HK’s favorite dining room
Shanghai restaurants are almost as ubiquitous as Cantonese ones in Hong Kong and with good reason, too. Its hearty combination of simple ingredients never fails to satisfy and is particularly enticing during these chilly winter days.
The only complaints, if we are picky, are that the same dishes keep reappearing. And, as in many local eateries, the more deliciously authentic the cuisine, the more the setting is bound to be a hole in the wall.
The Dining Room aims to change the bad rap that Shanghai food sometimes receives with a fresh take on both decor and menu. Situated in the brand spanking new Hysan Place, it is an airy 146-seat casual and contemporary venue that resembles a French bistro.
The entrance is decked out like a gourmet grocery store, with fresh fruit and vegetables spilling out from wooden crates. This is the theme throughout the restaurant, which extends the texture of the boxes into hardwood flooring and furniture.
Wrapping around a semi-open dim sum and cold prep kitchen, the dining area is infused with natural light from floor to ceiling windows.
Open shelves stocked with products used for menu items give the restaurant a neighborhood store ambience. A dado height brass rail with sheer drapes below add to the bistro feel, along with bric-a-brac, such as brass tea kettles and a wrought iron coat rack topped by a clock and weather vane.
Classic Phoenix bicycles manufactured in Shanghai are fun props, and I loved that there is a range of seating: counter-height tables with bar stools, communal wooden benches, sofas with low tables and white marble tables with cafe chairs.
The menu reflects the breeziness of the decor, with a number of new items created by executive chef Tony Huang. An alumnus of Shanghai New Asia Catering School, he is a specialist in dim sum and a former protege of Ge Xian’e – considered one of China’s best dim sum masters.
Our first taste of dim sum began with the soft and crispy bun with minced pork, bamboo shoots and Shanghai eggplant. I was very pleasantly surprised by the succulent eggplant, which was an excellent combination of sweet and savory. Served in a paper pocket, the flaky, very crunchy bun was a perfect envelope for its stuffing.
Next came a cold appetizer of candied whole mini pumpkin with lily bulbs. It was beautifully presented, with a gentle lily bulb taste that lingered on the palette and was just sweet enough to be refreshing.
My favorite was tofu with hairy crab cream. It was so silky and rich, I practically licked the plate clean. And it was a great way to enjoy hairy crab without doing any of the messy work.
Rice in soup with seafood in Shanghai style was a good choice for those who can’t decide between soup and more substantial fare. Each kernel was left whole, and the broth’s aromatic chicken flavor enhanced the generous assortment of shrimp, clams and squid.
Wok-fried shrimp with caramelized longjing tea leaves was equally delicious. The crisp leaves reminded me of deep-fried basil – only more fragrant, if that is possible. And the river shrimp was super fresh and lightly sauteed to retain its firmness.
Huang’s dim sum dexterity did not disappoint when it came to dessert, either.
I adored his crispy rice dumplings with pomelo, which was dusted with white sesame seeds and a melt-in-the-mouth filling of sweet pomelo. Artfully presented in mason jars, chilled puddings were available in jasmine, almond milk and mango, with the last being my personal pick to end things on a high note.
Two different approaches to four-season living
The 129-year-old Connaught School building on Napier St. into four condo units known as Duke Lofts. Two of the residences will be built in the original school building and will have two or three bedrooms, original wood staircases and original tin high ceilings. The other two units will be three-level residences and will be built in an addition.
All four residences will have a private courtyard, a garage plus surface parking and the old school yard will be landscaped using brick pillars and iron rod fencing.
Interior finishes will include two-storey entry foyers, natural or engineered hardwood in the kitchen, living, dining area and den, choice of porcelain or tile in the foyer, bathrooms and laundry room. Kitchens will feature granite or quartz counter tops and stainless steel appliances. Each suite will have individual climate control system with high efficiency furnaces.
The other project under construction is Dwell, a new build by Devonleigh Homes. Located on the corner of Sixth St. and High St., Dwelll is in close proximity to the shopping areas on the west side of town and only a few blocks away from Collingwood’s heritage main street.
The new grand mansion style condominium building is three storeys and will include an elevator, says Devonleigh marketing manager Jim Funston.
Owners of the top-floor units will enjoy views of the ski slopes at Blue Mountain and the private Osler Bluff ski club, says Funston.
Dwell is the final phase of Devonleigh’s 280-home Creekside development and will form the cornerstone of the development. It will feature brick piers and wrought iron fences and irrigated lawns “to set the tone of the neighbourhood,” says Funston.
Dwell is aimed at empty nesters and families who want to be close to skiing at Blue Mountain and the area’s golf courses and beaches.
Flowers of Scotland
by Leyanne Baillie
We admire the formal flower beds which burst with colour, as our daughters and their friends have fun racing up and down the perfect lawns. The gardens are separated into sections by stone walls, intricate wrought-iron fences and gates, and thick verdant hedging. The kids are particularly impressed by the section housing several breeds of chickens, with the hens housed in luxurious weatherboard abodes and castles.
The girls also have a great time playing an over-sized game of noughts and crosses while, once again, I am taken with the glasshouses containing a beautiful selection of geraniums, begonias and fuchsias. Chef Stuart Clink serves up delicious home cooking in the tearooms, a beautifully restored stable and coach house at the entrance to the gardens.
The gardens are family-owned and there is a small entry charge which varies depending on the time of year. As well as the walled gardens, there are woodlands which are at their best in the spring when snowdrops are followed by daffodils and bluebells which provide a stunning carpet of colour. Heading into early summer, azalea and rhododendrons provide a colourful display.
The Scots are obsessed by the weather; little wonder considering the rain and lack of sunshine they have to contend with. However, a lot of rain goes a long way to making this country a bonnier place.
Kim Kardashian and Kanye West : wrought iron staicases for the Mediterranean-style mansion in Bel Air
Lifestyles of the rich and famous! The first glimpse inside the $11 million Mediterranean villa that Kim Kardashian and Kanye West will call home (but they’re already gutting it)
By SARA NATHAN
The stunning Mediterranean-style mansion in Bel Air boasts wrought-iron staircases, chandeliers and ‘old world’ fittings – so perhaps it will come as no surprise that the high-profile parents-to-be have already made plans to gut the property.
The luxurious home – which was on the market for $10,750,000, according to Trulia – sits in a private gated community in the exclusive California suburb, and is a whopping 10,000 square feet.
As Kim, 32, and Kanye, 35, are enjoying a ‘babymoon’ in Paris, the first pictures of their new home show a light and airy property that features a two-storey living room, an infinity pool and a library – with plenty of space for their little one to run around.
According to the listing, the 3/4 acre estate is situated on a view-commanding ridgeline.
Designed by architect Ron Firestone, the listing says: ‘custom craftsmanship and old world details are combined with every modern amenity.’
It adds: ‘Hand forged wrought iron and glass front doors open up to the two story formal entry with black walnut parquet floors.
‘A two story living room flanked by Cantera stone columns overlooks the rear grounds and mountains beyond. The great room includes wide planked floors, beamed ceilings and a stone fireplace and features a bar and stone wine cellar.
‘The library serves as a warm respite, detailed in rich woods and a burgundy marble fireplace. The master suite has spectacular views from every window, a fireplace, sitting room, large walk-in closet and changing area.’
The master bathroom has large steam shower, spa tub and massage room, while the massive backyard is a dream with sweeping lawns, an infinity edged pool and a loggia that serves as an outdoor living room and kitchen.
TMZ reported on Tuesday that the couple have already gutted the interior and are planning to add an extra 4,000 feet to complete their dream home.
A source told TMZ the new home will be ‘an Italian-style villa, with a gym, movie theater, full hair and make-up salon, bowling alley, basketball court, indoor and outdoor pool.’
Not forgetting a nursery of course.
The stunning infinity pool is visible in new shots of the property, which also has a pool house and large grassy lawn.
The mansion also has a grand driveway and dramatic entrance, as well as plenty of windows to let in the light and a spacious garage.
The pair will join A-list neighbour Jennifer Aniston, Los Angeles Clippers basketball player Chris Paul, and founder of the Girls Gone Wild entertainment franchise Joe Francis as the famous names in the neighbourhood.
Kanye is well known for his love of interior design and will no doubt be keen to put his stamp on their first home together.
The couple have been dating since last spring and were seen in the City of Love on Tuesday after shopping at the Lanvin and Celine boutiques before dining at L’Avenue restaurant.
Kim was wrapped up in a black cape, with any sign of a bump firmly under wraps, while Kanye defeated the cold in a black blazer.
Before their departure, a Kardashian source told Us magazine the couple plan to holiday in Paris “for a week just to chill. It’s a little babymoon!”
The couple – who don’t plan to marry yet as Kim is still married to Kris Humphries – surprised many after reportedly turned down a $3 million offer for the first photos of their baby.
A source close to the Keeping Up With The Kardashians star told TMZ that she and the Otis rapper have been flooded with lucrative offers for their child’s first pictures and were offered the hefty fee from one publication outside the States.
It is unclear if Kim will sign up as it was recently revealed that she and Kanye are planning to share the pregnancy and their adjustment to parenthood with their fans through a show on E!
E! Entertainment network president Suzanne Kolb said: ‘Kim and Kanye are an incredibly dynamic couple, and their baby news is just so exciting.
‘Like so many Kardashian fans, we love it when this close-knit family gets even bigger. We look forward to sharing the joy as they prepare for more diapers, more bottles and without a doubt, more fabulous baby wear.’
A trip to Taiwan
Not bound by such limitations Taiwan is where one experiences spectacular modes of transport; a high-speed train, dangling cable cars and ornate boats.
Hotel Amba where we spend our first night in Taipei requires special mention, for its location and character. A very casual ambience and club like atmosphere, wrought iron chairs and bookracks decorate its dining area.
Go down the elevator and you emerge outside a MAC store, right at the most happening intersection of Ximending, the mother of all night markets. It’s so lively, bustling, dynamic and vibrant, even a non-shopper like me doesn’t want the night to end.