Sunday, December 28, 2008

Most unimaginative restaurant name ever?

Nice idea. When every combination of Imperial, Dragon, Pearl and Palace has been used up, why not go for something minimalist? Maybe other businesses can follow suit and we'll get places named simply 'The Supermarket' or 'American-style Coffee Shop'.

Okay, I admit on closer inspection the owners have covered up part of the sign - probably because the lease has just changed hands or something. Still, thought it was funny :)

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

China and America becoming one intertwined economy - 'Chimerica'

I don't know if any of you caught the interesting programme The Ascent of Money on Channel 4 last night but the presenter Niall Ferguson put forward the interesting idea that China's and America's economies have become so intricately connected and interdependent, that you can start to treat them as one, unified economic system - one he calls Chimerica.

I could find a clip of the original Channel 4 programme online, but here is an interview with Niall Ferguson where he discusses this idea (Sorry for the weird look of the video!). It's interesting stuff considering how the USA and China are considered as being diametrically opposed, politically. Talk about a love/hate relationship!:

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

We do invisibility so well...

I just spotted this article on the Guardian website: 'It's time to put British east Asian theatre in the spotlight'

In it, theatre director David Tse Ka-Shing comments on the lack of British East Asian faces in the British media, when other ethnic groups seem to get plenty of airtime.

Of the three largest ethnic minority groups in the UK, the British east Asian (BEA) presence in arts and culture is still the most invisible. Go to any subsidised theatre or turn on the TV and you'll know what I mean. EastEnders, in 23 years of being broadcast, has regularly featured south Asian and black families but the only Chinese presence so far has been someone selling dodgy DVDs.

It's a far cry from the 100,000 or so British east Asians – the majority of them professionals – living and working in London.

...We are not temporary visitors, so why are the majority of BEA actors asked to put on foreign accents? It's as if we don't belong here or that we can't sound British.

It's true. It seems to be an uphill struggle getting more Chinese faces on TV screens. Especially men, for some reason. I've noticed that East Asian women generally get more screen time for example in commercials and pop videos but they are usually in the background, not saying anything. 'Ornamental Orientals', you might call them.

Proper characters played by East Asian actors do appear every now and then, but ever so rarely. I've tried to use this blog to highlight any new Chinese actors or performers I spot on TV but that in itself is probably a sign of how little coverage we get - i.e. it's a rare enough occurrence to justify a blog post!

I know what you're thinking: Gok Wan is never OFF the telly, what am I complaining about? Whilst it great that Gok has become perhaps the biggest, most recognized bbc celebrity of our time (respect!) wouldn't it also be nice to have a few more faces on our screens regularly? A male presenter, maybe? A comedy actor? As David Tse says, a character in EastEnders? And I'm sure there are sociology experts out there who can offer an explanation as to why East Asian women and gay men are more readily given air time in the media, as opposed to straight, East Asian men.

All things considered, this makes the Halifax commercial starring Thomas Yau something of a major achievement!

I remember when I was growing up, if I ever saw a Chinese face on television I would jump up and tell my parents. It was a fleeting moment not to be missed, like the sighting of a comet or a rare animal. Years down the line, I'm writing about the same thing on a blog. Things have not changed that much.

Related: Thomas Yau, star of new Halifax commercial
Related: His name is Gok and, ladies, he might change your life.
Related: From Potter to Popworld...The bbcs are coming!
Related: Maye Choo joins the growing list of British Chinese in the media

Monday, December 08, 2008

Moonlight Resonance

Moonlight Resonance was this year's big miniseries from TVB. The series was entirely sponsored by a Hong Kong bakery chain and was set in the high powered world of, erm, mooncake manufacturing.

The show achieved TVB's highest ever ratings for a drama series and it's not difficult to see why: A large, extended family with lots of siblings, a character with a disability which doesn't stop them looking pretty and an evil character whose evilness is signified by an unusual haircut... This show has everything!

Wikipedia: Moonlight Resonance

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

HK attains the world's first ever 3 Michelin star Chinese chef

The Michelin Guide is probably the world's most highly regarded restaurant guide and chefs all over the world dedicate their lives to winning the organization's coveted stars.

For the first time in its 108 year history, the Michelin Guide now covers Hong Kong and Macau the honour of being the first Chinese chef to be awarded the maximum three stars has been won by Chan Yan Tak of the Four Seasons Hotel, Hong Kong.

His restaurant, Lung King Heen now joins the list of only 72 in the world that have three Michelin stars and 26 of those are in France. Inspectors visited Lung King Heen 12 times before deciding its rating.

Story: The Independent

This is still some debate as to whether a European guide can accurately judge Asian cuisine. Whilst Michelin released its first guide to Japan a year ago and has denied any bias towards any type of cuisine, critics have said that the Michelin inspectors favour French style cooking and are less willing to award its highest rating to restaurants serving other cuisines. American restauranteurs in particular have been critical of the apparent bias towards French restaurants in the Michelin Guide to American cities.

I'd certainly love to try Lung King Heen on my next visit to HK but I wonder how many other deserving Chinese restaurants are out there that serve amazing, authentic, faultless Chinese food but which perhaps didn't appeal to the Michelin inspectors' European sensibilities?

If you've already dined at Lung King Heen, well done: It will probably be ridiculously difficult to get a table there now.

You can check out the hotel's official website here and below is Chan Yan Tak's tasting menu.

Lung King Heen Chef's Tasting menu

Baked stuffed Crab Shell with Onions and Fresh Crab Meat

Hot and Sour Shark's Fin SoupSimmered King Prawn in Champagne Sauce with Gold Leaf

Braised Whole Fresh Abalone in Supreme Oyster Sauce

Wok-Fried Scallops with X.O. Chili Sauce

Braised Seasonal Vegetables with Assorted Fungus

Fried Rice with Minced Beed and Preserved Vegetables

Sweetened Almond Cream with Glutinous Rice Dumplings

Petits Fours


Superior Chicken Soup with Hoi Fu Shark's Fin and Fish Maw
Double-Boiled Mitake Mushrooms with Brassica and Bamboo Piths
Traditional Style Stewed Lamb Brisket
Braised Chicken Fillet with Mushrooms, Red Dates and Ginger
Wok-Fried Beef Flank with Celery and Preserved Liver Sausage
Sautéed Prawns in Chilli Sauce
Stir-Fried Diced Groupa Fillet with Assorted Vegetables and Pine Nuts

A slice of bbc pie

I recently received an email from 'BBC Pie' announcing a new bbc-themed blog. You can check our Mr. Pie's blog here.

What ingredients would you need to make a bbc pie, I wonder? Hmm, maybe we will find out by reading this blog?

Good to see another new addition to the ever-growing bbc district of the blogsphere!

Monday, December 01, 2008

How they make soy sauce

You've probably consumed it all your life but do you know how it's made?

Check out the vid below to see how microscopic moulds and huge sheets of linen are used in the production of soy sauce:

Monday, November 17, 2008

'Thank You' MC Jin

Time for another clip from our favourite Cantonese-speaking ABC rapper ;) In this track (performed live in Hong Kong's Times Square) MC Jin gives props to him mum and dad. Aww.

You have to give him credit: How many people can rap this well in two languages? The guy is talented.

Related: MC Jin tells it like it is, ABC style

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Not a view of Chinatown you see everyday

The views you see here of the south-western edge of London's Chinatown probably have not been seen for decades and in a few years' time (when all the work is done) might not be seen again for decades more.

What used to be the Swiss Centre has been totally demolished and enormous building works are now going on on the site. The work has created a vast, temporary open space allowing sunlight to fill parts of Wardour, Lisle and Leicester Streets that are normally shrouded in dingy shadow.

To see it for yourself, get a lunchtime table at the front of the top floor of Joy King Lau restaurant, Leicester Street. It's the best view to be had in Chinatown right now.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

'Cantonese - The Movie' (cont'd)

These little learn Cantonese movies by Cecilie Gamst Berg (aka Chinadroll) are just too good not to post.

This time she deals with Cantonese noun qualifiers, using the classic sentence "that brother is taller than that brother" to illustrate a point (say it in Canto to see what she means).

Catch up with all the episodes of 'Cantonese The Movie' at Cecilie's blog

Related: Learning Canto with Ah-Mok and ah-Wai

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Hong Kong Halloween

Ghosts, ghoulies and other assorted characters come out to play in Lan Kwai Fong.

Related: Halloween Special: Top 5 Scary Chinese People!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Frozen in Time (#3)

Whilst searching around for 'Frozen in Time' Chinese restaurants and takeaways around London I managed to overlook the most obvious place to look - Chinatown itself.

The last few years have seen massive change in Gerrard Street (and it seems there's more on the way) with businesses opening and closing all the time. When even the ancient Kowloon Restaurant gets a makeover, you know things really are changing.

Friendly Inn, at the eastern end of Gerrard Street, has been here as long as I can remember. I think it was even here before Gerrard Street was pedestrianized and had a road running through it.

The exterior sign may look old fashioned now at first glance but it was clearly designed to suggest modernity and class in its time; You can almost picture businessmen with 70s sideburns and wearing large kipper ties coming here for a post-work dinner. Looking inside, you can see fittings and furniture that might not have changed in decades.

In all these years I've never eaten at Friendly Inn once, yet I'd love to see it remain as it is.

'Frozen in Time' is a bbc blog celebration of Chinese establishments that have stood the test of time and kept their original look in an age of constant revamping and updating. If you see any other 'frozen in time' Chinese establishments, drop me a line!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Eau de Karen Mok

If you've always wanted to wear a perfume inspired by a diminutive female Hong Kong action star, now's your chance!

Karen Mok has become the first Asian celebrity to launch their own fragrance, following in the footsteps of many western celebrities (and even quite a few non-celebrities).

It's not an obvious choice for a celebrity endorsement but no doubt her fanbase will be rushing out to try out her products. I wonder if the commercials will be anything like her movies, though?:

via Asian Music World

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Images from the New Territories

A nice, evocative set of photos of Sheung Shui village taken by Simon Chan. They really convey that unmistakable, quirky NT atmosphere:

See the full set at Shotxy. Found via Skyscrapercity

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Racism scandal at British university

I found this incident quite appalling, especially as it allegedly involves a member of staff at what is meant to be a place of higher learning.

It is also, in a way, a type of incident that I feel a lot of bbcs can identify with.

Mongolian-born Odgerel Hatenboer wanted to apply for a Chartered Institute of Management Accountants course at Glyndwr University, Wrexham. At the time she was already a masters student in economics and had a diploma from the Association of Accounting Technicians.

When she discussed this with a member of university staff, she was shocked at what she was told:

She said: "The man said something like 'I'm not saying you're Chinese but people like you, Oriental people, tend to accept what is written in the books and what the lecturer says, whereas this kind of course is nothing like you have studied in the past, it requires more analytical skills, you will have to do more yourself."

"This didn't happen on the street or in a shop, this happened in a university which is supposed to be multi-racial institution with educated people.

"I think it's outrageous. I can not believe it happened. It's appalling that a member of staff commented on an individual because of their race. He didn't even ask about my background or qualifications."

I accept that this is one person's account of an incident but if it's true then damn right it's outrageous. However, I'm sorry to say I think this the kind of thing isn't rare. At times it seems we are last race left in Britain that people happily and openly stereotype without a second thought.

To hear stuff like this is bad but in some cases it might have been dismissed as a 'harmless' comment that had perhaps been taken the wrong way.

However, in this case the prejudice behind the comments may have been underlined by the fact that the student's application form was not submitted to the university by the member of staff even though it had been completed.

Had he just unilaterally decided the course was not for this 'Oriental' and chose to deny them even the right to apply?

(Another point: I notice that this condescending, racist person used the word 'Oriental' to describe us, which I've never liked. It's totally out-dated and has a rather patronising, colonial sound to it.)

Odgerel Hatenboer is reportedly planning to take legal advice. Meanwhile, the university has responded by saying it has taken appropriate action but does not say what.

It also says Mrs. Hatenboer's application was 'misplaced' and not deliberately held back. I guess they found it again then, eh?

Full story: BBC News

Related: The Daily Post (North Wales)

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Melamine scandal now spreads to vegetables?

China's tainted milk scandal has been covered so extensively in the international press that I didn't even think it was even necessary to mention it on the bbc blog.

Clearly the scandal had exposed the fact that as China's economy has expanded at an explosive rate, its quality control standards have simply failed to keep pace (something that I think most Chinese would have acknowledged even before the melamine scandal).

In this case, those who paid the price were the country's most vulnerable citizens - infants being fed milk.

Today there was disturbing news that suggests the scandal is not over yet: Singapore's Straits Times and Yahoo News have both reported that the toxic chemical melamine has been discovered in vegetables imported from China.

The findings apparently originate from Korea, and has led to a state of high alert in Malaysia:

"We have learnt from Korea that they have detected a high level of melamine in vegetables they import from China," said Health Minister Datuk Liow Tiong Lai.

It may take a while before this news is confirmed or debunked. In the meantime, here are the links:

Story: Taiwan News
Story: The Straits Times
Story: Yahoo News

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Essex-Jiangsu Festival 2008-2009

Did you know that the English county of Essex (whose women have the butt of some rather crude jokes in years gone by) is twinned with Jiangsu province in China?

To celebrate 20 years of this relationship, a big cultural festival is taking place in Essex between July 2008 and March 2009. Described as 'the biggest international arts festival Essex has ever enjoyed' it will include a variety of cultural shows and events all the way from Jiangsu.

To find out more, check out the official website.

I like the idea of twinned towns and cultural exchange although I'm not sure what forms of Essex culture are going to be showcased back in China.

I wonder if this means that there are a whole bunch of Jiangsu jokes out there? Then again, perhaps we shouldn't go there!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Re-education, China-style

After China's Olympic dream, a dose of reality...

I found this interesting report from about China's policy of 're-education through labour'.

Criticized by some both inside and outside China, the system allows detention without criminal charges for up to four years and is often used against local dissidents who wish to do nothing more sinister than stage a protest.

The Slate article begins with the case of Wu Dianyuan and Wang Xiuying, two women in their 70s sentenced to year of re-education through labour because they wanted to complain about the amount of compensation they were offered for being forced to move as a result of local re-development works.

The emphasis in re-education-through-labor is on the labor: People sentenced to so-called laojiao may spend as much as 12 to 14 hours a day, according to some accounts, doing work like construction, making bricks, or mining. (U.S. Customs investigations have also implicated Chinese prison labor in the production of binder clips and diesel engines.)

That work serves as both a means of punishment and as a major source of revenue for a camp.

Full story:

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Presenting EO2 and 'Ladies Night'

What can I say? Don't all rush to the stage at once, ladies!

This HK boy band is called EO2 and you find out more about them on their official website.

What now for Halifax star Thomas Yau?

It seems like Thomas Yau hasn't been off our TV screens since Halifax starting using him in their 'Something Good' TV ads.

But with news that the bank is to be swallowed up by Lloyds TSB, where does that leave the nation's favourite spiky-haired, singing bbc bank employee?

I know a lot of Thomas's fans have been to this blog. If anyone out there knows him, it would be great to hear how he's doing!

Related: Thomas Yau, star of new Halifax commercial.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Chinatown to get £2million revamp

Photo: Wikipedia

The Evening Standard reports that London's Chinatown is to receive funding from Westminster Council to make the area more authentically Chinese.

The money will be spent on a number of improvements including the building of a wooden pagoda and the re-opening of a dedicated Tube exit from Leicester Square station.

The move is in stark contrast to the alleged plans to demolish the stone 'leung ting' shelter that sparked the 'Save Chinatown' Campaign back in 2004.

Key recommendations include:

• Basing future building projects on the principles of feng shui, an ancient system of design principles which claims to enhance health, wealth and positive energy.

• The reopening of Leicester Square Tube station's entrance of Little Newport Street and Charing Cross Road, which will give Chinatown its own dedicated Tube entrance. The entrance has been closed since 1978.

• The creation of nine dragons, replicating the carvings which adorn Beijing's Beihai Park and believed to be symbols of cosmic energy. These will help define the entrances to Chinatown.

• A new timber pagoda open to the public in Newport Place.

• Monthly craft markets showcasing the best in Chinese products.

• Gold lanterns to light the streets.

Full story: This is London

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Does China need to improve its Olympics medals table position? (Yes, I'm serious!)

By now we all know that China claimed the top spot of the Beijing 2008 medals table with a massive total of 51 golds.

OK, the USA disputes who the 'top nation' is; They prefer to count the total number of medals won rather than just golds. Surprise, surprise this puts the USA at the top of the table.

I'm sure they will argue that one for years to come but for me, the medals table gets a lot more interesting once you start taking into account the total population of each country competing.

Looking at the figures this way gives you a statistic of 'one gold medal for every _____ people' and it could be argued that the lower this figure is, the more of an achievement it is for that country.

A full medals table compiled using this method can be seen here:

As you can see the nation that tops the table is now Jamaica with one gold medal for every 452,333 people.

Australia, in 7th place, finishes above Britain (the country viewed as its Olympic rival) in this table.

Great Britain is 15th (one gold per 3,052,632 people) and China... well, China languishes way down the table in 47th place with a statistic of one gold medal per 25,991,431 people!

The question, then, is China's medal tally less of an achievement when viewed in this context? Or is it just the final total that matters?

I'm sure there will be differing views but personally I think it's an interesting, alternative view of the medals table. At least it gives Jamaica some recognition for achieving what it did whilst having a relatively tiny population.

At the end of the day, does it actually matter which country comes top of the table? This is a very interesting observation from Guardian blogger Andy Bull in his article "Why medal tables have nothing do with the Olympic spirit":

"The Olympic Charter ... bears increasingly little resemblance to the reality of the event. That does not mean that the charter is worthless. The values it defines are still worthy of aspiring to.

Article six reads: "The Olympics are competitions between athletes in individual or team events, not between countries."

Of all the sentiments enshrined in the charter, this is by far the most abused."

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Ah, those inscrutable Thais. Eh?

A moment of Asian fear and paranoia from elderly soap actress Wendy Richards who makes a classic 'they're all the same to me' observation about Kathreya, a contestant on UK reality show Big Brother.

I wouldn't say it was an outright racist comment but it certainly showed the kind of over-generalization that is all to common when Asian people are discussed.

Chinese, Japanese whatever, eh?

I've been following Big Brother and it's been disheartening to see Kathreya's popularity gradually fade over the weeks although I accept some of her traits can be annoying. What I still find weird is how many viewers seem to believe her persona is fake. She's always seemed like a totally genuine - if over-the-top - person to me. Here's a clip of her being not very inscrutable at all:

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Guardian writer bemoans 'humourless' Olympics

I thought this was an interesting article from The Guardian's Marina Hyde today.

I don't know if this view is common amongst the foreign media but the writer is basically saying the Beijing Games have been swamped by a particularly stage-managed form of national pride that at times verges on being forced.

I don't entirely go along with the article; I don't remember any Olympic Games being particularly full of humour, and I think you have to allow for the fact that is a ground-breaking event for China - it has never done anything like this on the world stage - so perhaps the country is entitled to indulge in national pride. Maybe after four or five events of this magnitude, China can afford to be more relaxed and irreverent.

One thing I do agree with is that London does indeed seem like the perfect 'counterpoint' to Beijing and I do look forward to a Games that is different in style and atmosphere.

And yes, some funny banners wouldn't go amiss either.

From the article:
The Beijing Games are a place of steely schmaltz, where nothing goes wrong, ever... They are the place where the organising committee explained of the ordinary Chinese: "Everybody is happy. That is a fact."

It's basically like The Matrix, but with less cool clothes. And nothing makes you wish you hadn't taken the red pill like seeing volunteers, coralled into filling empty seats at a venue, unfurling a banner reading "Nothing can stop the power of China". By crikey, they need to work on their bannercraft. You just yearn for the sort of sentiment that can adorn the flags at England away games. "Don't go into labour Hayley" - that sort of thing.

For all their slick management and the great sporting display, it should be said that China's Games have been spectacularly, creepily humourless. There has been not one iota of good natured fun-poking in the national media, not a single comedy montage on the 18 state TV channels dedicated to reverential coverage of China's big moment. Nothing has been allowed to interfere with the official line. The effect is oddly static, as though the people's joy is being handed to them like a stone tablet, instead of being a democratised, roots-up explosion.

As we prepare to turn the corner into the next Olympiad, Britain is starting to look like the perfect contrasting destination for the old torch. These Games have provided in-stadia thrills, but how much richer the Olympics will be for taking place in a city of irreverence and cynicism, as well as enthusiasm...

We may not have 2,000 perfectly synchronised drummers, but we've got a nation of cussed folk dancing to their own beats.

If Beijing's Games were a state's Olympics then London's ought to be a democracy's - the chance to humanise them a bit more.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

China's approach to car design

We've all seen made-in-China, imitation brand cameras and gadgets... but cars?

It seems that China's car industry also goes to extraordinary lengths to make products that look like those of Western manufacturers.

Visually, they vary from being passable lookalikes to way-off-the-mark imitations. But as for performance and safety.. well, I shudder to think!

via Blame it on the Voices

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Worst Olympics ad ever?

Okay, we (the Spanish national basketball team) are going to the Olympics in Beijing.

What can we do in our pre-Olympics photoshoot that will really set the right tone for our trip to China?

Nice. The photo was taken for an ad for a courier company, Seur, who are sponsors of Spain's basketball team and ran in the country's top selling newspaper.

There were reports that the Spanish team were loudly booed by normally respectful spectators during their game against China (which Spain won) and it's thought it was partly due to this story hitting the net.

Spain has something of a history when it comes to racial insensitivity in sport. Their national football coach made derogatory racial remarks about France's Thierry Henry for which he was heavily fined, and of course last year Spanish Formula One fans decided to welcome Britain's Lewis Hamilton to their country by blacking up their faces and wearing T-shirts that said 'Hamilton family'. What a funny country.

In an extra twist, it turns out that the Spanish basketball team is also part sponsored by Li-Ning footwear, the company founded by Chinese sporting legend Li Ning who lit the torch at the Beijing opening ceremony.

Apparently no official apology or comment has been forthcoming the Spanish team.

Full story: New York Times blog.
Related: 08.08.2008: Let the Games begin...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Mystery surrounds the deaths of two mature students in Newcastle

Police have just released video footage of the victims of a double killing in Newcastle named as Zhen Xing Yang, 25, and his girlfriend Xi 'Ci Ci' Zhou, also 25. Both had graduated with MAs at Newcastle University. There seems to be no apparent motive for the killings.

The Newcastle Chronicle reports:

Ci Ci hadn’t been seen by friends for two days and she failed to turn up for her shift at Wagamama’s restaurant in Old Eldon Square, Newcastle, where she worked from 11am to 3pm.

When one concerned pal went back to the flat with a former tenant and two other friends, they couldn’t get a response. They managed to get in through an unsecured window at the back and then unlocked the door.

Northumbria Police were alerted at around 4.30pm on Saturday. They arrived to seal of the rented ground floor flat in Arthur’s Hill, in Newcastle’s West End.

Police have been trying to trace their next of kin and detectives have carried out inquiries with the Chinese community, particularly the Chinese students’ association in Newcastle. It is believed ritualistic or Triad connections have been ruled out.

Detectives are looking at the couple’s background, associates, and their last known movements. They are working on the theory they may have been targeted by a killer or killers who knew them.

Full story.

A terrible end to two young lives. Anyone with information is asked to call Northumbria Police on 03456 043 043.

Friday, August 08, 2008

08.08.2008: Let the Games begin...

What must be one of the most eagerly anticipated Olympic Games ever is about to kick off.

What's unusual about Beijing 2008 and part of why these particular Games have generated so much interest are all the issues other than sport: Can China stage the Games successfully? Will the Games signal a change in China's social and political landscape? Is it right for a country with such oppressive human rights policies to bask Olympic glory? Will the Games be disrupted? Will the Games fail? Will the world change its view of China after the Games and will China change its view of itself?

For once, I think it's true to say that the world really will be watching at 1:00pm GMT.

In the meantime, here's a selection of recent Beijing 2008 articles:

MSNBC (amongst others) reports on the dress code that has been issued to Beijing residents advising them literally 'What Not To Wear'. The forbidden fashion list includes the ever popular wearing of white socks with black shoes, and wandering the streets in pyjamas. Trinny and Susannah would approve, I'm sure!

The New York Times reports on the explosion of advertising surrounding the Games in China and how local companies are having to up their game to compete with unprecedented levels of foreign ads.

The Guardian reports on one of the more contentious issues: The millions of Chinese who have been displaced to make way for the Games. There is no doubt that China has pulled out all the stops to makes these Games happen, but at what cost to ordinary, non-Olympian citizens?

The Times reports that top Chinese scientists will use the latest medical techniques to ensure that all female competitors in the Games are really female, putting paid to all those 'Surely that's a bloke?' type conversations.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Charity Canal Cruise with the Chinese Information and Advice Centre

Just a quick mention for this event I stumbled upon:

CIAC (Chinese Information and Advice Centre) are organizing a special charity cruise along London's Regent Canal, travelling from Little Venice to Camden on August 17th. Tickets are £25 and include food, drink and a £10 donation.

CIAC provides a range of services to the Chinese community ranging from legal help to advice on immigration and domestic issues. They are a valuable service for members of our community who are unable to access normal community services due to the language barrier.

For further details please go to the CIAC website.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Not a Kathreya fan, then

Youtuber FunniestComedian (actually a bbc named Peter) gives us his take on the UK reality show Big Brother contestant Kathreya, whose strong Thai accent hasn't been loved by everyone:

Bookies currently make Kathreya favourite to win the show. Personally, I like her and don't have a problem with the way she speaks. What do you think?

Related: Will we ever be able to use the word 'hilarious' again?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

British Chinese Society Wild West Party, Sat. July 26th

Must be party season or something. News reaches my Inbox of another event that might be of interest to bbcs: A Wild West themed party being organised by the BCS (British Chinese Society).

Canapes, competitions (including the best dressed title) and great music are on the bill, and attendees are asked to get into the Wild West spirit by donning suitable costumes. There will also be a raffle for a new Nokia 6300 phone (courtesy of sponsor CMC Markets).

The party is being held at Oneonefive Bar. 115 Chancery Lane, London on Sat 26th July, 8:00 pm - 2:00am

It's too late to get discounted early-bird tickets but entrance will be £12 on the door. Email
for more details!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Sichuan Earthquake Fundraising Event July 26th 2008

The terrible aftermath of the Sichuan earthquake has all but disappeared from British news media but a new fund-raising group called 'Make A Tomorrow' formed by the UK Chinese community is staging a special fund-raising event this month in aid of the victims of the earthquake in China.

It will be held on Saturday July 26th at Parker McMillan, Chiswell Street, London and is billed as "a unique night of fresh music, art and photography."

Organizers hope 300-400 guests will attend, and aim to raise up to £8,000 for the appeal.

Comedians and musicians 'Dead dog in Black Bag', who have appeared on BBC3's "The Mighty Boosh", will be hosting the event. There will also be sales of limited edition artwork from Rod Hunt, Lucy Allen, Per Jose Karlen, Marina Caruso, Vicky Scott and Joanne Wong.

Music will be provided by special performances from Cherry Suico, Dan Dunnes and the Reels; with DJ Cesar and others. There will also be a raffle offering prizes such as £100 worth of London restaurant vouchers, a Spa session at a top London hotel worth £200 and other special treats. And if that doesn't grab you, there are also going to be two-for-one cocktails at the bar!

To buy tickets for this event (£16 in advance, £20 on the door) go to the Make A Tomorrow Justgiving page.

Article: BBC News: British Chinese unite in London for fundraiser

Related: Make A Tomorrow blog

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Cha Cha Moon, Alan Yau's new restaurant getting mixed reviews

Photo: The Times

Cha Cha Moon is the new dining concept from Alan Yau, arguably the leading Chinese restauranteur in the UK. Specializing in noodles, it is supposedly an attempt to create a Hong Kong style 'mein dong' experience in London.

My first impression is, if you want to recreate that 'mein dong' experience, you need to have those small, glass-topped tables with menus slipped underneath not long, trendy wooden benches. But anyway...

Press reviews have ranged from okay - to bad - to very bad whilst the feedback from ordinary punters is decidedly mixed. Check out what people have been saying on

Best comment of all must go to 'Ms. Wing Wong', who points out that:

I am Chinese, and I can really translate the name of the restaurant to you all in Chinese! Read the name backwards, i.e. Moon Cha Cha which means someone who doesn't know whether 'they are coming or going', and that's exactly how the staff of this restaurant are!

After reading that, it's going to be hard not to refer to the restaurant as 'Moon Cha Cha' :) I'm hoping to try it out for myself soon and will post a review when I do.

Related: Hakkasan decides shark's fin is too much to stomach

Sunday, July 06, 2008

How things change...

Check out this vintage HK TV commercial from youtuber 'vcrbase'. Even by TV commercial standards, the cheer cleanliness, perfection and innocence of the characters seems quite funny now.

Those were the days :)

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Hakkasan decides shark's fin is too much to stomach

Hakkasan, Alan Yau's Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant, has decided to remove shark's fin soup from its menu.

The restaurant has been serving its version of the Chinese delicacy since 2001 but decided it was time to stop after lobbying from animal rights groups. There is also a suggestion that the same groups may take their protests to Chinatown in general:

Story: Indymedia
Related: Mad Mermaids anti-shark's fin campaign

Reading some of the material on the campaign website, it's certainly hard to justify the killing of sharks purely for their fins to make soup. It does seem cruel and unnecessary, especially when you consider that the fin itself is tasteless.

However, I have to admit that I've eaten shark's fin soup and would probably still eat it if offered. For me, it's a clear case of Western sensibilities conflicting with Chinese traditions (and Chinese tradition winning).

Shark's fin soup is a dish that is almost expected at Chinese banquets (such as at weddings, for example) and whilst it looks like it will become increasingly rare in the UK and Europe, it will be hard for diners in Asia to break with this long standing tradition. Is some form of sustainable fish farming the answer?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

HK movie 'The Detective' starring Aaron Kwok

Just heard about this movie and thought I'd mention it. I haven't seen the film yet but it looks interesting. The DVD is currently available on

Aaron Kwok stars as a lowly private detective asked to track down a mysterious woman called Sum. But the assignment turns out to be a lot more dangerous than he first thought. 'The Detective' is directed by Danny and Oxide Pang, who also made 'The Eye'.

Related: review

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Hearing-impaired dancers perform 'Buddha with 1000 Hands'

I stumbled on this video and thought it was pretty cool. It shows 21 hearing-impaired members of the China Disabled People's Performing Arts Troupe performing a dance called 'One Thousand Hands Bodhisattva' in Shijiazhuang, Hebei Province, China. It was a charity fundraising performance to raise money for the handicapped in the province.

The group performed a similar dance at the closing ceremony of the 2004 Paralympics in Athens, to much acclaim.

The routine goes a bit 'Las Vegas' towards the end but the beginning is quite mesmerizing. Bear in mind that being hearing-impared, the dancers can't time their moves to the music but have to rely on visual cues from their trainers offstage:

via A Real China

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Rice - To wash or not to wash.

Photo: axiemeluv

Washing rice is one of my least favourite chores, and the other night I thought I would actually do some research to try and find out if I really need to do it.

For years now I've been rinsing rice before cooking. I generally just give it one, long rinse, pour away the cloudy water and then add clean water to cook the rice in.

I've read that in Japan, washing rice is a must and it is done until the water runs clear. I've also heard it said that washing rice "removes the goodness" so you shouldn't do it. So what's the truth?

After just a little searching, I found that there are diverging opinions out there, with as many people saying you should wash rice as there are saying you shouldn't.

With regards to the idea that washing rice gets rid of nutrients on the outer coating: This seems to only apply to enriched, American rice.

Rice grains are normally milled to remove the outer husk and bran layers, leaving the translucent white grain that we are all familiar with. Brown rice has had the husk removed, but still has the nutritious bran layer attached.

In the US, there is a law that obliges producers of milled, white rice to add nutrients back to the grains to make it as nutritious as brown rice (with its bran layer). This means a dusty coating of vitamins and minerals is added to the rice before it is packaged and sold.

This kind of rice should not be washed if you want to preserve those added nutrients. However, if you do wash it, you would just end up with normal, natural, white rice since those nutrients were artificially added in the first place.

Enriched rice is mainly an American product and should be labelled as such, with instructions not to wash it before cooking.

Rice from Asia, such as jasmine rice from Thailand tends not to be artificially enriched and is simply sold as milled, white grains. With non-enriched types of rice, washing should make no difference to the nutritional content.

I've read some comments that rather than containing 'goodness' the dust coating on rice can actually contain unhealthy stuff such as talcum powder or chemicals. It sounds unbelievable but apparently talc really is used in some countries to give raw rice a cleaner, whiter appearance but this is gradually being phased out in favour of glucose powder. In both cases, the powders are added on the assumption that the end user will wash the rice.

It's also true that fungicides are used a lot in rice growing, as rice is vulnerable to certain fungal diseases. Some of these fungicides are actually designed to 'stick' to the rice plants to maximise their effectiveness. I haven't found any information on whether these substances can get into the actual grain of rice that you eat but it seems plausible that some traces of them might be left on the rice. I would guess that these fungicides are harmless otherwise they would be banned but if you're like me, you won't want to take the chance!

There is also the issue of stickiness. Rice grains will naturally be coated in starch dust and washing the rice will help to get rid of it, otherwise that starchy dust will mix in with the cooking water to produce sticky cooked rice. We can be fairly sure of this as risotto rice is deliberately used unwashed in order to create that gloopy, thick texture. Therefore, washing rice thoroughly is a good way of keeping the grains separated after cooking.

Taking everything into account, my conclusion is this: If you buy enriched American rice don't wash it if you want to keep the vitamins and minerals that have been added.

But if you buy non-enriched rice, you should wash it as it will help prevent stickiness and will remove any stuff like talcum powder, glucose or traces or fungicide that may be on the grains.

I think I'll give the last word to Korean website Kimchi Mamas. The author says she thought washing rice was pointless until her own child started helping out in the kitchen:

"Then it suddenly dawned on me, the real reason why Korean mothers have been telling their children to wash and wash and wash that rice.

For ten minutes I heard nothing but the sound of swishing water and softly crunching rice. But more than the fact that I did appreciate the few moments of quiet during a normally frenzied time, I loved seeing Bunny so focused on doing her best to complete her task.

Smart mamas."

Related: The Food Network: Washing rice

Related: Cook's Thesaurus: Rice

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Wanted: Chinese Women Pt. 2

Here's a slightly funny, and slightly sad, footnote to my earlier post 'Goodbye, Oriental City'.

As I was walking around taking pictures on my last visit to Colindale, I spotted this strange advertisement stuck on the glass door leading to the car park (if you're familiar with OC, it was right near the durian shop).

I had to double-take to make sure it was real. This is a personal ad from white male seeking a Chinese female.

Cheaply printed and crudely stuck onto a window, it is a desperate and yet, in a way, quite disrespectful lonelyhearts ad. The man who did this is employing methods more commonly used to locate lost cats or sell used cars to find what is meant to be the love of his life - a Chinese woman.

The full text of the 'ad' reads:

For serious long term relationship


  • Age 59, considered handsome & looks 10 years younger.
  • Blond hair, blue eyes, medium build, 1.75m tall.
  • Reasonably fit & in good health, a non-smoker & occasional drinker
  • Star sign Taurus DOB 1948
  • Professional and resides in Hendon Central, with own house and car.
  • Divorced after 27 years, has 2 adult daughters who have their own homes.
  • Not looking to father a new baby.
  • Seeking sole mate (sic), friend, lover & equal partner.
  • Share fun and laughter plus life's ups and downs.

  • Age 35-45, long hair would be nice, non-smoker, speaks English.
  • Good home-maker, honest, attractive, sensual and likes to dress well.
  • She may have children, no problem, depends on circumstances.
  • Gold-diggers definitely not welcomed so no time-wasters.

If interested, please call 0779....

So many questions...

What kind of personal skills does a person have, who thinks that this is an appropriate way to find a wife? A 'sensual' one, at that!

Are the standards of Chinese women so low that someone would seriously consider such a request for marriage? Imagine if he actually got together with someone; Imagine telling the 'how we met' story to friends and family!

What do you think?

Related: Wanted: Chinese Women

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Street food, Shanghai-style

I love these photos of Shanghai street food stalls from nwoT eikgnoH Hongkie Town. You can almost smell the barbecue smoke...

Friday, May 23, 2008

Miss Hong Kong from the last 35 years

Despite falling out of favour here in the West (where they are considered politically incorrect and passé), beauty pageants are still going strong in Hong Kong.

This website has an interesting gallery of all the lucky winners since 1973. Dig around and you will see such famous names as Maggie Cheung Man Yuk (1983) and rising star Selena Li (2003) amongst the photographs. Strange to think how little has changed in the last 30 years or so.

via Butterboom.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The wedding where the earth shook

These will no doubt be all over the net soon but I thought they deserved a post. These extraordinary photos from the BBC are an unusual view of the devastating quake.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Earthquake fundraising in Chinatown

British Chinese associations have moved quickly to start fundraising in response to the Sichuan earthquake. Volunteers from the London Chinatown Chinese Association, the BC Project (British Chinese in politics), Dimsum and others were out in force on Sunday helping to raise money.

via Richard H's Blog

Friday, May 16, 2008

Sichuan Earthquake: Red Cross Appeal Info

Photo: Daily Mail

With every passing day, the reports of the devastation caused by the Sichuan earthquake just get worse and worse as more facts and images emerge.

A disaster appeal by the Red Cross is now up and running. For the details, please visit the official website here.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Goodbye, Oriental City (my last visit)

It's not closing until June 1st, but this was probably the last time I would ever see Oriental City.

Even though there are still a few weeks of trading left, there was an unmistakable air of 'the end is nigh' about the place. The mall seemed grubby and in need of renovation. There was more graffiti than usual and generally the place was in a bit of a state. However, I can confirm that standard of the food in China City and in the food court was as good as ever.

Discount signs were all over the place but how true they were I'm not sure. I wouldn't recommend going there to bargain hunt (not until the very last days of trading anyway).

One shop had a sign saying that it was going to move to the new Wing Yip 'superstore' opening further south on Edgware Road. I wonder if a lot of the OC businesses will be relocating there?

Sorry for the low quality of the photographs, they were taken on a camera phone.

Goodbye, Oriental City.

Related: The bbc blog's coverage of Oriental City