Saturday, 10 December 2016

Picture of the Day: Snake Soup

The thinned out snake soup at Tim's Kitchen was a disappointment
The temperatures these days aren't exactly freezing cold, but it is winter, which means it's the season for snake soup!

Last weekend I remembered I hadn't had snake soup yet, and being in the Sheung Wan neighbourhood, I decided to head to Tim's Kitchen to see if I could have a bowl.

It was after 7.30pm and the place wasn't as packed as it was before; I hadn't been back for a few years.

Nevertheless I ordered a bowl of snake soup (HK$138) and looked forward to the hearty concoction.

Soon it arrived in a mini clay pot, but more for presentation. The soup looked choc full of ingredients, but when I tried it, the soup was more diluted than what I remembered, and there was hardly a hint of mandarin peel, usually used to hide the snake meat smell.

Though a small portion, the braised pomelo skin is a winner
I also ordered another seasonal specialty -- braised pomelo skin with shrimp roe (HK$90). Now this dish was how I remembered last time. Portion-wise it's on the small side, but the skin was braised to the point where it practically melted in the mouth, and seasoned with the piquant flavours of the shrimp roe.

The dish uses a lot of shrimp roe sauce, so I got a bowl of rice to drizzle the sauce on top. It hit the spot.

While the snake soup wasn't as satisfying as I had hoped, the braised pomelo skin was a nice finish.

Tim's Kitchen
Shop A, G/F-1/F, 84-90 Bonham Strand
Sheung Wan
2543 5919

Friday, 9 December 2016

CY Leung's Shock Announcement

Hong Kong was in shock to hear Leung would not be running again
The breaking news we never thought would happen -- Leung Chun-ying has announced that he will not run for re-election -- did happen.

He made the announcement at a hastily arranged press conference at 3.30pm this afternoon, citing family reasons.

"If I run my family will suffer unbearable pressure due to my electioneering... I must protect them," he said.

Last night he was seen at Prince of Wales Hospital in Sha Tin where his often troubled daughter, Leung Chai-yan was said to be receiving treatment for an unspecified ailment.

He cited family reasons, perhaps because of his daughter?
It is believed Leung made up his mind after consulting Beijing, and perhaps the powers that be felt it was best that he not continue leading Hong Kong for another five years.

Leung claimed his decision was not due to any lack of endorsement from Beijing, saying, "[The central government] has always supported me and said I have done a good job."

The Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office also issued a statement after the announcement, saying it deeply regretted Leung's decision.

"Mr Leung has steadfastly implemented the 'one country, two systems' formula and the Basic Law since taking up office, and has made important contributions in defending national sovereignty and security," the office said, adding Beijing had always fully affirmed Leung's work.

Ray Yep Kin-man, a political scientist at City University, said the announcement, that came two days before the polls for the Election Committee, might be Beijing's way to still have a hand in influencing who will become the next chief executive.

Some pundits believe Carrie Lam has a good chance to win
"Beijing is worried about the uncertainty if pan-democrats win 300 seats in the committee and another 200 candidates who oppose Leung are returned," Yep said. "With Leung's decision not to run, the 'Anyone But CY' campaign will lose its momentum."

While many people are still trying to absorb the news that Leung is no longer in the picture, others are already speculating who will win, with some saying it will be Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee who will be making a big announcement on Thursday, or it could be Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, or Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah -- if the two make any moves to declare their candidacy.

It's basically a wide-open race, which makes it much more interesting, but the fundamental question remains -- who will lead the city for Hong Kong people's interests and not Beijing's?

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Already Endorsing Regina Ip

Regina Ip may be making her big announcement next Thursday
The race for the next Hong Kong Chief Executive hasn't officially started but it's already getting interesting.

Former Chief Secretary David Akers-Jones has thrown is support behind New People's Party chairwoman Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee even though she hasn't officially thrown her hat into the ring.

She apparently has plans to do so next Thursday at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

David Akers-Jones already endorses Ip for Chief Executive
However, we have to remember that Akers-Jones backed Leung Chun-ying when he ran for the top job in 2012.

Last year Akers-Jones defended Leung's failure to to meet the target of building 85,000 flats a year during Tung Chee-hwa's administration because Leung was a cabinet advisor at the time.

Akers-Jones said Leung was "familiar with the problems of Hong Kong", but "doesn't have the art of making or causing people to love him".

How is that a good excuse?

It seems like no one in the Leung administration is familiar with the problems in Hong Kong at all -- they appear to be so far removed from the realities that average residents are going through -- depressed wages, high rents, inflation, losing jobs, crowded MTR trains and so on.

Over 500,000 people protested against Article 23 in 2003
That on top of the perceived collusion between government and developers, and nothing constructively being done about pollution, increasing waste, both construction and food, and then that big picture demand for democracy.

Is Ip the right woman for the job considering she was the security minister who tried to pass Article 23 and hundreds of thousands of people marched in the streets in July 2003, forcing her to back down?

She may think she has moved on, having studied in California and returned forming a new political party.

But we all know she's probably eager to finish off what she didn't get to complete 13 years earlier...

Akers-Jones doesn't seem to have a good track record of picking good candidates...

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Advertorial Wedding

Angelababy wearing a Chaumet diamond tiara
French jeweller Chaumet is defying the bleak retail economy thanks to its sponsorship of the celebrity wedding between actors Angelababy and Huang Xiaoming in October last year.

On social media the bride showed off a six-carat, US$1.6 million wedding ring that was quickly dubbed the "Angelababy Ring" by millions of netizens.

The jewellery house has a long history of being the official jewellery to Emperor Napoleon I, making the crowns and ceremonial jewels for him and his wife Empress Josephine as well as other monarchs since the late 1700s. But it has lost out in terms of brand recognition, because well, you don't need a tiara everyday.

The infamous "Angelababy ring" with a six-carat diamond
Nevertheless, this massive wedding held at the Shanghai Exhibition Centre has hit the jackpot for Chaumet, says chief executive Jean-Marc Mansvelt.

He recalled the overwhelming response from Chinese clients for the Josephine Airgrett Imperiale ring, as well as for two antique diamond tiaras Angelababy wore at her wedding.

Mansvelt is quick to point out many shoppers flock to the Chaumet stores in Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and China, asking for the "Angelababy ring", but "it was not something that was originally designed for her," he says.

But do Chinese consumers care to know who Empress Josephine was?

And why should Mansvelt care anyway? He's seeing "more than double-digit growth" in revenue in greater China from its 20 boutiques on the mainland, five in Hong Kong and four in Taiwan.

There doesn't seem to be any thought about how over-the-top the wedding is, and how the bride and groom profited from the sponsorships and tie-ups with companies, pitching their stuff by wearing or using it.

No-frills couple Shu Qi and Stephen Fung
This contrasts starkly with the recent wedding of Taiwanese actress Shu Qi and Hong Kong-based actor and director Stephen Fung in September. She wore a pink dress from H&M given to her two years ago, and they didn't even have a wedding banquet.

Seems like you either do the full-on, with everything on top kind of wedding, or the other extreme of keeping it as plain as possible...