Monday, December 16, 2013

The magic of the City in one week

As I sit here watching the sun set
in Sunset
It is hard to believe the pleasure this trip has been
I came in with no real plans
No expectations
Just hope and happiness
To return to what I call my homeland
The Bay Area.
Long ago, I had said I did not want to live in San Francisco,
"The City," as they say,
For it was too crowded, too busy, too expensive.
Too hilly, too too too too much.
But now, after having spent a week here,
Generously guided by my host,
I have fallen under the San Franciscan charm.
West of the tourist area of San Francisco,
West of Union, Pier 39, SOMA,
Lies Sunset, Golden Gate, Land's End, Twin Peaks,
Haight and Ashbury, UCSF Parnassus.
All of it beautiful and unique and bustling in its own charm,
Without the hectic feel of the east part of SF.
Little local shops, individual and unique
Yet fitting into the San Francisco culture all the same.
The shops: Tibetan, vintage, boutique, hippie, retro, random, bizarre.
The food: classy, one-of-a-kind, fresh, local genius, diverse.
Oh, the food! What can I say?
What can I do to engulf all the edible beauty before me?
The carefully constructed platters, pieces, pastries.
A tender, careful eye to ingredient selection.
Artistry and culinary expertise in the composition.
Walk down Irving Street and oggle
At the Chinese, Vietnamese, Eritrean, Indian, Italian, Japanese, Korean restaurants;
At the adorable little Japanese shop, the Posh Bagel shop that sells cronuts,
A store dedicated to vacuums, to glasses, to tarts.
Everything just being there beckons to you,
Come, experience what I have to offer,
But one week is not enough to see it all.

What I did in these past few days are many, but they will forever be held lovingly within my memory:
The view of the City from Twin Peaks at night
The hike up to and view from Land's End
Reindeer and butterflies and more at the California Academy of the Sciences
The ramen with the Japanese breaded fried egg at Ikazaya Sozai
Swing dancing at 9:20 social with my old instructor/buddy
Walking around Haight, browsing the vintage shops and sampling artisan chocolate
The dry-fried chicken wings at San Tung
Touring Genentech in South San Francisco
Watching soccer in the 37 degree weather in San Jose at night and witnessing a short tussle
Seeing all the unique trees decorated by organizations at Christmas in the Park, San Jose

Then there was the return to my old home

How I have missed you, Berkeley.
Your cracked and hilly streets,
The vagabonds and hobos and smell of weed down those same streets
Students going about their own business, worried about classes,
About relationships, about organizations.
New shops popped up, old shops still there, others gone, maybe replaced.
Holiday craft street fair, showcasing local unique gifts
Things always bustling, always exciting
Music, people chatting.
Walk, continue walking, through the campus, up the hills.
Past the beautiful buildings, colors not just brown, different.
Big grassy Memorial Glade.
People with dogs and frisbees, the Campanile rings its bells in the background.
The breeze plus the sun combine into the best of feelings.
If happy had a recipe, this was it.
The feel of walking all over again, instead of driving everywhere,
Invigorating, healthy.
Visit old friends, blend in with the students,
Sit on the steps of Sproul, munch on a sandwich,
People watch.
Man with milk crate heralding some speech or dialogue or opinions.
Shorter man break dancing
Girl asks directions to architecture building
Lots of Asians, I am surprised by Caucasians.
Leave, wander, buy Cal gear,
Because now after being in the middle of nowhere Texas for a while
I appreciate what I had and left.
Cal, Berkeley, a Bear: this is who I am and who I will always be
I am proud to be a Cal Bear,
Proud to bleed Blue and Gold.

Better yet, proud to be a Californian,
Spurred on by the collective progressive mindset,
To be the leaders in the green movement, sustainable, active, proactive.
Integrate it into all aspects of life.
So what, not every man is a Southern gentleman,
There is not cheap BBQ everywhere,
and there are a lot of more homeless and a lot less free parking,
But this is the exciting life, where one can explore everything one can be.
This is why I shall return to you, Bay Area, California,
I will come back and embrace you with all my heart,
Because you and I are one.

It is..

Tomorrow, I say good bye to the things that captured my heart.
Good bye, and I hope we reunite again.
May fate bring us together in the future,
The future, uncertain but always promising...

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Pretzel Crust Sour Cream-Topped Cheesecake

I am always looking for a way to use up random items held in my pantry. Once long ago, I bought a big bag of mini pretzel twists from Wal-Mart to make chocolate covered peanut butter pretzel sandwiches. These were okay, as I tried to minimize the amount of sugar and butter in the recipe, and the pretzel twists don't squeeze around peanut butter filling as well as those square pretzels.

So I have these pretzels, and yesterday, I wanted to snack while studying, so I started dipping them in some whipped strawberry cream cheese that I had from Einstein's Bagels. This was really tasty because of the salt crystals crunching in your mouth, imparting savoriness, while melding with the sweet creaminess of the strawberry cream cheese. Pretzels and sweet cream cheese are a great combo!

Now, I am a lover of sweet and salty desserts. Sweet, sweet, sweet desserts are just to cloying to me. You really need a cup of tea, milk, or water to wash each bite down. Cheesecake is one of those decadent desserts that I have always just *kinda* liked if it wasn't too thick. I thought it'd be great to make a salty pretzel crust to cut through the heavy sweetness of the typical cheesecake filling, and adding a sour cream topping would add an extra tang and lightness that would make cheesecake more complex and palatable.

To achieve this concept, I combined three recipes I found on the internet. For the pretzel crust, I used the crust from Peanut Butter Pretzel Cheesecake Squares by Brandie from Home Cooking Memories. For the filling, I referenced Small Cheesecake by Lynn at Happier Than a Pig in Mud. Finally, for the sour cream topping, I used the part from Fruit-Topped Cheesecake with Snyders Pretzel Crust by Ellen Christian at Confessions of an Overworked Mom.

I used a 9 or 10 inch glass pie pan, which fit the pretzel filling very nicely, but when I poured the cheesecake filling in, it only filled it to halfway! I needed to double the sour cream topping from 1 cup to 2 cups in order to fill the crust the rest of the way. If you are using an 8 inch pie pan or an 8 by 8 inch square pan, I am sure the same filling and the 1 cup sour cream topping would fit. You would probably need only 2/3-3/4 of the pretzel crust though, unless you like a thick crust, to which I say  go ahead!

So, enjoy this pretzel bottom, sour cream top cheesecake and enjoy the start of fall!

Pretzel Crust Sour Cream-Topped Cheesecake

Pretzel Crust:
3 cups mini pretzel twists
1 stick butter (I used vegetable oil-based baking sticks)
 cup sugar

1 (8-oz) package of regular cream cheese
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 eggs

Sour Cream Topping:
2 cups (16 oz) (lowfat) sour cream
4 Tbs white granulated sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1) Crust: Preheat the oven to 325 deg Fahrenheit. process pretzels in a food processor until finely ground. Pour into a bowl and mix thoroughly with melted butter and sugar. Lightly grease a 9 inch pie pan. Press the pretzel crumbs firmly into the pan and try to get the crust even along the bottom and sides. Bake in preheated oven for 10 min. Take out and let cool while you make the filling.
2) Filling: Beat cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla extract. Beat in eggs one at a time until combined. Pour into slightly cool crust and bake at 325 deg F for 30 minutes. Remove and let cool for 5 minutes while you make the topping.
3) Beat 2 cups of sour cream with 4 Tbs sugar and 2 tsp vanilla extract. Pour over cheesecake. Place back into the oven for another 5-10 minutes. Remove and let cool on a wire rack for 1 hour, then cool 6-12 hours (~overnight) in the refrigerator.
4) Top with chocolate shavings, sliced fruit, drizzle of fruit compote, or just keep it plain. Slice and serve!
Serves 10

Turkey Veggie Chili

Fall is setting in and I've been in quite the soup and stew phase. Since last week, I have made bo kho (Vietnamese beef stew), turkey veggie chili, and potato parsley soup! With the rain and colder weather setting in here in Texas (which, granted, is still rather warm), I need to battle the looming potential for colds and flus by eating lots of soup.

First, the turkey veggie chili.

This is a simple, quick, and tasty recipe that goes well on its own, with tortilla chips, or maybe even cornbread if you want that. I typically like eating chili with cornbread, but that is truthfully because I want a reason to make cornbread and eat a lot of my sweet cornbread. This time, though, I ate my chili with tortilla chips and I liked it a lot better than with cornbread. The salty crunch from the chips really gave an extra texture and salty slightly sweet corn flavor profile to the chili.

Now, I will describe what veggies I used, because that is what I had on hand, but feel free to use other good stew vegetables you have on hand. For example, zucchini/courgettes, carrots, onion, celery, broccoli stalks, green bell pepper, etc.

Turkey Veggie (Vegetable) Chili
1 lb (16 oz) lean ground turkey (15% fat)
1/2 diced onion
3 minced garlic cloves
2 chopped carrots
1 chopped zucchini
2-3 cups chicken broth
2 medium-large fresh tomatoes, diced
1 (15-oz) can of beans (I used Simple Truth organic tri-color), undrained
Chili powder
Paprika, dried oregano
Salt and black pepper
(Arby's sauce, *see Personal touch)
Green onion, cilantro, parsley, for garnish

1)  In a large pan or pot, saute the onion in olive oil over medium heat until light golden brown. Add in the minced garlic and saute until lightly browned. Add in the turkey and cook over medium-high, breaking up the pieces with a wooden spoon until the turkey is cooked. Remove the turkey from the pan into a bowl and set aside.
2) Add the carrots too the pan and add some water just enough to slightly steam the carrots and just enough so that the water will evaporate quickly (< 1/4 cup). Once the carrots have quickly steamed but are still firm and the water has evaporated, add some oil and saute the carrots till somewhat softer but with a little bit of firmness. Add in the chopped zucchini and saute briefly to undercook. The vegetables will cook further when simmering.
3) Return the turkey and all the juices from the bowl back into the pan. Mix together of medium heat, then pour in the chopped tomatoes and all their juices. Let cook over medium-high for a couple of minutes. Add in the chicken broth, mix. Add in the can of beans, mix.
4) Season with 2-3 Tbs chili powder, some dashes of paprika and dried oregano.  Season with some salt and black pepper. Adjust with more chili powder if desired.
*Personal touch: I wanted to give a little extra flavor to my chili, so I went through my fridge for random sauces or condiments I could add. I found a packet of Arby's sauce, which is like a ketchup or BBQ sauce but not. You can omit this or use ketchup or BBQ sauce instead
5) Bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer, with a slightly open cap, for 20 minutes. Give a stir occasionally and add more broth or water if necessary.
6) To serve, ladle into bowls, add a dash of black pepper, and sprinkle freshly chopped green onion, cilantro, and/or parsley. Serve with restaurant-style tortilla chips.

Serves 4-6

This is a relatively healthy chili. It uses turkey but not the 90% lean because that would be too dry and too healthy. There is a good mix of vegetables and beans without overwhelming the meat portion. I hope you try this out, or use it as inspiration for your own chili! Thanks for reading!

Friday, September 13, 2013

I refuse

Maybe these repeated occurrences means it's just not for me. I am capable, but my happiness is elsewhere. I know I am hard working, inquisitive, eloquent, but maybe this is just not my style and I need to find the place that fits me, rather than crumpling my paper heart up to fit it. My mind and heart are fragile like paper, lightweight such that I fly away in the free breeze. The hard times do make the achievements all the greater, but must the hard times be like a fatigue test, stressing you till you finally break with catastrophic results? A psyche should not be turned into a psycho, but nurtured into a science about yourself. Some may say I don't know how to cope; maybe the truth is that I refuse to...

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Skin Healing and Hormones

One of the reasons I joined the bimoaterials and tissue regeneration lab at my grad university is because I wanted to take part in the research behind wound healing. I have always had a history of being highly susceptible to cuts, bruises, abrasions. You name it, my skin can't handle it.

It does not help that I am also very careless and thus accident-prone. Just a few weeks ago I was digging through these shelves at Michaels and shoved my hand into one of the little bars that shape the shelf. The little circular edge lifted up a good chunk of skin and started bleeding. I had to go get a band-aid and the Michaels' workers were like, "How did you get hurt here?" I am so unique and amazing like that, I just can.

I have had to get stitches twice: once when I slammed my shin into the edge of a concrete fountain and it shoved a whole patch of skin through the dermis and right above the fatty tissue upwards into a wrinkly mass of dermal tissue. I saw some kind of white in the hole and just thought, "That is way too deep. I should NOT be seeing this."

Rushed to the ER at 2 am, got stitches, had to wrap it up for several weeks to heal and now I have this ugly lighter color scar tissue on my left shin. Second time was when I was washing dishes and a cracked cup decided to finish cracking as I was scrubbing it, slicing across my pointer. I washed it, tied a napkin tight around it and proceeded to finish cooking my tikka masala that night. By the end of cooking it still didn't stop bleeding, so I thought, "I don't want to bleed to death. Looks like I gotta ask my friends to drive me to the ER again at night." Off we went to the ER and I got more stitches. I had to wear this large clasp over my finger to keep it from moving and ripping the stitches and healing tissue. The scar still is a little tender.

So, yeah, my skin is not that great a barrier against physical assault. I always wondered what was wrong with my skin. What biologically and chemically was different about my body that made its skin weaker than the normal person?

Opening my homepage today, I saw that they were talking about the "Healing Power" of skin. Intrigued by the relevancy, I read on: skin is remarkable because it heals itself by forming a blood clot then a scab. As the scab dries and falls off, the process of wound healing fills the wound gap with new cells and extracellular matrix. A variety of factors contribute to this complex process, including hormones.

The big draw to this article is how important estrogen (or, as they spell it: oestrogen) is to wound healing. Mice that have no ovaries and thus are incapable of producing estrogen do not proceed through the wound healing process. The conclusion is that estrogen is an essential player in wound healing.

I have low levels of estrogen. I don't know if that is just how my body is naturally or if it occurred as a result of a phase in my life, but that is the truth. My low levels of estrogen are likely one reason for the weakness of my skin and the subpar aesthetics of my healed skin.

Just thought this was interesting. Hormones do a lot for your body. It's nice when they are in balance, sucks when they aren't (right, ladies PMSing now?).

If you get the chance, go to the actual page I got this from and also check out the other archived pictures/research.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Blue Baker Review

Blue Baker is one of my favorite bakeries in College Station. They are an artisan bakery that bakes everything from scratch, starting from 3 or 4 am in the morning. Doubling as a restaurant, they serve fresh bagels, pastries, breads, pizzas, sandwiches, desserts, salads, and soups. Every month features specials, such as peach pecan scone, candied orange twist, and key lime tarts for this month of June. Additionally, they have weekly bread and pastry specials. I typically go to Blue Baker to eat their scone specials, but everything on their menu is superb.
Today, I went to go on their bakery tour, which happens twice a year, I think. I will give a summary of the tour in the next post, but first, I will give a thorough, thorough review of Blue Baker's offerings.
Their breads are moist, have the perfect crumb and texture (a little chewy, perfect crunchy golden crust that you can bite through, a little sweet, moist enough for bread), and show off that artisan, made-by-hand look. Their sweet breads and pastries are delicious and varied. My favorite sweet breads are the zucchini bread sold every Sunday, the blueberry peach bread (THE BEST THE BEST THE BEST) on Tuesdays, and the cinnamon swirl bread on Thursdays. I have yet to try the red, white, and blue sweetbread, but I am very excited to get it when July 4th rolls around.

Cupcakes are large, maybe 2/3 the size of Costco-sized cupcakes. I have gotten the Boston Cream Pie and the Zucchini cupcakes before. Tasty, not too sweet, but definitely sweet. Good, standard. Maybe a bit dense for cake texture.
Cookies are huge too. They offer many types every day: chocolate chip, chocolate walnut, chocolate decadence, peanut butter, oatmeal raisin. Special flavors are rotated in weekly and monthly, such as white chocolate macadamia, sugar, ginger.
Scones are about the size of the ones as Starbucks, but feature different flavors that allow the buttery saltiness of the bread shine while melding with the sweets of the fruits incorporated or the sugar crystals on top. With the addition of nuts, the scones also give a nice crunch.
Their pizzas are made Neapolitan style, which is a thin crisp crust, a touch of marinara sauce, and a delicate addition of fresh, quality toppings. Once before, I went with my BF and we ordered the four cheese tomato and the D'Vinchee.
The four cheese tomato was delicious, with fresh slices of tomato, melty spots of mozarella everywhere, freshly chiffoned (sp?) basil, and drizzles of just perfect marinara over a bubbly thin crust. I liked mine better than the D'Vinchee, which was also good but I'm not a meat person and not as big a fan of portabella mushrooms. The D'Vinchee has olive oil, mozarella, sausage, roasted portabella mushrooms, chicken, and cilantro. These pizzas are not as filling as Pizza Hut or Dominos (as in one slice won't fill you, but 1/2 to a whole 9" pizza will), but they are high quality pizzas.

Prices are somewhat high, upwards of $8-10 for a meal. Individual breads and pastries are quite affordable. Scones are about $2.25; cupcakes around $3.50 (a bit pricey, but they are large); breads about $4.50 for a loaf (I get day-olds for half off) or $3.00 for baguettes, ciabatta, focaccia. Despite the somewhat higher prices for meals, you are paying for the quality of your food. All the workers here are also extremely nice, fast, and wonderful.

This is, again, one of my favorite places in College Station. Hit either location on University or Dominik Drive in College Station, or their newest store in Austin, TX. This is one artisan bakery and restaurant that truly deserves to be tasted!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Hong Kong Day 3

There are a lot of little boutiques, food shops, and other shops around the hotel. BF and I woke up and went out to get breakfast and head to any mall nearby.

On Cameron Road, there is a very small shop that sells fresh fruit and vegetable juices. You can get a wide selection of fruit and even vegetables juiced: pear, dragonfruit, bittermelon, starfruit, kiwi, celery, tomato, carrot, orange, mango...Each is about $15 HKD, which is about $1.88USD. We went with the mango with sago (little tapioca pearls), which was only $8 HKD and came in a small cup (about 8 or 12 oz, I think).
We were trying to head to a mall called "The One," which was supposedly nearby but with my limp was much farther. Plus the rain started coming down a bit and so we stopped into some little restaurant for breakfast. BF got a plate of ramen with chicken wings and a bit of veggies. I got the Hong Kong style (french?) toast. The noodle plate was rather small and underwhelming.
 I poured sweetened condensed milk and some liquidy peanut butter on top of my toast. This is how the Hong Kong people eat their french toast: with condensed milk, peanut butter, and honey. Pretty tasty and different than the french toast I'm used to eating. Not bad. The price tag for these two items plus a drink was around $8.50 USD, which is very affordable.
 For lunch, we met up with the grandma and aunt, uncle, and cousins on BF's dad's side at Maxim's Palace. This restaurant is housed in what used to be a theater. Going inside, I was awestruck by the grandeur of the interior. There were two stories, chandeliers, and fancy wall decorations.
Click image to see full size of the panaroma shot!
Maxim's Palace is a dim sum restaurant. Ladies go around pushing carts with various dim sum, but we primarily put in orders from the papers on the table.

Fried noodle with some sauce, chicken, and bean sprouts
Bitter melon with fish
Honeydew panna cotta: yum!
Sweet tofu pudding with longan and dates
Everytime we go to dim sum, we get so much food and I get so stuffed by the end of it, trying a bite here, a bite there. Also ordered were char siu bao (BBQ pork buns), fried rice, beef rice rolls in soy sauce, porridge, and more.

We then went karaoking at Red Mr with the cousins. You can rent out a room, in which there are several couches, coffee tables, and a TV. A touchscreen next to the TV lets you browse music and then add music to the queue. They had a good selection of old and new songs, popular and not as well known artists as well. Some that we sang were: Britney Spears, Taylor Swift, Nicki Minaj, LFMAO, One Republic, Usher, Chris Brown, Lonely Island (I'm on a BOAT!), Justin Timberlake, Pink, Beyonce, Jay-Z and Kanye West, and Kelly Clarkson.
We spent over 3 hours in there singing. It was pretty fun. Each person gets 2 free non-alcoholic drinks. The parents (BF's mom, aunt, uncle) ordered some food for us: fried platter (fries, shrimp, onion rings) and a meat platter (skewers, cucumber with pork floss or something). BF's grandma came and stayed the whole time. I was soo amazed by her and felt a lot of respect for her because it's hard to be patient and stay doing nothing for 3 hours just to be with her grandsons. She also managed to nap while we sang really loud and horribly, which I thought was also amazing.
  A famous tourist attraction is the light show at the Kowloon Public Pier (south Tsim Sha Tsui), which occurs every day at 8pm. We gathered amidst the other tourists (and locals, I'm sure) on the edge of the pier and waited for the show to start. Across the water, you can see all the tall buildings and the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Center in Wanchai. At the start, the Samsung building has a large LED banner that proclaims "Symphony of Lights". Basically, lots of buildings light up with many colors in coordination with the background music. People can also take the ferry around the harbor to watch. It was a little underwhelming. Pretty, but I got bored after 5-10 minutes.
Click to see full-size panaroma image!

Once it ended, we headed back to the hotel while window shopping. BF's family stopped by a jerky store. Jerky in Asia is sooo much better than in America. The jerky is not tough; rather, it's sweet, soft, and super flavorful. The flavor is dynamic, not just like smoked meat flavor like in America.
I wanted to walk around a digest still, so we wandered a bit. Went into a McDonalds and was impressed by their McCafe. Totally classy like a Starbucks. Fast food usually seems to be so much nicer in countries other than the USA.

Cheesecake, lamingtons, and muffins!?
After this long day, we finally headed back and passed out on the wonderfully hard beds. I knew I was excited for the next day and fell asleep planning what I could potentially do and eat...

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Hong Kong Day 2

I think I have lost track of everything already! So much has happened already. It is hard to believe that it is already the end of Sunday here and coming onto Monday.

(Happy Fathers' Day too, by the way!)

We are currently staying at the Ramada in Tsim Sha Tsui, which is in the heart of many tourist spots and shopping in Hong Kong. The hotel is an old one and, therefore, has rather small rooms but is good enough, considering that we are out all day and only come back at 10 or 11 pm to clean up and sleep. The room has two twin beds pushed together to make it look like a large full or queen bed occupies the small space. The bed is rather hard, but we can still sleep fine in them. They give you a fruit basket (apple, orange, bananas) and some water. A small refrigerator and mini-bar is in the room as well, but drinks are for purchase (single-serve Bacardi, whiskey, vodka...).
BBQ pork bun
Shrimp in fried tofu
Late Friday (6/14) morning, we got dim sum at Star Seafood Restaurant near Amoy Plaza. For all these meals with my BF's family, I just let the adults do all the picking, because I cannot speak or read Cantonese and the locals know what's best. The spread is always generous and quite tasty. Everything is served in the center and you can pick and choose as you please, allowing you to eat as much or as little as you want. The two twos are the same as before: Ti Kuan Yum and Pu-erh.
Steamed meat and bitter melon rice
I got to meet the grandparents on my BF's dad's side of the family that day. Another aunt joined us. It's cool how fun the Hong Kong people are. The family chats a lot over the food, laughing and chatting away. The food may be in the center, but is only a side to the experience of people's company. The family always jokes around and even gets the waiters to join in the laughter. It's a truly jolly time.
Afterward, we went to Salon di Beauty (near Hollywood Plaza, I think) to get our hair done. This salon was recommended by BF's mom's sister. BF's mom and I got are hair permed (permanent curls) while BF and BF's brother got their hair trimmer. BF got a new style that I like, in addition to his usual haircut. I really like my new curls. This salon did really well, but I should hope so because the treatment took about 4 hours to complete. They even have really crazy looking machines inside to hot air dry your hair, or heat your curls, and such.
Once my hair was done, the boys and I wandered in the small plaza of the salon. We went into the Circle K (or is it "OK"?) convenient store and we got Vitasoy soymilks and cola candy. The Hong Kong people have such a wide selection of cola-flavored candies. I have to admit, these are pretty good. BF also got some curry fish balls and egg tarts from the little bakery next door. Pretty tasty, but the egg tarts were just decent (as he reports).
Finally, we went off to explore the mall. We wandered up and down, I got some new Reeboks (not much cheaper than in America, but I really liked the color and the feel of the shoes), looked at a couple bakeries.
Egg tart cup!
Asian savory baked goods
We went into a bookstore and I luckily found a cookbook in both Canto and English! It has a load of Canto dishes that I definitely want to learn and try out when I return to the US. The author is food blogger: Christine Ho from Christine's Easy Recipes.  Some highlights include  BBQ pork, egg tarts, shredded pork noodles. I am very excited and happy about this book.
 We got some snacks in the mall as well. There was this one bakery selling good looking egg tarts. One of them was an egg white tart. Highly intrigued, I got one. The BF said this one was really good, and by just looking, I could tell it was. I ate my egg white tart and was in heaven. The crust was buttery and slightly crumbly. It was also thin so that you get a lot of the egg filling. The egg white filling was light, fluffy, not too runny, perfectly sweet. It was the best egg tart I've ever had. I seriously want to go back and get some more.

After wandering down the mall, we stumbled upon the BF's favorite dessert place: Hui Lau Shan. We got the trio sampler.

The first is mango ice cream with fresh mango and some kind of jelly. The second is mango puree with fresh mango and tapioca balls. The third is fresh mango with mango flavored and filled mochi rolled in sweetened coconut flakes. They used sweet mangoes and everything was good. The curry platter in the background was standard packaged stuff and was fine. Tasty but standard, just like the instant House Curry stuff you can get in the supermarket. It comes with fish balls, white radish, and octopus/squid.

Cute cartoon candies at snack shop
BF looking at single-serving jerky in snack shop
They have a music store in the mall. I went inside and was enamored by the gorgeous pianos. It felt so good to brush the keys with my fingertips again and hear the full and beautiful resonating sounds come forth as I depressed the keys. I pulled out a piano book of 50 favorite songs and tried to play some. I want the book so bad. One song I tried was "Eye of the Tiger".
 There were so many amazing things I saw. Every thing and place was new to me and amazing and enticing. Hong Kong is really the City of Asia!

More excitement and pictures of the next days to come!