Posts Tagged ‘Family’

Dinner with the Family

Last night, Aunty M hosted a dinner here for some family members and we were honored to be included. Cousins P & B and D & G were visiting from the mainland.


Aunty M went the set menu route.

Seafood Tofu Soup

Chinese Chicken Salad

There were bits of canned pineapple in the salad, a pleasant surprise.

Roast Duck and Char Siu

Steamed Fish Fillets

Kau Yuk with Taro

The dish is flavored with “pickled” or preserved tofu. Here’s the description from Wikipedia:

Pickled tofu (豆腐乳 in Chinese, pinyin: dòufu rǔ, lit. “tofu dairy,” or 腐乳; chao in Vietnamese): Also called “preserved tofu” or “fermented tofu,” this food consists of cubes of dried tofu that have been allowed to fully air-dry under hay and slowly ferment from aerial bacteria. The dry fermented tofu is then soaked in salt water, Chinese wine, vinegar, and minced chiles, or a unique mixture of whole rice, bean paste, and soybeans. In the case of red pickled tofu (紅豆腐乳 in Chinese, Pinyin: hóng dòufu rǔ), red yeast rice is added for color.

There was some discussion between The Cat and P about how good the dish was. I won’t go into details but both rated it above average.

Beef Broccoli

Honey Walnut Shrimp

Minute Chicken Cake Noodle

Dessert was a choice of

Almond Tofu

Tapioca Balls in Coconut Milk


Grass Jelly

Grass jelly is supposed to be good in balancing the body. A better description is here.

Including dessert, that’s nine courses with lots of leftovers.

Typical in our family, while we’re eating, the main topic of discussion is past meals, future meals, and how to prepare certain dishes. Nothing wrong with that.

Good food and laughing with family = a good dinner.


The Mouse

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After writing the previous post, I decided to make stuffed ku gua with the last bitter melon from The Cat’s friend.  One of my father’s favorite dishes was stuffed ku gua.  

He didn’t make stuffed ku gua often, but when he did, it was an event.  He like to mix the ground pork with fish cake.  He would add dried mushrooms (reconstituted), water chestnuts, green onions, seasonings (salt, shoyu, etc) and an egg to the mix.  After preparing the ground pork stuffing, he would cut the bitter melon into sections.  I would help him core the melon sections and stuff them.  To cook the stuffed bitter melons, he would first brown both ends of each section to form a crust.  He would then add water and Chinese fermented black beans and “steam” the bitter melon (similar to making potstickers).  After the water and black beans evaporated a little, he would add a corn starch slurry to thicken the sauce. 

Since the dish is steamed, the ku gua tends to lose its color (turns yellowish).  Because of this, stuffed ku gua is not The Cat’s favorite way to eat ku kua.  But because we already had ku gua in a salad and stir-fried, The Cat said okay to do the stuffed bitter melon. 

I did not prepare the ground pork as complex as my father’s.  I just added sugar, salt, Shao Xing wine, ground ginger, and an egg to the ground pork.  For the steaming or braising liquid, I used dark shoyu and brown sugar.  I skipped the corn starch.  The stuffed ku gua came out close to what I remembered.  Even The Cat didn’t mind the dish. 

Raw Kua Gua Waiting to be Stuffed

Stufed Ku Gua

The picture above doesn’t include the pan sauce.  I didn’t want the sauce to obscure the stuffed ku gua. 

Here’s to all the fathers.  Happy Father’s Day (a little early). 


The Mouse

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Back when The Cat was still a kitten, she remembers her father taking the family out to dinner only once (at that time, times were really tough in China).  He took them to a restaurant that served Cantonese-style food.  

During this last visit, she mentioned that it would be nice to revisit that restaurant to remember her father.  One busy afternoon, after walking quite far, I wanted sit and rest a bit.  We were in the area of the restaurant.  Since the restaurant had an afternoon tea menu, we decided to try it.  The Cat ordered an herbal blend with goji berries and chrysanthemum flowers.  I ordered jasmine tea.  I also ordered one baked manapua (char siu bao) and one “French” style mocha sponge cake. 

Baked Char Siu Bao and Sponge Cake

Baked Char Siu Bao Interior

The Cat ordered a green tea mochi roll with mango (it was supposed to be one of their specialties). 

Green Tea Mochi Roll with Mango

The little snacks I ordered were not bad.  The mocha sponge cake was not overly sweet and went well with the tea.  The baked char siu bao was acceptable.  It didn’t knock my socks off but it did satisfy the munchies. 

The Cat didn’t care too much for her order of green tea mochi roll.  

We were scheduled to meet with The Cat’s brother and nephew the next night for dinner.  I suggested we eat at the same restaurant in memory of their father and grandfather.  This is what we ordered: 

Deep-Fried Tofu with Vegetables

Steamed Chicken

Shanghai Cabbage with Mushrooms and Bamboo Shoots

Sizzling "Mongolian Beef"

"Chow Mein" with Shrimp

There was too much oil in the dishes (either cooked with or poured on before serving).  The dishes did not make it on our list of outstanding dishes.  They were just so-so. 

Another restaurant that has been on the mind of The Cat for awhile is a French-style restaurant that The Cat passed by frequently (again when she was just a kitten).  Eating there was unreachable when she was growing up.  She has talked about that restaurant ever since I met her.  At the front of the restaurant, stood a well-dressed host that ushered us into an elevator to the second floor.  We started with vegetable soup for The Cat and oxtail soup for me. 

"Oxtail Soup"

The Cat’s vegetable soup looked like it came from a can.  My oxtail soup tasted like a cross between canned beef bullion soup and canned tomato soup. 

For our dinners, The Cat chose pan-fried fish in an egg batter.  I chose pork chops. 

Pan-Fried Fish in an Egg Batter

Pork Chops

The dishes looked like and tasted like they came from a 1950’s diner.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not disparaging 1950’s diner food, but we were supposed to be eating French food.  The best thing about the dinner was the bread that accompanied the soup.  Needless to say, the dinner did not meet expectations. 

When we told our friend D, about the two restaurants, she said the two restaurants are state-owned restaurants and only tourists (from other parts of China) go to those restaurants.  D also said there are better Cantonese and french restaurants in town.  

In later reflection, we both agreed that the two meals have to be eaten with the mentality and palate of the time when The Cat was growing up.  In the eyes of a girl under ten years old, the meals would be something special and exotic (using a fork and knife instead of chopsticks in the case of the French restaurant). 

Would we go back to those two restaurants?  Definitely no.  Are we glad we ate at them? Definitely yes.  Food is judged not only on looks and taste but the memories, dreams, and wishes they evoke.

The Cat thinks that sometimes dreams should be left alone and unrealized.  She’s still thinking.

The Mouse is now a philosopher (yeah right). 😉 


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I’m temporarily storing my pictures on this flash drive someone gave to us for Christmas.  Isn’t it cute?  

Flash Drive


This past weekend was The Cat’s birthday.  To celebrate, we had a couple of eating events.  

The first was at our neighborhood Chinese go-to restaurant here: http://www.kinwahchopsuey.com/.  The Chinese have a tradition of eating noodles for someone’s birthday to wish them long life.  We ordered boneless chicken vegetables chow fun (if there is a choice, The Cat prefers look fun noodles, in any form, over regular noodles).  

Boneless Chicken Vegetable Chow Fun


We also ordered choi sum with the oyster sauce on the side.  

Plain Choi Sum


Finally, our waitress, Nancy, recommended one of their specials that day,  whole yellow croaker.  The fish was steamed and topped with hot oil and shoyu.  Since whole fish represents good fortune, this was a very appropriate dish.  In addition, the price was about $10.00.  I don’t think there are many places that sell a whole steamed fish for $10.00.  Always delicious and a good deal too!  

Steamed Fish


One of the reasons The Cat is so nicknamed is because given the choice between a fish fillet and a fish head, she will choose the fish head.  Needless to say, The Cat ate the fish head that night. 

The next night, we had reservations to one of our favorite Japanese restaurant.  Can you guess where? Here’s some clues:  

Where are we?


One more clue


We are here: http://www.princeresortshawaii.com/hawaii-prince-hakone.php.  The restaurant has a weekend buffet to die for.  The usual line up includes crab legs, shabu shabu, sukiyaki, tempura, oden, all kinds of Japanese cold dishes, rib eye steak, lamb chops, and desserts.  But the main reason we like the buffet so much is the sushi and sashimi.  Get ready for some food porn (I’ll start slow).  

Assorted Cold Vegetables




Tempura and Other Hot dishes


Shrimp Tempura and Deep Fried Shrimp Heads


The deep-fried shrimp heads were better than any potato chip.  

More Hot Food


Finally, the sushi and sashimi!  





More Sashimi!


Our waitress (Grace) brought The Cat a complimentary dessert.  Shaved ice, lychee syrup, sweetened cream, red beans, ice cream, and assorted fruits.  It was so big, we shared some with the next table.  

Happy Birthday!


All in all, it was an excellent eating weekend.  

The Mouse is bowing: Xie Xie (thank you in Mandarin) to Kin Wah and Nancy, Domo Arigato (thank you in Japanese) to Hakone, and Kamsahamnida to Grace (thank you in Korean).  

The Mouse is multilingual (especially when it concerns food, lol). 🙂

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I had Aunty P and Aunty M that helped to inspire me and shape who I am today.  The Cat had several people who helped to inspire her.  I took this picture at a tea house in Shanghai (more on the tea house on a separate post).  

The Cat's Brain Trust

 The woman on the left, Teacher Cheng, is a published poet.  The man on left (her husband), Director Li, is an accomplished film director.  Both of their children are also TV and film directors.  The woman on the right, Aunty Tang, is a published author, university professor, actress, and singer (the whole package).  The man on the right (her husband), Uncle Wang is a film editor.  The Cat is in the middle.  Apparently they like me because they said they would adopt me too (they think I’m funny). 🙂  

The Cat’s father also taught her lessons about life.  He was a high school physical science teacher.  He didn’t talk much but his lessons included both how he lived his life and the choices he made.  This is the gate of one of the schools he taught at.  It has been turned into a community college.  We didn’t know it at the time we booked the location, but the gate is right across the street of the apartments where we stayed. 

High School Where The Cat's Father Taught

One of the main reasons for this trip was to perform the Chinese ritual of burning paper money and offering food at a family member’s gravesite so the soul will have money and something to eat.  In this case, it was for The Cat’s father. 

Teacher Cheng wrote a poem about The Cat’s father that was engraved on the back of his headstone. 


The Cat said the poem described her father and celebrated his soul. 

The Mouse is Verklempt.

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