi at Arang

I lost count how many times people asked me where they should go for Korean food in SOHO, London. I always recommend Arang and remind them not to go to Koba, which gets 10 times as much press, costs more but is not as good.

Yukwhe (seasoned raw beef strips with egg yolk and sliced pear) at Arang
My favourite starter is Yukwhe (seasoned raw beef strips with egg yolk and sliced pear, photo above). The waiter usually mixes all the ingredients in front of you.

Yukwhe (seasoned raw beef strips with egg yolk and sliced pear) at Arang
At Arang, the beef strips were served a little (just a little) frozen. This was intentional, not a mistake (as I have tried this dish many times here). They were of a similar size to the pear strips, which in my opinion contributed to its success. The sweetness of the pear complimented amazingly well with the beef. The raw egg yolk connected the 2 of them together and created a smooth sensation. Continue reading about other Korean dishes like the classic Korean barbecue >

Tilting teapot- filtering position
This teapot looks weird and wrong but I love it. It reminds me of the one in Beauty and the Beast, except this one actually can make me a cup of tea. Its comic looks actually comes with a functional design.

Tilting teapot- brewing position
When it lies horizontally, it is at brewing position (photo above) – tea leaves are mixed with hot water. When the brewing time is up, I then put the teapot in its tilted position (top photo). The built-in filter inside separates the leaves from the tea (photo below). The tea leaves are kept clear from the tea, so your tea does not stew. Continue reading >>

Matcha Azuki (Matcha ice-cream with agar jelly, rice dumplings, red beans and matcha shaved ice) at Candy Cafe, London

I first visited Candy Cafe nearly 1.5 years ago. But it is only until recently that I decided to write about it. Why? Because there is a new place called Bubbleology soon to open near it. As its name suggests, its selling point is bubble tea , which is also served at Candy Cafe (in fact, 33 different types of them!) What the latter does not have is the former’s big budget in marketing and branding. I feel that I should say something about this humble 1st floor cafe, located at Macclesfield Street in Chinatown.

What is bubble tea? Bubble tea or pearl tea (as called in Hong Kong), is a sweetly flavored tea drink originally from Taiwan. Most bubble teas contain a tea base mixed with fruit (or fruit syrup) and/or milk. Ice blended versions of the drink are also available, usually in fruit flavors. Bubble teas usually contain small pearls of tapioca or sago called “boba”. These teas are shaken to mix the ingredients, creating a foam on the top of some varieties, hence the name.

Menu at Candy Cafe, London
Candy Cafe serves a diversed range of desserts that are popular in Taiwan and Hong Kong. Bubble tea is just one of them. Continue reading >>

After a great 3- course meal at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, I did not expect that I could eat another dessert an hour later, until I walked past Kula.

handmade Swedish waffle cones at Kula
Kula were clever- they left a basket full of waffle cones outside for people to try. They looked yummy! I felt peckish instantly. As soon as I looked up, I saw a curious rotary waffle making machine inside. That was it- I was hooked. I picked up a waffle piece and went in to watch. (What a better way to eat and watch people making waffles at the same time?)

rotating waffle device in action at Kula
It was therapeutic to watch the lady making the waffle cones. She was skillful and the rhythm of her hand movements was like a mini-performance. She could finish 6 waffle cones in 4 minutes! I had no idea what Swedish waffles are but for the first time, the waffle cones made me want to try the ice-cream! (normally it is the other way round!). Continue reading about the waffles and ice-cream, with special video >>

Plants growing towards the light in a propagator
Spring has arrived! Have you decided what food you are going to grow this coming year yet?

I started sowing the seeds using my propagator 3 weeks ago. There are many propagators in the market, ranging from £3 to £70. The one I use is self-watering and only cost around £7 from Homebase. This means that I do not need to water everyday- more time for myself! The most expensive range is usually self-heating. I do not see much point splashing out on one though as I found the seeds germinate just happily if I keep the propagator somewhere warm. Here is what the propagator looks like:

Self-watering propagator

(diagram by Homebase)

The propagator is very easy to use. I started by putting water in the hole so that the mat is touching the water properly. Continue reading >>

Queen Victoria's toilet at Victoria and Albert Museum
This toilet was built for Queen Victoria to use when she visited the Victoria and Albert Museum. The museum gained its current name in 1899, when she laid the foundation stone of a new building designed to give the Museum a grand façade and main entrance, in memory of the enthusiastic support Prince Albert had given to its foundation.

Unlike most museum pieces that can only be seen, you can actually walk in and use the (mixed) toilet! All this is hidden behind a modern door (see photo below). Ever since I worked my first toilet design package, I have a passion about toilets. I get excited about modern mirrored ones at Nopi and I feel lucky that I discovered an old one like this. I can share the ‘toilet experience’ with the Queen. Continue reading >>


With an influx of people from mainland China, Chinatown has become more interesting recently. The variety of food has expanded from just mainly Cantonese to cooking styles from other parts of China. You can imagine my excitement when I heard that there was a new restaurant called Beijing Dumpling.

Like Dumplings Legend, Beijing Dumpling has a show kitchen. They were so determined to sell the idea of freshly made dumplings (Xiao Long Bao 小籠包) that they even used it as its shopfront. With that in mind, I ordered the classic dumpling with crab meat (蟹粉小籠包). How was it?

It was one of the ugliest dumplings I have ever seen served in a restaurant. The skin was not smooth but rough. Unlike the amazing dumplings at Din Tai Fung, I could not taste any crab meat inside. There was not much soup inside each dumpling neither. For a restaurant which put so much emphasis on dumplings in its naming and marketing, I expected higher quality dumplings than these. They did not even give us any vinegar with ginger as dipping sauce, which is the standard condiment for dumplings! (We had to ask for it ourselves)

How was the other food? Sadly, the menu mainly consisted of Cantonese dishes, a handful of Asian ones and even fewer choices from Beijing. With nothing new to try, we opted for the ‘All you can eat hot pot’, which was one of its speciality. For £20 a head, you are supposed to be able to eat as much as you want. You can order any of ingredients from the menu which is a selection of meat and vegetables- Well, that is the theory anyway!

For those unfamiliar with hot pot, it’s Chinese dish normally served in winter. Each table gets a large pot of simmering broth, and a selection of meat, fish and vegetables to cook in the broth. It’s a bit like fondue.

We made it clear to the waiter that right at the time of order that out of the 22 ingredients we could choose from, there were some ingredients we did not want and there were some we would like in a larger portion. We were told that we did not have a choice in the first round as EVERYTHING would come on one plate in default portion.

Little did we know that they meant all the raw ingredients would be ‘dumped’ onto the plate in one go. This was how it looked:

Hot pot for Beijing Dumpling
There was virtually no presentation! It looked like they just scooped everything out from a skip, with prawns flying around, raw lamb and raw beef all mixed up in a mountain of pink. I have had Chinese hot-pot many times in my life, and this is NOT how it usually looks like! And, just in case you think there is a lot of meat, think again! They used the classic trick of putting lots of vegetables underneath to create the illusion of volume! Continue reading >>

My garden is frequently visited by my neighbour’s cats. (I like cats. My sister has 4 cats and my cousins like putting hers in cute fancy dresses!) Last year, one of them started to poo in my garden. I embarked on a battle to stop him from doing so. I have tried many techniques; some based on the principles of sound, smell, novelty and contact and failed most of the time. It was a bit like the movie Catch Me If You Can, except that I was no Leonardo DiCaprio (Frank). I was more like ‘Carl’, the FBI bank fraud agent (Tom Hanks), who kept trying to catch Frank, the Conman, but was always a step behind. Every morning, the first thing I did was to roll up the blind and check if the set up has worked. Sometimes, I was amused by how clever the little cat was! A year on, I am happy to declare that I have won the battle! Here is how I found the ultimate solution against cats fouling in my garden.

My neighbour's cat
General notes:
1. Always remove the cat faeces from the soil. It is not a good fertiliser.
2. Cats like going back to the same spot to make a poo. Clean the area with soapy water helps reducing the smell they are familiar with and makes it less ‘inviting’.

SOUND
The concept of this is to generate sound Continue reading about the tested methods to stop cats from fouling in your garden >>