Monday, June 27, 2011

Hong Kong Kitchen- San Gabriel

Hong Kong Kitchen Exterior

Hong Kong Kitchen fits the bill for a traditional Cantonese and vegetarian friendly restaurant located in the San Gabriel area. The restaurant proclaims that they do not use MSG and that their foods contain low sodium and sugar. People who tend to eat heavily seasoned foods will as a result find the food "tasteless," but otherwise the food at Hong Kong Kitchen is quite healthy with a homemade taste.

Lights- Hong Kong Kitchen Interior

Inside, the design is somewhat modern with bold colors and a mix of soft and sharp lines. These lights are an interesting way to provide interest.

Braised Pork Brisket with Brown Sauce


I have not found this braised pork brisket in brown sauce (10.95 USD) elsewhere in the area. Maybe it is because the presentation is not as pretty as some other cuts of meat; however, it is quite tasty and salubrious. With a mix of sweet and salty, the meat is quite tender, yet still flavorful. What is also great about this dish is the abundance of soft cartilage-- it is great for the body and in this preparation, also extremely easy to chew.

Poached Bone-In Chicken in Ginger Sauce

We received a plate of poached bone-in chicken with ginger sauce (7.95 USD) with a discount; Hong Kong Kitchen usually offers a significant discount for this dish (either you only need to pay a dollar or it is free) when you order above a certain amount in food. This visit, the chicken was slightly sweet with a pleasant chew, but we wished that there was more chicken flavor.

Assorted Mushroom with Bean Curd Sheets and Fried Egg Tofu

A "flavorless" dish to most people would probably be this dish- fresh bean curd and fresh mushrooms with soft tofu. With plenty of mushrooms, bean curd, and fried tofu, it is great in terms of the quality and amount of the ingredients, but the flavor might be lacking to some; after all, the sauce is primarily flavored from the bean curd, mushroom, and salt.

Fresh Lotus Root and Mushroom with Kabocha Squash

Fresh lotus root and mushroom with kabocha squash (10.95 USD) is yet again another simply prepared dish, consisting of a melange of vegetables sauteed with garlic and salt. All the vegetables (other than the mushrooms and squash) were light, crisp, and tasty, if not under-seasoned.

Hong Kong Kitchen overall is a great option for those looking for a lighter and healthier Cantonese meal; with less seasoning used, Hong Kong Kitchen deviates from the usual chicken bouillon laden food in other Chinese restaurants. There are of course plenty of other options to choose from, as well as a lunch menu that is apparently a good deal. I'll need to check it out again in the future!


Hong Kong Kitchen
301 W. Valley Blvd #115
San Gabriel, CA 91776
Tel: 1-(626) 289-3300

Hong Kong Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Day 5: Cafe De Coral- Admiralty, Hong Kong & Can-teen- Admiralty, Hong Kong

Lippo Centre

One of the highlights of the trip was trying Cafe De Coral, a fast food style restaurant that I have always seen during past trips but have never tried. We were finding a place to have lunch and a snack that day, and luckily, our local friend was there to answer my questions about the shopping centers in Admiralty-- yes, there is a rooftop restaurant/food outlet on top of one of the shopping centers/Admiralty Garden; the location is also where I got the picture above). We also found out that there actually is a Cafe De Coral in Admiralty, so off we went.

Cafe De Coral Logo

Cafe De Coral is a fast food style restaurant; menu options and payment are at the front counter, and after payment, one transitions to another counter where the food can be picked up. I liked watching the employees create each plate with precision-- they were quite efficient!

Being a fast food restaurant, the prices are not too expensive. Our items altogether cost around 10 USD, a decent price considering what was given to us in return!

Hong Kong Milk Tea- Cafe De Coral

We all ordered Hong Kong style milk teas, each about one U.S. dollar. They come already slightly sweetened, and the two sugar sachets that come alongside are purely for your preference. Not adding any sugar, the tea was smooth down the throat and flavorful, if not bold in terms of tea flavor. Unlike the United States however, there are no refills, so we slowly savored our cup of tea.

 Cafe De Coral Vietnamese Rice Noodle Soup
(Vileroy and Boch's New Wave style seems to have caught on in Hong Kong! This of course is just a replica and not actual Vileroy and Boch dinnerware)

We only ordered two entrees (both were around 3-5 U.S. dollars), the first of which was a "Vietnamese" chicken noodle soup. It is classified as Vietnamese, but it is not Vietnamese; this is a somewhat common practice in Chinese restaurants to highlight that the taste has an inspiration from the country it is referring to. In this case, there was a chicken broth, shreds of chicken, flat rice noodles, and raw onion rings and red peppers. A reference to pho ga? Maybe, but it was still tasty if not on the lighter side. We also found the chicken quite dry.

Cafe De Coral Chicken on Rice

I on the other hand decided to go with a barbeque item- white cut chicken on rice. Cafe de Coral enhanced the flavor of the chicken by adding some sweet soy sauce on top of the chicken as well as adding ginger and scallion oil on the side. Having not eaten a lot of food in the past days, I finished this plate clean, even if the proportion of rice to the chicken and sauce was favored much more towards the steamed rice. Still, I found the chicken delicious, tender and concentrated with chicken flavor. The sweet soy sauce muted the savory flavors slightly, and the ginger and scallion oil was great by itself on rice. Each component of the dish went well along with the rice and was great by itself. Well done for fast food-- this plate was actually tastier than some of the white cut chicken dishes I have tried in the U.S., but I don't think I should be surprised.

Overall, we had a great meal Cafe De Coral; it serves its purpose as a quick and convenient option quite well and the freshness and quality of the items are quite well done!

Canton Road

Crossing over the ocean to Tsim Sha Tsui, we walked quite a while, enjoying the sights and sounds and purchasing some products along the way. Dinner however was spent back at the hotel, buying food at Can-teen (operated by Maxim's) instead. Like Cafe de Coral, it was decent; our luncheon meat and egg sandwich and beef and turnip noodle soup were all "made"/ assembled to order and were quite inexpensive. Likewise, the lemon tea was enjoyable with plenty of lemon and strong tea!


Cafe de Coral
Shop A5, Upper G/F, Far East Finance Centre,
金鐘夏愨道16號遠東金融中心
16 Harcourt Road,
Admiralty, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2861 2852

Can-teen
1/F, Shop 85-93 Admiralty Centre,
金鐘海富中心1樓85-93號舖
18 Harcourt Road
Admiralty, Hong Kong 
Tel: +852 2865 6955


Find the rest of the posts in this series at this trip's TRIP INDEX.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Day 4: Hei Yuet Seafood Palace Restaurant- Sheung Wan, Hong Kong

Carol Signing Festival Trolley/ Ding Ding Tram

The Winter Solstice is yet another time where families get together in Hong Kong, and so we did the same, heading to Sheung Wan for a dinner with family and friends. On the way to Hei Yuet Seafood Palace Restaurant, the restaurant my friends selected for the occasion, we bumped into a special ding-ding tram/trolley which had a live band and caroling group which sang several English Christmas/holiday tunes.

Hei Yuet Seafood Palace Restaurant Signage
Hei Yuet Seafood Palace Restaurant Neon Sign

In order to actually reach the restaurant, we had to go up an elevator from the ground entrance. Other people along with our party stuffed ourselves into the elevator to reach the different levels of the restaurant- yes, this restaurant has multiple stories!

Lazy Susan Design

Arriving at the restaurant, the receptionist gave us the table that reserved; however, it seemed as if we would have less people eating together than we had planned. No problem- we were quickly able to invite people over and we ended up with having more people than we had planned. This is one of the great conveniences of having family and friends nearby; it is easy to invite them over on short notice!

Beef Stir Fry with Cashew, Ginger, Gingko Nuts, Peppers, and Sugar Snap Peas
Cashew, Ginger, Gingko Nuts, Peppers, and Sugar Snap Peas Stir Fry

With our "failures" at ordering set menus earlier in the trip, we decided to be more careful ordering this time, making sure that all the dishes ordered would be items that we would probably enjoy. It happened to be somehow that we ordered two dishes with almost the same ingredients- garlic, ginger, gingko nuts, bell peppers, and sugar snap peas- but with one difference:  beef slices for one and fried cashews on another. Both were quite light and simple, with all the ingredients coated with garlic flavor. The cashews were very crisp from the frying. Overall they were quite delicious, but as with most of the items we have tried on the trip, they were slightly oilier than we would have liked.

Sweet and Sour Chicken with Cashews

We also had a plate of Sweet and Sour Pork, of which came with crispy fried pork pieces, cashews, canned pineapple, peppers, and onions. I did not get to try the pork but the overall flavor of the dish was typical for sweet and sour pork-- nothing unexpected.

 Mushroom/Peatips

These pea tips with wood ear and shittake mushrooms were excellent; crisp pea tips and flavorful wood ear and mushrooms went great along with a bowl of rice.

Chicken Noodle Soup

We also ordered a chicken, choy sum, mushroom, and egg noodle soup. It was meant to be a light dish for us and it served its purpose- bouncy noodles with a rich but clean flavored stock. I liked the vegetables but didn't care for the chicken.

Ham/Scallop with Tofu

I really enjoyed this light steamed tofu with smoked ham and scallop dish; the tofu had lots of bean curd flavor and went well with the flavorful soy sauce, while the scallop and ham added additional flavor. Scrumptious foods don't need to be fattening!

Oysters

Somehow a hot pot of oysters came to our table as well (probably a free dish or part of a set menu, I didn't really follow the ordering), but I did not try them. They did not look really good and were quite oily though.

Soup

A slow cooker soup arrived next; apparently it was quite expensive, but it was made up in taste. There were plenty of quality ingredients, other than the fact that it again was slightly oily.

Steamed Fish

We also had a steamed fish probably also from a set menu in which we modified. I did not get to try it, but in terms of looks it didn't look as great as some that we have had in the United States.

Cut Melons

Dessert was full-fledged; not only did we have melons, we had red bean dessert soup as well! These melons were all very crisp and sweet-- perfect for a closer.

Red Bean Soup

Everyone at the table liked how the red bean soup was brimming with red bean and orange peel flavor.

Peach Buns

And since it was one of my friend's birthday, we just had to also order some longevity/peach buns.

Peach Bun Interior 1
Peach Bun Interior 2

Hei Yuet's version was much larger in size compared to Very Good's; like Very Good's, there was a salted egg yolk, lotus paste, and soft steamed bread exterior.

Overall Hei Yuet Seafood Palace Restaurant definitely was "very good" for its price range. We liked the dishes that we ordered with a few exceptions on the amount of oil, but the flavors were great.

MTR Hold the Railway Sign
MTR Doors
MTR People

Soon enough the dinner ended, and it was back onto the MTR for the ride back to the hotel. It was pleasant riding with less people on the train; typically they are quite full during the day time, but we happened to skip the busy section of the MTR at night by getting out at Admiralty, and not Causeway Bay.

A full night's rest and I was getting better; exploring the city was finally possible. However, it wasn't the case for the rest of my companions!


Hei Yuet Seafood Palace Restaurant  (喜悅海鮮皇宮) - link to Openrice
上環德輔道中267-275號龍記大廈
267-275 Loon Kee Building
Des Voeux Road Central
Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 3118 2788

Find the rest of the posts in this series at this trip's TRIP INDEX.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Stanford University- Stanford, CA

US 101

These past weeks, or perhaps I should say this past school year, has soared right past me; and suddenly, the business that I have attended to for now has abruptly closed, and half of 2011 has passed by! The time of year where the senior class for high schools and higher level institutions has arrived, and right now for them is a time to think not only about their present day situation, but to also think about their future. Graduation for Arcadia High's class of 2011 was just yesterday, and provided plenty of inspiration towards the graduating class as well as the audience through the speeches.

Like the speeches at any commencement ceremony, colleges and universities are also quite inspirational. My visit to Stanford University was likewise very much so; and with this special time of year, I am starting yet another trip series but this time, not from the beginning.

Graduate School of Business

It was a brilliant day to head outside on our second day of the trip; the temperature was cool and slightly windy, but it was still sunny. We followed intently to our vehicle's GPS, and after about a 30 minute drive from San Francisco, we had arrived at Stanford. But why were we not at the main entrance? Somehow, the GPS decided the location of Stanford is at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford instead. I wonder why!

Hoover Tower Detail
Hoover Tower

We headed out towards the main quad on Stanford's campus, during which we passed by the Hoover Tower. It was certainly a great day for pictures- there were not too many people on campus, and the weather and landscape was in prime condition! Everything was so beautiful.

Prospective students (like me) should head towards the student visitor center to take student-led tours and to attend information sessions. I instead went along a half completed campus tour instead, not knowing that special tours and information sessions were available in the first place. 

Stanford University Map

The map was in pristine condition, with clear markings and no graffiti. From what I know, this isn't very typical in colleges and universities, as most are damaged instead.

Totem Pole

The inclusion of this large totem pole in a lush area of campus was quite interesting. 
Stanford Architecture

Walking towards the center of the campus, the signature red roof and sandstone architecture came closer and closer to view. A closer look revealed many more architectural details.

Lane History Corner

For example, the Lane History Corner; not only was there an arch and a sculpture, there were multiple pattern inlays that are truly beautiful. Much attention was definitely paid towards the creation of these buildings.

Stanford Architecture

The long covered walkways provided a sequence of arches, columns, and lights which was fun to photograph.

Trophy/Hoover Tower Backdrop
Stanford Lamps

There were many other repeating elements at Stanford, like this long row of columns, lamps, and trophies.

Grass/Palm Drive

Looking outwards towards Palm Drive, we watched people enjoy themselves in the large, green lawn. The circle in the middle of the picture actually has an "S" in it--an intriguing way to show that one has arrived at Stanford.

I happened to saw some Stanford students guiding student tours at this area and so I joined here. However, for the best experience, one should start their visit by heading towards the Student Visitor Center where the tours begin. By here, the tour had covered approximately half of the campus.
If you happen to be a prospective student or just someone interested in Stanford, you should definitely take these student tours (not just at Stanford, but any school you are interested in)! The guides gave lots of interesting facts about Stanford and a through rundown on academics and school life. And there is a special gift they let you know about...beneficial if you plan on purchasing something! Definitely --it's a great way not only to learn about Stanford but also an enjoyable walking experience.

Stanford Engineering
Stanford Engineering
Stanford Engineering

We walked past several history and science buildings. Our tour guide told us that the buildings in the science section were built separately from each other with some distance in between. This way, if a lab suddenly catches on fire, there will be a smaller possibility in the fire spreading. It also explains why Chemistry is located near the front of the school, separated from the rest of the buildings.

The pictures above are several of the engineering buildings (part of the Engineering Quad). These buildings are much more modern and might seem familiar at other universities, but they still happen to flow very cohesively with the rest of the buildings at Stanford with the color scheme.

Memorial Church Entry
Memorial Church Detail
Memorial Church- Organ

We then walked back to the main quad and entered the Memorial Church, another elegant piece of architecture. Our tour guide explained that it is not unusual to have events happening in the church, but it happened to be during our visit that it was not being used; therefore, everyone went in and took plenty of pictures and videos in silence.

Graduating Class Tiles

Outside the church were some numbers, symbolizing the graduating class years. The 1895 year of graduates (the first of Stanford) wanted to make their year stand out and so they would paint everything with “95.” Thus a plaque was installed with 95, and then later more were added so that the numbers started from when Stanford was established as an university.

After visiting the church, we headed towards White Memorial Plaza.

Bell Tower
Mechanics- Bell Tower

On the way there, we walked pass the clock which had bells from the original church which rang every 15 minutes.

Stanford Engineering
Stanford Wide Shot
(I think this could be a postcard!)

Nearby was also a “ring of death,” basically a roundabout which in the past had Stanford Band members who directing bike traffic. Now it’s just a garden scape and there are no bicycle crashes. Speaking of bicycles, our tour guide noted that there are more bikes registered than students, and that freshmen undergraduate students can not have a car the first year due to space constraints.

Hoover Tower Backdrop
Claw Fountain

At White Memorial Plaza, we saw the Claw Fountain, which had red on top. It is actually a symbol of college rivalry according to our guide; a stuffed bear (for UC Berkeley) would be placed on top of the claw and it would be painted red!

Stanford Trees

Our tour guide ended the tour here while providing us some more information and allowing questions to be answered.We had lunch on campus at Subway, where the prices were actually increased compared to other locations. Foot-long sandwiches started at six dollars instead of five. Either way, the food was as expected for Subway--no special menu items for Stanford. However, I found the meatball marinara to be more flavorful. Maybe I was just really hungry!

An additional plus eating at Stanford was environmental friendliness-- the utensils available were biodegradable and the plastic cups were made out of corn!

Stanford Bookstore
Claw Fountain
Memorial Church

After lunch we headed back towards our vehicle, stopping by the Stanford Bookstore, Claw Fountain, and the Memorial Church on the way.

Memorial Church + Thank You Sunny

We also noticed a "Thank You Sunny" phrase written in chalk while walking at the church.

Arches
Statues
Entrance
Palm Drive

And sadly, we had to leave campus. I wish I had more time to cover the entire campus, to take more pictures, and to enjoy the architectural beauty of Stanford, but we had to attend an event that brought me to the Bay area in the first place!

I left campus inspired by not only the architecture and design of Stanford, but also the warm feeling produced by the students's actions while I was there. It was an awesome visit, and I hope to visit someday again. This is the reason why I include colleges and universities in the "attractions" section of the blog; they are wonderful places to visit during a trip: perfect for picture taking, learning about a destination, and gaining some exercise while at it.


Stanford University
450 Serra Mall
Stanford, CA 94305

Find the rest of the posts in this series at this trip's TRIP INDEX.
(Edited October 28, 2011 for conciseness.)