Jul 20, 2006|
>> Our Chief Executive took 28.3 percent of the votes. But based on “write-in” votes, one gets the feeling that Bus Uncle would have won if only his video escapades had taken place earlier. In a year that’s seen the economy go gangbusters and Tsang strong-arming his way to getting $5.2 billion to build new offices at Tamar, it seems he’s well on his way to getting re-elected. But who knows? Psychics might, which is why we checked in with two of them at the New Age Shop. One look at Tsang’s face and Edmond Kwok exclaims, “He’s not only man of this year - even next year still looks good for him. From the face, his nose and especially the eyes, he is clever smart. He knows something that will happen. He knows what he should do and what he shouldn’t do.” And Australian healer and seer Janine Umama added, “He’s quite a dynamic man. He’ll make changes but the people around him won’t be happy with what he does. There are a few things that he’s said that aren’t going to come off.” Might that be a $5.2 billion Tamar bust? Not even a psychic knows.
There was no real contest when it came to the scandal of the year. In one corner was that whole Kissel thing, with its strawberry milkshakes, dead husbands wrapped in carpets and Nancy herself pleading about the years of abuse she suffered. In the other corner, we had Annie Pang’s famously overlooked skeleton. Kissel came out on top with nearly 40 percent of your votes, easily beating out Pang (28 percent). Kissel won a grand prize of a life sentence in the Tai Lam Center for Women, a maximum security prison for women which is located in the New Territories. But she’s keeping busy. According to the Correctional Services Industries, Kissel, along with most other inmates, is currently engaged in making government furniture, staff uniforms, hospital linens, litter containers, traffic signs, paving blocks, slabs and curbs. They also bind books, do printing work, do laundry and make envelopes. Together, the inmates produce $462 million worth of products per year. In other words, that buys a lot of milkshakes.
It’s bigger than an egg tart (which got nearly 16 percent of your votes). It comes in faster than a plastic bag (14.4 percent). It’s more powerful than a wrecking ball (4.6 percent). It’s a SMOG-OBSCURED HARBOR, which demolished the competition for the Symbol of Hong Kong 2006 with nearly 54 percent of your votes. Despite Donald Tsang’s recent assertions that the smog ain’t THAT bad, it’s abundantly clear that you are all sick of it. Why, if this keeps up it may just become our permanent slogan.
Smog smothered all others when it comes to things you wish would go away with nearly 54 percent of your votes. Slimming ads (24 percent), fake LV bags (7.2 percent) and Tamar debates (six percent) were left behind in the - cough, cough - dust. But the big question is, when is something going to be done about it? It’s going to take open acknowledgement from our Man of the Year and the sort of aggressive fervor that he used to secure funds for the Tamar offices. In June, there were a whopping 507 high pollution hours in Causeway Bay, 180 in Central and 57 in Mongkok. In January, there were 721 high pollution hours in Causeway Bay, 640 in Central and 608 in Mongkok. Is our smog problem going away? That’s just wishful thinking - and right now, that’s about all that’s happening.
>> Starbucks narrowly beat out Pacific Coffee for the best cup. But are we shopping smart for our coffee? Caffe latte and caffe mocha may be the most popular orders at Hong Kong’s 64 Starbucks outlets, but the smart money is on the eight-ounce short cappuccino ($21). Simply put, you get more bang for your buck. Although its tall sister (12 ounces, $27) is the most popular size, both sizes contain one shot of espresso, meaning the short cap has a bolder taste - and you pay $6 for four extra ounces of steamed milk and foam. But don’t take it from us: the World Barista Championship defines a traditional cappuccino as a “five- to six-ounce beverage,” which means the shorter the cappuccino, the better.
>> Ringo Chang, manager of Watsons Wine Cellar in Queen’s Rd. Central, makes some recommendations.
HK: What are some reasonably priced wines that are guaranteed to be good?
Ringo Chan: For a white wine, Wither Hills Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand ($168); for a red, d’Arenberg Footbolt Shiraz 2004, from Australia ($165).
HK: What’s your most expensive wine?
RC: Petrus Vintage ’89, $34,500.
>> The hands-down winner was The Flying Pan. That's because when owner Tammy Greenspan sees troops of patrons come in to her Wan Chai restaurant with raging hangovers, she knows just what to give them: her special Bloody Mary. Take tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper, Tabasco, a little bit of horseradish, lemon, and a lot of vodka, mix it all together, throw it in a glass with celery, add more fresh lemon and shake. Voila! It’s part of the tasty 24-hour breakfast grub that’s keeps her customers coming back for more. “We get the usual drunks,” she says. “We've had to replace the bottom of the seat cushions a few times because there are always stiletto heel marks there for some reason. Otherwise we keep the real juicy tales under wraps. What goes on in the Flying Pan, stays in the Flying Pan.” SoHo: G/F, 9 Old Bailey St., 2140-6333; Wan Chai: 3/F, 81-85 Lockhart Rd., 2528-9997.
>> You have voted it the city’s best vegetarian restaurant, and owner Bobsy claims this is largely due to every bit of food being made on the premises. “We are also Hong Kong’s first café to introduce raw food to the community and will be increasing this range in the near future,” he says. As it is, patrons swear by the Life Live Salad, when they’re not busy chowing down on their favorite homemade oatmeal cookies. For every cookie eaten, 10 percent goes directly to the Life Fund, which donates money to various charities. Life, 10 Shelley St., 2810-9777.
>> Seventeen years old, and Michelle Garnaut’s cozy continental restaurant – HK Magazine’s first ever Best Restaurant winner way back in 1991 - is still your favorite. Of course, there’s far more to such longevity than coziness and a great location. What are the other ingredients? Garnaut nominates two signature dishes, slow-baked lamb and Pavlova – a Down Under classic of meringue, whipped cream and lashings of fruit. And don’t mess with that lamb either. The one time it was taken off the menu, people actually left the restaurant. That’s what you get for a dish that’s salt-encased, slowly baked for five hours and served with mashed roots, roasted beetroot and M’s famous fig jam. 2 Lower Albert Rd., Central, 2877-4000, www.m-atthefringe.com.
>> Of the hundreds of new restaurants that open every year, it’s SoHo restaurant Cru that beat out all others. Co-owner Al Tiley claims its recipe for success is simply value for money. “You leave feeling you’ve actually been fed a decent meal, whereas more upscale restaurants can have you walking away feeling half-starved,” he says. Cru, 44 Staunton Street, SoHo, 2803-2083.
>> Aqua, 29/F-30/F, One Peking Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, 3427-2888.
Antipasti (appetizer): Saltata di aragosta e funghi, warm lobster and mushroom, served with arugula and lemon dressing, $178
Contorni (salad): Verdure miste, sautéed garden vegetables with extra virgin lemon olive oil, $75
Pasta: Tortelli ripieni di zucca con scampi, tortelloni stuffed with pumpkin, tossed with lobster jus, served with sautéed scampi in cognac and chive oil, $238
Pizza: Pizza con aragosta saltata, pizza with lobster, lemon zest and lobster jus, $178
Secondi (main course): Carré d’agnello, charcoal grilled Victorian lamb rack with apricot and cannellini bean mash, bell pepper puree and chili oil, $298
Dolci: Aqua Roma tiramisu; signature tiramisu with espresso and Kahlua liqueur, $108
Glass of red wine: $118 or $590 a bottle (King Grand Cuvee champagne for $2,840 a bottle)
The damage: $1,193 if you stick to just one glass of red. Feel like some bubbly? Bring deep pockets.
>> Dim sum trolley dolly C.K. Iu has been pushing a cart around Maxim’s City Hall for more than five years. She shares some little pieces of heart. Maxim's, L/B, City Hall, Central, 2526-9931.
HK: Ever meet anyone famous?
C.K. Iu: Singer Sally Yeh and her husband George Lam; Donald Tsang and his family; and many members of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong. They held their annual dinner here this year.
HK: What's their favorite dim sum?
CKI: Sally likes shrimp dumplings and Donald Tsang likes xiao long bao. These are our most popular orders.
HK: Any guidelines on yelling?
CKI: No, although we try to speak clearly so people know what’s inside the trolley. We usually draw out the last syllable.
HK: Is there a way to make dim sum sounds more attractive to customers?
CKI: Oh…haha! I don’t know… say it in a higher pitch maybe?
HK: Does steering your cart take a lot of skill?
CKI: Yes, you need to apply even force with both hands or the cart won’t go in a straight line. And you need to be careful with high stacks of dim sum containers. They can collapse if the trolley moves too fast.
HK: Who was your oddest customer?
CKI: A middle-aged woman who only ordered fish dumplings - she ate five dishes at one sitting.
G/F, Lippo Centre, 89 Queensway, Admiralty, 2522-9090.
>> How To Cook The Perfect Steak
It’s all about the meat. Ken Li, restaurant manager of Ruth’s Chris Steak House, recommends meat that is evenly and abundantly marbled, because that’s what makes good beef good: the marbling is fat which melts under heat and tenderizes the steak. Corn- or grain-fed cattle give the sweetest meat; try Canadian Wagyu. It’s much harder to cook a good steak at home, Li says. He advises grilling the steak in a hot oven, but if you have to fry it, make sure the pan is very hot. And always resist the urge to poke at the steak with a knife. Good steak doesn’t need any marinade; a dash of salt and pepper should be enough to bring the flavor out. Nor does it need to be served with sauce – at most a teaspoon of butter just before serving, or a splash of the cooking “jus.” Li doesn’t believe in the benefits of allowing steak to rest, because the juices tend to leak out of the meat.
As far as cooking preferences go, he says good quality steak really shouldn’t be served at anything more than medium: cook it too long, and the meat winds up dry, and the taste suffers. For a medium steak, the firmness of the meat should be comparable to that of your middle finger.
Our own former chef Bruce Dawson, whose culinary prowess peaked at the height of the so-called “fusion movement” in the 1990s, claims foodies and chefs shared a collective madness - a delirium of gastronomy that dictated if one thing from one food culture is good, surely mixing it with another must be better? Or with methods and ingredients from three or four different regions? It was that kind of thinking that brought us cumin- and cocoa-dusted bison tenderloin with vanilla mashed potato, rapini and espresso juice; mango-chili sorbet on Sichuan peppers; and foie gras-infused foam reduction on a saltine biscuit with a licorice twist. Thankfully, this lunacy is coming to an end. Restaurants are getting back to being regional-centric these days, and dropping the “fusion” classification in favor of “Australian freestyle” or “modern interpretive.” Wasabi sorbet foam with English custard pie and vermicelli noodles anyone? No? Then it seems we’ve taken the first step.
• 7-Eleven at 4am
• Poon choi for every festival
• Queuing outside places with no reservation policy
• Celebrity chef restaurants without the man himself in the kitchen
• McDonald’s rice burgers
• Eating expensive food just because it’s expensive
Fake breasts swept this category. And no wonder - in April, six Hong Kong women had to undergo full or partial mastectomies and 47 others were at risk when it emerged that the bosom-enlarging PAAG gel injected into their breasts was in fact toxic. Most had the injections in mainland beauty clinics. The story dominated the headlines when Next Magazine broke it (cover below), and reporters from Hong Kong were soon dispatched to cover a patient compensation trial in Shenzhen, where they were promptly assaulted with steel poles outside the hospital in question. PAAG, or hydrophilic polyacrylamide gel, is banned in the US. No such ban is in effect in Hong Kong, although governmental consultation is said to be under way.
Create Your Own Spa Press Release!
It’s a little-known secret that many spas employ a random word generator to create their press releases. Complete our spa mad-lib below to get a taste for how it’s done. Insert a term from each category into each blank as marked. Conjugate as necessary.
Our spa is excited to launch our new _______A______ treatment, an exciting new service that will leave you _______B______ and ______B_______. The treatment combines _______C______ and ______C_______, and is rich in ______C_______, which produces that ______D_______ you’ve been looking for! In today’s hectic world, we all sometimes need ______B_______. Our spa understands that you are often on the move, and sometimes you don’t have time to _____B________. Fortunately, our patented _______A______ treatment, based on ______E_______, can bring satisfaction back into your life. Our trained experts apply hot ______C______ to your back and buttocks while you _______B______ in _______D______. We guarantee our ______A_______ formula will leave you looking fresh and new and ready to take on our modern world! Only $14,000.
de-stress and detoxification
to be silky to the touch
to be in contented peacefulness
energizing tea tree oil
soft, toned countour
ancient Chinese techniques
ancient Burmese techniques
ancient Japanese techniques
ancient Tibetan techniques
1. Lonely door bitch turns away potential friends with a heavy heart.
2. TTH’s (try-too-hard girls who would be marginally pretty if they didn’t cake themselves in make-up) sitting with somber guys and bottles of Chivas and green tea.
3. The plebs queueing for drinks.
4. The rich swiftly receiving drinks.
5. The two people who came for the music.
6. Elevated DJ platform for elevated DJ ego.
7. The single Macbook Pro that produces all of the music.
8. DJ hangers-on - groupies for the unoriginal.
9. Director’s table. Poor and ugly eliminated by bouncer hidden in rafters.
10. Suits and handbags groove primly.
11. Bouncer and security camera ensure little chance of two-to-a-toilet action.
12. Gaggle of namedropping ABC bankers.
13. Dwarves on bikes hooked to generators - the secret source of Volar’s power. Staff only.
14. Door in pillar leads to “Volaria” theme park ride.
Let’s hear it straight from Dragon-i founder, Gilbert Yeung: “I want to say thanks to HK Magazine readers for awarding Dragon-i in so many categories. It’s great to be number one.
“I love this business. I was practically raised in a nightclub so it has always been my dream to run a successful place. I remember getting the idea for Dragon-i when I saw Pierce Brosnan in Club 97. I thought this can’t be right. Hong Kong is an international city and here is James Bond dancing in a broom closet.
"But, even so, when I started out on Dragon-i, everyone thought I was crazy. I remember my friend and mentor, Nichole Garnaut, looking at the site – 6,000 sq. feet, first floor walk-up, in the wilds of Wyndham Street, and saying: ‘Gilbert, you are fucking mental.’
“But it’s been four years now and since day one we have been at the top. There are a lot of reasons for this: we get the best international DJs, we change our look every season, we focus on every detail. But the main reason is people. We have lasted thanks to our strict door policy. I tell my door bitch ‘better to make $20,000 less than sell out and let the wrong people come in.’ So yeah, we tend to insist on the most interesting, best looking and hottest people."
Shop 1065-75, Podium Level 1, IFC Two, 2234-7305
>> Zara won this award for the second year in a row. And it's all because of their supply chain. Described by Louis Vuitton fashion director Daniel Piette as “possibly the most innovative and devastating retailer in the world,” Spanish chain Zara officially became Europe’s largest fashion retailer in March. (Its sales there grew 21 percent last year.) But you’ll see virtually no advertising for the brand anywhere, nor is there a PR machine rumbling away behind the scenes. In fact, until recently Zara had a zero-advertising policy.
Speed of the supply chain is the secret of Zara’s success. It launches about 10,000 new designs a year thanks to its incredibly efficient design, production and distribution network, all based in Spain. Zara can take a trend from the drawing board and onto the racks in IFC Mall in two weeks, where most of its competitors take nine months. And that’s with siestas thrown in.
This means quick response times to catwalk fashions, and fashion faux pas can be sidelined at minimum cost. And, of course, if you have new shipments of clothing every week, customers will keep coming back to check what’s new. Zara opened in Hong Kong in 2004, and despite our reputation for only liking prohibitively expensive items, it’s proving as popular here as it is in Europe.
>> Top 10 best-sellers at Page One in the past year
1. Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince - J.K. Rowling
2. The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
3. The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
4. Not Quite The Diplomat - Chris Patten
5. The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe - C.S. Lewis
6. Mao: The Unknown Story - Jung Chang
7. It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want to Be - Paul Arden
8. Pattern And Palette Sourcebook - Page One
9. French Women Don’t Get Fat - Mireille Guiliano
10. Limited Edition: To Buy or Not to Buy? It’s All in the Packaging Design -Kazutomo Ryuko (editor)
>> What’s not to like? After decades of cramped aisles, dingy lighting and limited choice, in 1996 City’super opened its first branch in Times Square and revolutionized supermarket shopping in Hong Kong. Four supermarkets, two food courts and two Log-On lifestyle stores later, and it’s won your vote for Best Supermarket. Where else can you shop for preserved pork head meat in aspic jelly? Even weirder, says food division manager Ben Lam, from July expect to see star-shaped tomatoes from Belgium. But the products we buy most, Lam says, are: “Prosciutto ham, US steak, fresh oysters from France and the US and the Japanese yoghurt drink Lake Farm.” For locations, see www.citysuper.com.hk.
Supermarkets are designed to encourage as much customer spending as possible. Staples such as bread and rice, eggs and milk are often displayed as far from the entrance as possible, “forcing” customers to walk through the store and perhaps pick up some impulse buys along the way. Many supermarkets are designed so that you cannot walk straight to the back but must move around the produce, fresh baked bread, and large displays in the center of the aisles.
Ever noticed that you have to pass through the produce section to get to the other products? That’s because produce is the second most-profitable section, bringing in close to 20 percent of supermarket profits while occupying about 10 percent of the space. City’super’s most profitable item, Lam says, is lettuce owing to its fast turnover.
Products placed at eye-level sell best. Companies pay big bucks to place expensive brands and high-profit items at the eye level of the average-height woman. The most expensive cereals, however, tend to be shelved at children’s eye level.
Goodies such as sweets, gum, cigarettes, magazines, soft drinks and batteries situated at checkout counters pander to the boredom of people queuing to pay. The Food Marketing Institute in Washington DC estimates this section of the supermarket sells about three times as much merchandise per square foot as the rest of the store. But be wary of the markups: batteries, for example, usually sell for less at discount department stores.
There’s a popular misconception that items placed at the end of an aisle are on sale, even if there’s no sale sign. These are usually normally priced stocks that the supermarket wants to move quickly. And it works. Another popular trick to increase profits without increasing the item price is to reduce the weight of a package, without changing the appearance of the packaging.
>> CAN I GET A…? Well, actually, if you’re a DJ, you can’t. So you can take your Nick Warrens, your Paul Oakenfolds, your Sashas, your DJ this and DJ that and send them back to wherever they came from. At nearly 27 percent, DJ events narrowly beat out illegal downloads (26 percent) as the most overrated phenomenon in the city.
• Bus Uncle
• Hong Kong Disneyland
• Cheung Chau bun scramble
It only happens once a year, but the annual outdoor Rockit Festival in Victoria Park is definitely number one when it comes to readers. And it’s all due to headlining acts such as Feeder, a terrific vibe, great weather, outdoor food stalls and a slick operation that keeps the crowd happy. And then there’s the 30,000 liters of beer that have been consumed over the past three years, the 10 noise-monitoring stations around Victoria Park that appease nearby residents and a total - fingers crossed - of zero injuries. With Goldie set to be one of the headliners this year, expect the festival to be bigger than ever, especially if it can get more support. As organizer Nimal J. puts it, “We can produce Rockit Festivals for the next 50 years with the money spent on Harbourfest.”
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