He Ate Her Sushi

•November 18, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Tuesday night I had the pleasure of finally experiencing the delectable Japanese food at the infamous Sushi Kuu. When I say finally experience, I mean that the last time I went there it was a complete and utter fail. Mattia, Ismay and I were too wasted to actually eat and ended up skipping out on the meal, but none of that for now. The point is… is that I finally got to experience the Holy Grail of sushi in Hong Kong. Mattia, AKA my big brother, always raved on and on about the joint and finally, after two and a half years of hearing his praise, we had dinner there. The main excuse of going was because I had to interview him and the Head Chef, Satoru Mulogawa, for my radio news production class… but obviously my taste buds were just throbbing to experience the place.

Mattia took the reigns when it came to ordering the food, my only request was that there was an abundance of sashimi and Ismay’s was that she finally got her uni on. We started off with a delicious salad that had pork on the top with amazing dressing, and for drinks a bottle of Soju of course. I’m not the biggest fan of whiskey, seeing as that I used to down a couple of 711 Jim Beam bottles a night back in Taipei when I was 15…anyway, the taste of Soju reminds me of watered down whiskey, but with a couple of lime wedges added in, my stomach could thankfully handle it and I quenched my thirst regularly.

Whilst eating away at the salad like there was no tomorrow, Mattia and I noticed the Chefs making something that looked too good not to try behind the bar (we were sitting at the Sushi bar). Being the ever caring big brother and gentleman, Mattia asked Satoru to make one for each of us to have. It ended up being, if my memory serves me right, monk fish liver. Once finding this out, Ismay and I thought it was mighty wise to have it – apparently it’s good for your liver – since last week’s antics definitely left a hole or three in our own. The amount they served was small and perfect for the dish. Like all other livers, it had a smooth texture to it and almost seemed to melt in our mouths.

Now the next thing that came, “Chirashi,” was to my heavenly delight a humongous bowl of sliced up sashimi and avocado, two of my favorite things in the culinary world. There was rice at the bottom of the bowl but I chose to focus on devouring the fish because… why bother filling yourself up with rice when there’s an abundance of  meat to eat? Ismay finally got her uni as well, which was added to the top of the pile, and actually had the nerve to try and steal some of mine. We had a brief chopsticks war, of course I taught that uni addict not to mess with a fellow food addict’s meal, and we continued to mmh and ahhh each bite.

Before we could even take a couple of bites though, another dish arrived. I can’t remember the name  of the dish for the life of me, but I do remember it being the best fish I’ve had thus far in Hong Kong. It was cooked to a tenderness that I didn’t even know could be applied to fish, and the Japanese mayo on the side made it a creamy sensation that just made you foodgasm like no other dish  you’ve ever had before. Although I was too busy eating away at the Chirashi, Mattia lectured us how the fish didn’t taste as amazing if it went cold… and I’m grateful that he did because I got to try it at it’s prime and it was absolutely, 100% un-fucking-believable.

Throughout the meal, both Satoru and Mattia kept ordering Samurais for us to drink. What is a Samurai you wonder? Well, Ismay and I had no idea either but when we saw the clear liquid in a shot glass we knew it must have been trouble. The shot went down smoothly each time, but this intense burning sensation would slowly manifest itself in our chests and creep up our throats after downing them. I ended up having to either wash down the shot with Soju or a bite of Chirashi, nonetheless, after four or so of those and I don’t know how many glasses of Soju, I have to admit I was slightly drunk by the end of the meal.

It was all fun and games but I was there on business, AKA school, and still had my interviews to conduct. The change of my mood from fun-loving food junkie/alcoholic to serious journalist had everyone slightly confused, but I had to show them that this really was business. I got my interviews with Mattia and Satoru and, to my delight, got to interview my ex-boss Xuan, who also happened to have owned a restaurant in Hong Kong (I was doing a radio feature on Hong Kong dining). Although the interviewees, and I’ll admit it, the interviewer, were slightly intoxicated, I thankfully got the recordings I needed and we continued to drink our way to the future.

Delicious food, strong drinks and great company… what more could one ask for on a Tuesday night? For any other sushi fans out there, I definitely recommend for you to hit up Sushi Kuu, it’s pricey but the quality of food, the amazing service and the overall ambiance definitely makes it one of the best restaurants I’ve been to in Hong Kong.

Oh, and for those of you interested, Sushi Kuu is located in the same building of Beijing Club/Racks in LKF: Wellington Place, 2-8 Wellington Street, Central. Trust me, you will love it.

Till the next meal,

S xx

Nightmare on Elm Street

•November 2, 2010 • Leave a Comment

For those of us who aren’t noobs when in comes to partying in Hong Kong on Halloween night… well we know that LKF can be a bitch and a half to maneuver, and that every precaution must be taken into not getting stuck in the masses. I mean, I’m not complaining that the police put up barricades, with all of us intoxicated, cross-dressing freaks of the night out on such a popular and commerical holiday well… things can get out of hand. And sadly, apparently it did at New Years 1993 when, according to the Standard, “the narrow alleys of Lan Kwai Fong in Central turned into a stampede, crushing 21 people to death…”

So basically the barricades are a necessity, “Better safe than sorry” is what my mom always says, and when you’re dealing with thousands of intoxicated people all on a mission to get their party on… you’ve got to set boundaries to reduce the risk by all means necessary. But back to happier thoughts of girls dressed in their sluttiest outfits and guys dressed to show their more feminine side, Halloween was somewhat different this year than any of the others I’ve experienced in Hong Kong. Maybe it’s because I have two years of Hong Kong Halloween madness under my belt, or maybe because I actually searched and found a costume to wear… at any rate, it was a good, goood night.

We first pre-gamed at mine, a couple of friends came over and we drank a few brewskies, then we headed to D-i at about midnight. It was a strange ensemble of friends, we had two hot librarian geeks, a “terrorist” (I know it’s wrong but… it’s Halloween?), a Native American Chief, a rock star mime and me, Freddy Krueger.

Ismay and I decided that we weren’t going to budge from D-i unless it was past two, because getting stuck in the winding lines of LKF in attempts to getting to Volar any earlier… well, that would have taken at least a good hour AKA a definite no-no. So we partied, and we partied, and we partied, and then I woke up to find myself back at home and it was already November 1. Apparently we hit up D-i, Baccio, Volar, Baby Buddha, 1997 and Homebase… I vaguely remember being at 1997 at around 5am, but one flaming Lamborghini later: blank blackness ensued. It was an amazing night though, and I do sightly remember stumbling into my apartment with Ismay to see my big brother showered and ready to head to Macau for his seminar classes… but back to the main point. Halloween in Hong Kong can be messy, but if you stick to one venue during the jam-packed times (11pm-3am), you can freely skip through the narrow streets to go to your next destination without having to trudge behind the thousands of fellow party animals.

So if you want to prepare for next Halloween… scratch that, if you want to prepare for the next freakshow fest party that requires dressing up, here are a couple of spots you should hit up to help find your ideal costume:

Partyland Market on the corner of Wellington and Pottinger Street (Central) – Ismay got her Chieftan headdress there

Tai Yun Street Market (Wan Chai) – got my Freddy claws there for HK $38

Ladies Market, Tung Choi Street between Argyle and Dundas Street (Mongkok)

Night Market, Temple Street (Jordan)

&don’t be afraid to bargain in the markets…

Till the next Shitshow,

S xx

Hed Kandi @ the Venetian

•October 18, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Do you ever find yourself holding back on your expectations? Because you know that if you find yourself having any type of positive expectations, than you’re 90% more likely to be disappointed? Not just on events like birthdays and the ever-so-dreaded New Years,  but people, vacations, relationships, everything. Fortunately or unfortunately, I think it’s something a lot of us pick up in life, a self-defense mechanism of some sort. Well, I’m definitely one who attempts to limit any and all expectations, but this past weekend exceeded any that I could have had… and I couldn’t have imagined spending it with a better crowd than my Hong Kong family: Li Meng, Ismay & Mattia.

Saturday (October 16) was Hed Kandi’s last 2010 pool party held at the Venetian in Macau. We decided that we absolutely had go once we found out about it two weeks ago. I must admit, the beginning was dramatic, annoying and pointed to the conclusion that  it would be a disaster… but at the end, it made our Best Top Ten list. The process of me meeting the group at the Macau Ferry couldn’t have got any worse. First I ended up at the Central Pierre Ferry right by IFC, only to find out that we were meeting at the other pierre. Unfortunately, with miscommunication and impatience (on my part), I thought they said we were going from  the TST one. So I sped-walked my ass off to the Hong Kong station, Guinness Book of World Records style and whilst waiting for the MTR, decided to call Li Meng to figure out what station I was to get off. Long story short – we were meeting at the Macau Ferry that was in Central… and that I was about to head the wrong way. When I finally arrived at the right destination, I was sweaty, pissed and made us miss our 7:30 ferry. But… even with all of the sprinting, confusion and fucking up on my part, as we were waiting for the 8pm ferry I couldn’t help but feel my energy levels start to rise and my body start to shake. We all felt it, no matter what happened, it was going to be an epic adventure. Good, bad or ugly, it was going to be a night to remember.

Not to say it was all smooth sailing upon our arrival. There were some difficulties, but by the time we were finished getting ready and had polished off a bottle of bubbly… we were ready to head to the Venetian and officially begin partying. When we arrived, we were like mice going through a maze of Black Jack, Poker and Roulette tables, walking with our adrenaline pumping, trying to find where the hell the pool was located.

Once we found the pool and got our wristbands, we made our way through the random waves of already-intoxicated people, and bee-lined straight to the bar. We all got vodka red bulls to wake us up but… there wasn’t really any vodka. So we came up with the conclusion that the only way to spend the money most wisely was to get tequila shots from then on, duh right? Well, like the saying goes, “One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor…”

By 4am we found ourselves at a random table with people who I’m pretty sure Ismay knew… or she at least knew one of them. Two hours and an after-party later, we decided it was time for us to resign for the night and headed back to the Grand Hyatt, a race to get back into the room before sunrise. Too bad for my friends, I’m a light sleeper, and was up by 9:30 – by 10:30 I had taken a bubble bath, was dressed and ready to get my grub on. If you don’t know, I’m not the most patient person, so of course by 11:45 I had Li Meng, Ismay & Mattia all up and showered, ready to hit the infamous Grand Hyatt brunch buffet.

We were there by 12 and not a minute later, arriving right when it started. It’s hard to explain how much of a food addict I am, and that my taste buds, which have been spoiled by a mother who is an amazing chef, can be a picky bitch. So when I say that the brunch there is scrumdeliyumptious, it really is. I piled up on oysters, smoked salmon, Caesar salad, roast beef, the works… and it was definitely the most perfect way to start our Sunday. Ismay learned that she had acquired a taste for oysters and I experienced my first egg tart – something I’ve stubbornly refused to try for the past twenty years. I must say, it’s quite tasty, I’m not a custard-fan but the balance of pastry and egg custard or whatever it is that’s in there… well the combination of the two and the contrasting textures just makes it so… so yummy.

After slowly eating our body’s weight worth of food in the time frame of two hours, we checked out and headed to the poolside to lounge before taking the 5:30pm ferry back to Hong Kong. The poolside was gorgeous, and we ended up  chillin for a couple of hours before grudgingly making our way back to the city.

All in all, it was one of the most perfect weekends ever. Maybe it was because we kept our expectations to a minimum, or maybe it was because it initially got off to a rocky start. All I know is that it was one of those experiences that made me reflect and realize how blessed my life is, and how lucky I am to have such extraordinary people as my friends. I know it sounds cheesy but sometimes we get so caught up in the drama and the hectic, hustle&bustle that’s life in the city, that we forget to stop, look around, and truly appreciate our lives. It’s incredible what a difference the people we surround ourselves with can make, & I just want to take the time and thank all of you who are in my life.

Love you,

S xxxxx

 

Fuck, Kill, Marry

•October 1, 2010 • 1 Comment

“I think I could fall madly in bed with you.”

I know that this will fall under a more superficial and light-hearted post, but since Ismay’s recent 21st birthday, I just can’t seem to shake the images of gorgeous male celebrities out of my mind. The reasoning behind the current, unattainable thoughts? Fuck, Kill, Marry. Que? You ask? Well, that’s the name of the game. I was introduced to it on Ismay’s birthday night whilst we were slowly getting intoxicated and waiting for the lights to dim. The rules of the game? A person is given three names, from celebrities to friends to cartoon characters, and you have to quickly answer who you would sleep with, who you would axe off and who you would marry.

The game got intriguing as we entered more interesting characters in, causing the what was supposed to be a three second response time become a two minute long mental debate, with random squeals requesting for more time. By the end of it, Natalie named three celebrities who happen to be on my List. I was too torn to figure out who I would have to kill that I ended up not being able to continue with the game. Anyway, now that the anecdote is done, let’s get down to business: the List.

The List is, obviously, a list of people that you would sleep with – doesn’t matter if you are seeing someone or are married, the group on your list is a special group that is exempted from all of life’s monogamous rules. Basically, it’s your only “Get Out of Jail Free” card for infidelity because according to the List’s rules… it’s technically not cheating. Anyway, everyone has a mental one in the back of their heads or at least some idea as to who would be on their list. Well, I decided that I would take the time and form my list of ten celebrities that I wouldn’t mind  sprinting home to at any time, of any day of the week. Sadly, when I wrote that I took my time to form the list, I really meant it – the decision of these ten men didn’t come from a random hat-drawing… this took me a good twenty minutes of hard thinking about hard glistening bodies and godly faces.

Celeb Shag List:

Johnny Depp

George Clooney

Boris Kodjoe

Ian Somerhalder

Eric Bana

Hugh Jackman

Jonathan Rhys MeyersJames FrancoJoseph Gordon-LevittTakeshi Kaneshiro

Judging from my list I’ve realized that no blonds made the cut… not that I expected any to, I tend to go for the dark hair, dark eyes kind of guy with a little bit of mystery and cheekiness about him. Not that I’m saying that I don’t like blonds or find them unattractive, it’s just that I find myself sexually inclined to fall for the dark. Oops was that “too much information?” Sometimes my Chinese side takes over and I can’t seem to draw the line of what might make people uncomfortable, although instead of talking about recent weight gain or someone’s acne outbreak, my category tends to fall onto sex… but back to my earlier point, most people have a “type” and well, mine’s been pretty much the same since… shit, since I fell in love with James Bond I guess.

Well, for those of you who don’t have a list or haven’t finalized it… better get cracking. Everyone needs their “Get Out of Jail Free” card.

Sweet, sweet dreams Hong Kong,

S xx

A Drink to Ink

•September 12, 2010 • Leave a Comment

“I’m going, I’m going, Where the water tastes like wine, We can jump in the water, stay drunk all the time.”

Yesterday I got my third tattoo, a mini memorial for my dad really. It’s insane to recognize the fact that come this December 18, nine years will have passed since he died. I’ve been thinking about getting a small tattoo in honor of him for the past two years, and after this past summer I decided the time was to nut up or shut up. Originally I was thinking of either getting my dad’s full name, James David Vaughn, or his initials on the left side of my torso. However it was when I was in Seattle, enjoying the cold, crisp air and their sweet, crystal greenery, I realized what the tattoo in tribute of my dad was going to be, a Jack Daniel’s label, because if anyone knew my dad, they knew that JD was his poison.

I remember every night when he’d come home from work, he would pour himself a nice glass of JD with three ice cubes. Of course, come dinner time he would have consumed a bit more and by the time we were clearing the table, it wasn’t uncommon for him to be passed out on the dining room floor, snoring with his feet crossed at the ankles on his dinner chair. Absolute comedy, honestly the best dad anyone could ever ask for. Anyway, before I go on further tangents of old stories, JD was his thing, and it’s tradition that whenever we go visit his grave, we each have a shot of JD and pour him one as well.

So my epiphany in Seattle led to what is now a work of art that will forever reside on my left thigh. I decided that it only made sense to include Jack Daniel’s in my tattoo and by doing so, I could also add other details. So I changed the “Jack Daniel’s” to “James David.” I made a slight alteration to the “No. 7” by making it “007” since James Bond was one of my dad’s all time favorites. I then changed “Tennessee” to “Washington” since that’s where he’s from, Washington state mind you, not D.C.

I made an appointment for Saturday at Star Crossed Tattoo since I got my last one there this past January/February. I then proceeded to get cash out of my diminishing bank account and made the journey to Tsim Tsa Tsui (TST) with my best friend Li Meng. It always feels like it’s going to be an adventure when I go to TST because I’m honestly a lazy fuck who only leaves the island when it’s an absolute necessity. Anyway when we got there, Ross, the tattoo artist who did a perfect design for my tattoo, showed me the stencil. At first I was planning on having the tattoo filled in, as in it would look like an exact JD label except for the changes. But after he told me some of the concerns he had with the original idea, Li Meng and I agreed that he was right and we began the long process of getting me some more ink.

Whenever people ask me if getting a tattoo hurts I always say no, because my first two honestly didn’t really hurt. The first one I got is behind my ear, and I was too busy being scared to breathe, thinking that I would fuck it up, to notice any pain. The second is on my inner wrist and that one seemed to hurt a bit more, but I think it might also have to do with the fact that I watched the whole process and my skin there is more sensitive. This tattoo though is the biggest one I have and took a good 3-3 1/2 hours to finish (munch breaks included). Ross started from the top of the label and worked downwards, starting first with the outlining and then the filling. When he first started I had to try to not laugh because at some parts it tickled, but the closer the needle got to my inner thigh, the more I could feel the slight burn of the needle penetrating my skin.

 

When Ross finished filling in the final touches of the tatt, I honestly couldn’t have been more thrilled. I was laying down during the inking process so I couldn’t exactly watch, but I did take a couple of munch breaks and got to check it out throughout. By the time Ross was cleaning up my leg I was too excited to check it out in the mirror to really mind the slight soreness that seemed to be pulsating on my thigh. Li Meng&I agreed that it was a definite success and I couldn’t be happier with the outcome. The total price for it was HKD 1,500 (USD 195) which I couldn’t imagine spending more wisely.

 

As Mengy&I left Star Crossed in a fit of absolute bliss and satisfaction, we went off to find Cameron road so we could buy Silic 15 from Watsons. On our way there we stumbled upon a couple of nifty stores. We ended up buying hats, dresses and I finally got my mirrored PoPo-style sunglasses. All in all I would have to definitely rate Saturday as one of those days that gets better and better until it ends in perfection.

So if any of you are interested in getting a tattoo and reside here in HK then I highly recommend going to Star Crossed, it’s definitely worth the trip and let’s face it… isn’t really that far out of the way. Two South African guys (at least Ross is from SA) bought the place from the previous owners and are super chill, and they definitely know what they’re doing. You can email them what you want, image references and the location that you want it or just give them a call to make an appointment. Check out their website if any one of you are planning on getting inked and if you have any questions feel free to ask. As for now, I’m going to continue my anime marathon and apply some slick, cold Silic 15 to my newest tattoo addition.

http://www.starcrossedtattoo.com/

2/F, 57 Granville Road
Tsim Sha Tsui
Kowloon

Cheers,

Sami xx

Another Kind of Adventure

•September 3, 2010 • 1 Comment

The Rose by Amanda McBroom

“It’s the heart afraid of dying, that never learns to dance;
It’s the dream afraid of waking, that never takes the chance;
It’s the one who won’t be taken, who cannot seem to give;
And the soul afraid of dying, that never learns to live.”

“But it’s not fair…” It’s the phrase we’ve all used multiple times in our lives, and although we know the automated Life response is: “Well, life isn’t fair,” we still unnervingly say, ask, think and bitch it. The last couple of days have made me start thinking about what exactly does make life fair, &then that’s when it hit me, death. Death makes life fair.

It’s a fate that no one can escape, no matter how loved, hated, rich or dirt poor… you can’t cheat death. Maybe that’s another reason why we choose to fear this unknown so much, because we know that it’s the one thing that no matter what, you just can’t avoid… it’s your shadow reminder that time waits for no one.

The reasoning behind this more-morbid-than-usual post is that my Grandfather passed away this Sunday, August 29, 2010. One day after my 20th birthday. The proximity of the day that I was born and the day he passed made me start contemplating about life and death, yin and yang. With life comes death and that’s how it’s always been, yet how come we never seem ready to say our final goodbye?

Since I was a kid, I always wondered what would happen if I died. If I killed myself, would I find myself as a single cell that then would begin mitosis and become… whatever it is that I would if reincarnation were true? Or would I find myself, born with absolutely no sense of direction, getting lost on my way to the pearly gates of Heaven?

Well, once we believed the world was flat and that we would find ourselves falling into  a dark abyss of Nothing if we sailed too far… yet we couldn’t have been more wrong. With the pitch of the sails, the adventurous found themselves in a new world, a world that was thought to never exist. Like life is an adventure, death certainly must be another kind of adventure. Maybe one even more exciting, &let’s face it – hopefully less exhausting, than the one we find ourselves in now. I guess what I’m trying to say is, death doesn’t necessarily mean Good-bye. “Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.” Well Death, I now see you as fair, I see you natural and I see you as what will reunite me with loved ones gone before me. So before we hang up our coats and give up, know that there is something to live for after we die, so don’t be afraid.

Wendy: So, your adventures are over then?
Peter Pan: No, oh no Wendy, to live die, is an adventure.

See you on the Otherside Grandpa & give Dad a hug for me,

Sami xx

When Summer Ends

•August 17, 2010 • Leave a Comment

“What’s the Good in Good-bye?”

The worst thing about summer is knowing that although the lazy, eternally sunny days seem like they’ll last forever, you’re living on an expiration date. While the beginning, middle and even the end of summer still mark the beginning of new relationships, friendships and lessons learned, the inevitable good-bye that hides on the date of forgotten plane tickets slowly becomes the elephant in the room that no one wants to acknowledge.

Now, the usual, daily activities become “The Last Time,” and the soundtrack of your summer suddenly turns into a bittersweet symphony. In a way, your life does sort of stop and things look like they’re crashing, how can you suddenly turn off the familiarity of that summer, of being used to falling asleep next to somebody and waking up right next to them? That’s when you begin having trouble falling asleep, and in my case, your body returns to pre-summer habits of insomnia and you end up waking at 7am with the inability of going back to sleep. It’s almost like your summer was a drug, and now that it’s time to end, all of the old symptoms that seemed to have been cured come back with a vengeance. And it’s then, only then, when your mind, body & soul can agree on one thing: Life can fucking blow.

Even though life is full of hello’s, good-bye’s and see you in five’s, and even though my vast experience of packing up and moving my entire life probably exceeds most, I’ve never been the best at handling good-byes, especially if I’m not the one who’s boarding the plane. I doubt I’ll ever master the practice of the word Good-bye, &I know that it’ll always be the hardest thing for me to do, but I hope I never regret any of the decisions that lead me to that Good-bye.

I guess if we were to find the positive aspect of Good-bye, it’s that it forces us to remember and cherish all of the old and new memories we had with that person. The adventures, the fights, the laughs, the tears and those lazy days that were spent just laying in bed.  The memories will always be there to remember and in a blink of an eye, next summer will arrive marking again the beginning of new relationships, friendships and the possibility of old flames. So my lovelies, enjoy the remainder of your summer  to the maximum and drink in your time with that person who you know saying good-bye will be the hardest… because no matter what you do, the date on that forgotten plane ticket is getting closer each passing day.

One of my old poems that I felt was appropriate for the end of the Summer of 2010.

Summer of Eve

Roll me up, like a one dollar bill
Smoke me up baby; I’ll give you the thrill
Taste my lips candy, they’ll make you alive
Just close your eyes, and turn your fall to a dive.
Take a poke love; it’ll revitalize your skin
Don’t forget, they love the Holocaust thin
Forget the world Eve; they’ll love you when you’re dead
Take my word darling, and stay here instead

I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they’re right, you believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself, and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.” – Marilyn Monroe

Love your Summer,

Sami xxx