Food & Drink

Posts filed under Food & Drink

No more ice-cream… for now.

Filed in Food & Drink, General, Work

The movie company informed me today that filming will be delayed by a month. If I keep eating ice-cream, I'll be very very overweight, so ice-cream is going to have to be off the menu for a while :-)

今天得知電影要遲一個月才拍。雪糕繼續吃的話不堪設想,唯有不要再吃 :-)

Ice-cream every day!

Filed in Food & Drink, General, Work

For a new movie role, I've been asked to put on weight, so I'm eating ice-cream every day -- guilt free. yippee!



Filed in Food & Drink, General

It's getting harder to find great-tasting authentic Cantonese rolls but today, we discovered this shop in Ma On Shan. Yum!

好吃傳統的包越來越難找到,但今天我們在馬鞍山頌安廣場裡邊發現了這間公司。正! :-)



馬鞍山頌安廣場 美味坊

Cruelty in the animals-for-food industry

Filed in Food & Drink, GeneralTags: , , , ,

This is why my wife and I choose to not eat meat when possible. We'll never eat anything produced by Australia's Inghams company.

ABC News: Footage shows 'torture' at Sydney turkey abattoir

Caffeine can be dangerous!

Filed in Food & Drink, General, HealthTags: , , ,

This article (referred by this article) claims that caffeine is not dangerous for people with heart arrhythmias. People (including teenagers) have died from drinking too much caffeine; their hearts stopped beating; and I know for a fact that some people are very sensitive to caffeine.

There's a very careful selection of words used in the review; "most patients", "caffeine in moderate doses", "well tolerated"; words that some call 'fat' words, allowing for a large range of interpretation.

The review concludes that "there is therefore no reason to restrict ingestion of caffeine".

Curious that one of the reviewers of the data was a paid consultant for Red Bull.

I wouldn't want to be the reviewers' lawyer.

P.S. Caffeinated drinks include coffee, many softdrinks, energy drinks, chocolate and tea; and yes, that includes Chinese tea.

今早買了麥當勞至尊漢堡(港幣$20.50)拿走,回到家才知道他們給我的卻是芝士漢堡(港幣$10.50)!唉。 Bought a McDonald's Big 'n Tasty burger (HK$20.50) to take away this morning. Arrived home and discovered they had instead given me a Cheeseburger (HK$10.50)! mmm… :(

今天在西貢飲茶 :-) Yum Cha today at Sai Kung

The Problem with Starbucks

Filed in Food & Drink, GeneralTags: , , , , ,

Starbucks' stock (SBUX) is collapsing, and I think I know why. People are drinking less Starbucks.

Gregory at Starbucks in Farmers Market

Me at the Starbucks restaurant in Farmers Market, taken while studying at the Lee Strasberg Institute in 2004.

I drank Starbucks coffee for many years, especially during my years of burnout depression from 2000 to 2003 when I spent just about every morning in the Telford Gardens Starbucks café drinking coffee and reading the 東方日報 or 蘋果日報 newspapers. Before Starbucks came on to the Hong Kong scene, it was almost impossible to sit down, relax and have a decent cup of coffee in a café. Rents were too high, and coffee was not a common beverage (we're not talking about Cantonese-style coffee sold in the Chinese cafés here), so coffee cafés were not a viable business. The only choices for coffee lovers were the expensive high society Cova cafés or the Japanese styled high-turnover Pokka restaurants; not a great choice.

Starbucks changed that. They provided us with cafés where we could enjoy a decent cup of coffee for a reasonable price in a relatively quiet and relaxing place where we wouldn't be pressured to finish our coffee and leave as soon as possible to make room for the next customer, and Starbucks made coffee popular. In a self propagating development, Starbucks made coffee cafés viable.

Starbucks' success paved the way for other cafés. Here in Hong Kong, we now have several coffee café chains to choose from including Pacific Coffee, LGB, Habitū and UCC, and for that, coffee drinkers are grateful, but Starbucks now has a dilemma on its hands. While new café chains were popping up around it, Starbucks didn't make any changes to meet the competition. We drank coffee at Starbucks because it was decent coffee at a decent price, a quality and price that were not offered at other cafés. That's no longer true.

Reasons to drink at other cafés:

LGB's Tart and Macaroons

LGB's tarts are excellent companions to their coffee and mochas. The macaroons are however a little too expensive for my tastes.

The cappuccinos are great at similar prices to Starbucks. Their chocolate-based drinks including mochas use delicious France-imported cocoa-based chocolate syrups (with both light and dark selections) and are out of this world while Starbucks continues to use taste-insulting concentrated sugar syrups. LGB's tarts and French food are also very tasty.

Again, the cappuccinos are far better than Starbucks' cappuccinos at similar prices. The food is also superior to Starbucks' food though not quite as good as the food at LGB.

The coffee is great although slightly more expensive than Starbucks' coffee, but Cova has a unique advantage. Their range of baked-in-house French-styled cakes and biscuits are absolutely delectable. It is a rare moment when you do not see people lined up outside their restaurants waiting for their turn to attack the cake buffet.

Cova's cake selection

Queues are a regular occurrence at Cova restaurants all over Hong Kong because of their cake selection.

Some of the problems that Starbucks needs to examine:

They don't have good black or straight coffee!!! Typically, a Starbucks long black coffee is made by pouring one or two shots into a cup and filling the cup with hot water; yuk! In Australia, Starbucks has a better method of making long black coffees but Starbucks Hong Kong dissuades their barristers from using this method; essentially involving 23-second shots; because it requires more time to make.

Smelly! When I visited the Starbucks stores in L.A. in 2006, I was intrigued that the stores were so smelly, damp, dingy and generally very low grade. How can American people put up with that? Also a major problem in L.A. was the speed of the employees and their demeanor. While the barristers in Hong Kong's Starbucks stores are usually cheerful and quick (although over-worked and under a lot of pressure from management), the barristers in L.A. were rather sad and as slow as cattle meandering through a field of oats. Almost every morning and night in the Sherman Oaks Starbucks store, people had to wait in line for twenty to thirty minutes to get their coffee. That's absolutely unacceptable, especially if the product is mediocre.

Howard Schultz has returned to Starbucks to help turn it around. It'll be interesting to see what he does, but I'd start with a few simple things.

Find out why other restaurants are making better coffee and improve Starbucks coffee. Use better ingredients. Use less sugar and corn syrup in the syrups.

Improve the café environment. The cafés should be relaxed, comfortable and clean. No strange smells. No dampness.

Close a few cafés (in the U.S.A.) There are too many too close together. If you want to make the coffee more readily available, open Starbucks counters (such as the Starbucks MTR Kwun Tong counter here in Hong Kong) rather than full scale cafés. A majority of Starbucks customers buy take away so too many cafés are a waste of space and rent.

I've basically stopped going to Starbucks. Given the choice, I'll get my coffee at LGB or Habitū. Or I'll just make my own ;-)