I went to a Chinese concert recently and was intrigued by one of the Chinese wind instruments Hulusi葫蘆絲 (photo below). It has a Calabash葫蘆 head connected to a bamboo body.
The bamboo has finger holes which the performer blocks/ unblocks while blowing through the mouth piece on the top. It sounds a bit like flute but as the Hulusi is made from Calabash, a full bodied fruit that has been emptied and dried. It has a rounder sound. Click here to have a look at Hulusi >>
I have not heard much about Takashi Murakami’s work before, but as I grew up in Hong Kong where Japanese cartoons are shown daily on TV and Japanese manga is pretty much part of people’s life, I am not a stranger to Japanese sexual fantasy, especially how women are usually portrayed as figures that have big breasts, short body and super long legs. Takashi Murakami has ’embraced’ this part of Japanese culture by making two 3 metre high sculptures of what would have been palm size dolls. You can check them out in the Gagosian Gallery, which held an amazing light exhibition of James Turrell earlier this year.
There is also a 2 metre high golden penis standing alongside an equally tall silver vagina. Both have a smiley face on top.
Hmmm…. Continue reading >>
According to Victoria and Albert museum, Japanese fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto “became internationally renowned in the early eighties for challenging traditional notions of fashion by designing garments that seemed oversized, unfinished, played with ideas of gender or fabrics not normally used in fashionable attire such as felt or neoprene. Other works revealed Yamamoto’s unusual pattern cutting, knowledge of fashion history and sense of humour. His work is characterised by a frequent and skilful use of black, a colour which he describes as ‘modest and arrogant at the same time”.
I have never seen the work of Yohji Yamamoto with my own eyes before so I looked forward to learning about this famous Japanese fashion designer.
As we entered the room, we were ‘greeted’ by a sticky sheet of plastic, instead of red carpet, on the floor. I am not sure what it was for, perhaps to get rid of the dirt from our dirty shoes so that it would not ruin the light grey rubber on the floor? It could also be a sharp reminder that we should now pay attention to texture.
Over 60 creations of Yamamoto were displayed on mannequins together in one room with double height headroom (Gallery 38). It was flooded with bright white light- Together with the
decorative steel scaffoldings, it felt informal and welcoming. Visitors were allowed to wander around freely. As the garments were not kept in glass boxes, they could check out the details in close distance. They were not supposed to, but a lot of them could not help themselves from touching the garments. Apparently no photography or even sketching was allowed. Many still did so but the security guards were not that bothered to say anything. Read the rest of this entry »
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.
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 >>
When going through my list of restaurants, I (Winkypedia’s Cheap Eat Expert, Gerald) realised that I’ve eaten in 3 starred and 1 starred Michelin restaurants, but never in a 2 star. This had to be rectified. So this trip was less to do with food, but more with an obsessive compulsive desire to experience the spectrum of reviews. After a little research on the net, I decided to go to L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon.
Why that particular restaurant? Well it was the cheapest 2 starred Michelin restaurant I could find in London. Simple as that. I’d heard good and bad things about Robuchon’s restaurants. I have a relative who is boycotting them, due to them raising the prices in his Tokyo restaurant to reflect the weakness of the Japanese yen, but then failing to lower the price again once the yen appreciated.
They currently have a menu du jour offering, where you can have a 2 course meal for £22, or a 3 course meal for £27, or you could order from their regular menu. Given the current economic climate, naturally I plumped for the menu du jour.
I keep a running score in my head of how much my michelin starred meals cost. e.g. my meal at the Fat Duck, worked out at £180 for the meal, so about £60 per star, per person; Galvin @ Windows came in around £100 per star, and One Dim Sum (in Hong Kong) came in at a legendary £4 per star. So potentially I could have a meal, that would come in at just over £11 per star. This would have to be the best value meal in the UK!
We booked dinner for 12.30 on Sunday. On arrival we were warmly greeted, and taken to our seats at the bar. It is a curious concept, French dining but with Japanese style lay out and service. In the same way a sushi chef would pass things over to you as you sit at the counter, here the staff pass the dishes over to you as they are prepared infront of your eyes only a few feet away. Continue reading about the great value set meu at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon >>
Minamoto Kitchoan is a traditional Japanese cake and confectionery shop based in Kamakura, Japan. This shop in London has been opened for quite a long time. It is a lovely place to buy special cakes for Japanese festivals, gifts for friends or for yourself!
Here is a little secret that few know (as they do not advertise it): Continue reading about the secret >>
One of the reason why I like visiting Japan so much is their lunch bento box. The variety is huge and packaging is art. Sadly, this kind of bento boxes cannot be found in London but simplified versions can be found in Japanese supermarkets (like Japan Centre ) and Japanese restaurants. Among all, Eat Tokyo‘s teriyaki chicken bento box is the best.
At lunch time, customers can order grilled mackerel, chicken katsu or port katsu takeaway bento boxes from Eat Tokyo though my favourite is the chicken teriyaki. It is amazing. I have craving for it nearly every other week. The cook to order chicken (a generous portion) was tender and succulent, served on a bed of hot and soft Japanese rice, complemented by a small salad (with its own dressing in a small bottle), a small miso soup and pickled vegetables. For £4.80, it was the best lunch bento box I have ever had in London. To eat-in, this meal would have cost over £7. The takeaway option is a bargain! Continue reading >>
During meal time, you see the queue before you can see the shopfront of Koya. What is the crowd magnet? Fresh Udon.
Koya is one of the few restaurants in London where you can get this white beauty at a reasonable price. It is served in 3 different ways: Hiya-Hiya (cold Udon with cold sauce to dip), Hiyashi Udon (cold Udon with cold sauce to pour) and Hiya-Atsu (cold Udon with hot broth).
Koyo’s Udon is fantastic! As it was fresh, it was less starchy and more chewy than the pre-made ones. It is as good as what you can find in Japan. Serving Udon with cold dipping sauce is pretty common in Japanese restaurants here in London. In Koya, you can have it plain, in sesame sauce, with tempura. Koya’s dipping sauce has sesame and spring onion (see photo above). It had a hint of sweetness but it was not too salty. It is a great complement to Udon. A light batter was used for our prawn and vegetable tempura. It is a nice difference.
I was fascinated by Hiya-Atsu as I never had noodles served this way before. Though it actually makes perfect sense as this is the best way to make sure the Udon will not be overcooked by the broth by the time it is eaten. At home, we always run cold water through hot noodles when they are ready to stop it from over-cooking. Continue reading >>